29 cm x 20 cm acrylic on watercolour paper
We were working from photographs in class this week and I used this picture from a much visited site I have painted at many times in Kynance Cove Cornwall.
Why paint from photographs at all?
Photographs are a great reference as to what was actually there and can so often be the only way of recording what may have been a fleeting effect. The subject could be moving so fast, the lighting conditions fading quickly, or the opportunity to paint just not possible.
Use your own photos.
Using other people’s photographs lacks so many other additions to the scene. You were never there and the photograph is all you have to go on, at most your painting will be a competent copy. A photograph cannot call to mind the experience, the smells, the sounds and the weather that all go into the creation of a piece of work. I still recall these experiences from looking at many of my outdoor paintings, but find it hard to remember even snapping a photo
Don’t be a slave to copying.
Lose the detail, alter the edges, colour, tones and shift around the composition to suit the painting not the photograph. Don’t feel the need to copy everything. Shadows and light can be bleached and black. True colours and contrast are easily lost in the cameras effort to record light and dark. If you are you are using the camera to gather information to paint at a later date, it’s a good idea to make notes or do quick colour studies as well.
Set yourself a time limit
I find this to be one of the most important things to do if I have to use a photograph. If I paint outdoors I know I’m usually done in a couple of hours. However the temptation with a photograph is to keep going because the weather or the light is not changing. The shadows are not going to disappear, or the colour and values alter. Don’t be tempted to take your time, chances are the painting will become overworked with far too much detail and lose any vitality you strived to attain.