December 07, 2013

Twelve inches and twelve feet

Found another interesting pearl of wisdom in Kit White's "101 things to Learn in Art School" (The MIT Press, 2011) as lesson #65:
"A painting should be satisfying at a distance of both twelve inches and twelve feet.
 At the shorter distance, the facture* should establish the painting's integrity and be sensually satisfying. A confused or poorly constructed surface signals lack of command of the medium. At the greater distance, the composition of the whole needs to reveal itself as a convincing and meaningful assemblage of information. Rework the painting until it can pass this test."
* "facture": the quality of the execution of a painting; an artist's characteristic handling of the paint.
 Kit White accompanied this by an own image after Claude Monet.

Now, with photography you normally capture enough details to give more information to the viewers of your images that step up close enough. Whether that additional detail is satisfying is a completely different point. I generally find textures of a subject in a photograph interesting and satisfying so I normally tend to be one of those spectators that zoom in close on any image - be it a painting or a photograph.
What the specific charm about textures is I don't know. But I know that I mostly dislike images without such textural details: Some images of Jeff Coons just look like plain "painting-by-numbers" to me because they are devoid of brush-strokes and thus revealing no more details, no more passion, or any subtleties once you step closer.

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