Painting from photos of places I’ve never been.

12 x 9 acrylic on canvas

In the last month, I have had a few people ask that I paint specific scenes from photos of places dear to them. Even though I’ve feel far from mastery of such a task, I’ve looked at it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn about painting from photos.  I recognize that at this stage of my life and parenting, that getting out frequently en plein air is not going to happen for a few years.  My research and experience has confirmed the limitations of photography, bleaching out the highlights and making black the dark areas. This leaves a dull appearance to the color scheme. Secondly, the camera brings everything into focus leaving no depth of field, making a very flat picture. In order to make up a better appearance, I’ve taken more liberty with the colors to brighten it up, expand the color palette, and create atmospheric depth with bluing, dulling and blurring the background. Finally, the composition of the photo submitted does not usually fit the canvas or panel proportions and is not necessarily the angle I would have chosen. In any case, I feel that the client “loves” this perspective, which is why they have chosen it for the project, and straying too far from it may not be what the client expects.

So this picture was taken from the back porch of a property along the Washougal River. I would not have the opportunity to travel to this location to get proper colors plein air, which would be ideal. It is a rather flat perspective, and I have tried to create a little more interest in the composition. Also, I’ve introduced more pink and purple to broaden the color scheme. In the end, I think the brightness of the green is a bit much, but overall, I feel that I am done. In the future, I might have tried a warmer palette, and I think I will do some exercises to help with color. Finally, I should have made more of a thumbnail notan sketch as I feel my composition lacks an overall impact.  Well, my client thinks it’s beautiful, and in the end, that is all that matters. I am honored to be asked to handle the scene as a gift to her in laws.

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