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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Breaking Free From your Photos...Painting Winter

'Winter Glow'      5x7      pastel    ©Karen Margulis   $65 click here to purchase
I admit it. I paint mostly from photos. I know I should be painting from life more but I just don't get out as often as I'd like.  But I don't want my paintings to look like photos or to look like they were painted from photos.  I prefer to let my photos give me ideas for paintings...they are for inspiration and not for copying every detail.

I like to give myself challenges that will help me to Not be dependent on the photo. If you tend to rely too heavily on your reference photos here are some ideas to help you break free:
  • Paint from a black & white photo. This helps you make more interesting color choices.
  • Paint from a fuzzy or blurry photo. If you can't see the details you won't be tempted to put them all in.
  • Block in your painting with the photo and put it away for the later stages.
  • Do  photo memory exercise. Look at photo then turn it over to paint (more on this later)
  • Paint from several photos and put together your own composition.
  • Use a photo but change a major element that will push you out of your comfort zone....change key, color scheme, move elements around or something drastic like change the season which is what I did for today's painting.

watercolor underpainting on white Wallis paper

For today's painting, I took the reference photo that I used for the Colorado landscape painting in yesterday's blog post.  It was a summer scene with green meadows filled with wildflowers.  I looked at it and wondered what it would look like in the winter, covered in snow.  I chose white paper and did a watercolor underpainting that was very washed out but with enough information for me to go on. 

I had to rely on my imagination and what I know about painting snow and winter to finish the painting. It was very liberating! I just imagined the same trees and meadow covered in a blanket of snow. There was really no right or wrong because it was totally from me and not some photograph!  It was a fun exercise that I will be sharing with my students!

The same painting representing summer   8x10  pastel 

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