Painting from Photos – PERISH THE THOUGHT

     Okay, Bill got me started. He posted a painting he did (see the end of Bill Page) of a young woman wearing a scarf, with her hand in front of her. He did this painting from a photo that someone else took. Hold me back. He requested that no one tell me since he knows how testy I get over this issue. No one had to tell me. I could tell on first glance that it was “copied” from a photo.

     How could I tell? Because it is obviously an accidental moment which only photography can capture. The girl is smiling. People actually posing for a painting cannot smile for hours on end which is why you rarely ever see them doing so in REAL portraits. Her deformed hand (I assume he could only see three fingers in the photo) is up in front of her holding onto the wall, again, an uncomfortable position for someone actually posing. She is leaned against a wall that has a value that only a flash on a camera could blow out though Bill managed to capture that fact expertly, and indeed, the girl looks like she was hit from the front with the flash. If you are going to go copying photos (I even loathe that term), learn how to do it, and tone down the value of the wall for petessake. An accidental moment, a snap shot done with a camera–not a subject for a painting. Blagh!!!

     Next–Bill did not even TAKE the picture. No. He admitted to finding it on the Internet. Why, I ask? Why use someone else’s photo even for practice purposes? Go take your own stinkin’ photos if you insist on working from flat two dimensional uninteresting boring-ass surfaces. Okay, I can see using elements from stock photos when you need them, but for the LOVE OF GOD, don’t COPY an entire snapshot unless you don’t mind me throwing up all over it.

     In fact, stop working from photographs. WORK FROM LIFE. You will never run out of things to paint from life. If you want to paint people, look in a mirror for cryin’ out loud. Do quick sketches of people, and work from the sketches to paint the portrait. Ask everyone in your family to pose for you. NO. There are NO excuses. Put the damn camera away. You’ll be a better painter for it.

     There. I feel better. I’m going to go smoke a cigarette now.


This entry was posted in Critiques, Portrait, Rants. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Painting from Photos – PERISH THE THOUGHT

  1. I love this post and the blog.
    I am new to the art world and have enjoyed your blog.
    In the digital forum….I know, I hear you groaning….you mostly work from photographs.
    I am “self taught” and it shows…this one post makes me want to challenge myself more. I have a long way to go as far as drawing…and seeing and putting it all together…maybe one day!!!!!

  2. wrjones says:

    Don’t listen to her, she is just envious because it is such a cute little painting.

    Everybody is self taught. There is no way to learn to draw but draw. It does help to attended enough classes (taught by professional artists – not professional teachers) to understand the basic approaches to drawing.

    One golden rule in learning to draw is to draw from life. There is really no better teacher than drawing from a human model. I’ve speculated this is because even a 5 year old can tell if the drawing is close to correct; whereas drawing objects like trees allows a wide avenue of possible error without detection.

    If there are no schools teaching life drawing near you, you might consider places like Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona. There (and other similar places across the country) you can take week long workshops with some of the best artists in the country. In a week you can get the concepts then go home and draw draw draw.

    Oh, and you never get good enough. There is no end where you are a master and satisfied with all your work.

    Also, if you want to draw your dogs here are some solutions to movement:
    1. Drug them – I don’t use this because I hate to share.
    2. Draw the really old dogs that don’t move anymore.
    3. Draw them asleep. They will wakeup before you are finished!
    4. Draw from a photo (Oh God, I hope Lisa doesn’t read this.)

  3. lbtowers says:

    That was a really good rant wasn’t it? I just may smoke another cigarette now…

    I’m glad you’re inspired pawprints. I really do like your blog, and feel we need digital tips from you!

  4. LOL….yes, actually I have thought of drugging a few dogs here and there…forget about for painting them, just to photograph some of them ;-) Several weeks ago I was hired to photograph several dogs…my goodness these dogs never stayed still for a half a second….was there for two hours and finally….all were a little tired and I got what I was after.
    Yes, maybe one day I will have the time to take a class….one day ;-)
    As for digital tips…feel free to ask a few questions and I will post something on my blog that will help you out.

  5. wrjones says:

    I will be asking stuff as my photographs are very weak. I often take picture that are not good enough to paint from. Too light, too dark, etc. This even though I bracket and lock exposure first to a lighter area then to a darker area.

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