Set up our old flatbed scanner this week. its this monster Epson that we purchased at an office liquidation sale back in 2005. Originally it was owned by Escape studios, the place responsible for the last two matrix movies, Constantine, and of course Catwoman starring Halle Berry. When we were setting up Massive Black, we caught wind that they were looking to sell off equipment, we moved it quickly and bought a bunch of stuff. This scanner was probably one of the best things we acquired, as its now getting close to 20 years old now and it still cranks. (though i added the eyes in photoshop)
First thing I did after setting it up was scan some paintings! The scanning bed is 12×18 inches, so it’s fairly easy to scan medium to small works on it. Larger stuff you can scan in sections and I found that the photo merge feature in photoshop does a good job of lining the scans up seamlessly.
I looooove large scans of paintings. If you can’t see the original in person, it’s the next best thing. Observing the surface of a painting in detail, its much easier to understand how the artist is achieving whatever effects they’re getting. Paintings can be read like books, but in order to truly understand what they’re saying you have to get close enough to read the “words” in depth.
I was about 25 the first time I got to travel around a little and go see real master paintings. I’d already been painting for a couple of years, and had a decent understanding of how paint worked, but seeing some of these works first hand ABSOLUTELY BLEW MY MIND!!!!
In person, there was SO much more to them. Up close, you could see the reworking, the scraping, the scratching, the underpinnings and literally the thought process behind the work.. I couldn’t believe how dudes like Sargent and Velasquez handled edges. it also turned me onto to painters who’s art I’d never really been into, like Monet’s optical mixing and the texture of Turner’s work . It was sobering and life altering, and it significantly changed how I approached painting from there on out.
A few years later, I was fortunate enough to catch this show of Russian realists at the D’Orsay in Paris. Again, being able to see this stuff up close was a transformative experience. It reinforced to me the thinking that a painting is meant to be read twice, both from afar and then up close. From a distance, you get this complete thought, but when you right up on it, its almost like the artist whispers to you how they made it possible.
Past couple years I’ve been doing these forest paintings, when i post them online I tend to get folks asking to see close ups. i think it’s mostly the detailed nature the subject matter and what the jpeg compression does gets people curious. a couple of days ago I posted up a google drive link to a large scan i did of this maple tree last year, and people seemed to dig it….SO like i said i scanned a few of these and figured id throw them up with a download link:
I wouldn’t put my tree paintings in the same universe as any of those great masters’ works, buuut if you’re interested in seeing how they look up close, check out the link! Its pretty cool zooming in and out in photoshop or whatever. Viewing them like this has actually been kind of helpful for me to pinpoint areas that are particularly successful/unsuccessful which I can hopefully keep in mind for future paintings!