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23 February 2009

5 Lemons

Oil on Canvas 6x6
At the prodding of Lisa Gloria in her Art Studio Secrets blog, more pondering today about painting from life vs. photos. In the fifth grade, I copied a photo of a horse for a school art show. The teacher knew this because I did it right there in the classroom, with complete innocence. When I was done [it felt like hours of effort], the teacher rejected it for the show because it was copied. She made me feel ashamed, as if I were a cheater and completely without value. Well, I didn't use photos again for a looooooooonnnnnnngggggg time, I have to tell you. But slowly I returned to the occasional painting from a photo, always with some trepidation. Is this cheating I wondered? Then, I was commissioned to do portraits of two young boys and found the Portrait Society website and read a few books and looked at some forums and was reassured that many artists do not expect young children, horses, birds, etc. to sit still for hours while we have our fun. OH! The art police would not be coming after me.
I agree with Lisa that painting from life is more valuable to the artist's own development, however. And I actually find it easier and more successful than most of my work using photo reference.
Sorry, I seem to have gone on a bit here. All this was to explain that late yesterday afternoon, after a rather yucky day, I picked up my brush and painted these lemons from my imagination, with the daylight waning, because I didn't want to spend the time setting up a still life and I only had two lemons in the fridge anyway. : )


r garriott said...

Very nice lemons!

Your comments on painting from life vs. photos are very interesting-- and first off, shame on your teacher!

I'll wager that the notion that artists should not work from photos, that it's 'cheating', was an idea put forth by people who had never tried to draw or paint from a photo. As you've noted, it can be equally if not more challenging at times. Painting from photos, life, and/or imagination ALL take skill and practice. I would think if Leonardo and his contemporaries had cameras back then (or a computer!) they would have taken full use of those resources.

Have you heard of the painting challenge blog, ? Every two weeks the moderator (Karin Jurick) posts a photograph and invites anyone adventurous artist to paint from it. You might take a look; the variety of artwork that is created from a single source photo is astounding and inspiring.

Dale Sherman Blodget said...

Thanks R. And yes, I've been to Karin's website and actually was going to participate but lost the link, missed the photo, etc. But I just checked YOUR blog (happy work!)and will do so again. Lots of questions for you.