Thursday, August 8, 2013

Up Close & Personal, Part 4

Lining Up, pastel, 8x8

For this last week in our "Up Close & Personal" series, we discussed cropping into subject matter that we're normally inclined to feature within a larger area of the landscape. I encourage my students to take the time to just "play" with their photos on the computer first, and see if there's a better way to crop the scene other than the version they quickly decided on when they looked through their camera at that location.

Chances are, when you're taking photos at a scenic location, especially in a location where you may not get back to for a long time, you tend to want to capture everything with your camera. But when you get back home and load the photos onto your computer, see if you can take your time looking at other possibilities. You may be able to get two or three (or more) paintings out of one photo! I actually get excited about doing this when I come home with a new batch of reference photos!

I had planned to do an 8" x 10" painting for my demo this morning. I had toyed with the idea of cropping into my planned composition a bit more, but went ahead with my original plan. After I finished the demo portion of my class (when my demo painting is about 80 - 90 percent completed), I decided that a more dynamic composition could result from an even closer crop.

My original version.

After a "practice" crop on a photo taken with my phone, I decided to trim it down to an 8" x 8" square format. Once trimmed, I did have to tweak a few elements for better placement within the square format.

Shown below is my original photo. I took this photo several years ago, but could never decide how to approach painting from it. I loved the hay bale formations but didn't find the tree shapes interesting.

The original photo.

The cropped photo.
Lining Up is what my Thursday morning demo later evolved into, after a two inch slice off of the right side.


  1. Thanks so much, Barbara! It's so helpful to see how you interpret a photo - a real skill. You made the best of the bales and the shadows and have two great paintings!

  2. Thanks, Donna! It's all about how you interpret the photo. :-)

  3. getting more than one reference photo out of one photo! brilliant, thanks barbara!

    1. Yep, Jeri! If you paint alot, you sometimes start to run out of source photos. When you explore other ways of cropping into your previous photos, you can get more mileage out of them.