Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bad photos

Posted by Maggie

I've said for a long time that painting from bad photos can be a good thing. When you have a bad photo, you know you have to make changes. It frees you from the temptation to copy your photo, and the resulting painting can move far beyond the photographic reference.

But there are bad photos, and then there are really bad photos.

Bill and I try to walk every morning. We know it's good for us. But some days, the only thing that gets me out the door is the scenery. We're lucky to have a wonderful walking trail that begins just across the street. We have a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains from our front window, but it's even better on the trail.

As we approach fall (okay, it's already fall, but I'm in denial), the sun rises later each day. Consequently some days it's just coming up over the north end of the mountains as we start out. I never remember to take my camera, but I always have my phone in my pocket. (No one calls me at that hour, thank goodness, but I just can't go out the door without my phone.)

So I took these photos of the sunrise, and the resolution on my phone camera is, admittedly, bad. (I haven't upgraded to the iPhone 4 which supposedly has a better camera.) I printed them to paint from, and all the detail was gone. The color wasn't too bad, but then again, it wasn't too good. I wanted to combine elements from the two photos, and in the end, I also had to rely on memory.

I struggle to keep from putting in too much detail. With these photo references, it wasn't as hard as usual when I'm working from photos. I couldn't see any details.

I'm really happy with the mood, atmosphere and lack of detail in the finished painting. The combination of the two photos worked well, and I feel I managed to understate rather than overstate, for a change.

Maybe I won't upgrade my phone, and maybe I'll paint from phone photos more often!

Above left, Morning Walk, 7x9, pastel on Pastelmat, ©Maggie Price.

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