Painting realistically is an act of observation and reflection by the artist. Every painting is an expression of the light, space, structure and form that are the grammar and syntax of a language perfectly suited to describing visual experiences. “Here is something I saw,” says the artist as reporter, as witness to the physical world.
But realism in painting is more than mere description. Even the most faithful representation is not simply a record of nature, but an impression passed from the eye to the mind to the hand of the artist. Hundreds of decisions, both conscious and unconscious, combine through the artist’s physical manipulation of paint to make every picture unique, elevating it beyond prosaic description into the realm of meditation – a profound and quiet reflection on the physical world around us. This hybrid of depiction and contemplation is the singular strength of realist painting, and is the reason it remains compelling despite technological advancements in image-making. Each painting offers its own combination of how something looks and how it looks to the artist.
The Canadian painter Alex Colville has rightly observed that a photograph is “taken” but a painting is “made”. I feel this is an important distinction and lies at the heart of my continued fascination with the painted image.
David Jamieson received an MFA cum laude from the New York Academy of Art, and in 2000 was named the first Prince of Wales Scholar of that institution. He has taught life drawing, painting and anatomy in Toronto, New York City, and at the Prince’s Foundation in London, England, and for five years was a full-time faculty member of the American Academy of Art in Chicago, teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses. His work has been featured in American Artist Drawing Magazine, and in group exhibitions in Toronto, Chicago and New York City. His work is also included in the collections of HRH The Prince of Wales, Eileen Guggenheim, and other private collections in Canada and the United States. He currently paints and teaches in his studio in Chicago, Illinois.