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David Larsen

3 Years Ago

The Frankenstein Photo

Some painters can paint from their head.  I can't do that.  I'm one of those painters who has to see what they paint.  Where I like to paint from life, that is not always possible, especially if the subject is perishable: flowers, fruit, etc.  It can take me sometimes weeks to finish a painting, long after the subjects have festered in a giant mess.

Some may think that painting from a photo is a handicap.  However, I find that it gives me a slight advantage in that I can play with the composition until I find something I like.  Sometimes that composition is not just from one photo.

Take the photo below, which is the reference photo from my latest painting.  It is actually from three photos.  In one photo, I liked the flower arrangement. In another, I liked the pitcher and bowl.  In yet another, I liked the table and reflection.  I Frankensteined them all together into one photo.  This photo never actually existed in real life.  Also, it does not have to be perfect, because it is just a reference photo for my painting and will be tossed when the painting is done.  You can see all the seams where I put them together.

The artistic process does not start when I put my brush to the canvas.  It starts well before -- first, when I snap the photos, second when I process them, third, when the composition comes to life.  I bet Rembrandt never had an advantage like that.

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Shana Rowe Jackson

3 Years Ago

Very cool David, I'm not very experienced with digitally combining photo's, how did you do that? It looks great!! Can't wait to see the finished painting!!


Jean Moore

3 Years Ago

David I hear you. I'm just now being able to paint from my mind. And you slap a light texture over this baby and you have a photo that can sell. My Frankensteined photos for paintings never looked this good. I am so going to enjoy your painting of this. I'll be checking the WiP thread.


Janice Drew

3 Years Ago

Very nice, David. Did you ever find out the name of the purple flowers? I am looking forward to seeing your finished painting.


David Larsen

3 Years Ago

Janice, I never did. I need to figure that out before I name the painting.


Darice Machel McGuire

3 Years Ago

You are A good example of a hard working artist. Yes you are right the painting doesn't start when you put brush to canvas. Sometimes they take years of research sometimes weeks or days. Thank you for sharing your valuable insights. Your next painting is going to be stunning because of all the hard work you put into the reference material.


Janine Riley

3 Years Ago

I am exactly the same. I must see my subject in front of me. & often use about 3 photos . As I am not Plein air -ing a watercolor in a barnyard.
When I get my composition in - photos go away, & from there it takes on it's own life form.

I would love to Frankenstein ! I don't need any expensive/pro software to use for a print - just something to switch shapes around.

P.S. She's going to be beautiful.


David Larsen

3 Years Ago

Janine, I use Gimp to manipulate the images and print my reference photos at Walgreens -- nothing fancy.


Janine Riley

3 Years Ago

Thank you David, Photography Prints
I had to laugh, wondering howwww many glasses of wine it took to compose this ? Your wife most love modeling for you !


David Larsen

3 Years Ago

Janine, that particular photo was taken in Paso Robles, California, wine country. We visited about five tasting rooms that day. This one was the second or third one of the day.

The photo for this one was manipulated too. Behind the wine glass was a refrigerator full of stuff that detracted from the composition. I took that out and made it a plain wall before I painted it. I also added the wine bottle from another photo.


Loretta Luglio

3 Years Ago

Great reference photo. Can't wait to see the painting. I do all my compositions in photoshop before painting. I add objects, people, animals, birds - you name it. It saves a lot of time and you can tell instantly if the composition is sound, move things around, scale, etc. when I get it right I print out or, lately, just work using a monitor as my reference. I like using the monitor as I can zoom in on specific areas.


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