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Monday, September 08, 2014

Taking Liberties with a Reference Photo

'Stormy Sunset'             12x18            pastel                ©Karen Margulis
 I am getting close. In fact I probably would do away with reference photos all together if I didn't enjoy taking the photos so much. I would love to take the jump away from using photos for my paintings. I have done a few paintings from my imagination but one of the things I would like to work on is painting from my imagination.

For now I do work a lot from my photos. But I take liberties with them. They serve to jumpstart my imagination and often once I get the painting started I find I am not even looking at the photo. It already did it's job. Now my imagination takes over.

close up detail
Take the photo for today's painting. It is a very poor quality photo. I love the scene....the moment I captured. But the photo has exposure problems. The sky is washed out and the foreground is way too dark. On top of that my printer was running out of ink causing the foreground to be a series of gray lines!  If I was trying to copy this photo I would be in trouble!

My reference photo
But I don't copy photos. I interpret them.

 I remember the evening I tool the photo. I was in Cape May NJ with friends. We were in a restaurant enjoying a good meal. It was cloudy when we went in and soon the winds picked up. A big storm came on quickly. Everything was blowing and the wind was howling. A crack of lightning was followed by the lights going out in the restaurant. It was some storm! We finished by candlelight. After the meal we head out to the car. We were greeted by a glorious and unforgettable sight.....A fiery sunset over the bay. It was completely unexpected and exceptionally beautiful. That was over 10 years ago. before I started painting.  But the memory of that evening is still vivid and that memory helped me interpret my bad photo!


Tim Moore said...

that is wonderful!..i have so many pictures in my head of where i grew up ,its the reason i started painting..to get those pictures down,out of my head and on paper..painting from my imagination is usually no trouble for me!..

Teri said...

I love this painting, Karen. You are making leaps and bounds!

robertsloan2art said...

Oh yes! If you remember taking the photo it doesn't matter how far off it is, memory is clearer with a glance at it.

I've been abandoning the photo earlier and earlier on some of my paintings too. It gets to a certain point and I start making changes. When it's other people's photos with permission, they spark my own memories and the location can sometimes change to the last lake I saw pines at, not the one the photographer visited!

robertsloan2art said...

Oh and I love, love, love that sunset with the flowers. It's one of your best. The crisp edges of the nearly-silhouetted flowers brought back a lot of sunset memories for me - that particular moment before the light is gone and the blue descends!