Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Little Artistic License

I'm taking a break from other topics to just do a brief explanation of how I might find a painting
in a photo reference from a scene.

This is a photo taken by a friend of mine, Tom.
He sent it to me in the hopes that I might paint it, and it was such a great photo, I knew right away that it had good potential.
I loved the warm colors, and the great value contrast between the boy and the dark tree shapes behind him. I have blurred this photo a little to reduce all the tiny detail. This is just less distracting for me, and I can focus on the larger shapes.
I didn't think this needed a great deal of editing, but I did see one change I wanted to make right away. Here's a few plans, drawn in Photoshop.

In our western culture, we read from left to right. This includes paintings. We tend to enter a painting on the left and read across. So, if the center of interest comes right away, the eye stops there and has no desire to continue into the painting. The boy and boat came "too soon" into the journey in the painting, and I knew that I needed to move them.
Also, I felt that the weeds which run across the bottom of the picture could be arranged to create some directional lines to further lead the eye into the painting. Additionally, and this is a small thing, but the boy's head and the tree behind him have an unfortunate alignment, and one of them needs to move over! Look for these kind of things as you design your painting, and make intelligent choices to avoid them being a distraction in the finished work. finally I cropped the whole thing down to concentrate on the boy.

Here is the finished painting. You can see that I moved the boat over further to the right. It is definitely the focus of the painting, both by color and value contrast. To get there, I opened up the water a bit at the bottom of the painting, and the line of the water lilies now lead the eye up toward the boat, rather than blocking the way into the scene. The few brighter tree trunks catch the eye, leading it then to the dead stump, and then back to the boy. This kind of circular journey keeps the viewer engaged in the painting, and is a good thing to aim for.

That's it! Just a few design changes! Artistic license? Nature seldom, if ever, hands us a perfect composition, so these decisions we make are what really creates art out of what we see in front of us. Beware of trying to be too literal and copy what you see - design it!!

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