Artichokes in Oil (paint) & Color correcting in Photoshop

Artichokes, Oil painting on 8x8" Gessobord

Artichokes, Oil painting on 8x8" Gessobord

After deconstructing one artichoke to paint in watercolor (previous post) I decided they were too old and worn out to bother cooking them, so why not paint them instead. I’m finding how important it is to take breaks when I’m painting. Each time I took one (because someone came to the door, I had to go to sleep or have lunch) I was surprised at seeing the painting with fresh eyes. It gave me a chance to strategize, stop futzing around in one area that wasn’t working and just needed to be scraped off and started over, notice that the values needed strengthening, etc.

At a certain point I recognized that this is as good as I can do for now. I’ll learn a little more and be able to a better on the next piece. That is so much more satisfying than trying to bring the piece to the level of the bar I keep raising or trying to make it as  good as the painting of other artists’ work I admire.  As a good friend said to me yesterday, “Compare…and despair!” and he was so right. Another friend pointed me to this from Desiderata:

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Artichokes, easel & palette in the studio

Artichokes, easel & palette in the studio

The multi-colored card on my easel is a Gretagmacbeth ColorChecker that I use when I photograph art work. Sometimes I use the white square to set my cameras “white balance. I always include some or all of the card when I take the photograph so I can compare the colors on the card to the colors on my monitor to see if I’ve got it right.

With the card included in the photo, I can correct the colors in the photo using the Levels tool in Photoshop:

  1. Select the “white” eyedropper in the Levels menu and click it on the white square. This sets the white level so that white in the photo is pure white, not greyish. Sometimes this is all that’s needed.
  2. If the black square doesn’t look black enough, I do the same with the black eyedropper in the black square. Setting this range of black to white really helps, especially when there is no black or white in the painting.
  3. To remove a color cast (e.g. when the gray square looks greenish pinkish) I use the grey eyedropper on various spots on any of the gray squares until the color cast is gone and gray is gray.
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