Re: Art puzzle: why do we expose brush marks?

Andy Schmitt

Thanks Carlos...
As I've always mentioned to students (back when I had them)
The IMAGE is the message..

Andy Schmitt

-----Original Message-----
From: Alt-photo-process-list [mailto:alt-photo-process-list-bounces@...] On Behalf Of Carlos Alejandro via Alt-photo-process-list
Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 8:44 AM
To: Graeme Lyall <graemelyall@...>; alt-photo-process-list@...
Subject: Re: [Alt-photo] Art puzzle: why do we expose brush marks?

Brush strokes, like contrast, grain, tint, focus, motion, film edges, BW or color, lens compression, paper, scratches… are all part of the medium and the the medium is as much about the expression, sometimes, as the image.

To exclude any of those things, by definition, is a rule that we each choose to abide by or... not.

When any of them becomes a gimmick or a “technique” and the art itself is of no importance, it’s a different discussion.

Some folks made the Polaroid transfer or split processing or High contrast/Fine Line Developer or gum bichromate… or brush strokes… a way of life.

I stick with the expression and how the medium best conveys the thought, feeling,idea, composition. Does it add? Does it take away? Does it matter? Is it distracting? Is it intrinsically important? The whole craft… the whole art.



Carlos Alejandro Photography
w 302.234.1100
m 302.547.7799

On Dec 6, 2018, at 8:34 AM, Graeme Lyall via Alt-photo-process-list <alt-photo-process-list@...> wrote:

I agree with you. I like brush marks. I don't always leave them, but often I do. Paintings, especially oil paintings, absolutely do show brush work as an intrinsic part of the process.

Graeme Lyall

On Wed, Dec 5, 2018 at 9:48 PM epona fyrefly via Alt-photo-process-list < alt-photo-process-list@...> wrote:

i'm going to go against the grain here and state that i love brush marks.
i find them aesthetically pleasing, a bit of wabi-sabi if you will.
but i also adore the edges of polaroid type 55 film and leave them
exposed in my prints as well.


On Wed, Dec 5, 2018 at 10:02 AM Ned Lewis via Alt-photo-process-list <
alt-photo-process-list@...> wrote:

I don't like brush marks. I think they are distracting and sometimes
seem either a mild affectation or mildly lazy to me. I like to use a
to avoid them and have clean borders, unless I'm just making test prints.
On the other hand I don't think about them much or think less of
other people's work when I see them ( except sometimes I think to
myself "I
have used a mask for that print" ). More a matter of preference or
about what looks good... maybe similar to "dirty borders" when
printing a negative under an enlarger, it's a matter of personal taste.

On Wed, Dec 5, 2018 at 9:44 AM Eddy Willems via
Alt-photo-process-list < alt-photo-process-list@...> wrote:

it is a form of laziness you can print a mask for the negative and
you have a sharp edge around the print

I think its also a sign for the viewer that its alt photo

Op 5/12/18 om 17:53 schreef Ken Sinclair via Alt-photo-process-list:

I don’t know of any. ‘painter’ who leaves an ‘uncovered’ area of
in it ‘raw’ unpainted (altho’ Gessoed' state.. even after it has
‘framed’ for ‘hanging'.

I , myself have never been capable… and I don’t think I ever could
of applying my home mixed VDB ‘emulsion’ with an ‘edge” as a
‘border’ as one can achieve with a ‘commercial’ silver/gelatin
that was
‘exposed’ while inserted in my easel. The ‘painter’ on the other
and usually WILL ‘cover’ the canvas right to the edge….an ’edge'
is most
likely to be ‘hidden behind the frame into which the canvas in
but we are always ‘visually informed' that the finish result is

Yes... I plead guilty to leaving an area of the substrate ‘clear
clean’… but that
s the way I was ’taught’ by my mentor some 65 years (or so) ago…
an ‘essential’ but it is the ONE way we may indicate that it is an
rather than a ‘commercially’ coated substrate.


On Dec 5, 2018, at 9:26 AM, John Isner via Alt-photo-process-list
alt-photo-process-list@...> wrote:

Why do many alt process printers *present *their work with visible
marks at the borders of their prints? I can't think of another
form in
which the artist leaves an artifact of the process in the finished

Is it tradition? If so, it must be a fairly recent one, because
done in the 19th century.

Do brush marks contribute to the viewer's aesthetic experience? It
depends on how you define "aesthetic experience." If you define
emotional reaction, then I would say "almost never."

So why expose them? A cynic might argue that it is done to signal
Brush marks say "I am hand made" and "I am not an inkjet print."
itself induces the aesthetic experience, while the exposed brush
signal "this print is a good investment."
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