A meditation – Water Lilies

Here is a nice raw photo of Nature’s beauty. Artists – not the least Monet – has been fascinated by water lilies and so am I.


Jan Oberg Water Lilies 2010 (raw)

It would be easy to crop it for instance at the far end where there is a bit of the sky and clouds. That bit could be enlarged, sharpened and perhaps saturated a little – and you would have a nice picture, postcard-like, decorative and surely it would provide many people with a sense of beauty and joy.

It would not be very original or inventive, however; you’ve seen that sort of picture so many times before. But that of course is a kind of connoisseur or art critic statement; it would make a pleasant/pleasing image, remind us of natural beauty around us and, if you posted it on Facebook, many would – I assume – press “Like”.

Now, take a look at this one…


Jan Oberg Water Lilies 2010

 This is also water lilies (although not based on the above photograph). The original division between the factual lilies and their mirror images in the water has been dissolved. Somehow the whole image looks like a reflection in water but the lower, darker parts also function as a kind of water vis-a-vis the hints of water lilies above it.

What I have tried to catch is that water lilies are floating on water and also reproduced in the water. A water lily is a water thing! Water lilies are both (living of/in) water, floating on it and reproduced by it. So the water is as important as the lilies in the picture and they are one, not two separate categories – lily and water – but lily water or water lily. Not only real but also abstract. Not only here and now but also moving into the future with every wave, ever changing…

Too complicated…philosophical? Perhaps, I don’t mean to take away the pure, spontaneous joy of just looking and letting this image speak to you whatever it may say.

But I’ve always thought that photography does not have to be merely reproduction, or documentary. I also never believe that paintings have to be detailed reproductions of a piece of reality. I love the idea of abstract paintings that are or create their own reality through the artists elaborations and deliberations.

So, I fail to see why photography cannot be both reality and something more which I admit is difficult to define in precise terms. And I don’t have to. What I do is deliberately not called photography but photographics. This may – may – be an example of that!

Visitors to my studio almost without exception ask: How did you do it? Well, if you are really interested, here is the answer: In the magic software called PhotoShop there is a tool among thousands which is called ‘smudge’ by which you can draw a colour with you on the screen and more or less mix it into another. It is quite similar to what you do with a brush or knife on a palette.

Further, I don’t use a mouse when at the computer, it’s not precise enough and it gives me terrible muscle problems in my arm. I use a drawing tablet with a pen that is connected to my computer screen; it resembles drawing on a piece of paper with a pen.

So, in this piece I started out from a raw picture of reality and used the smudge tool both vertically and horizontally and also a brush tool to add a little colour dot here and there…blue to give your the sky!


“Water Lilies # 1” – 2010
Inkjet print on Canson fine arts paper or on canvas
Formats & prices (excl postage):
A5 (148 ร— 210 mm) – Edition unlimited, 20 US$
A4 (210 ร— 297 mm) – Edition 50, US$ 115
A3+ (329 x 483 mm) – Edition 25, US$ 225
A1 (610 x 910 mm) – Edition 10, US$ 750
Can also be printed on other media such as canvas or various types of metal.
Signed and numbered.
Comes with print authenticity documentation.
Information/Order: janoberg@mac.com
ยฉ Jan Oberg

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