Monday, 15 December 2014


The watercolour of MS Oldenburg in Lundy Anchorage went last week. It was a reminder to me of happy days sailing in and around the Bristol Channel.

This morning when I took the dogs out (we are currently sitting our daughters dog) the moon was out and Saturn was clearly visible. A nice time of day for a walk.

These days more of my work involves commissions I am not sure why it is going like that but it keeps me busy. One thing about them is the variety of requests you get. I get asked to do a view from a specific place or a place where a special event took place, wedding, engagement.. and also to do the painting depicting a time gone by. Anyway occasionally I get given a photograph and am asked to work from that. I am happy to work from a photograph,a sketch or from life (depending on the practicalities and weather).

However working from photographs is not straight forward and carries real problems for people learning to paint. My advice would be to use it for information only, the relationships and shapes of objects within a chosen scene. Trying to copy a photograph will generally be disappointing. The issue is to decide what colour palette you are going to use to depict the scene you want. What objects to include, and more importantly what to leave out and how you are going to represent that view. Are you going to crop it? Is it going to be a tonal painting?  Further on you may have to decide what to change to make the scene more natural. This is a complicated area so I will give a couple of examples.

Sculptures in the past have made allowances when creating figures as to where the work will be viewed from. A statue in a niche high up will be seen by the public from below. In order to make the figure appear natural they will change the dimensions of the figure to prevent it being fore shortened.
The neck and body will be lengthened outside the real proportions for a body but viewed from below it will appear life like.

When drawing or painting buildings the laws of perspective will dictate that as the height of the building increases so the external lines of the building will taper inwards. Often it is necessary to underestimate this to achieve an apparent natural look.

I can't give any hard and fast rules regarding this subject maybe Leonardo could, (da Vinci not DiCaprio ). It is a matter of experience and interpretation.

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