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Digital Subscriptions > Leisure Painter > Dec-19 > Photo finish

Photo finish

How to choose, manipulate and paint successfully from photographs, by Andy Walker


How to see what’s important in a scene

How to focus on your message

Use sketches to plan out a painting before you begin

Have you ever painted from a photograph and been disappointed with the result? I know I have. Often, we copy the photo slavishly, painting everything that is there simply because it is there. The resulting painting can look overworked and uninspiring, and we feel as if we have not captured anything of the real place. I want to show you here a way of overcoming this and use your photos as a springboard for creating original paintings.

Good Day for Drying, water-mixable oil on MDF panel, 12x12in. (30x30cm)

The first thing to do is to decide why you wanted to paint from the photo in the first place. What attracted you to it? What was the one thing that you wanted to communicate? Was it the subject matter, the contrast of light and shade, the shape of a building or tree, the interaction of people, or perhaps the colours? Try to work out what specifically it is that caught your attention and made you think: I want to paint this! Write it down so that you don’t forget. This is what your painting will be about and this is what you need to focus on. Let’s call it your goal.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the December issue of Leisure Painter. Aimed at beginners and amateur painters, this issue is packed with demonstrations, practical advice and tutorials on painting landscapes, still lifes, animals, flowers, portraits and nature studies in watercolour, oils, acrylics and gouache. There's everything from how to paint successfully from photographs and setting up a still life, to Christmas-themed ideas to paint and the difference between shade and tone (and how that difference can make your landscapes come alive!). You'll also find our annual index, news from the art clubs, special book offers, exhibitions to visit and more - all aimed at helping you enjoy your drawing and painting time this month.