|'A Great Day for Sledding' 5.5 x 5.5 pastel on Canson ©Karen Margulis|
Have you ever heard yourself saying "I put 'x' in the painting because it was like that in the photo"?
Photos have their own issues and if we copy what we see in the photo we often create problems in our paintings...color, value, composition problems are easily transferred if we try too hard to paint what we see in the photo. Read on for my tip for avoiding this potential problem.
|reference photo used for this painting|
ONLY USE PHOTOS THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN YOURSELF AND USE THEM AS A MEMORY JOGGER
Think of your photos as if they were video thumbnails. You look at a photo which is simply a moment frozen in time. You took the photo so you were there. You experienced the scene with all of your senses. If you look at the photo you can turn on the video....replay the scene. Try to remember the colors you saw, the interesting shapes, the sounds, the warm or the cool, the breeze, the smells. Allow the photo to take you back.
Now when you are ready to paint look at the photo and try to pull out the things that you recall. These are the things you want to put in the painting. Everything else isn't as important. Allow yourself to simplify or rearrange the elements in the photo to best express your scene.
How did I use this tip for today's paintings?
|'The Top of the Hill' 5.5 x 5.5 pastel on Canson|
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- I took these photos of kids sledding on my street after our Atlanta snow storm. I stood back and watched so the photos aren't that clear. The kids are tiny, the colors washed out and the photos are filled with clutter like cars, houses and telephone wires.
- I looked at the photo and I replayed the video in my head. I heard the laughter, the crunching of the ice. I felt the cold air and the warmth of the sun on my face.
- When it was time to paint I looked at the shapes of the trees and hills and decided how to rearrange them to make an interesting composition. I pulled out some of the color I saw and enhanced it.
- I put the photo aside and allowed the painting to develop from my memory. I made it personal and not a copy of a bad photo.
You don't have to be a good photographer to work with your own photos! Tomorrow I will post more about gathering your own reference photos.