I thought I’d post another painting created from a photograph for my class. This photo was taken of our patio and arbor with the fire pit on sunny autumn afternoon. I like outdoor scenes with a human element. This will often include at least some kind of man-made item whether a building, fence post, road or path. In this case, the setting gives the feeling of comfort and ease. The chairs, the smoke from the fire, the dappled sun and shade all contribute to the atmosphere. The turtle sandbox adds a touch of whimsy.
When using a photo as inspiration for a painting, it’s important to remember that it is a tool and a road map. Take inspiration but don’t be afraid to change things.
In this painting, I was trying to capture the feel of the afternoon sun. The smoke and fire indicates that there could be a chill in the air with a slight breeze. The location and setting are inviting; it looks as if someone has just left the area.
My style is not photo-realist but contemporary impressionist which works well for conveying the feeling of this scene. The chairs beckon the viewer to sit in the sun or warm themselves by the fire. Will a child come walking into the area to play in the sandbox? I love paintings that tell a story.
As you can see by the detail images, I use loose strokes to indicate the branches and leaves. From a distance, the painting appears to be much more detailed than it actually is. It takes some practice and confidence to make just the right stroke to indicate a branch. Or, if you make a mistake, just scrape it off and try again.
Normally I would have painted a scene like this in plein air but I was busy that afternoon and only had time to capture the view with my camera. That is one of the benefits of using photographs as inspiration.