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or Graham's other years:1999 - 2001 - 2003 - 2004 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016

Graham Scandrett "Painting from Photographs" 5/12 March 1999

Some painters look on people who use photographs as cheats; others never paint in any other way.

Graham whetted our appetites with thoughts of Delacroix's nudes in the bath, but the water would have become awfully cold if the girls had really posed the whole time he was painting. Delacroix used photography to ease his job (and that of his models), as did Sisley, Monet, Manet, Degas (imagine a ballerina on one toe for hours on end) and others,

All right, then, so we are convinced that photography can complement painting The photo can be ours or someone else's -- by the time we have finished, the original photographer would, we hope, not recognise it.

As usual Graham showed plenty of examples, from books and from his own work, as he discussed three of the many ways in which we might make use of photography.

1 Make several paintings from one photo (or from a set of photos taken from much the same viewpoint). This makes you look carefully to see why it is interesting. There may be different paintings from different parts of the photo; large-scale panoramic landscapes and studies of tiny details; the same scene at different seasons or with different colours or tonal moods; different media; representational and/or more abstract treatments.

2 Make one painting from several, possibly unrelated, photos. Graham showed examples of paintings triggered originally by a particular detail of an ill-composed, otherwise boring photograph. For example a photo of a particularly striking hill and cliff with no sky or foreground detail was turned into a saleable (still recognisable) landscape by adding sky, foreground and foreground interest (boats) from quite unrelated sources. Here too one can move the horizon, change colours etc. In this approach it is perhaps more-than-usually necessary to make intermediate sketches to make sure that perspective, for example, has been consistently portrayed (it won't be if you copy unrelated photos slavishly).

3 Reverting to single photos, you will probably find that they are not perfectly composed. Choose one and make some (a dozen?) photocopies of it, at least some of them enlarged. Now study it to see where it is not quite perfect. Where a feature carries the eye in the wrong direction, cut it out and put it back somewhere better. Maybe a detail could stand repetition, at different scales perhaps, or rotated away from their original orientation. You might be able to make a better pattern of darks and lights. The result can be traced or copied onto your final "canvas". The monochrome photocopies might let you "see" new colour possibilities. Graham's example involved moving a path, bushes, whole hills, to focus the eye on the more interesting part of the image (the way a white chalk horse nestled between the folds of the hills).

Quote: "These three methods get progressively more difficult. Choose one of them and, after coffee, get painting." Well done Graham, and thanks for several subsequent happy hours with a photo.

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or Graham's other years:1999 - 2001 - 2003 - 2004 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016

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