Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Getting the Pose Right: Photography vs. Painting

"Gene" oil on panel, 18"x24." Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
Gene is our Boston Terrier neighbor who comes to visit us every day. He's a sweet guy with a great face, and from the moment we met, I knew that I wanted to paint him. There's just no way that Gene would sit still for a painting from life. He's incredibly photogenic, and Kimberly was able to shoot a lot of great photos of him in numerous poses.

I chose the photo that I felt captured Gene's demanding personality. He's the kind of dog that will stare us down until he gets what he wants - usually treats. After spending a few hours on the painting, I realized that something just wasn't working. He looked flat and awkward. I realized I'd made a bad reference choice. Time to scrape it down and start over.

The photo vs. the painting. Excellent photo and very much "Gene."
I could tell very quickly after the initial block-in (even with my inaccuracies)
that the painting could not capture the same emotions.

Sometimes, a great photo doesn't make a great painting. Photography can depict things that a painting might struggle with. Our brains tell us that the photo is correct, and we don't question the accuracy of the image. That's not necessarily true of a painting. Paintings make us question odd proportions, and Boston Terrier's can have somewhat unique body proportions. It was clear that I needed a different angle to emphasize the forms of both his head and body.

Thankfully, as I said, Kimberly shot a lot of great photos. I looked for one that clearly showed his stubby muzzle and placed less emphasis on the imbalance between his body and legs. The second painting went quickly, and I am much happier with the finished result.