Creating Paintings out of Photographs – tips for overcoming common problems

brush to paint the picture. paint brushes

Many artists out there live by the notion that no matter how impressive a photograph is, it cannot tell the full story of a subject. However, there’s no denying their use for many reasons, one of course being the fact that they provide artists with a great reference point for their work.

After all, photographs allow us to be transformed into settings from across the globe right from where we’re sat, and enable artists to capture the essence of a subject from different perspectives and angles. Therefore creating paintings from photographs is a huge artistic trend, but it’s not without its pitfalls. Here are some tips for overcoming the most common issues artists face.

Physical limitations with photographs

Regardless of how good your camera is, it will not be as good as the human eye at truly capturing a scene, person or object. There are a lot of distortion issues that arise in photography, and things like colouring, shadows and depths of field can all be skewed when taking photos of something. Therefore it’s a good idea to take lots of pictures from different angles and perspectives with the best camera possible to get the best representation of your subject to work from.

Copyright and permission issues

However, if you’re not planning on taking the photos yourself or have found a photograph already that you’d like to recreate through painting, you may face a lot of issues regarding copyright and usage limitations. After contacting the photographer, and if you’ve had no luck in gaining rights to use the image, why not see if you can come to a slightly different, compromised agreement? You could request to use the photo for a fee, or just part of the photo, or perhaps not the full, high resolution version, for example.

Artistic limitations

When recreating a photograph through painting, some artists may feel slightly limited, due to having such a rigid, complete form to follow. These limitations can hinder creativity and can have a negative impact on the final result. To solve this, remember that you shouldn’t feel obligated to show exactly what is depicted in the shot. Instead, an artist should feel free and inspired to manipulate or leave behind a reference any way he or she chooses.

Using sketches and words to fill in the gaps

Photos can often leave us with some blanks in terms of how an environment made us feel, which can then make things tricky when trying to recreate that feeling with a paintbrush. This is where notes and simple sketches can come in as you go out and take photographs, as these can provide handy references for the things you felt and want to portray that the lens may have missed.

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