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Saturday, December 05, 2015

When You Want to Paint it All!

'First Snow IV'           2.5 x 3.5         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
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I have over 35,000 photos on my computer. All my own. Yes I love taking photos. So I am never at a loss for reference material. In fact my problem is just the opposite. I want to paint it all!  I could spend hours browsing my photo files finding hundreds of potential paintings. But I don't. I would spend too much time that could have been spent painting.

What I usually do is pick a theme or place that I want to paint. I find that folder on my computer and only choose about 12-20 photos. I print them out on regular printer paper fitting 9 photos to a page. They are about 2x3 inches each. I cut them apart and use only this small stack of photos to paint from.

working on some studies using mostly Terry Ludwig pastels....Richard McKinley set
This method of limiting my choices works well for me. I am not overwhelmed and it is easier to slip into the mood and feeling of a single place rather than jumping all around to different subjects. I will often paint several paintings in a row based on one set of photos. Then I feel ready to move on. I file the photos in small plastic envelopes labeled with the place/theme . I know at some point I will want to return to them.

Sometimes even with this limited selection of photos I still want to paint them all and I don't know where to begin!  This is when it helps to do small studies. This is a good time to sit down with some small papers (2.5 x 3.5) and a limited selection of pastels and paint several studies. This allows me to work out composition and colors. It helps me get into the mood of the place. I will then often use these studies as reference and not the original photos.

For the mini paintings in today's post I couldn't decide on just one scene to paint so I painted several. I was drawn to the idea of capturing a first snow....I experienced this last November in Chicago. It was a beautiful light snow which was made even more special because the colors of fall were still in place. It was the changing of seasons and I was privileged to witness it.

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1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

These are wonderful! I love them all, your minis are so elegant. Oh boy do I know that feeling about too many good photos. Mine are organized more or less by when I took them, about half are photos of my cat. He's utterly beautiful and sometimes when I sketch him from life I'll get a photo of the pose too.

I have yet to catch him yawning without getting a blur with his mouth half shut though. Might have to plan for that by picking up the camera and gently waking him, wait for it and resist all the cute expressions before the yawn.

Cityscapes are mostly of the same route to the hospital and back. But I have so many that I won't lack for good San Francisco scenes after I move. Without the elevator I'm not going to be able to noodle around by power scooter taking photos of the neighborhood, that's a bit sad. But I do have lots from the van and just as many of the garden at the hospital.

Once I get back to Arkansas, I might get a printer cartridge and take your example, just print out references in a batch several to a page and not work from large ones. I often use the Reference Image Library at WetCanvas too and that's where I find subjects of places I've been before I had a camera or places I'd love to go but will probably never see in person. Those rock, and I used to print those out when I had the printer up and running.

At home I'm so used to being able to work with a reference on screen though. I'll crop it by opening, then maybe enlarge with a View tab and start reshaping the window the reference is in for the crop I want. Whether it's mine or someone else's I don't usually stay with the dimensions of the photo, so resizing by changing the display window's sliders is so convenient.

What I used printouts for was if I wanted to work on something while I was away from home. I'd print the reference and slide it into the back of my Canson Mi Tientes pad to keep handy, then work from that in waiting rooms or while waiting for the van. I'm usually going to the same places every time so that worked well, and waiting rooms are only interesting to draw if I wanted to do quick portraits of nervous, miserable people.