Ricoh Innovations and Stanford University
 David G. Stork
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Drafting talent

There are tens of thousands of modern extremely realistic "optical" representational paintings and drawings that we know for certain were created without reliance on optical aids. There is even a School of Representational Art in Chicago devoted to "bringing the great painting traditions of the Old Masters to a new generation of artists" -- traditions as commonly understood, not the methods proposed by Hockney and Falco. Thus we must view Mr. Hockney's claim that Renaissance painters didn't have the requisite abilities with some caution. Nevertheless, I want to show just one painting to illustrate the remarkable drawing and memory abilities of trained artists. At the right is a photograph, and the left a drawing of the same person; notice the ears flat against the head, the bulge in the chin -- a fairly good, if not excellent rendition.

Criminal sketch
Lois Gibson, late 20th century

The remarkable fact, though, is that the artist, Lois Gibson, is a forensic sketch artist with the Houston Texas Police Department; the drawing at the left was based entirely on the verbal description and feedback (e.g., "make the nose thicker") from a single crime scene witness -- a shop owner and robbery victim -- and without any recourse to the model himself or the photograph at the right, which was brought to light three weeks thereafter. Incidentally, the suspect, Vito Arena, was a hit man and implicated in 61 murders (he confessed to four) and had turned state's witness against the Mafia. This drawing aided in his identification and apprehension.

Summary: Clearly, trained artists have remarkable abilities, and it seems plausible that van Eyck, Leonardo, Caravaggio and other Renaissance painters had the requisite talent to create their paintings without reliance on optical devices.


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