Pastel Art Prints

Pastel Painting Tutorials

Use of Photos in Painting

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We have covered a lot so far and in this module, we are going to cover something that a lot of artists have difficulty with.

Should you use photos or not?

Many painters use photos to assist their artwork. There are essentially two ways of doing this.

The first way is simply recreating an image from a single photo in a pastel work.

This is useful particularly when you see something (a landscape for example) that you want to paint, but can't do so at that time. Also, if you start a painting but can't finish it before the light changes, or before your model gets bored, you can take a photo and complete the painting later using the photo as reference.

Please note that while the above paragraph refers to a single photo, it is much better to take a number of photos, rather than just one.

That way you can capture a range of angles and focal lengths, which will help you to create a looser, freer representation of the subject.

Another time when you might try to recreate an image is when you are using a photo that someone else took.

There's nothing wrong with painting the Eiffel Tower from a photo, even if you have never been to Paris, although some artists feel that this is artistically limiting and tend to look down on the practice.

You can make up your own mind about this, but keep in mind that recreating photos might be a breach of copyright, unless they are explicitly 'copyright free.'  You can find copyright free images on the internet.

The second way of using photos to assist your artwork is to use your own camera like a sort of sketchbook.

Every time you see something that inspires your creativity, take a photo of it. Over time you will build up a library of images that you can use as a reference for your art.

You might use different photos to inspire different elements of a single painting for example.

However you use photos, there is no argument that they are an invaluable tool and much faster and more convenient than the old sketchbook and pencil.

One last thought, try not to accurately ‘copy’ the photo. Instead, try to put your own personal slant into your painting - it will make all the difference.

The ‘Step by Step’ books have all been painted from photos that the artist took.

The books illustrate how you can take a photo and create a beautiful painting without being rigidly faithful to the photo.

Click here for more info.

In our next section, we will cover how to store your work.


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