Based on a True Story
I lied. I am happy to admit it. Or more to the point, I bent reality. Artists do this just like novelists, poets, politicians and screen writers do. You know at the beginning of a film you sometimes see “Based on a true story” – what does this mean? How much is true and how much is invented to create a watchable two and a half hours at the cinema?
You can see what I wrote about the above drawing in my post of several weeks ago called “Step by Step“. I was describing the picture you are looking at – describing my invention. The reality? The old lady in the background is not nearly as stooped as you see. There was a third person in the scene who was bowing at that second to her. The old lady was bowing to this (now) invisible person. Immediately afterwards she straightened up and strode forth with as much vigour as the young woman in the foreground. Also there was some building construction happening so there were bits of timber and orange cones littered about.
I wanted to tell a story as well as create a respectable pictorial composition. So I took out the bowing third person and the construction materials. I bent reality my way. Out of true events, I created my story.
I remember years ago showing a gallery owner some of my oil paintings. The guy barked at me, “Why did you put that in?” while looking at something I had painted in one of them. “Because it was there!” I indignantly replied. He went on to have an apoplectic fit at my answer. “Because it was THERE? That is the worst thing you could say! You’re an artist for goodness sake…” etc etc – something like that. Of course I was offended but I do get his point. He was saying LESS IS MORE. If it isn’t essential to the story; if it actually gets in the way of the dramatic essence, then it shouldn’t go in from the start.
These days, every time I consider a photo I am going to use as source material for a drawing, I ask myself, “What do I want to convey here? What is my point? What is my story?” I employ what is called artistic licence.
Less is more. I don’t know who came up with that statement however I endorse it. And a little redistribution/embellishment of the facts doesn’t hurt either!