Redefining Underpainting

View image in full resolution here.

View image in full resolution here.

In focusing on creativity as a main adventure in my day, I am facing an internal struggle with what is “true creativity” in my creative process. Technology allows me to create in new ways I couldn’t have imagined ten years ago. In this process, I want to redefine “underpainting” to include the first selected and chosen photographic image.

This takes me to my passion for the concept of “underpainting” which I tend to use even when painting with watercolours. What has got me musing, and experimenting, is the technological advances that allow me to start with an image I’ve captured in a digital photograph and then begin “overpainting” until it is rendered as an oil painting or ink sketch in further digital applications.

( I’m not a photoshop artist nor have I yet ventured in the direction of actual layering images to gain a photograph that gives me a desired finished product. I may at some point – but it has not come to that yet.)

This is my question to self: “Is the finished work (which I am pleased with) having begun with a photographic “underpainting” and resulting in an oil or ink “overpainting” while never picking up a brush or hand-mixing a colour a legitimate creative process?”

Here is another example where I am equally satisfied with the “overpainting” and the original photographic “underpainting.”

View image in full resolution here.

View image in full resolution here.

Sprout Question: How do you define legitimate creativity in your own creative processes?

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10 thoughts on “Redefining Underpainting

  1. I like to think of all creativity as equally legitimate. I had a conversation around art and levels of art and value and good and bad today with my honey, who is an art professor. Sometimes all that intellectual stuff gets in the way… I am open to creativity, period.

    Thanks for the question. I look forward to getting to know you better through CED2010.

    • Julie thank you for being the first to step up on the blog to answer today’s Sprout Question. I am tending in the same direction as you are such as viewing “all creativity as equally legitimate.” Yet, I think there are margins and soft boundaries that we set limits both personally and within groups. My next step is to sit down with my materials and see what I can do away from the digital images. I want to explore/feel what is different… getting out of my head and into the physical medium of the images – but that is getting ahead of today’s Creative Potager post and question.

      So glad you stopped by Julie and I also looking forward to getting to know you as well.

  2. to me true creativity is the process by which we better our selfs. The way we can do this is through learning, about ourself, the world and how we relate to others.
    any process one employes in a craft which contributes to the creative act is legitimate.

    • Jerry, I resonate with your answer. I can feel myself sighing out of the self-created hook I experienced while processing these recent images from photos to paintings. You make it sound so simple. Like “what was all my fuss about” I say to me. Well it is necessary learning, reflecting and likely relearning again over time. Nice to be in a community of artists such as you to help give me a gentle nudge when I get stuck. Thank you!

  3. legitimate creative process? Yes I think so. It is digital art, just as you have oil paintings and water colors. Different but art still. But then I am a little biased as I love playing with pictures digitally. I know there are people out there who do not consider it art but it still takes a special touch and eye to get your digital art to come out right. So my take is it is just another form of art.

    • Ninnie, your comment about digit art being “just another form of art” is a heartwarming addition to this discussion.

      In my minds eye I can see my aunt and my mother frowning slightly, quietly looking at each other, raising their eye browse, giving their shoulders a small shrug with their hands turned forward. They are not quite convinced but curiously amused and willing to give “this digital thing” the benefit of the doubt.

      On your blog, you have a new image posted for December 12th that I would like to call “china cup – across generations.” I wonder if it is this generational passage of time that I have found myself on the cusp of? I certainly have never felt I had to make my paints from pigment or press my own art paper for a painting to be a “legitimate creative process.” These are tools – tools that I create with. Now I have a few digital tools to create with as well.

      Thank you Ninnie for coming by and joining in the conversation:)

  4. “legitimate creativity” what a great term. I venture to compare “legitimite” with “usual” creativity: Any type of creative work that has a focus, a purpose (no matter how loosely defined) and consistent determined care over a period time develops into what I would call “legitimate” and what sets a normal creative person apart from what we may call ‘artist.’ An artist devotes time, energy, commitment and a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the exploration of what is possible to create in this world. Any means, tools and devices can be part of this (so, i truly do include any type of digital overpainting in my conclusion!)

    • Tobin when I started getting twitter responses and posted comments on this post, I began to feel maybe I had been too heavy handed with posing the question using “legitimate creativity” as the jumping off point. But while slept, I had this dream where I am talking to a very elder woman (likely myself at 85) who tells me “oh, I do all my creative work digitally. My hand and shoulder are too stiff to paint with a brush anymore.”

      I’m particularly taken with your sentence… “An artist devotes time, energy, commitment and a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the exploration of what is possible to create in this world.” And you do! I have been admiring your softie creations for awhile now.

      So glad you made it by Tobin and best of exploring:)

  5. You said: How do you define legitimate creativity in your own creative processes?

    There is no illegitimate creativity, it’s a moot question! If we have arguments with ourselves over what is acceptable as a form of creativity, we stifle our potential. Ah-ha, that’s why this is the sprout question. Take my rebuttal a step further and see if we can justify the crazy meanderings of modern art, like using real chicken carcasses as art…wrapping buildings in a pink mylar-like material…placing used bottle caps onto a piece of wood…I see where you are going.

    I suppose it’s about drawing the line somewhere. People love to argue about what to call art. Integral to that question is the deeper question you posed; what do we call creativity?

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