More on Translation

Armand Cabrera

Translating is important  to understand if you want to paint in a representational style. Translating is more than just converting what you see in the real world into two dimensional shapes, its also important to key the painting in a number of ways.  Keying a painting is part of translating what you see.  It is what we really do when we paint and especially when we paint from life. 


Pigment can’t get the real amount of saturation or values of light and darks of nature. An artist has  to paint the relationshipsof what they see, editing them down to fit into the ranges available to the limited properties of their colors.  Artists have to key a limited set of paints to represent everything from white equals the orb of the sun to black equals the shadow under a rock in pigments. The same limitations apply to all aspects of the image drawing, color and every aspect of the scene in general- contrast, edge quality, details. 


A good painter gets the relationships to read properly relative to everything else in the scene. A weak painter gets none or some to read right but puts unnecessary emphasis or importance to other elements breaking the harmony of the picture as a whole.


As long as the painting has this internal consistency of handling it will be successful. It’s not any one thing but the relation of all things and the vision the artist has for  the image. This is what is really happening when we paint and why it is important to be aware of the whole painting at all times while we paint. The translation must be uniform to make it believable  and incorporate the artists intent for the finished image. These relationships and hierarchies of the translated world create mood and veracity in the image. 


Paintings from top to bottom
I. Levitan, D. Bunker, H.Von Zugel, I. Shishkin, H. Herzog