A year ago we published plans and instructions for building the display panels we use in our art festival boothannounced. Since then we’ve added a section on how we attach the panels to the booth without using the legs and another section on how to make sure neighboring panels stay aligned. You can find this new information at www.beehappygraphics.com/panels.html. The downloadable version on that page has also been updated. Enjoy!
To be transparent, I must say I’ve developed some theories about the biases of art critics and the judges of art festivals, based mostly on their selections of art to be awarded prizes at these festivals (and maybe my own biases). I’ve noticed certain patterns that I was hesitant to discuss here until I had taken the time to formally learn something about art. That hasn’t happened yet, but we did have an opportunity to discuss photography (more specifically, nature and wildlife photography) with the judges at one recent art festival and I feel compelled to address one aspect of that discussion. My comments on the other aspects may wait until I satisfy my original goals/requirements. Today’s comments involve canvas.
The Judges’ Remarks
One of the judges said, “I’ve Never Seen A Photograph On Canvas That I Like”. There were three judges at the table when Nancy approached them. Their views were all consistent. Other remarks included “When I see a photograph on canvas I think the photographer is trying to impersonate a painter” and ‘When I see a picture wrapped around the edge of the canvas, it makes me think they are adapting a larger picture to a frame that is too small.’ One judge pointed out that painters don’t paint the side of their canvas.
Those familiar with our website know there are already two places where I’ve referred to painters as pre-photographers:
- Our New Philosophy On Printing Titles & Signatures published August 23, 2016, and
- Media Choices
You also know I’ve even chided fellow photographers for not keeping up with the times Stop Thinking Like A Film Photographer!.
A Dose of Reality
Painters like Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) and Georges Seurat (1859-1891) (see the first note in “A Question About Pixels”) are just two examples of artists who led society into the future, not followed. I’m sure if Leonardo had a camera, he would have used it in a flash (forgive the pun, I couldn’t help myself). These two and their peers would be saddened (or worse) to think that painters now feel unable to keep up with society and judges feel a need to artificially reserve materials and techniques specifically for painters in an effort to level the playing field.
Now I’d like to address some of their remarks individually.
“When I see a photograph on canvas I think the photographer is trying to impersonate a painter”
A few months before this conversation, a painter at another prominent festival in Florida won Best Of Show and $10,000 for impersonating a photographer. I know another artist who uses pencil to imitate black & white photographs. This is called realism, which apparently artists have tried (with varying degrees of success) throughout history, most notably in the Realist Movement of the mid-nineteenth century.
So here’s a question: if canvas-using photographers are impersonating painters, who was Leonardo impersonating when he painted the two versions of Virgin of the Rocks in oils on wooden panels? A sculptor, maybe? Maybe a carpenter like the protagonist in his famous mural
“The Last Supper”? Or maybe that particular impersonation has been reserved for the judges.
“When I see a picture wrapped around the edge of the canvas, it makes me think they are adapting a larger picture to a frame that is too small.”
Well maybe that’s why painters do it. After all, contrary to the one judge’s declaration, some painters do paint the sides. But have you ever see a painter warp the image around the edge so that at some angle it creates an illusion and looks like a continuation of the front image (as described in the Canvas section of our Services page)? While we are at it, have you ever seen a painter camouflage their signature to make it less distracting (which solves a problem some critics have complained to photographers about)? Here’s how we do it ( Our New Technique For Signatures & Titles). Come on, painters, try to keep up!
“I’ve Never Seen A Photograph On Canvas That I Like”
I recently heard from another wildlife photographer about a time when a judge took a liking to one of her images, but then left without comment. When the judge came back the second time, he asked if she had another copy of that image that wasn’t printed on canvas. Fortunately, she did, because that second copy won her the second-highest award in the festival.
In our booth and online, I’ve discussed the magical properties of canvas. When people see one of Nancy’s images on canvas they are more likely to ask “Is this a painting?’ or are more likely to comment that it looks three-dimensional. For some strange reason, it is also perfectly acceptable to print a particular photograph larger on canvas.
So it is especially disturbing, and sad, that a judge would make a statement like this. Photographers follow the same rules of composition and the same principles of art, but for a judge to admit that these are not important, to me is an admission that the judges don’t really know what makes a piece of art special and are just grasping at fads or straws.
At least that’s how I see it (I guess now is a good time to remind you that the views expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of management). So what’s your view. If any of you can make better sense of these judges’ remarks, your comments are also welcome.
Christine, whom we met at the Deerfield Beach Festival, asked
I see your (SD card) info indicates pixels. I have a 7-inch digital frame and wonder if that would be appropriate for a beautiful presentation.
If I understand your question, you are asking if your 7-inch digital picture frame would be compatible with the images that are 600 pixels along one edge and 800 along the other on our SD card, or even if it would do the pictures justice?
The judges at our camera club generally agree that bigger pictures have more impact. But then there’s an old saying that “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Chances are your picture frame will do just fine.
What are pixels?
Pixels are the little dots of color that make up the images in your frame and on your TV, etc.
It took him two years to complete the work. In contrast, you could be enjoying Nancy’s work in about ten seconds (the time it takes to pop the SD card into the frame).
The more dots, the more detail.
Not All Frames Are The Same
We made the pictures on the SD card 600 x 800 because that was the most common size for digital picture frames at the time. I just did some research and found that 7″ frames can have resolutions from as low as 480 x 234 up to 1024 x 600 (and 15″ frames have about the same number of pixels as the 7″ frames). The frame we had at our booth was 8″ and had 600 x 800 pixels, and I thought it looked good (except that it wasn’t very good at competing with the sunlight. We recommend these digital picture frames for indoor use only) . A 7″ frame with the same number of pixels should also look good.
What If The Number Of Pixels In The Frame Is Different Than The Number In The Picture?
If the picture is larger, the frame will just take the pixels it needs to fill the frame.
If the picture is smaller, the frame will usually just put a black border around it. There are algorithms (in computer software) that will add enough pixels to fill the frame, guessing what the missing pixels should look like by studying the other pixels in the neighborhood, but I’m not sure that all digital picture frames use that software.