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A scanned section of the original painting 'Fierce Pursuit'
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High Renaissance Master, Michelangelo - The Flood (Detail)

What is Dynamic Realism?

Dynamic - Pertaining to of characterised by energy or effective action; vigoriously active or forceful; energetic; Physics: of or pertaining to force or power, of or pertaining to force related to motion.
Realism - Treatment of forms, colours, spaces etc. in such a manner as to emphasize their correspondence to actuality or to ordinary visual experience.

The History Behind Dynamic Realism

Realism and the significance of conveying the real became increasingly important following the middle ages, where its peak is considered to have culminated in the 'high renaissance' period with a type of realism known as 'Renaissance Classicism'. Renaissance Classicism was born from the world of the 'superstar' artist, and saw the competitive artistic rivalries of master painters such as Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael.

The artists themselves were driven by trying to reach a level of 'perfection' in the execution of their works, they were mimicking God as the creator of the real world and they amazed their viewers with their representations of god's created world. These artists competed for the best and most influential clients who wanted to acquire artworks which to them, were expressions of divinity that bought them closer to God.

High Renaissance artists achieved the ideal of harmony and balance comparable with the works of ancient Greece or Rome. Renaissance Classicism was a form of art that removed the extraneous detail and supposedly showed the world as it was.

These artists were seen to have achieved a level of 'divine' execution, that gave viewers access to subjects which depicted a raw beauty in the expression of the human form and its interaction with the world. Realist art of this time reconciled the world of reality as it was seen and that of religion and ideology.

Artworks were no longer representations of an imagined world, realism was used like a mirror, reflecting and resonating with people who began to recognise themselves and their emotions in the painted allegorical figures. Icons, were reachable, recognisable, human.

Realism was used as one of the most powerful forms of communication, as it created a connective bridge between reality and the divine. Artists were seen to portray forms, colours and proportions, light and shade effects, spatial harmony, composition, perspective and anatomy with total control and a heightened level of accomplishment.

High Renaissance Master, Leonardo Da Vinci - The Annunciation


Realism In The World Now

However, the realism of Renaissance Classicism could only go so far when it came to representing the world as it really was. The artists way of 'seeing' was influenced by the ideology and religion of their world and their time. Patrons wanted to identify with the artwork they commissioned, it presented a window to them from which to view and to connect with the 'divine' from their own human perspective. Ideology, commercial demand and religion restricted these artist's 'true' sense of sight, infiltrating their artworks that showed realities as they should look rather than how they did look.

Indeed, modern or contemporary realism also suffers from short sightedness when it comes to constructing reality for what it is. This is largely due to artistic drive and comprehension being stunted by the modern commercial environment that would rather have artists following commercial demand rather than artistic growth and philosophy.

It now appears the realist art market has run out of original things to say, and instead it is full of reproductions and techniques of what has gone before, it is also in competition with the digital world of photography and film, which is seeing ironically advances in the way 'reality' is bought to our attention.

Audiences expect more from realist representations, because constructs of imagined realities are constantly surrounding us in the media we absorb daily. New ways of showing 'realities' in the media is growing with the use of HD and 3D becoming common and there is a renewed attention to get a highly crafted finish to digitalised realities. Film and media companies are becoming the new Renaissance masters, Pixar is the new Raphael.

Realist art has lost attention and lost the ability to teach people anything new about their world, it has lost the ability to form a connection and unlock wonderment.

The Position Of Dynamic Realism

Dynamic Realism explores the areas left open by the realism of the past and the present. Dynamic Realism and its development has been one of navigation and application of artistic skill, mathematical sciences, learning and curiosity. It is a realism that is fascinated with the complexity and interconnection of motion, psychology and the interrelation of the elements that create reality.

At it's heart is the examination of 'reality' and what it actually is. Dynamic Realism has provided an understanding of cognitive processes and their relation to sight that allow us to make sense of our world. It has provided the framework for decoding and re-coding reality and has enabled a way of seeing what is really there, what we see, not what we think we can see and not what is expected to be seen.

