plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos

We have had much discussion about painting from photographs (e.g. here, here and here). What about painting on photographs? Artist Erika Meershoek and photographer Dennis Moet of Haarlem have teamed up to do just this. Their work is a powerful synthesis of the two media, which, beyond its visual impact, turns the photography versus painting discussion on its head.

Everyone knows about Photoshop and its power to manipulate images. What painters realize, however, is that the tools in Photoshop are impoverished compared to what an artist can do with real paint. Why digitally manipulate a photograph, when you can paint on it directly?

The answer is that when painting directly on a photograph, you arrive at something which is neither a photograph nor a painting, but a conceptual and physical blend of the two. A traditional photographer or painter might not feel comfortable with this new form. But looking at the great results (and presumably fun) that Erika and Dennis are getting, I find myself asking, why don’t I do this also?

Of course, beyond getting over the intellectual barriers of thinking of photography and painting as separate art forms, there is the issue of how to do it well. Erika and Dennis each bring special talents to the work. It would be a mistake to assume that one could casually achieve such powerful results.

Painting on photographs has a long history and is enjoying popularity now as well. Erika and Dennis would never claim to have invented this technique. Their contribution is in pushing it to a new level.

What do you say, photographers and painters? Should we collaborate, or stick with our traditional media?