Working from Photos

As y'all know, the bulk of my work comes from painting my clients' photos.  Some of the photos are awesome, with great light, a clear composition, and it's easy for me to pick what I like to highlight and create a beautiful painting.  Sometimes, though, I spend as much time trying to piece together what the photo is supposed to represent as I do actually painting!

Before Christmas, I painted a series of small watercolors to commemorate a family's homes over the years.  My client only had one photo that she'd taken herself; the others had to be sourced from Google Maps.  Sometimes this works (see #2!) and sometimes... a LOT changes between the time you lived in the house and when Google took its photo (#3).  I was lucky to have a thoughtful client with such a good memory!

Let's start with Exhibit A:

This first photo has great light and shadows, with nothing obstructing the composition... it's awesome.  She just wanted the car removed.  Easy peasy.

Exhibit B: I used two Google Earth angles to piece together this former home, and my client's memory, and her absolutely amazing/adorable sketch to fill in the landscaping that had changed:

Et voila!  A cleaned-up version of her old house.

Finally, Exhibit C:

This one needed digital triage for me to be able to paint a watercolor from it.  There was no roof to be found, the horizontally striped awnings were gone, every surface had been repainted, the trees weren't the newly-planted baby trees of her memory... so we had to collaborate a lot to make sure I captured the right image.  

I've been working on a number of pieces lately that required a ton of digital TLC.  I am grateful every day for Photoshop, but my goodness, it has opened a Pandora's Box of time-stealing tasks.  I enjoy it, but I'm really not trained in that, so it takes me a long time.  And I don't want to create a bunch of paintings that look like cheesy Photoshop printouts - anyone who's seen my Pinterest board knows I gravitate toward loose, flowy, hyper-colorful stuff.  I think that having such precise photographs is making me a stickler about painting the photograph instead of just painting a painting.  Maybe I should start taking more source photos myself, or just say "no" to bad source photos.  What do you think?

Stick around - there might be some big changes coming for AJC in 2015.