Turning photographs into photo-realistic paintings is a true art

It is one of the great misconceptions to think that the impressionists really caught a momentary impression of nature and recreated it on canvas. Nobody can paint so fast to achieve that. The movement of the sun across the sky is much too swift, the situation of light and shade changes are too fast for any artist to reproduce a single moment. What the impressionists put on canvas were images representative of an impression, but composed of momentary recognitions and cognitive experiences. Their paintings constitute documents of visual experience, and that is what made their art so different from that of their predecessors. The impression lies in the eyes of the beholder, initiated by a certain way of painting. Impressionism is painting, the production of images, not an attempt at recreating real moments like snapshot photography.

And so we turn to the great and impressive work of Kate Waters. Of course she uses photographs for her paintings. Franz von Lenbach (1836-1904) and Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) did that. And there is evidence that Edgar Degas did it, too. So the use of photographs as a starting point, be it in a material way or in the way of the angle of vision or both, is nothing new in the history of art. It has long become a commodity. The camera has taken over, at least partly, the role of the sketchbook, and quite rightly so in an age that moves so fast that one has difficulties keeping up. For Kate Waters the photographs are just this: a sketch of a situation which is then turned into a painting. She starts with grisailles of the photographic sketch, where first decisions of what to stress and what to subdue (or suppress) are taken, then the colours are painted over the grisaille, and in that process of creating a visual image, further big decisions can be and definitely are taken. Kate Waters doesn't imitate, she creates. Like in impressionist paintings, her paintings are carefully composed and, however fleeting the situation caught in the images may appear at first glance, we soon sense that we are entering a world of quiet contemplation, where all movement has come to a halt and where we are kept in admiration of the way all representation turns into a painting. See more over at Galerie Voss.