Bird of Paradise

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Bird of Paradise

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An essay by Steve Metzger
April 15, 2009
I have been painting for around forty-five years now and have seen a lot of changes in the art world. Through it all I have emulated different artists and styles that have come along , so, overall, my work might seem to lack continuity. Maybe it does, but so does our culture. Once , the only way to depict something was to draw or paint it. Now there’s digital images…you can capture an image with a cell phone and send it around the world. Why bother painting anything? Especially, a copy of a photo. Chances are, the painting will be lacking in the detail the camera can capture anyway.
So why do I do it?
The bottom line is, I enjoy painting from photographs (and digital images). I like looking at the painting when it’s in progress and when it’s done. I like the details in photos, and the way the camera crops the image, camera distortion, the monocular view thru the lens. I enjoy using the projected image to create compositions and block in territories quickly. I think of photography, digital technology, and the projected image as contemporary tools available for artists to use freely to create paintings.
Occasionally, I’ll set up a still-life in the studio and paint it traditionally, or I’ll go to various locations and paint “plein-air” paintings, but I would probably never participate in a “paint off” because I feel the only competition I have is with myself.
When a painting is finished it’s a movable piece of real-estate, it affects the space around it. I enjoy that aspect of my painting also… The perception of the finished work. It’s slow, it changes each day. Sometimes the light rakes across the surface and the painting dies…but sometimes I feel pretty good about. Looking at a painting, living with it, is so different than watching TV.
I am definitely one of the latter, I would love to sell my paintings, but not at the expense of the love of painting, or sacrificing too much time to the business of art. If what I have accomplished in a lifetime of art means anything, someone else might someday sort it out…in the meantime, I’ll be working on the next painting.

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