Photorealism—the art of rendering photographs in oil paint—has been around for a while, of course, with such eminent practitioners as Chuck Close being reasonably well known. Before that, trompe l'oeil, which I've never known how to pronounce, has been around for much longer. It means "fool the eye" and refers to a hyperrealistic style of painting, mainly of still life. (I've also never known how to properly pluralize "still life." I don't think anyone does.) A friend from my high school art room, who I have not kept up with very well, Jeff Coryell, practices a style of painting that might fairly be called trompe l'oeil.
And while this is not brand new, I seem to be seeing more and more of it lately—the art of rendering black-and-white photographs into graphite pencil drawings.
The picture above isn't a photograph. It's a pencil drawing.
It's the work of Shania McDonagh, a 16-year-old Irish high school student. Shania has won the top prize in the Texaco Children's Art Competition every year since she was 12!
Of course, the drawing is...well, still sort of a photograph. Shania worked from a photograph of Coleman Coyne by James Fennell. (More at The Irish Times.) Without being judgmental, I have to add that this makes me think of another high school friend I haven't kept up with well, Carolyn Maples, whose artistically gifted young school-age daughter has a rule for herself: "Never go from flat." That is, make the conversion from three dimensions to two yourself, and don't let the camera do it for you. That resonates for me, because it was where I fell down as a young artist. I couldn't make the transition from "going from flat" to going from life. Well, I could, but it was arduous and time-consuming, and simply making a photograph that was intended to stay a photograph seemed both better and infinitiely easier.
I did much prefer monochrome media to color media as an artist, however. I liked pen and ink, old master drawings, and of course, apropos the above, pencil drawings.
Of course I'm sure there are many examples of artists who successfully "go from flat." Starting with the aforementioned Chuck Close.
(Thanks to Colossal via Jeffrey Goggin)
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Featured Comments from:
John Camp: "Your friend Jeff Coryell's work is not trompe l'oeil, it's simply realistic. A trompe l'oeil is meant to literally fool the eye, and nobody would look at a framed piece of your friend's art and think that the wall was full of rocks.
"If you look at the work of a real trompe l'oeil painting like those of John F. Peto, you will see that many of his paintings represent something like a bulletin board with little scraps of paper and notes and even money thumbtacked to it, so that at a glance, it really does look like a bulletin board, rather than a painting—it fools the eye.
"As for the hyper-realistic drawings made from photos, they are photos—they're just printed using a different method: a pencil. This is a craft form, not an art form (any art was done by the camera operator.) It's difficult and meticulous and time-consuming, but so is typing up legal documents, and few people would consider the typing of legal documents to be an art form."
Kevin Purcell: "Tromp Loy" should be good enough for Waukesha (which I can't pronounce)."
Mike replies: And who could blame you.
Jason: "I've noticed that people seem to be impressed by drawings or paintings that look like photos and photos that look like drawings or paintings."