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Real life or photograph? How did you start?

When you started with Mark's free online course did you start with a still life or a photograph? I have watched many of his videos, some several times each. I am still in the process of purchasing supplies and figuring out how to get set up. I go back and forth trying to decide if I should try to do several paintings from real life or if photographs will accomplish the same thing.

What was your experience? 

Comments

  • If you can do it from real life that is probably preferable.

    Having said that, due to the limited space that I have all my works so far are from my photographs, and thats been down to the convenience for me.

    So while you can certainly learn from both methods I would go for real set up if thats doable.
  • I started from photographs mostly for convenience. After trying to paint from life I believe that it is more challenging although everyone says it is the best way to learn.  I keep making excuses but I need to do more work from life.
  • I watched everyone of Marks videos twice, some more than twice.  I chose the shadow box do it from life approach.  
  • I have been working from photographs but would LOVE to try working from life.  I have a collapsable lightbox but have an extremely small studio area, so I'm still trying to work out the lighting so that extralight is not thrown into the light box but still have enough light on the canvas.  I've learned quite a bit from photos but do understand painting from life is the BEST way to learn.
  • I set up a still life in the box and then take a photo of it also.  That way you have both to look at.
  • It doesn't really matter. What's important is to get started. If you have a large enough, well equipped studio with the right lighting there is no reason not to paint still lifes from life. If you lack space and good lighting it may be easier to start with photos. In the beginning, we focus on drawing and colour matching and this can be done from life or from photos.  :)
  • I do from both..
    I take photos of cats that I wat to paint, as No kitty will sit for  an artist,  ditto when I go to my local zoo to try and draw  big cats.. xxxxxxx
  • Does it matter if your painting is viewed in real life or seen by way of a photograph of your painting.
    If there is no difference how your painting is experienced....real life or photo ....well then there is your answer.
    I use photos at the moment for all the reasons stated above....and that no woman  in her right mind would ever hang out in my studio....miles from society...in the middle of the forest...off grid...no cell service or internet.
    In todays social climate it gets more and more creepy to ask a female to pose.
  • I've done both, but prefer photos (good ones). That way, I can work early, middle or late and the model never complains.  Actually, I've spent years painting free for parents portraits of their children killed in the 9-11 wars.  Thus, there's no chance any of them can pose for me.  I am forced to use family provided photos. 
    ArtGaltassieguy
  • edited August 17
    Does it matter if your painting is viewed in real life or seen by way of a photograph of your painting.
    If there is no difference how your painting is experienced....real life or photo ....well then there is your answer.
    I use photos at the moment for all the reasons stated above....and that no woman  in her right mind would ever hang out in my studio....miles from society...in the middle of the forest...off grid...no cell service or internet.
    In todays social climate it gets more and more creepy to ask a female to pose.
    Well, despite your being off grid with no cell service or internet, we're reading you loud and clear here, @Tramontane. Psychic communication? But maybe your not at your remote studio in the wilderness. 

    If you don't like using photos then why don't you just paint still lifes from life. Then you wouldn't have to worry about the shortcomings of photos or uppity live female models.  :)
  • Tassie if you are questioning the legitacy of what I stated then I would be happy to provide photographic proof....not painted truth btw....photo proof that you and I do not drink from the same water source.
    It would seem reasonable that given the discription of my studio setting that you question...you would ask not why I dont paint still life but rather why dont I paint plein air.
    tassieguy
  • edited August 19
    Cheers, @Tramontane. No, I'm not questioning the veracity of your claims re the geographical location of your studio. And, yes, with a studio in such a place one might have thought plein air landscape would be your go to subject.  :)
  • Nan....there are at least two ongoing discussions here on DMP regarding the use of photo vs real life. Good points made by all in those conversations. There are many people here that can help you out....Tassieguy for one. If you plan to stick around then he would be one to stay close to. 
    There are two issues with photo...one is  it a crutch....to the point of cheating when image is traced....the falsification of skill and intellect.
    And two....being that a photo is just a piece of paper with color shape...can the subject in a photo be represented equally or as good as if it were painted from real life.
    In short....if some one painted your portrait .....are you yourself no different as living breathing subject to that of a piece of paper with your image.
    Absolutely....the best thing you or anyone else can do is to learn drawing from life so that works done from photo will have greater chance of transcending the limits of photo.




    dencal
  • When I was training I used photos and some of Mark's photos or screenshots from his videos. After 6-7 painting I deliberately moved to painting from life even if it is a single object.

    I prefer to paint still life and portraits from life. Finishing portraits from photos taken by me.

    For landscapes, I paint small sketches from life i.e. en plein air and take photos before painting them. Then I paint from sketches, studies, and heavily photoshopped photos. 
  • edited August 23
    I started by painting still lifes from life using Mark's instructions to the letter. I used his "magic line" and proportional dividers to get proportions right and everything in the right place. I used his colour checker to see colour and  premixed all my colours and laid them in as per instructions. If you are just starting out in a la prima realism I recommend this approach for learning how to see and for learning basic painting technique. The principles, once learned, are not forgotten because they work.

