globie the red-eyed tree frog
Reality is in the eye of the beholder. It’s whatever you see out there. That subtle subjective factor is what makes drawing and sketching from life both profound and pleasurable. And it can be subtly tweaked in a painting, while maintaining the illusion of objectivity.
Realism in art is not just a matter of technical skill, as some academic art critics think. You are working with small changes is details that have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the entire painting. To see this in action, simply have several realistic artists paint of draw the same subject. You’ll find differences in skill of course. But underneath that is the small differences in how each individual sees and interprets that with handling of the paint. They add up to a huge difference in each painting. No two will ever be alike. Those differences amount to the effect of the individual consciousness of that painter.
Can reality be whimsical? I painted the red-eyed tree frog for a character that would be branded and used for a line of merchandise. I used a few human gestures, basically “flirting” body language, but otherwise I made it as accurate as I could. This frog is naturally a living cartoon. The adaptations to make it more appealing to humans are very subtle.
tortoise race
For this illustration, to go with a piece about tortoises training for a race, I did the same thing–I looked at some desert tortoises and painted them standing on two legs. There is a little bit of exaggeration in the faces, but not much.
And this toucan did not need to be made with any special cartoon style. I actually made it as realistic as I could.


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