I paint from reference photographs

I would love to paint from life but it would have to be very still life. I have tried to paint from life several times. On several occasions I traipsed off with my gear to paint “from life”. I found a wonderful location with great light and interesting subjects. I set up my easel, my paints, my brushes and medium. And it was gone. The subject and light that first attracted me was fleeting in the extreme. I tried to do this several times to no avail. So I became a photographer. I actually did become a photographer. It helped me a great deal in Graphic Design and it helps me now when I paint. Photography is one of the most technical arts (it’s also the easiest since everyone has a camera). Painting is much less technical however I tend to think about it in a technical way but that’s just me. I don’t for a moment believe that you need to think of painting as a technical art; its likely better if you don’t.

The technical way I perceive painting started in painting class when we were presented with one or several still lives. Sometimes we could only use one colour and sometimes we got to choose. Sometimes two colours and hallelujah sometimes we could use our whole pallet. We were always constrained by time. Sometimes as long as an hour. My worst nightmare was the 10 minute one-colour sketch class. I dreamed that I ran out of paint. As a result of all of this, I want as much time as possible to paint. I’ve attached the only one of these quick studies that I actually like. The only problem I have using reference photographs is that it is easy to fall into the detail trap. So I spend a lot of time simplifying my subjects. A huge advantage of photographs is when I am blocked. I can always find some area that I can add more detail and this often leads to different interpretations. The detail trap is always present.

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