    But still life is only one genre and may not be every painter's primary interest. I wanted to paint big landscapes but quickly discovered that, because light and weather change so quickly,  all I could achieve were small plein air sketches. They're ok, but they were not what I wanted. I wanted BIG like the landscape itself, and not something the size of a snapshot.  I could have used my plein air sketches as a basis for larger works but they lacked the detail I was after. So, I was sort of driven to photography for my big landscapes. I found I could make it work providing I made colour notes on site. Cameras and printers are ok for detail but not as good as my eyes when it comes to colour. And colour  is a large part of what creates depth in landscape painting  - atmospheric perspective for example.  On the other hand, photography and image editing software are great aids in composition. I can get rid of extraneous detail and even move whole mountains to come up with a composition I like. It's wonderful. And, whatever purists may say,  you are allowed to do this in painting because you are making a painting and not a copy of what you saw or a copy of a snapshot. 
    Whether it's a 12 X 8 inch sketch or a 6 feet wide tableau, a good painting is not an exact copy of the landscape you saw or of a snapshot. It is a three dimensional object in its own right and not an exact copy of anything. You won't see impasto brushwork when you look at a real life landscape and you won't see it in a photo either. Yet it is but one of the miracles of art, the human touch,  that allows painting to continue to florish in this age of ubiquitous photography.

    So, the bottom line is that photography can be useful to the painter but a lot of basic painting skills such as learning to see and mix colour are absolutely essential before photography can be of much use. And in some genres, such as still life, there's no reason to use photography if you have a reasonably well set up studio.

    Portraiture is another genre in which photography can be very useful to the painter. Especially these days when it's hard to get a model to sit for days or weeks. But again, basic painting skills learned from painting still lifes from life will help in making the portrait a painting rather than just a slick 2D copy of a photo. 

    By all means, use photography if it is helpful in achieving your aesthetic ends. But also master basic painting skills - learning to see and mix value and colour above all.

    Oh, and if, for whatever reason, you are not able to acquire good freehand drawing skills,  there are acceptable work-arounds such as grids and, dare I say it, tracing. I don't recommend the latter if you can avoid it but as I've said before, there are many reasons why freehand mastery may not be possible for everyone - age, infirmity, disability, not having the luxury of being able to spend years in cushy art school drawing classes, etc. None of this need stop you pursuing your artistic vision using whatever tools are helpful. Vermeer used a  camera obscura. The impressionists used photography to capture moments in time of daily life.  David Hockney used photos and grids to make a splash...  No one cares. Use whatever tools you want. Just paint.  :)
    dencalArtGalMichaelDMayeoli
  • Rob

    Now in Hobart are you going to do some life drawing classes?

    Denis


  • edited September 3
    Hi, @Dencal (Denis).The gallery started up regular sessions with a live model and I was thinking of joining in and then COVID happened and everything shut down. If the gallery starts the life sessions again I will seriously consider it. I'm short of time right now. As you know, my primary interest is landscape but my big pictures each take weeks of full time painting to complete - I'm talking 8 -10 hours a day, 7 days a week.   I'm struggling to get enough together for my next show in January because they sold 4 that I'd done for the show and now I've got to make up time. I need at least 12 and I've only got six done.

    But I'm not whinging. I'm happy to be busy in retirement. I was going nuts on the farm before I discovered DMP and all the free knowledge which enabled me to start painting. Beats wasting my time down at the club every day with all the other oldies playing the pokies.

     Oops ... sorry about the rant. If they start life sessions again I'll start after my next show.  If landscape will leave me alone for a while. :)
  • Rob

    May I predict, that after a couple of life drawing sessions you will reprioritise the 10/7 landscapes to something more enjoyable and at a pace that allows art growth.

    Denis
  • edited September 4
    Mmmmm....  I feel I'm growing in my art, @Dencal.  I enjoy it immensly even though it's hard work.  I'm only sorry there're are not more hours in the day to spend painting landscapes.  Landscape is what I love. The natural world speaks to me directly and clearly whereas fickle humans leave me more and more nonplussed every day. Samuel Beckett was right: up close, most humans are putrid, vile, cruel, self-centered and irrational and you can never know where you stand with them. I'm not much interested in painting them. Call me misanthropic but give me a tree or a rock any day.  :/
    Si1kaustavM
  • There are many people who love to do still photography with some wild angle shoots as well. There are many things that are available with some different shoots which can be available on the essayreviewexpert.com/review/edubirdie site help where many students getting the writing tips through the edubirdie review options which offer the writing tips.
  • tassieguy said:
    Mmmmm....  I feel I'm growing in my art, @Dencal.  I enjoy it immensly even though it's hard work.  I'm only sorry there're are not more hours in the day to spend painting landscapes.  Landscape is what I love. The natural world speaks to me directly and clearly whereas fickle humans leave me more and more nonplussed every day. Samuel Beckett was right: up close, most humans are putrid, vile, cruel, self-centered and irrational and you can never know where you stand with them. I'm not much interested in painting them. Call me misanthropic but give me a tree or a rock any day.  :/
    @tassieguy I'm suffering from this feeling too. That's why I long for empty areas, a big sky, field, forest, river etc. I love portraits but it's because of a different technical challenge rather than trying to know who that person is. Unfortunately, art world here doesn't understand landscapes...probably because not much is left to understand! They understand portraits because we have so many here.  :#
  • edited September 16
    Yes, @Kaustav, the only reason I would do a portrait now would be as a technique building exercise.

    You have an interesting take on why landscape paintings seem to be less popular in India.  One might have thought that with so many people and so little natural landscape folks would yearn to see it. Maybe you will change things with your art.  Your landscapes are so beautiful. Keep doing them and tastes in India will change so that more people buy landscapes.  :)
  • tassieguy said:
    Yes, @Kaustav, the only reason I would do a portrait now would be as a technique building exercise.

    You have an interesting take on why landscape paintings seem to be less popular in India.  One might have thought that with so many people and so little natural landscape folks would yearn to see it. Maybe you will change things with your art.  Your landscapes are so beautiful. Keep doing them and tastes in India will change so that more people buy landscapes.  :)
    @tassieguy Thanks. Trying to do that but I need to create that sensitivity. 
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