Friday, May 24, 2013

Sketchbooks - Sketching from Photos.

12" x 9" Oil Pastel from Magazine Photo
Concerning traditional painting, whether it's people, landscape, or what-have-you, there's nothing that takes the place of drawing or painting from life. To be there with the subject, see how it's form turns, and how light and color dance across it's surface is to experience the subject fully and in ways no other means can provide. A painting shouldn't be just a matter of fact report on the subject, but should convey a sense of life and experience.

9" x 12" Graphite from Book Photos
As subject matter, photographs are second-hand information. Photos don't provide all the information that being with the subject does. Also, cameras interpret the subject in ways suited to their own electronic and mechanical dispositions. Depend too heavily on a photograph for your finished work and you might as well sign it “Nikon” or “Kodak” and send the proceeds of any sales to the camera companies. Kodak could use them.

12" x 9" Graphite from a Photo of Mine
That being said, there is sometimes a place for the use of photographs in painting and drawing. The best illustrators are very good at drawing from life, and use that to inform their use of photographs. Photos are very helpful if your subject is perhaps a quick athlete or bird in flight. When practicing drawing, photos allow the beginner time to work on their hand/eye skills without always having to find a model or worry about changing shadows.

9" x 12" Oil Pastel from a Photo of Mine.
The vast majority of my works are made from life. I attend drawing sessions every week and draw or paint directly from the model. My plein air paintings are made entirely on location outdoors, with the occasional touch up done in the studio, car, or wherever. No camera is ever used.

8" x 6"  Owls are Pen and Ink from Book Photos; Glasses are from Life.
However, I'll sometimes paint studio portraits, working from sketches made from life in conjunction with photographs I took of the subject. Someday, if I ever make large studio landscapes, I might use similar methods.

12" x 9" Pen and Ink from Magazine Photos
The sketches shown in this post are out of some of my older sketchbooks, and were done from photographs. Years ago, photos provided some valuable practice material for me.

9" x 12" Graphite from Magazine Photos


Unknown said...

I love the little rock cliff surrounded by pine trees. Fantastic work.

James Gunter said...

Thanks. Some day I might haul my plein air kit up there and paint those cliffs, but it's a long climb.