The Dynamic Realist Painting Intent On Lunch, by Abbey Walmsley

Realism as an art genre has not had any fundamental advances in development for a long period of time. No one saw an opportunity to see what reality would reveal to them if it was explored further, to most the map was drawn, there were no grounds for advancement, there was no new territory. Selling realist art in the climate of the current art industry (through a commercial gallery) does not allow for the exploration and development of the genre because exploring reality takes time, patience and dedication to get beyond what has gone before.

Dynamic Realism evolved from questions: Are there greater levels of accomplishment to achieve? Is there a realist technique that reaches beyond 'Renaissance Classicism', 'photorealism' and 'illusionism'? A method of realist painting that is not lessened or duplicated by photographic or digital technologies, that provides a renewed sense of uniqueness and desired value? What is the human mind capable of when it comes to understanding reality? How do we make sense of the world around us, and how can this be translated into works that unlock a deeper level of resonance to a viewer?

Elements of reality have been captured successfully to varying degrees by other artists, for example combining realism and illusionism is not new. However, being able to bring movement alive within a work that also conveys a three-dimensional method of painting arguably is. It is rare to find an artist with the technical capabilities to capture all six attributes associated with 'Dynamic Realism' and display them in one artwork.

John William Waterhouse, 'The Lady Of Shallot'Observers of Dynamic Realist artworks comment on them being 'alive' due to the colour, action and psychology portrayed. The technique used allows the paint to carry a luminosity associated with Pre-Raphaelite / Neo –Classical works rather than the flat paint and dull palettes of most contemporary realist artists who choose similar subjects.

'Dynamic Realism' has been a product of 10,000+ hours of practice and mental exploration of trying to find something more, of trying to get beyond the mathematically based illusion of space (perspective). Perspective brings forth a whole new complexity when trying to portray an accurate moment of time, in conjunction with a painting technique that is always exploring boundaries of thickness, texture, accuracy and how visual perception works.

'Dynamic Realism' is capable of standing out in a world of digital creation, which refocuses on what the human mind with a bare canvas and a paintbrush can achieve when challenged. Abbey Walmsley refuses to produce works that do not conform to the standards she has established, and the bar she continues to raise. These standards are set to continually test her artistic ability and to ensure client desires are met and surpassed. She believes there are many opportunities ahead to produce exceptional dramatic works, if commissioning clients have the vision and understanding of what her technique can achieve.

Dynamic Realist artworks examine the elements of reality – the light, colour, shadows, form, perspective, balance and tension of elements, interrelated space, sound, psychological state of subjects depicted, perceptions and assumptions of the mind of the viewer and the artist during the creative process. And these elements have been divided into attributes that are contained within a work of Dynamic Realism.

Attributes of Dynamic Realism


Depicting that which the eye actually sees, the control of perspective and understanding of visual perception, this is underpinned by the artist's formula for deconstructing and reconstructing reality.


True to the environment – the palette used is determined by the natural world of the subject.

Light / Tone

True to the environment

Psychology of the subject(s)

Essential if the art is to be 'alive' to the viewer.

Movement or Time Perspective

Being accurate enough to 'trick the eye' this requires the understanding of time in relation to subject and how the visual perception of the viewer works.

Thickness of Paint / Three-Dimension / Depth Perspective

Paint thickness promotes depth and perspective without compromising accuracy.

Graphite drawings display greater depth perspective with the multiple layering of pencil.

'White Turf - Centenary Trotting, original pencil on archival paper by Abbey Walmsley

To understand the elements of reality a process frame work has been developed to bring structure to the creation of a piece. This framework has developed out of a method of 'seeing' reality as it is and an awareness of cognitive processes that allow us to make sense of our world. It has thrown open the doors to the comprehension of the 'real' and what it can teach you as you 'see' it.

This framework of understanding has enabled Abbey Walmsley to be able to understand time and the elements that construct reality to the point where she can create new realities that never existed, as a result Dynamic Realism is capable of taking on works of greater complexity and scale, works of historical, ecological and cultural significance that engage people with the exceptional real.


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