Charcoal Portrait and the Harsh Truth of the Camera

I was thinking that my drawing tonight was looking great until I took a picture of my work and saw the harsh truth of the camera.

There is an interesting phenomenon that every artist has experienced at least once, and most likely with every work they produce. I’m not sure how to explain it but it’s a connection with the work that makes it hard for the artist to see the flaws. I’ve seen many artists use mirrors to look at their work backwards from a distance to separate themselves from this connection. Or they will turn the canvas upside down. Sometime even stepping away from the work and looking at it from a distance will help.

So, tonight I was working very hard on this portrait after being inspired by Nicolai Fechin’s charcoal portraits and I was thinking that the drawing was going very well until I looked at the photo of it. Suddenly all kinds of errors were jumping out at me. Now I’m wondering if I should make this a part of my process. I would have benefited greatly if I had just taken a photo of the drawing early on.

Don’t get me wrong the camera phone is great, once you learn it’s limitations. For the purpose of quickly checking a work, or working out a composition, or even checking values quickly it’s great. But if your trying to take professional quality photos of your finished work forget it. As an artist going at it alone without a teacher with a discerning eye the camera can be a great point of reference outside yourself  that has no reservations in giving you the hard truth.

Charcoal Portrait and the Harsh Truth of the Camera: setup
Charcoal Portrait and the Harsh Truth of the Camera: inspiration
Nicolai Fechin Inspiration

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