Friday, August 24, 2012

Learn To See - By Painting From Real Life

If you're tired of painting from photographs that are fuzzy or completely washed out from a flashbulb, try painting from real life.  In a real life setting, you won't have to guess at what you are seeing, you simply walk right up to your subject and examine it closely. Perspective isn't skewed, textures are recognizable and the color is more accurate. 

No detail escapes your scrutiny.  

You can get multiple paintings from one still life.  Choose a portion of the still life, create a painting, then move to another place and paint again from a different view. 

Voila! You are training your brain to see the subject from all sides.

Here's a recent set up from my studio. Students selected a portion of this still life then painted their composition in one of six ways: 
  • Black, white and shades of gray
  • Using a palette knife only
  • Limited palette - red, yellow and blue
  • Limited palette - ochre, cadmium red and black
  • Clean brush strokes with no blending
  • Start to finish within the two-hour class period

 David is painting using black, white and shades of gray.

Elynn is using a limited palette of red, yellow, blue and white.

Painting from real life, whether it's from inside a studio in a controlled setting or outside in the open air allows you to really see shapes, values, color and form without distortion. It's an exercise for your brain.

Why not try it on a regular basis?

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