Do Materials Affect Results?
Over this past weekend, I've been doing some serious thinking about how materials affect outcomes in terms of aesthetics. I got a fountain pen for my birthday, which I've been using extensively to write and draw with. But I also just finished a new portrait and got to see an amazing Bouguereau painting. I've been having a lot of paradigm shifts and want to share my thoughts with you all.
The conclusion that I've come to also relates to my experience with my friend Charlie who is an academic painter and photographer. I sat for a tintype portrait a few years ago and the experience changed my perceptions. I used to think that people looked different back-in-the-day, but that isn't true. The truth is that tintypes change your appearance because red pigment is translated to a darkness, so the result is a swarthy, darker look. I have reddish cheeks, which made me look very tan in the photograph. The tintype also has one level of focus, which gives the image a startling life-like quality.
I'll say also that materials aren't the biggest factor in all of this; practice, technique and patience weigh much more heavily. I've learned that writing with a fountain pen requires more patience than writing with a ballpoint pen. You need to write slowly and deliberately. Another cool aspect is that the fountain pen's nib wears down according to your way of writing so it becomes personalized.
This also makes me realize that our age is fixated on individuality and finding your own voice. I think this is a risky mindset to have because it leads to people thinking they must break away completely from tradition. Why must we break away from traditions when those traditions perform well? It's like we're focused on always finding bigger and better things.
I'm an old school kind of person, but it feels like these materials are completely revolutionary to me. I encourage everyone to give the past a respectful look and to think more about traditional materials.
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