The medium is the message
Tintypes, paintings and everything else
Some time ago now, I had the honor of learning how to make Tintype photographs with my good friend, Charles Harrigan. What I learned that day changed my perception of the creation of art.
I always admired the early photographs of Victorian men and women, with old school looks. But what I wondered how they appeared so haunting and ghost-like. I assumed that people back then just looked different. But what I learned with my friend Charlie was that it was the medium of early photograph that created the hauntingly cool appearance of the past. The interesting thing is that red pigment in skin of otherwise in tintype photograph becomes dark in the final image. So a blush can turn into a swarthy appearance. I tend to have red cheeks myself, but I am actually fairly pale. The tintype turned me into a swarthy creature from the past.
So what I learned was that the medium itself was responsible for the look that I admired. The lesson can also be applicable to painting as well. I will say that I am a believer in practice first and foremost, but there is something to be said for the tools that you use. Just as tintypes create a different aesthetic from digital photography; an oil ground can produce a different effect from dreaded acrylic grounds.
Test things out and experiment to find out what you like. Knowledge is power.
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