Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Painting Lessons: Good Photos are Golden

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of having good photographs for a painting.  It sounds simple....the better the photos, the better the painting.  I was trying to defy my own theory with my next painting but had my words slapped right back at me.
Let's backtrack with some introductions....

Last November I worked with City Girl Weddings as a day of assistant on a beautiful wedding held at Floating World Gallery for Anna and Wade.  After the wedding, I was magically hired by the bride to create a painting of her bouquet (I didn't even put 2 and 2 together until I received the images and recognized the bride, bouquet and event!).  So, like any post wedding booking, I contacted the photographer, Shane Welch, for some images to work from.  I couldn't have been happier with the exquisite images he took (and how incredibly easy he was to work with).

Aren't these gorgeous...and so artistic!  I love that background color.

Here is where our lesson pops is best to book me before the wedding so that I can converse with the photographer ahead of time and make them aware of my intentions.  No photographer is going to take a bazillion photos of your bouquet unless you tell them to and have a good reason to do it.  They need to spend their time capturing all of your other special moments.
So, although I love the modern sleek take on the compositions I put together from these photos, my client, Anna, was looking for all of the different varieties of flowers in one composition.  Well, this wasn't going to be possible from these 3 photos, so I moved on to plan b and dug a bit deeper.  Ok, a lot deeper....

Take this photo:

Do you see the box on the bouquet?  That's where I got this composition from:

You can see the granulated look to the image.  Now blow this up to 24 x 24 inches.  Yeah, not so great to work from....but, I wanted to make it work for my client's sake.

 Sketched it in and began painting....and struggling.

When you are use to painting sharp, crisp images, your eyes struggle to put all of the pixelation into focus.

Finally, after much deliberation, I decided to halt the project.  I could continue and produce a painting that was mediocre and did not completely reflect the art that Reenie Rose produces, or I could move on to plan c.

I kind of happened upon plan c while using additional images on my computer as painting references (which I never do during the process).  I found myself zooming in on an area that was very close to the original composition I had put together.  With a little cutting and pasting in Photoshop, I came up with my plan c:

Look at the difference:

Why I didn't find this in the first place, I don't know (guess that's why they call it plan c).  All of the flowers that Anna wanted to showcase are present and the color and clarity are soooo much better.  
What came next was a first for me....wiping out what I had already painted and re-gessoing the canvas.

I felt pretty bad about this process having gone awry but am thankful that Anna and Wade were so understanding and absolutely love the new composition.  Though I was originally trying to capture all of the elements my client was looking for in a painting, I managed to ignore my gut and include a painting choice that just wasn't true Reenie Rose material.  Since we are on like lesson 5 of this post, let's remind ourselves to stay true to ourselves and what we do and do so well.  But, don't forget...lesson #1 is using the best images possible for a painting.  I'm so grateful that I was still able to work with Shane's images.  In my next post, we are going to get up close and personal with the photographer himself!  In the meantime, I have a new paintings to start....Round 2!

What was your smartest "do-over"?


  1. Cheers to you for stopping the project and starting over when you weren't happy with it!! Shots in the church are always tough because we aren't allowed to use flash so we have to crank the ISO which makes a photo grainy when you zoom in a lot.

    I'm sure your clients were thrilled with the final project! It turned out beautifully!!

  2. Serious props to you for slowing down and re-evaluating. Sometimes I get caught up just having to produce, and this is such a good reminder to always listen to my gut and that starting over is ok- often necessary. I love your care and attention to detail, and I know Anna and Wade are going to be THRILLED with the final product!!