From The Eyes Outward to The Eyes Inward

Last night I delivered a presentation at Macarthur Photographic Society, where I was a member from 1986 – 2014.

As I have for the past few years focused my attention on Painting and Sketching, I was asked if I could deliver a presentation on the similarities and differences between Photography and Painting.

As a foundation for the discussion take was to take place in the second half of the presentation – (after intermission) on the similarities and differences, I spoke about my journey in Photography, and showed some images across Slides, (Film) Monochrome and D

I then explained, ‘why I changed from Photography to Painting’ a few years back, which involved several reasons. (I will post about this at a later date). Following the reasons, I showed examples of my Paintings, two Oil and one Watercolour Line & Wash.

After intermission, I moved onto the similarities, and then the differences between Photography & Painting which brought interesting discussion. Again, I will post about these in a separate post.

I finished the presentation talking about future projects in both Painting and Photography.

As I was compiling the presentation I learnt a lot! It is a fascinating subject and I’m sure I will modify it as time goes on.

Written by David Johnson

25 May 2023

Freedom Through Sketching and Painting

I love the freedom Sketching and Painting gives me.

One basically starts off with no image on canvas or paper. You might have an image in mind and then you set about creating it from your imagination or a memory, or indeed a combination of both.

If you are using a reference photo you already have a basic framework though, generally speaking and unless you are into Photo Realism, you will come up with an interpretation of the image at hand.

The Photographer has a scene before them. Certainly, (they can create an image in Photoshop from other images) but they don’t have to create shadows or the image when they are ‘live’ to a scene.’ Many scenes are already presented.

They choose the composition and begin shooting.

The Painter on the hand has to sketch/draw (mostly) the contents of the image, creating the effect of shadows, light, shape, texture and form with essentially 3 things, canvas, brush, pigment and a skilful hand.

Painting en Plein Air is the closest relation to Photography, I feel. Both the Painter and the Photographer have a scene in front of them and it is up to them what they distill from that scene, composition-wise to come up with an image.

The Photographer manipulates through camera, lens, lighting, angle, filter and later Photoshop or similar, using their imagination as well.

The Painter manipulates with their choice of canvas/paper, brush, pigment, line, angle, light and uses their imagination as well.

Back in the studio both can finish off their piece.

I’m not trying to say that Painting is better or is more creative than Photography though as each medium is irreplaceable. Painting cannot replace the immediacy of Photography. Photography can capture that ‘moment in time’ in less than a second, Painting cannot.

On a personal level, I have been photographing since the early 1980’s, although not as much these days. Sketching and Painting has certainly taken over, particularly in the last 2 years.

One of the things that I love about Sketching and Painting is the freedom it gives me and also the challenge of creating an image using basic tools. 

In an article a while ago I wrote called, ’There Are No 36 Megapixel Brushes’ I wrote about how someone can take a photo with something as simple these days as a phone camera and, due to the technology available, come with a technically decent image. Composition/imagination is another story, however.

As a Sketcher/Painter, we cannot go out and buy a Brush and Pigment that will give us a technically brilliant sketch or painting.

Yes, there are electronic Sketching and Painting apps but you still have to have the technical and artistic skill to create the image.

I still love Photography but it takes up a different place in my life these days. Equipment-wise, I’m heading towards Mirror-less cameras and a high-end compact that I can take anywhere.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my journey in Sketching and Painting and I can see myself continuing this journey for many years to come.

Written by David Johnson

11 October 2020