September 5, 2014
Many artists carry a camera specifically to capture an image they come across in their everyday lives so that they can paint it afterwards. Phones with excellent cameras fit neatly into any pocket or handbag. It isn’t cheating to make a photograph part of the process between what the eye sees and that image being painted on to canvas. It provides much more opportunity to get special and sometimes unexpected images to paint.
There are some tips for people who might like to paint from photographs and the first is to generally stick to your own photographs because you will be painting an image you have actually seen. It means that your eye and experience of the occasion can help you as you paint. In any event you will need permission to paint someone else’s photograph if you have seen it online or published in any form.
If you see something you would like to paint you will be able to take photos from different standpoints unless you are talking about moving objects. Try catching a cheetah in full flight more than once!
Digital photography has made things so much easier. You can crop any photograph to the exact image you would like to paint. Unnecessary background can be removed if you have a central image in mind. If you are taking a landscape you can balance the amount of sky in relation to land. Eyes are actually better than cameras at capturing light and it may mean you will want to adjust a photograph in other ways to capture the true image that you saw. When it comes to colour you can buy everything you need from companies such as www.jacksonsart.com and mix paints where you have not got the exact shade you require.
Your camera will become part of the creative process so it is important to learn how best to use the facilities it offers. Many allow you to simply switch to automatic and let the camera do all the work but cameras do have limitations, including the one mentioned above.
You need to recognise that every picture can be distorted. A skyscraper does not taper towards the top but that is the impression that is given but few will want to paint such things when there are so many more interesting things in cities. Similarly, a photograph focussed on an object will tend to have a blurred background some distance away. Your eye will not see the background as blurred so you may want to focus on the background in a second shot and combine the two when you are painting.
Rather than being regarded as cheating, cameras have opened up far more opportunity for the artist. Their creativity begins with the photograph or series of photographs. The final painting should reflect what the eye actually saw even if it is not an exact replica of any one photo.
Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net