One unique thing about my little art business is that I rarely meet my clients. Like, never. So often the only link I have between the person and their finished painting is the photo that they send me to work from.
I always ask people to send their favorite photos because obviously, if it’s a favorite photo there is something that speaks to them already – a pose, an experience, an expression. I’ve found that “favorite” photos do not always mean “best quality” photos and that’s usually quite alright. My job is to take the essence of that photo and improve on it. The process of painting a portrait takes the idea of the photo to another level – otherwise, people would just be framing those photos.
When someone sends me a few snapshots, I know within seconds which one I’d most like to paint. Then my brain starts working out how I will translate it to watercolor.
Sometimes, I like a photo just the way it is and few adjustments are made, like this one. The only composition change was to leave out the pillow because it was distracting. I loved the red color of the couch in contrast to the color of both dogs, so I left it. If the couch – or dogs – would have been different colors I might have changed it up a bit to achieve contrast.
Most of the time, I choose to crop the photo to a more desirable composition. In this one, I cropped in close on the skier, and also chose to concentrate on only a few of the background trees (the others are hinted at.) I warmed up the palette with some nice greens and sienna.
For these three little guys, I cropped the photo to change the orientation from portrait to landscape. I chose a background color that would work well with all three dogs, and added depth with some dramatic darks.
This photo captured a very sweet moment, but was without much contrast. I cropped in closer to the subjects, punched up the color and changed the girl’s shirt from blue (which blended in with the water) to white. It’s darker around the outside of the painting and the white shirt as a focal point draws your eye to the children, where they belong.
Do you like seeing the Before & After?