Using a photo reference

I prefer to sketch these days from life, but I thought it might be useful to post something about how I think in paint using a photo ref.

I usually get a few lines down to see  what I am looking at and to figure out what it is about this that I really want. This is important. I’m not trying to record the whole thing, but, rather, I’m selecting out bits I like best and the things I think I might be able to best get a hold of in paint. I think Margaret said this about painting, when we were teaching; that unlike the photograph itself, a painting is not a democratic record of a thing or event.

With that in mind, I zeroed in on the cosmos and and zinnia and let the rest of it go.

Also, because I am an oil painter, I usually go in there and get the darks first. This isn’t what watercolour painters usually do. They lay in the lights first. I like to know where my darks are and how the thing is going to be anchored and this is also my oil training. Also in this little sketch the darks are mostly abstract shape and I just love that.

Okay out the door again!


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