Do Artists Stretch the Truth?

Poppy, 8 x 10

Poppy, 8 x 10″, acrylic on paper, made for course sample.

After making this painting of a poppy, I began to think about how I looked at a real photo of the flower and changed it when I took it to paint. It became my own interpretation of the image as I mixed the colors, and applied them in many layers, until I came to the end.

It might begin when the artist looks at a real image, like a photo or a real object right in front of them. When a painting is finished, the artist sometimes thinks about how the real thing is changed into a new image because it is made with paint.

As I get ready to address this issue with new artists in an upcoming course I will teach, some of them will be wondering if they should try to paint exactly what they see, or if they should listen to an inner voice that wants to just paint and see what happens. It may will boil down to what each person decides, as they paint, hopefully not as a completely intellectual decision, but also an intuitive one. A person works this out. It comes with practice and enjoyment of free painting, not worried about what anyone else thinks.

This brings us back to the original question, are artists stretching the truth when we paint real things? It is an interesting phrase in our culture, and so I looked it up and found many results that actually made me smile, rebellious little part of me did. So here are the resulting words about “Stretching the Truth”…

embellish, aggrandize, amplify, dramatize, elaborate, enhance, enlarge, expand, falsify, heighten, magnify, overdo, overstate, pad, puff, romanticize, blow-up, make federal case, play up, build up.

The funny thing is, as an artist, I found myself wishing to my art will do ALL of these things! (Well, I will not falsify, maybe. That sounds like trying to make up a phony passport or something.) But I do think art does all of these other things, and for a reason. We have the privilege of looking at something in our world that triggers a creative thought, and then make a painting or drawing or sculpture that tells us what our inner eyes are seeing about this thought.

But don’t forget, fellow artist, that people out there in our world really want to see the art you make. Our world needs this more than ever. So, my thought here, is “share.”

There will be people who will love to see what you share, and maybe even create a bit of talk with each other.

thank you for reading,



2 Responses to “Do Artists Stretch the Truth?”

  1. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    Wow! That is so beautiful! I love your version.


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