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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Painting from Photos Made Easy

'Fields of Gold'            8x10           pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available for $125 paypal here
 Working from photos is not always a bad thing for an artist.  I work from photos most of the time. But I have a few rules about using them.
  1. I will only work from my own photos. I never use any other photo reference. It must be from my camera and I must be the photographer. Why? Because I am the one who experienced the place and time the photo was made. I have a personal connection to the photo which I will be able to infuse into my painting. 
  2. I prefer to work from less than perfect photos.  I take a lot of photos and they aren't all worthy of a calendar (not too many are)  Some might be out of focus, or the color may be off or the composition is less than ideal.  Bad photos help me make better paintings because they give me the freedom to interpret the scene. I would be too tempted to try to copy a perfect photo. There is nothing to improve!
  3. I never work from photos that are professionally processed. I print my own on regular inkjet paper. I usually choose to fit four 3 x 5 photos to one page and I cut them apart. This saves me money and time. Also I am more tempted to copy a nicely printed photo. (see #2)

My reference photo shelf
It is very easy to go into your photo program and print out photos. When I don't know what I am in the mood to paint I will browse my picture files on my computer. When something sparks my interest I'll print them out on cheap paper.  All of these photos add up. I have a not so fancy system of boxes with dividers to organize them. I have categories marked on the dividers. It is a system that works for me. (as long as I refile them....my students will be happy to see that the photos are all neat, filed and ready for class to begin!)
Here is an underpainting with my reference photo at the top left
I encourage you to work from your own photos of you don't already. Get into the habit of carrying a camera where ever you go and put them in the computer so you can print them out when inspiration strikes!


Cindy Michaud said...

Very worthwhile thoughts and well put. thanks, love your work.

Jody stokes said...

Your helpful hints on how you do your work really helps me get organized in my studio , thank you , I only paint from my photos too.

Karen said...

Thank you Cindy! I appreciate the comment!

Karen said...

Thanks Jody! It's my pleasure to share!