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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Every artist approaches the planning an execution of a painting in a different way.

Many times I will see something that will suggest an idea for a painting; other times, the idea is purely inspirational. Occasionally, someone will bring up a subject in conversation, and the idea is born! It's hard to explain this part of the creative process, except to say that it can spring up, like a young seedlinq, in the darndest places and at the darndest times!

When I have all my photos together, along with additional sketches and notations, I usually lay everything out on a large table, or, if more room is needed, the floor.

Now, I begin to choose the best overall scene of the subject at hand, along with close-ups for details, etc. I may decide to splice together the left side, middle ground and right side of a scene (as I spoke of in Chapter 2 ("Photographing your Subject".) and then begin to "chop a little off here and a little off there", finding just the right composition.

For tall subjects such as trees or buildings, three shots - high, middle ground and low - to be spliced together later are very helpful.

Once in a while, I am lucky enough to get the whole painting, good composition, plenty of detailed information, good lighting, etc. in one photo, but this is a rare occurrence! Most of the time, the painting is a composite of several photos. Perhaps a figure is just right in one photo, but the background is not good. So, I look for a better background and "lift" the figure from one scene to another (see "the Bird Lady" on page 1 of this article). A tree, or other objects, can be moved or taken out altogether.

Many beginning landscape artists tend to put too much into their paintings. They are literally overwhelmed with the magnitude of “the great outdoors”, wanting to paint everything they see. Don't fall into such a trap! Many times you may find it necessary to delete certain objects from a scene or change the time of day, or the season of the year, or move objects or figures from one place to another ? or from one photo to another!

Beware of trying to put too many interesting, but conflicting subjects into one painting. Sometimes you can overdo a good thing, as in the following story:

One day, a young playwright took his manuscript to a well known writer. It was a cleverly written piece, full of witty prose and the aspiring author was visibly proud of his efforts. As the celebrated writer began reading, he picked up a red pencil and began ruthlessly marking through this line and that, sometimes deleting whole sentences or paragraphs.

When he handed the manuscript back to the bewildered young man, he said, "Now, my friend, you have the makings of a good play'"

"But, Sir,”, stammered the perspiring young author, "You have taken out all of my best and cleverest lines!"

"Son", said the older man, "It was too clever. You must learn to kill your darlings!"

I feel that this story is worth remembering, for, when a painting is in danger of becoming too clever and contrived, perhaps it's time for us artists to also "kill our darlings".

Remember your artistic license! (That wonderful, imaginary decree that allows all artists to "move mountains"!)

Your camera will photograph everything you frame in its lens. So, it's up to you, when necessary, to edit, delete or change certain elements to create the composition and particular atmosphere that you might desire. Don't be a slave to your camera ... Make it work for you!

In the following chapters, I will demonstrate how painting can evolve through the use of photography, from the original inspiration and source photos to the finished painting.

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