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  • James Carter

Why do Artists Choose to do Realism?

Updated: Dec 4, 2020


This here is a very common question I get asked, about why artists draw realism, and honestly, I don't have the answer as to why the ones who do realism choose to do it, but I do have the answer as to why I do it, and why I enjoy it so much.


So first things first, what is realism?

Well, realism, photorealism, realism art, hyperrealism, it's all exactly as it says. It's no more complicated than just reading the words.

Realism is a form of art where the artist creates a realistic representation of a subject or the world around them that can be created with really any art medium. But it is really just a picture that is created in such a way that it appears realistic to the eye, and that it represents what it is trying to represent properly.


The realism movement dates way back to the 1840s in France, when artists started to move out of the Romanticism art style, and instead sought to portray real-world subjects of truth and accuracy, down to the very detail. Many realism artists do not seek to tell a story within their art, but at the same point, many do, it just depends on your style and taste, and what you can do and achieve. Instead, realism artists just try to create a picture-perfect artwork that looks real, and people have to take a second look to make sure it is real. In Photorealism, people take a second look to make sure it's not a photo, one of my top favourite Photorealistic artists is Heather Rooney. Hyperrealism art is where the artist creates something so realistic, that they pick up on details that we don't see in normal day to day life, my favourite hyperrealistic artist is NeeYellow (Shaun McKenzie). Then, just your basic realism artist, is just there to try and create something that looks realistic to the eye, and people find it good because they like how well they have represented a certain subject, one of my favourite realism artists would be Bethany Vere.

My specific field of practice is just basic realism, or as I like to put it, Attempted Realism (where I am attempting to create a realistic subject within a painting or drawing).


James Carter Art Realism Portrait Drawing
James Carter Art Robin Drawing

So then, why do I do realism as my chosen field of art practice?

Well for me personally, I just love realism, and I love to try and create realistic pieces; I never really got on board with the whole abstract art thing or anything, because there's just no challenge there. When you hear artists talking about how they express their emotion through art, well that's just not me, I do not try to do that, I try to make the most realistic type looking drawing I possibly can. For me, I love the challenge of trying to create a drawing of something I see in real life. It's that challenge to create what I want to create to make look real. That is the best way I feel I can describe it to you honestly.


So what lead me into drawing realism?

Drawing realism for me just came naturally I feel; one day I was just bored, so I picked up a pencil and some paper, found a reference image, and just drew it, simple as that, I had no ambition to try and create an abstract piece, because I saw no point in abstract works, and I don't really understand their meaning, to be honest. So because of that, I just felt like trying to draw something on a sheet of paper is just better, because I loved that challenge of the details.

I'm a huge fanatic for the details, I can more than happily spend several hours just sat down at a drawing, just trying to draw every individual feather, or freckle, or whatever, I just love the details so much that I found myself moving forward more and more into wanting to try and create realism.



Why do I draw realism, and not paint it?

Hahah, here's an easy one, it's simply because I really struggle to paint, don't get me wrong, I honest really love painting, and I love artists like Chuck Black, Andrew Tischler, and Michael James Smith, I really admire all of them, and I watch their videos and look at their artworks in disbelief, just sitting there staring at them, trying to work out how I could possibly paint like that, then I get all motivated to paint something, so I find a photo to work from, get all my stuff ready, and then 10 minutes into the painting, I just go "This is not for me" because it's all going wrong, and I don't know why, and I haven't got a clue on how to fix it. So hopefully in the future, I'll be able to paint realism, in landscapes, animals, and people, but for now, I do practice it, but I just find it never works out for me.

Then, on the other side of it all, I also love to draw, because I feel I can get a whole new level of details within a drawing, and really just go for it, and work in each bit and section with a pencil to get those details and accurate as I possibly can.



Why draw animals and people in realism?

Well, I'm drawing and creating realism, you need something to base it on, hence a reference photo is required, and I don't really think drawing landscapes is my thing, so I enjoy creating the line details within an animal or a human in a drawing. If you draw or create something in a realistic style, but does not really exist, it is known as surrealism, such as drawing elephants with french horns for heads that are 80 feet tall.