Besides her art, one of the things I like best about watercolorist and teacher June Rollins is her never-flagging positive and generous attitude about her art and art, in general.
In one of her recent posts – https://junerollins.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/be-careful-when-drawing-on-watercolor-paper/ – June opened up an interesting side discussion of camera obscura and other tools artists use to aid in their process.
The argument – carried on across a number of articles, blogs, and other threads – boils down to two factions:
1. Real Artists always free-hand draw their subjects. Anyone who uses a tool (camera obscura, overhead/opaque projector, grid – you get the gist) to help them draw is a cheater and should not dare call themselves an artist!
2. Artists have always adopted tools that make them more able to produce better (in their own eyes, for that’s all that matters) art. Get over it!
As with a lot of arty things, I formed a pretty quick opinion, but – as with some of my other hastily-formed opinions – after more thorough consideration of the big (overhead-projected-traced) picture; I’ve changed my mind. ( I love that about the older me, by the way.)
While I initially sided with the “must free-hand to be artist” argument, some brilliant counterarguments began to overtake me. We do not doubt the physician’s commitment to his art because he chooses to use a stethoscope, instead of relying on his unaided ears. Prima ballerinas are not less magnificent because they wear pointe shoes. Beethoven was not diminished as a composer because he used more instruments than had been available to his predecessors.
Common sense led me to conclude that artist’s tools are no different: brushes, hammers, cameras, rulers, pigments . . . they are tools.
My now-well-considered opinion is that, to be an artist, simply have your own original thought. Once you do that, the manner in which you render that idea doesn’t really matter.