Jeff Mahorney's painting blog
You have certainly come a very long way since you started out your adventure in painting!I get the impression you do a lot of work from reference photos nowadays? If so it shows that initially working from life perhaps greatly improves one's ability to eventually work from reference photos. I notice also that your work is now often larger than it used to be. Very nice!
Thanks for the comment Brian, yeah now it all starts out with reference photos then I create multiple comps then create the final photoshop reference comp to paint from. Maybe it's the designer in me but that might be my favorite part: actually designing the composition of the piece. Of course, it never turns out exactly like you plan but that's good. Serendipity are accidents that happen along the way that aren't really accidents, but opportunities (or fate).I have mixed feelings about photo reference: Cameras CANNOT see like we can, once we train (or untrain) our mind to see all the color that we really can see. Cameras seem to produce more of a desaturated narrow value world that we are trying to unlearn as painters. In fact, when I bring a photo in to make a possible comp, I'm adjusting the color in an attempt to REMEMBER and recreate my original visual experience. Why not just paint plein air? Many do and rightly so, but light moves VERY fast and I don't want to feel rushed to capture it. And you have to get the colors right (especially the value part) correct to really capture the light. So I settle for photo reference and memory to recreate what our much better eyes can see. I also get to play my other side (designer) which I also love.That being said, I learned with at least the first 120 (give or take) using still life I set up. I don't know if that got me more in touch with how light really works, but I like to think so. I can certainly tell you it help show me the difference between what we are capable of seeing and what a camera cannot. I think it helped wake my vision up to the truth of light and color. So yeah, maybe painting from real life is a necessary part of painting which is learning see.But once you do and realize that Everything is just spots of colors and that all we do is see (judge) the colors correctly in relation to to colors around it, all reality becomes uniform or homogenous in a way— you could paint it weather it's plein air, photograph or looking through a coke bottle. Whatever the situation, you can finally just paint what you see.Sorry if you wanted the shirt version :)Best,Jeff
Thanks for the added explanation! I would never have guessed you paint from composites. It seems to me that the big difficulty in stitching together various photos is to make sure the light in them all comes from the same place. Personally I have found it difficult and terrifying to draw or paint from photos. Somehow I never get the shapes and proportions right, though I suppose that attractive use of light and colour can make up for that and in some ways even render it irrelevant. At least with your paintings, I find that to be the case.Plain air painting is probably best, but of course reference photos are very convenient, and here in South Africa, with its high levels of violent crime, it can be downright dangerous to go sit somewhere in a landscape for several hours and paint. :-)
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