Mel Theobald Koi #3 (2005)
19.0 x 96.0 x 0.0
University Club of Chicago

Theobald koi 3

Theobald was a student at The School of The Art Institute (BFA 1968, MFA 1971). He provides this statement: ТFor most of my life as an artist I have been a painter. My creative interests shifted dramatically in the summer of 2001 when I first put my hands on a digital camera.

In progressive stages, I began to see the potential for images that would combine the content of my paintings with the freedom to explore the creative manipulation of a photographic surface. With paint and canvas, the texture of the surface is as absorbing as the subject. Using the computer and mouse as an extension of the brush and paint, it came as a great surprise that I could think as a painter and work in a photographic medium.

From that point it was apparent that the whole idea of space, surface and texture could be integrated into a most unusual fabrication of seeing broad areas of the landscape without distortion. To that end, I began shooting multiple images across a horizontal panorama using a telephoto lens. This enabled the subject to remain flat without the normal distortion of a wide-angle lens. Combining these images made it possible to retain a vast amount of surface detail and yet generate a composition that was natural to the scope of human vision. Each photograph is a composite of many separate shots.
The large scale of the horizontal photographs forces the viewer to come closer in order to see the surface detail, inducing an experience of time and perception. Often the viewer will grasp the total composition but is inevitably drawn closer to see the surface. Thus, the overall image can only be seen by walking from one end to the other. This is as true in photography as it is in painting. It seems that I am always drawn to nature when I have not developed a coherent idea.

As a painter I have always aligned myself with the realists. Yet, there is always the underlying composition to consider, requiring imagination beyond simply seeing nature. The creative act requires balancing the structural with the sensual. What we know and what we feel determine the outcome of our final expression. Having been raised in Bloomington, Illinois, I spent a considerable amount of time on farms. It seemed only natural that the mid-western landscape would find a place in my work. With variable elements of time and weather, nature is constantly being transformed. There is a sense of life that ingests itself into every image.

Plants, clouds, land and water never repeat themselves. For me that is part of the excitement in making these images. For the moment, these photographs are a stage in the evolution of a painter who has become enraptured with digital technology.

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