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Old 01-14-2009, 01:46 PM   #1
Mike McCarty Mike McCarty is offline
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Photo vs Painted Portrait




After reading the thread "Mind Boggling Proposal" I was reminded of a inquiry I got a couple of years ago from an anonymous source. I never got around to posting my response here. Although not completely to the subject it does touch around the edges of the matter.

The following is the e-mail inquiry followed by my response:


"I'm writing to ask if you could forward information explaining the aesthetic value of an oil portrait, as compared to a photograph of the subject. In other words, what is it about an oil portrait that elevates and justifies its higher price?"

Thank you for your attention,


Dear ,

Given the fact that there are lousy photographs, as well as bad painted portraits, I speak here only of quality work.

As you probably know, people have been taking photographs for well over a hundred years, and yet, during that time the photograph has done little to replace the painted portrait as one of the highest forms of human expression.

There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that a photograph is the product of a mechanical device done in a split second. The hundredth copy is just as good as the original. Anyone with a finger and quality equipment can snap off a dozen in a tenth of a minute. A photo is a recording, a documentation of an individual. This comes in handy for all manner of projects such as passports, yearbooks, weddings and the like. If what you want is documentation then a photo fits the bill very well.

A painted portrait, however, is much more. A painted portrait is at its least a hand made original, a one of a kind. But it
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Old 01-14-2009, 02:33 PM   #2
Mary Ann Archibald Mary Ann Archibald is offline
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Nice response.

I think once a person has been bitten by the richness that can be expressed with paint, it is very hard to be satisfied with a photograph.
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Old 01-14-2009, 03:23 PM   #3
Michele Rushworth Michele Rushworth is offline
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This is terrific, Mike!

I've been reading about your travels and travails -- I hope things work out well for you in Tulsa!
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