Posted a photo of Heading Home on BirdForum last week and had some really great comments. Unsurprisingly, there were lots of it-looks-just-like-a-photograph type comments amongst them, and one saying it was photorealistic. But is it? I always think of photorealism as being incredibly detailed, and my dictionary describes such work as “Style of art characterised by the highly detailed depiction of ordinary life with the impersonality of a photograph”.
(I can imagine a few photographers would have some comments to make about the “impersonality” claim! Don’t blame me, I’m only quoting.)
Personally I don’t think HH is photographic, though yes, I did use photographs for some of the reference material. I’d agree it’s accurate in that the proportions and markings are correct and the tones carefully observed. But detailed – no. Accuracy of colour has been sacrificed for artistic unity and individual feathers certainly aren’t depicted. I deliberately tried to concentrate on tone at the expense of detail.
Ultimately, I suppose it doesn’t matter about giving it a style name tag. What mattered was interpreting the scene honestly and with empathy. I loved the original experience and I loved the resulting painting. I hope you’ve loved seeing it too, and if you’d like to make a comment I’ll be very happy to hear from you.