We are often told to paint what we see and observe. Well, I learned that reality in art is like reality in fiction: if we don’t change it some, it probably won’t be believable. The final piece won’t strike us as true or evoke the feelings and emotions that we hope it will.
About 20 years ago in a fiction-writing workshop, my short story was being reviewed. At first no one said anything then: “I don’t believe the story.” And another comment: “it just doesn’t ring true.” Finally I protested. “But it is; it happened exactly that way.”
Recently, I tried to incorporate a photographic image into one of my paintings—a teddy bear that in real life had a red hat and scarf. In the painting, it just didn’t work. The hat couldn’t be red as well as the scarf. It was too much.
It couldn’t be exactly like the photograph. So again, good fiction and good visual art have similarities.