Jul 31, 2013

Miniature Painting - No 43 - Happy Kitty

Yesterday I posted Sad Kitty and promised today I would post Happy Kitty. So here it is!

6"x6" oil on Gessobord

Jul 30, 2013

Miniature Painting - No 42 - Sad Kitty

Next up in the miniature painting series is 'Sad Kitty', a cute little gray tabby cat.

6"x6" oil on Gessobord
But don't feel bad that the kitty is sad! Look for 'Happy Kitty' tomorrow!

Jul 25, 2013

Dark Bay Dressage Horse Painting Sold

This painting sold a couple days ago through the Parklane Gallery in Kirkland, WA. Unfortunately, not to the owner of the horse. This was painted from a photo I took at a Hollywood Hill Saddle Club event but I never did find out who the horse's owner was to offer it to them. I'm happy it sold, of course! But I wish the owner of the horse had gotten a chance to see it first. Well, hopefully they'd be happy to know someone else thought their horse was beautiful enough to buy a painting of it! :)

It is a gorgeous horse, isn't it? No doubt a joy to ride, too!

I'm currently working on a new dressage horse painting, among other things. This one is of a beautiful very red chestnut horse. Check back soon to see it finished! 

Jul 14, 2013

EAFA Public Arts Display

I'm happy to announce that three of my paintings have been selected to be part of the Evergreen Association of Fine Arts (formerly Eastside Association of Fine Arts) public art program. These 3 paintings will be on display (and available for purchase) at the Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Washington from today until October 20th. If you are in the area, do stop by and see these paintings, along with many other paintings from EAFA members, in person!

Black Bear Falls
16"x20" oil

Friesland Nobility
20"x24" oil

Follow Me
18"x24" oil

Jul 9, 2013

Miniature Painting - No 41 - White Stallion

Another milestone reached in my miniature painting project! Here's Number 41, a white Arabian stallion. I really wanted to get a lot of color in this "plain" white horse so there's not a lot of actual white paint in this one. I used a lot of pure yellows, blues, and violets, and used the contrast of yellows against the blues to make it pop.

5"x7" oil
Available here.

This painting was done from a photo I took at a local saddle club event. I liked the way the light was hitting him, the way he tossed his mane and tail, but I didn't want a rider and gear obscuring those beautiful Arabian curves along the neck and back, so I painted it without rider and gear. Here's the reference photo I used. As you can see, I moved that front leg a little so it didn't look like it was attached to the other leg. I hope that was an improvement. :)

Jul 7, 2013

Mule Deer Painting

Here's a recently finished painting of some mule deer. It's something a little different. Rather than paint a full background, I painted the deer on black Multimedia Artboard to give a striking contrast to the backlit animals and grass. It also gives it a nice simple composition where the animals are definitely the focal point.

Mule Deer Ridge
8"x10" oil

Available at Parklane Gallery in Kirkland, WA

Jul 1, 2013

Painting from Photographs

There seems to be a stigma about painting from photographs in the art world. A lot of people have opinions about it and most of them are, unfortunately, negative ones.

First, from the artist side, I've heard many artists say you can't paint decent picture if you don't paint from real life. Paintings created from photos are not authentic, lack creativity, suffer from lighting and perspective issues, etc. You must observe and paint and draw from real life, in real settings. They claim you simply cannot paint a good lion if you have never been to Africa.

On the other side, I've heard many non-artists say they think artists who paint from photos are just copying the photos. They think we simply try to reproduce the photo as is, sometimes poorly, so what's the point? Just frame the photo!

Well, I'd like to argue both points a bit. While it may be true that your lion painting would be better if you could paint from life while on an African safari, I really don't think that means your art is bad if you don't. Absolutely stunning paintings have been created from photographs, often of zoo animals, by many artists. Case in point, the snow leopard. I've seen many beautiful paintings of this amazing cat. But I'd bet money that most artists who have painted snow leopards, including those who claim good paintings can only be made from live observation in the wild, have never seen a snow leopard in the wild. They are extremely rare and elusive animals. I'd bet almost all snow leopard paintings have been created from photos taken at zoos and wildlife preserves, or made up from various reference.

So, my point is, nice paintings can be made without painting from real life in natural settings.

On the second point, that non-artists believe that artists who paint from photographs are just human photocopy machines, I'd like to argue that too. Here's my recent example. It's a painting I did of a young cowgirl somewhere out west, maybe Wyoming, on a horse and ready to start rounding up cattle. She is too young to do this alone so her dad is coming with her. But she is young and eager while he is older and does things at a more relaxed pace. She has gone ahead and is now waiting impatiently for him to catch up so they can get started.

"Waiting for Dad"
8"x10" oil

Did I take the reference photo for this painting from actual cattle ranchers in Wyoming? No. I live in Washington state, near Seattle. I don't really even have a good place to observe WA cattle ranchers. Does that mean I can't paint a picture of a young cowgirl in Wyoming?

It might be true that my painting is not as accurate or "authentic" as it would be if I had been born and raised herding cattle in eastern Wyoming. But does that mean my painting is terrible? I don't think so. I think artists can create wonderful paintings from reference using their talent and creativity. After all, if you can only make a nice painting from exactly what you see then you really are just a human copy machine.

Which brings me to the second point again. We, as artists, mostly use photos for technical reference like anatomy and lighting. We use photos for inspiration. That does not mean we copy them as is. I don't think I've ever copied a photo exactly as it was. Even if it was a great photo, there's something to "edit" out when painting. There's a distracting fence in the background of that horse, or a branch across the deer's face, etc. Removing elements like that is the minimum an artist should do. But sometimes the changes can be much more dramatic.

Here is the actual reference photo I used to create the above painting.

As you can see, this is nothing like a Wyoming cattle ranching scene. This was a photo I took from a local saddle club event. The little girl appeared to be waiting impatiently for the results of her class. I thought her expression was cute and the horse's pose was nice. But that alone didn't make this a nice painting. Orange cones and purple leg wraps just weren't gong to cut it. So I started thinking about what else a little girl on a horse might be waiting impatiently for. Since she had a western saddle and bridle, I imagined a western scene. I imagined herding cattle. But she's too young to be doing that on her own. So that's where "waiting for Dad" came in. I started Googling eastern Wyoming cattle herding scenes, and mocking up backgrounds in Photoshop. I changed her helmet to a cowboy hat. I changed the horse's color to better match the scenery. I imagined the horse would be bored waiting, so I lowered his head and gave him a sleepier look like he'd been standing there for a while. I added an eager cattle dog.

As you can see, I don't think the painting is anything like the original photo except in the technical details such as lighting and anatomy. This is why both photos and creativity are important. As an artist I can imagine a scene, I can imagine a story. Trying to imagine how the light falls across the horse's anatomy is a different matter, however. So this shows how photographs can be useful. It also shows that a painting created in this way isn't necessarily "bad" because that scene wasn't observed in real life. An artist's imagination and a photograph can combine to create a scene that might otherwise never exist. In art, I think the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

Shop Art Supplies

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...