Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Working from photos

A lot of artists whose work I love paint from photos.
This means that they can hold all the density of
the image in their minds while they are painting,
adding to the details in the photo, and using it
more like an actor learning lines uses a prompter,
than a source to copy detail for detail.

I've used photos myself, and always hope that
something alive and original combines in the
unspoken contract between me and the photo.
We're working together, but the photo is
helping me, I'm not recreating what it says.

The Blue Sweater
acrylic on canvas
24" x 36"

Tonight I'm including a painting I did of
my sister, from a photo that my father
took when she was a teenager. I know I've
used this painting on the blog before, but I
didn't talk about it then, so forgive me.

I find it almost impossible to create a portrait from
photos alone, although I've done it when there was
no other option.

The painting differed greatly in every
way except for the pose and the expression
on my sister's face. She was not sitting on
a yellow chair, there was no table, or
cup and saucer, and the painting in the
background gives the nod to Skip
Lawrence whose work I greatly admire.

But my father's photos were amazing
works of art in and of themselves. They
were beautifully lit, composed, worked
on, both before and after be took the
actual shot. His 8 x 10 black and white
prints piled by the 100s in my mother's
house, are rich in detail, mood, nuance.

My memory of my sister at this age is
strong, but without my father's original
black and white work I couldn't have
done this painting.

So I would say I have much better luck
painting from photos when the
original image is still vivid in my brain,
and when I love the person, landscape,
or still life.

Have a catching it on your camera day.


Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara, Nice blog and really nice work. I was struck by what you had said in an earlier post about artists devouring art. We do, and that is where we get our education. It's hard for most of us to pass up a gallery or an art magazine.
Those places are where we find out what the rest of the world thinks good art is.
Blog on, Eldon

Barbara Muir said...

Thanks Eldon.

It's true. Your art certainly
falls into the category of
very "good" art.

Please blog on yourself.


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!