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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Painting From a Very Bad Photo

'Morning Magic'           9x12         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
All I had was a memory. And a very very bad photograph.  It smoldered in my memory. And when I came across the photo it soon became a spark that fired up my imagination. Even though it was several years ago I clearly remember approaching the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to an early flight home. The landscape glowed and vibrated with warmth .  Trees that were green appeared to be orange. The red bridge seemed as thought it was lit from within. The rising sun was having it's way with the landscape and I was spellbound.

I took a few quick photos from the car but with the traffic and movement they were not great. In fact they were terrible. Very Very Bad.  See below.  But fortunately I never delete photos even the bad ones because I never know when they might inspire me. All I need is a spark.

My terrible reference photo. I need to do a lot of editing.

Let's face it. Using a bad photo as a painting reference gives us permission to take chances. You can't make it any worse. It should be easy to make it better. With the pressure off we can relax and recall. What do we remember about the scene? What did we love? Once we know the answer we can use the information in the photo to develop a painting that accomplishes our mission. Read on to discover how I interpreted my bad photo.

a wet underpainting created with Art Graf and water.

  • I was drawn to the wonderful orange light in the trees. I remembered everything being bathed in a warm hazy glow. This was my mission....capture the glow.
  • I wanted to experiment with my Art Graf pigment blocks. I applied them lightly to Uart and wet them with a brush to create a wet and drippy underpainting. I used the Burnt Sienna to represent the sunlit portions of the trees.
  • I built the painting from dark to light emphasizing the trees.
  • I removed all of the distracting stuff in the photo leaving just the trees and distant tree shape.
  • The sky in the photo is almost overexposed and looks white. I had the freedom to choose a sky color. (see yesterday's post) I wanted to keep the glow in the sky so I selected a pale peach and pale blue. I decided to make vertical marks in the sky for interest.
  • I finished the painting by adding the orange light to the sides of the tree trunks and added some spices. Can you find them?


Sue Marrazzo said...

LOVE this one!!!

Mażena said...