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Inspired by photo reference.

On a recent trip to Sonoma, California I took some photo reference in hopes of producing some larger paintings when I returned.  Some artist's take photos of scenes they paint in plein air,  I don't.  I find that painting larger painting from photos and pleir air studies bores me. I've done the painting already why do I want to make a larger version of it.  I usually get my best photo reference while I'm driving around looking for something to paint.  I often find scenes that appeal to me along the road but,  for some reason I can't paint on site at that time.

That was the case with this photo I took while driving around the coastal section of Sonoma County.  Perpendicular to Highway one I found a road that went up and up and as I climbed I stopped along the way and took shots of whatever caught my eye, trees mostly.  This shot below was one of a few I took of some cows crossing the road. 

In this blog I wanted to show you the process I followed to come up with a painting.  First I took the original image and thought about what feeling I wanted to portray. I really liked the idea of the mother and baby cow together.  Using photoshop I started playing around with the above image.  Basically I omitted the black cow altogether and overlapped the baby with mother.  Next I got rid of the asphalt road and created a field of grass in front of the two cows.  Below is what I came up after I bumped up the saturation and cropped it.

Below is my value block in.  Notice my drawing is off (mostly the mother cows head). I try not to use any grid system for blowing up images on the canvas because it plays with the spontaneity of the painting.

Below is both images (the block in and photoshoped) superimposed on top of each other.  this gave me a better idea of what needed to be fixed drawing wise.

Here is the final painting!



5 Responses to Inspired by photo reference.

Valérie Pirlot
via richardoversmith.com31 months ago

Great post! I totally understand what you mean about working from photographs. I mainly work plein air but keep taking pictures on my mobile every time something catch my attention and every now and then create a painting from those, using photoshop as you do to recreate a composition. I find it more satisfactory too to start a new painting from photographs, and so far I have never scaled up any of my plein air paintings as I can only get excited once about a painting. I love your cows painting and it has as much freshness as if it was painted in plein air. Thanks for sharing.

Margaret Salisbury
via richardoversmith.com30 months ago

Love it, want it! I agree about painting larger from plein air piece, but I often can't help myself. There is no question that painting from same image (or photo) twice makes for an inferior painting the second time. I seem to paint whatever excited me originally , out of it!

via richardoversmith.com23 months ago

Thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed reading about your method of working from your photographs. Love your work!

Kathryn Clark
via richardoversmith.com16 months ago

I just started teaching a class on painting oil from a photo reference at the Lafayette Art Museum in Lafayette, Indiana. This blog was perfect for them to see the basic stages so I forwarded it to them. Thank you!

Kay Zetlmaier
via richardoversmith.com12 months ago

I saw "What's cooking" in Connoisseur Mag. and loved your brush work. Then after reading your section on working from photos I really related to what you said about being bored with "re-painting" on a larger scale. I love being out in nature and plein aire painting, but I work better in the studio where I am no so distracted. I too, drive around and look for special subjects to paint. Quite in sync with your cows, I have the almost exact same photo I shot in San Simeon, Calif!
Do you have classes or workshops? I strive to loosen up work like your beautiful work.
Thanks for looking at my web site and getting back to me.
Kay Zetlmaier

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