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My Artistic Statement

Like this chop - "All Good Sailing" - my images are primarily directed along a positive vector. Very few of them are dark and morose, while many are whimsical, sparkling, fascinating.  In my view, even my "dark" images are at least whimsical and I hope fascinating. Whenever I characterize my work, I say it's eclectic and free-ranging, i.e "Libertas" - Latin for unfettered, liberated.

My images present an array of subject genres including abstract, arboreal, buildings and structures, creatures, flowers, foliage, landscapes. My art naturally follows what I love: animals, plants, trees, insects, floral blooms, buildings, waters.

A work of mine begins in the camera or on the scanner bed.  I look far and wide for subjects, from closeup opportunities to broad, multi-shot panoramas.  I am not looking for something that is simply "photogenic," but rather I seek subjects from which I can visualize a final image emerging after significant processing in graphic applications.  Some images I will even use as reference to create a digital painting using realistic digital brushes, textures and substrates (see Winter Fence in my galleries as an example).

A picture, whether it be a physical media painting, a digital image from camera or scanner, or a digital painting, is a product of light, shadow, colors or grayscale shades, sharp and soft edges, textures, etc.  The components are finite, but the combinations are nearly infinite.  Therefore, at every step the artist makes important decisions, and the only real advantage that digital media provides over traditional media is that changes are easier to undo and redo, sometimes (and of course no brushes to clean).

As a long-time traditional artist using primarily oils and acrylics on canvas or board, I sometimes miss the mixing of colors, the tactile richness of brush strokes and scrumbled colors and a well-executed dry brush technique.  Nevertheless, I find equally satisfying and even exciting capabilities in the digital image world where there seem to be no limits to artistic interpretation and expression.

Let's circle back around to more detail about some of the processes I ordinarily use.  In camera I can decide on exposure or let the camera do it  (I always adjust exposure myself); set depth of field (whether the background of the featured object is blurry and muted, or sharp); and of course focus. 

There are other issues such as selecting shutter speed based on several criteria, choosing a lens, and sometimes lighting the scene.  For any photographer working "professionally" (on assignment, for example), or as a fine art photographer or an advanced not-yet-professional, these decisions often must be made in seconds if the scene or its lighting are changing rapidly.  Of course being able to do this requires a lot of practice, and a lot of painful evaluation of one's own shots time after time.

Equally, in the computer one can execute many gentle modifications such as darkening a sky, opening up shadows, tweaking the picture's color cast, compositing two or more images together to better convey the original vision, and sometimes removing unsightly or distracting objects from the image.

There's a belief out there that "Photoshopping" an image is cheating, an attempt to create secret illusions and fool the viewer.  While Photoshop and a very experienced operator can do a great job of realistically placing one person's head on another person's body, few artists are interested in such antics.  Everything that an artist does in digital image software is for the purpose of bringing out the artist's originally conceived vision.  In the end not so much different conceptually than spreading pigments with brushes or executing technically difficult glazes.

I'd like nothing better than to have you stand beside me while I shoot and later edit images, to see how I accomplish my artistic objectives of affecting the viewer's senses, emotions, and intellect with my image.  We'd have fun, and I think you'd be engrossed.

I approach each of my subjects with my own unique sensibilities combined with techniques to realize those sensibilities (i.e. intuition and tools = capabilities).  But I hold none of my techniques close to my chest, and am pleased to share my artistic processes with anyone.  In fact, this blog will provide a platform for such sharing.

I believe that a particular artistic philosophy and sensibility permeates good artistic work anywhere, and this is what guides my approach to my own work.

Robert Wilkinson,, 2011