Colorado Impressions

Through an Internet search In 1999 I discovered another Dan Hays, living in Colorado, USA. His website consists of numerous photographs of the Rocky Mountain landscape surrounding his home, as well as a live webcam. With his permission a series of oil paintings based on his pictures was initiated: “As for my images feel free to use whatever you wish, consider them yours and original if you wish. If I didn’t forget they were up there most of the time I would probably take them down because they are so blurry etc…”

Dan Hays' website in Colorado

Digital images are converted into paintings with the aid of image manipulation software like Photoshop in numerous ways: explorations of colour separation, modulation and inversion; mathematical systems and patterns; restricted palettes and tonal limitation; simulated texture, skewing and lighting effects. Faithfully reproducing and accentuating digital mistakes and glitches is a painstaking process, working from computer printouts and projections. Oil paint is a subtly inexact medium when matching colour, usually drying slightly darker. By alternating the pigments used in colour mixes and deliberately or accidentally pushing colour and tone away from the original, the immaterial and instantaneous digital information is given material and temporal existence in fleshy brushstrokes and daubs. These processes serve to highlight painting’s imperfect physicality and to subvert the mechanics of illusionism, such as linear and aerial perspectives. The aim has been to generate simultaneous, ambiguous and three-dimensional convergences of the represented scene and the physical surface, or immaterial screen.

The project is collectively titled Colorado Impressions, as digital image compression has striking formal associations with the Impressionist imperative to capture the essence of a scene as quickly as possible with a restricted palette of colours, regarding the scene as a whole, employing brushstrokes of a similar size, and returning to the same view in different light conditions. This is a special relationship, where we can see digital photographs as proto-paintings, abstracting visual information, creating painterly effects several removes from the world. It’s with some irony that my paintings take hundreds of hours to paint, working from files that take a fraction of a second to travel across the Internet. Sourcing of photographic material has extended to web-cameras across the whole state of Colorado in this arduously slow pictorial expedition, forming a kind of displaced and immobile homage to the exploits of the Hudson River School painters of the 19th century, and the romantic ideals of American Transcendentalism. It is essential that I never physically travel to Colorado.


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Impressions of Colorado


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