The first photographic plate The First Common Photo Device Did you know the first commonly used photographic device was invented by a painter? It’s true! In 1829 French painter and chemist Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was using a camera obscura for his work on theater sets. He’d obtained the camera from an optician named Chevalier, and was introduced to Nicéphore Niépce, who had already made a photograph using his heliography invention. In 1839, Daguerre used iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor, and the Daguerreotype was the most common photographic method for 20 years. Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, Still Life in Studio, 1837 Doesn’t this photograph look like it was taken by a painter? Thursday Painting Class We’ve been thinking about photography as a painting tool in my Thursday painting class. I offered this class because most painters use photographs for references, and most painter’s photographs suck. The lighting is bad, the shadows are black holes, the highlights are blown out, the lense distorts angles, color is off, scenes are either overfull or missing vital information. (I’m holding back here.) The premise of the class is how to use photography to make better paintings. Clearly this isn’t about copying an image, it’s about using the camera as a tool. Everyone has got a phone with a camera, and the printer has bluetooth, so we can shoot and print a scene instantly in the studio. After establishing that cameras aren’t perfect and can’t be trusted with information like angles, light, and color, we jumped into talking about cameras can be helpful, and made some scenes. We experimented with lighting effects, and studied how lighting direction can jump start movement in a composition. (I made this up but I’m pretty sure it’s true at least some of the time). We talked about choosing objects within a scene to communicate mood, character, and narrative. The placement of shapes builds geometry and motif. We looked to film for inspirations. What do we leave in? What do we take out? What are the essential elements in a good painting? Here painting invents photography, photography references painting, painting influences film, film references painting. That has some bounce. Most films have figurative narratives, but many of the ideas are appropriate in other genres as well. Thursday Painting Class In Thursday class, we used foam-core shadow boxes with windows in the side to make some still lifes. We took silly pictures. We took more silly pictures. We experimented. Get the picture? What a fun way to talk about how we create our painting references. Also, it’s just a great group of people to spend an evening with. Once a week, even the fish biologist needs a little creative time. Next quarter, Thursday classes will be broken into 2 shorties. The first shortie will play with the theme “Painting from Life or Imagination.” The second shortie will be about “Abstracting an Image” and is open to both painting and drawing. Interested? Register today. We start in a few weeks!