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Oops, thought we could upload a doc…. Here is my submission:
When I was in high school I loved to draw and I was certain that I would end up going into the arts. However, due to some life events, I fell away from that passion and ended up going into computers. To this day however, I still love art and more specifically, artists that can capture extraordinary detail in their work. Maybe that’s what has drawn me to photography… detail.
While deciding on an artist for this assignment I had to choose a painter, not a photographer. This is because it was a specific painter that captured my attention as a teenager and amazed me with the talent he must have to create his works. Chuck Close is simply exceptional and no one can capture detail better.
It seems to me that any photographer would naturally be drawn to Chuck Close. His portraits reveal camera-like detail but he uses oil paint, not lenses, f-stops or shutter speeds. The emotion, flaws, atmosphere and beauty that are so important to a good portrait photograph are present in a Close painting. In fact, the school of art that Close represented was called Photorealism.
So what painting grabbed my attention and led me to an obsession with detail and realism; Close’s “Big Self-Portrait”. This painting is incredible, he reveals every detail and managed to do this by using a fairly monochromatic color pallet. I was actually introduced to the painter in a high school art history class. Typically, I had a hard time staying awake because the teacher was so boring. However, when the slide came up with this particular image, my attention was focused and I was hooked.
Close takes photographs, in the 60’s he typically used Polaroids, and grids them using a technique that has been used since the Renaissance. He then takes the image and transfers it to canvas block by block using paint. I still get amazed by how he can manipulate such a limited color selection. It’s almost in complete gray-scale and he achieves the same tonal ranges we struggle to get in a good black and white photograph. Even Ansel Adams would be envious.
Aside from from his manipulation of color, or lack there of, you cannot help but be amazed by the detail he reveals. In “Big Self-Portrait” you can see reflections on his glasses, skin flaws, individual strands of hair and even smoke from the cigarette that dangles precariously from his mouth.
Finally, aside from the detail and ability to manipulate color, what amazes me is Close’s patience. His paintings can take months or even years to complete. As photographers, we are often blessed with a great photo in less than a second. However, I feel I can learn from Close. If I demonstrate patience with my photography, I can get the “exact” shot I want to create. You don’t get great photos by being impatient, you get lucky. Great photos take time to think out and compose, just like great paintings.