Real vs. Believable

yellow wolf eyes floating in pine boughs a part of red riding hood picture by christine mitzukWhile in art school I desperately wanted to learn how to make things look real. One of the instructors said to me on several occasions, and I'm paraphrasing here, "is it (the drawing) believable"?

Lately this idea has come to the foreground for me and I'm questioning what "believable" means to me.

Does believable mean that a thing looks like it has dimension, like it exists in space and has a logic to it? Does that logic have to be similar to how things work in the real world or can there be a logic within the world of the picture?

Or does believable mean that it is recognizable as a real person/place/thing?

Or that it seems "right", that the picture has a certain confidence and intent about it even if it's a more abstracted or highly stylized picture?

I can go after accuracy and work to make something look "right" or real but does it serve the picture? Is all that information working together to make a whole idea or story instead of accurate isolated pieces of information.

I think it's all these things but I get to choose how I wield the tools. Sounds like fun to me! I've been enjoying looking at how other artists do this. There are so many wonderful examples out in the world, here a but a few:

Le Chevalier aux Fleurs (The Knight of Flowers)  by Georges Rochegrosse

Bobby Chiu's art

Bill Carman's art

Deb Kirkeeide's animal paintings

Yoshida Hiroshi Avenue of Sugi trees

John Harris' art

3 thoughts on “Real vs. Believable

  1. Yup that pretty much nails it. As JK (a ghost from my past) used to say, "Drawing a samurai lobster is one half of drawing. Making people believe it's a samurai lobster is the other half."

    FWIW if I could ever paint like Deb Kirkeeide I could die happy :-)

  2. Thank you Christine, for putting me in such fine company of artists! I appreciate your mention and the content of this post. And perhaps believable happens when it makes that emotional connection with the viewer.
    So glad I found your site.

    And Cara - that's the best compliment! Thank you.

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