Just got "Art Avenue" - November/December 2012, by FCA. The project titled "A Painting in the Life of ..." is quite interesting. It uncovers the "technology" of making contemporary art particularly in Western Canada. I specially put the industrial word "technology" because a big part of painted pieces produced today doesn't stay even close to the definition of fine art. Taught fine arts at classical European and in particular Russian traditions, traditions of live drawing, traditions that are focused at art of seeing, I've never seen such pandemic of retouching the photographs (actually redrawing from photographs - for those who didn't understand) before I moved to Canada. Shot, shot , shot, ... simply redrawing or artographing - that is a technology. As the result - very detailed, but very "cold", absolutely "dead" paintings. There is no life, no feelings, there is NOTHING in them. Every time I see such "art piece" I think about the quality of the photograph from what this piece was created. In 99.99% it is bad. Because photography is an art itself. True photographer never gives anyone his good photograph for copying and "creating" painting. "As opposed to paintings from traditional hand held photographs, I prefer to paint directly from my laptop ...". This guy is not talking about computer arts, specific and very interesting direction in visual arts. He is talking about painting traditional landscapes...I would be ashamed to say that. Here I go to the point:
What distinguishes artists from others? The art of seeing, the art of interpretation, transformation of mood, feelings, and so on, associated with what was seen into a piece of art. Styles, techniques, media and so on are just secondary. All these is just a routine and can be trained from ground zero. Art of seeing. Here is a gift, a talent. If person is not able to see, catch and understand the gist, very often momentary, feeling, atmosphere, connections, but is able just to see the object itself he/she is not able to make a good photograph too. Such photograph will be not a piece of art but just memorizing of a dead object. However, even such photograph will be better than painting made from it.
The following comparison illustrates my words: just take a look at static and even dead marine landscapes of some contemporary artists and live marinas of true master Ivan Aivazovsky (see for instance here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Aivazovsky#Gallery) who never used "laptop allowing to zoom in and out as required for better understanding of the subject..." Do you see the difference? Perhaps our contemporary "artist" needs zooming just because he is blind and is not able to see ...? Aivazovsky didn't need "better understanding the subject" he knew it and felt. I'm sure that thousands of true artists agree with me. This is just one example, I can provide with hundreds comparisons like that.
Obviously, that issue I just touched is quite critical at contemporary art landscape. Hopefully, live drawing is coming back.