Painting is getting chased and cornered by photography. The other day I saw a published shot of a Cedar Waxwing and thought, OK, what’s the point of painting? I could never beat it and it has an authority that painting doesn’t. Nobody can really deny that a Cedar Waxwing looks that good, after all, it’s a photograph. But there are shots a photographer could never get and Orcas in the Salish Sea is one of these. I used as reference scrap (I paint freehand) a shot of some exposed rocks in the San Juan Archipelago (I don’t know where exactly and didn’t know when I was on the boat exactly where we were, which is usual out there for me) that had a fair sprinkling of birds on it, mostly Black Oystercatchers. The painting has a couple of Pelagic Cormorants, a Short-billed Gull and the Oystercatchers, not to mention the Bonaparte’s Gull that is banking over the Orcas. The scene moves this exposed rock to where it’s in front of the Olympics and brings them 50 miles closer and puts some land on the right, I just wanted it there. Nothing here in my hopes at least challenges verisimilitude too much–such a scene is nearly a realistic possibility and nothing is rare, but it’s something Photography could never even think about doing except with software tools, and then the Photographer would have crossed the line into painting.
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