New art turns photographs into paintings

Published 6:32 pm Saturday, April 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — T.G. McCary’s painting career began when he started taking painting classes at 5 years old in Oxford.

But McCary moved on to photography, and photography is what he became known for locally.

And now, he’s taken the two art forms and combined them.

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Digital painting has become very popular, McCary said.

“We have always provided the folks in this area with canvas portraits, which is a photo bonded to canvas, but this is not the same thing,” McCary said.

It starts with a photograph.

After that, McCary feeds the photograph into a computer program where he can edit and “paint.”

“You can determine what kind of brush you use and the viscosity of the oil,” he said. “You can make it almost like a watercolor or it can be thick or pasty like oil fresh out of the tube.”

When working with portraits, though, McCary said he always tries to draw attention to the person’s face.

“You rely on the photo to provide realism for the facial area, and then you can take some liberty with the clothes and background,” he said.

Though it was crude when he started working with the first incarnation of the program, it has come a long way.

“Now, you can actually see the brush strokes,” McCary said.

To transfer the image from computer to canvas — in this case, finely woven Belgian linen instead of traditional photo paper — McCary uses the Giclee process.

“It’s a process originally designed for museums for a piece that was too valuable or fragile to be put on display for the public,” he said.

When the high-resolution print is completed, there stands a completed product.

“What can be done with a freehand painting can now be done with this style of work,” McCary said. “The difference is, I don’t have to clean brushes anymore.”