Last Saturday's Painting Landscapes workshop was pure pleasure for me. What a wonderful group of painters to spend a day with! We talked color palettes, we mixed colors, we talked composition, we cropped photos, and we painted, painted, painted. You should have seen the work everyone had on their easels – what a delight it was! I especially love it when people find the colors that make their heart sing.
I was so busy I didn't have a chance to take photos to share, but I hope everyone will keep in touch – and have a wonderful time with your painting! I'd love to see how your work develops.
It's a good idea to have good photos to work from, when you paint from photos (although, frankly, some of my best paintings have come from bad photos).
Preparing a photo before you print it is helpful. Consider your canvas's proportions, and crop it digitally (another convenience of computers) according to those proportions. Then check to see whether the image looks dull - does it need more contrast? Rather than increasing the contrast, adjust the levels in your photo program (it may be called "adjust colors"). I'll show how in tomorrow's workshop for those who are taking it.
Next, print on photo or brochure paper to maximize the range of colors you can print. It does help!
Now that the hills have turned golden, it's one of the best times for landscape painters in California. If you can stand the heat, anyway....
We'll have the best of both in this Saturday's Painting Landscapes workshop. We'll be inside (and there is a cooler!), working from photographs. Working from photographs is definitely different from painting outside. The light doesn't change every five minutes (or less); you don't have to deal with heat, wind, and inclement weather; there are no passersby who stop to watch you at work and engage you in conversation; and no birds will drop a critique on your work.
A photograph can be limiting – and it can also be freeing. Knowing what the photograph's limitations are, and replacing those limitations with memory and imagination, it can be a springboard to a whole new creation. For me, painting from a photograph is a freeing thing. Just how to make that happen in your own painting is one of the things we'll be covering in Painting Landscapes. I'm looking forward to it!
And if you're out driving around, keep a camera in your car. You never know when you'll spot scenes that call out to be painted....
Karen Lynn Ingalls
I am a working artist in Napa and Sonoma Counties, in northern California. I paint colorist landscapes of rural California, teach art classes, workshops, and private lessons, live in Calistoga, and have my art studio in Santa Rosa, California.