Janet Kruskamp's Paintings - Painting from Your Own Photos... Another View, an article by Janet Kruskamp - Visit JanetKruskamp.com for  original paintings, by the artist.

Painting From Your Own Photos... Another View
originally published in Northlight Magazine, Feb 1979
by Janet Kruskamp
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First, use your own photographs. I believe this is a valid rule for many reasons. When you frame a scene in the lens of your camera or take closeups of certain details, using your camera as a "sketchpad", you are at that very moment a practicing artist, for it takes an artistic eye to visualize and capture on film the elements you wish to incorporate in a painting.

To copy from someone else's photography (especially professional work) is, in my opinion, tantamount to copying someone else's painting, for I respect the art of photography as just that - an art; and, of course, professional photographers are artists in their own right.

Another important reason is, of course, originality. Why repeat someone else's idea? Given a little inspiration, everyone is capable of original ideas and originality can be like a breath of fresh air in the world of art.

When photographing a subject that you think might make a good painting, it's a good idea to take several shots, (even a whole roll of film, if need be) from many angles - close-up and faraway; also, quick thumbnail sketches of little details you don't want to forget or changes you might want to make when you begin the actual painting. In other words, you want to bring back to your studio the inspiration as well as the information! Sometimes, I will even bring back a piece of wood, a rock, or other materials related to the subject at hand. I can then begin to build a composition using all the materials at hand.

Expensive cameras with sophisticated equipment will not necessarily guarantee successful pictures. It's the person behind the camera that makes a photo good or bad. List: Simple, common sense rules of successful photography

Composing your picture in the lens of the camera, taking panoramic shots that you can splice together later when you don't have a wide lens camera. Good idea! Always take a camera with you. Keep it in your car (in a cool place) or, if it's a small slim line model, in your shirt pocket or handbag. You never know when you're going to see the perfect subject that will just fit into a composition later on.

It is possible to get very adequate subject matter photos with the simplest box camera or "pocket camera" available. Too many people are overwhelmed by some of the cameras on the market today. I.E. How to load them, focus them, what F stop to use, which speed film, and on and on.

My first camera was a simple Brownie Hawkeye (focused on infinity!). The photos taken with this camera were more than adequate in recording information for future reference. From time to time, going back into my "Photo Morque", I still use many of these photos as reference material.

From the Brownie Hawkeye, I then graduated to a Mamiya/Sekor 35mm Single Lens Reflex with built in light meter. Very easy to use and a logical progression from my first camera. I still use the Mamiya/Sekor as well as my latest camera, a Nikon, with interchangeable lens and a few more attachments.

So, you see, it is possible to start with a very simple instrument and work up to the more sophisticated ones gradually as your knowledge (and courage) grow. Obviously, you have greater latitude with the more advanced cameras , and you may want to start with one of these right away. If you have an adjustable camera or an automatic camera that has a sensitive exposure meter, either one with a F/2.8 or faster lens, you will be able to take many more "existing light pictures", without the aid of flash bulbs or flood lamps. This is definitely an advantage, because a flash bulb tends to eliminate the lovely dramatic shadows that can enhance the subject you are photographing.

Just remember to take lots of photos of your subject sometimes it's that last shot on the roll that's the best!

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