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Painting by the numbers

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Rick Wise
Painting by the numbers
on Sep 16, 2010 at 3:18:54 am

The September 20, 2010, issue of the New Yorker Magazine has a review of Boardwalk Empire, the upcoming (as of this writing) HBO series with Martin Scorcese and a host of former Sopranos writers and directors involved in various creative capacities. If the reviewer, Nancy Franklin, is correct, all this brilliant talent has produced a series that will leave you thinking, “rarely did I feel engrossed in the show. …. “Boardwalk Empire” should be much more fun to watch.”

The phrase, “Painting by the numbers” springs to mind. It refers to a very old system claiming to teach you how to paint. Just fill in the numbered areas with the right paint and, magic!, you are a painter. Google “Paint by the numbers.” It is still for sale.

I suspect that all these incredibly creative people painted by the numbers. It’s really hard not to, unless you are 22 and burning with an intense idea. At my age of 75 I am all too aware of the easy path of painting by the numbers. I did it. I earned my stripes. Why not?

One antidote is to keep observing. The other day my beautiful King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Rocco taught me another way to create lightning. It was time to go upstairs for dinner and he stood in a shaft of sunlight slanting into my relatively dark semi-basement office, wagging his white bright tail through that shaft. “Time to go upstairs,” he was telling me. He was creating lightning splashes all over the walls. I grabbed a space blanket I keep in my day kit and flashed it through that shaft of sun. Sure enough, I too could create “lightning” hits.

I think the bad news is that you have to practice every day to NOT paint by the numbers. That’s the good news too.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
part-time instructor lighting/camera
Academy of Art University/Film and Video (grad school)
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Morten Raarup
Re: Painting by the numbers
on Sep 17, 2010 at 7:26:26 pm

Hi Rick

Thanks for your post.
I would like to read more about it. But when tried to find a book on amazon all I could find was kids drawingbooks.
Do You know any book titels.

Morten Raarup
On Off Line
Copenhagen, Denmark

Sony PDW-F800, AVID Symphony Nitris, FCP 7


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Rick Wise
Another Viewpoint
on Sep 18, 2010 at 5:24:48 pm

The excellent SF Chronicle TV critic raves about Boardwalk Empire. He concludes

One sign of any series headed to greatness is the immediate sense that there's a dense, broad grouping of well-drawn characters. There's a vibrancy to the stories in each "Boardwalk Empire" episode. With echoes of the gangland mentality of "The Sopranos" and the frontier recklessness of "Deadwood," HBO seems to have found in "Boardwalk Empire" a fertile, sprawling new franchise series.


Perhaps the New Yorker's reviewer is all wet -- or right on.... The point about trying to NOT paint by the numbers remains.

If anyone wants to learn more about actual painting by the numbers, do a GoogleSearch for Paint by the Numbers. Lots of info. ("Every man a Rembrandt!")

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
part-time instructor lighting/camera
Academy of Art University/Film and Video (grad school)
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Andrew McKee
Re: Painting by the numbers
on Sep 19, 2010 at 9:54:24 am

Nice post Rick. I'm 24 (not far from the age you mentioned) and put all my creative effort into not painting by the numbers. If someone has done it before you, then what is the point? My tactic is to soak up as much information about what is being done now, so that when I do something different I know why.

I had similar experience to you a few nights ago during a power cut. I was using the light from my phone to get a glass of water from the kitchen. Walking back from the kitchen with my phone pressed against the glass, I was fascinated by the patterns it through on the wall. A little experimenting made me realise that the water was not only creating a rippling pattern but also focusing the soft light from my phone like a fresnel lens, creating a much harder source.

Andy


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