Saturday, July 2, 2011

Painting From Photos / How To Use Photo Reference

I started these watercolors at the park. Sometimes it’s hard to pack up and head back to work since I only have my lunch hour to do these. The only reason I was able to carry these park sketches a little further was because I took a few photos with my digital camera and finished these watercolors when I got home.  I have nothing against using photo reference, especially photos I’ve taken myself, but it’s not as much fun as having what you are painting in front of you.
Painting from nature you are interpreting your subject in your own shorthand. You are making decisions in what to leave in and what to take out, what emphasize and what to subordinate, how you make your marks on paper, what colors you chose, the things that makes your point of view unique.  
When you work from a photo you are actually working with less information because the electronic eye of the camera has already made those decisions, so you are reinterpreting the cameras interpretation. It is better to rely both on memory as well as the photo to get at what you want- using the photo as a reference and not trying to be a copy machine.

 The photo references couldn't save this sketch at left because I initially tried to finish it off in that short lunch break. I tried to do to much and I paid for it. But at least I have both the sketch and the photos to use as reference if I want to develop this into another painting.


  1. I tried to do it once, but it didn't work :S

  2. Natalia your photos are wonderful.

  3. Beautiful work. I would be so happy if I could come up with anything half as nice....I try but it always feels like a struggle.