My friend Gina emailed me a photo with a note saying, “I like the light in this photo– for some reason I always think of you when I look at it.” Although I rarely paint from photos, especially those taken by other people, I just had to paint this one. My computer monitor is set up so that I can paint directly from the image on the screen which is a lot better than working from the limited colors in a printed image.
I’m not sure if I’m done yet, but I couldn’t see what else was needed so I stopped. If you have any suggestions for improving the picture, I’d love to hear.
Below are some stages of the painting. I used a bit of artistic license: I gave Hannah a bit of a haircut and deleted Gina’s wonderful dog Bella because:
- The dog was competing with Hannah as the focal point and was about the same size.
- I couldn’t get Bella to “read” as a dog; no matter how hard I tried to draw her correctly, she just kept turning into a jackrabbit.
Top row: 1) the finished painting; 2) my painting start; and 3) a black and white version of the start to see if my values were on track.
Middle row: 1) & 2) the next two steps in the painting. 3) a view of a “color spot” layer that I made in Photoshop. I created a new layer, and used Photoshop’s Paintbrush tool to select (Alt-click) and paint spots of those colors because it can be easier to see the colors when they’re isolated. Even more helpful than the color spots is a color-mixing tip I learned from Dianne Mize on Empty Easel: you apply the color to the edge of a small card and compare it to the subject until you get it right.
Bottom row: three views of the original photo. 1) “Posterized” in Photoshop down to two values; 3) posterized with three values; 3) Gina’s original photo.
P.S. This park, which Hannah affectionately calls the “swamp adventure,” is part of the East Bay Regional Parks. It is a river front park next to McAvoy harbor in Bay Point. It’s a little delta oasis in the sprawl of East Contra Costa County.