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May Insight | How painting realism teaches me to paint fantasy

May Insight | How painting realism teaches me to paint fantasy

I’ve recently been dabbling in oil painting a bit. It’s different from my digital and client work, and I imagine my next step being some still lives or some more elaborate portrait studies. 

I’m basically painting realism and trying to copy what I see as best as I can instead of trying to put my own spin on shapes and concepts too much. But it’s still helping me with my day-to-day work. How?

The point of painting fantasy is to have it be plausible in some way and fit in its context, despite rationally knowing it’s not possible. There’s a term for that: suspension of disbelief. If a book is floating in mid-air, you want to be able to believe it’s floating because everything else matches up – the colors, the lighting, its shape. And the more you study what *would* happen if the fantasy thing were to happen, the better you can trick your audience into suspending its disbelief.

If something doesn’t match up – you see the wire that’s holding up the floating book, for example – the suspension breaks and your audience is back in their rational mind, analyzing why it doesn’t work. 

Knowing realism means you can warp it the way you need when you enter surrealism. Painting is like magic – it’s the art of deception. 😉

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