Painting by Karen Sperling based on her photo.
When it comes to painting paintings based on photos (or imagination, too), practice doesn't necessarily make perfect. One would think that it would, that one could learn a set of steps, some art theories and turn out painting after painting, but it doesn't work that way, for me, anyway. I find that each painting has its own unique set of painting mysteries that need to be uncovered and solved, ranging from which brush to use to what colors to choose. One solution does not fit all. This is the challenge, the frustration and ultimately the satisfaction of painting. It it were easy or repeatable, it would be boring. Because each painting begins with no clue about how to proceed, the steps from start to finish are scary, exciting and one hopes, rewarding.
Take the above painting, for instance. It was based on a photo I took during a wedding. I really didn't have a plan in mind for the final look of the piece, beyond that it would be sort of dreamy based on the subject's expression. The project was fun for me because of the way in which the painting revealed its personality to me in the process.
The photo started out as a snapshot before the wedding. I cropped it to focus on the woman.
Next, I thought I'd turn the photo into a black and white image. I love the look of black and white and I thought black and white enhanced the mystery of the subject's expression.
Once the basic composition and tones were established, it was time to do the painting. This is where the painting's personality takes over. As the painting emerges, you get into a certain pace and a certain mindset. And they are different for each painting. They say art is about the artist's expression and while I would agree that's true at the end, I do think the painting's nature and individuality dictate the final result as much as the artist's skill and talent. Working on a commissioned painting vs. one you do for yourself can either be seen as a challenge or limiting. I see it as a challenge to try to come up with something that the client will love and as far as being limiting because I don't get to do whatever I want, I actually like having to fit into certain parameters. Instead of feeling restricting, having to think about the clients' tastes actually helps the painting process because you have fewer decisions to make.
Black and white version.