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Friday, February 7, 2014

Finishing and Photographing a Painting

Finishing and Photographing a Painting

Painting is problematic enough without having to deal with the intricacies of photographing it, with all that entails.  It is sometimes bizarre if not frustrating and maddening the results we get and are forced to live with once the painting is completed.

That brings up a whole nother (I know that's not a word) topic.
Is a painting ever really finished?

If you like it, it's probably finished.
But, if you've never really been happy with it,
then, you can bet it's not really finished.
In fact, it may never be finished.

I struggled with these two issues on this particular painting.
Is it finished
getting a good photograph of it if it is finished.

This is a 20" x 16" acrylic on a canvas.
I completed at least a year ago, but was never really happy with it.

I took this photograph in natural light and it is a fair representation.

This month I'm working on my own art education so I'm taking several online or DVD classes at home and if I have time re-working some paintings I'm not happy with. 

This one was OK, but I just wasn't pleased.

So I reworked it and now I want to show you how we artists suffer for our art,
(are you crying yet)?

This was taken in natural light.
I like the painting better after a few tweaks, but the photograph doesn't really represent the actual colors in the painting.

I broke every rule in the "photographing your lovely painting book",
yet, it is much closer to the actual painting.
I used artificial light (I know you're gasping),
I had light coming from every direction, (you're feeling whoozy)
it's on an easel so it's not exactly straight up and down,
(please don't faint).

But here it is looking much more like the real painting.

I know lots of you struggle with getting a good photograph of your paintings,
(I'm not talking to you Meredith)
but this just goes to show you, that even if you do all the right things, some times the wrong things work out better in the end.

Mountain Path 
20" x 16" unframed acrylic on a canvas panel
$200 + $15 shipping

Now just in case you're still with me, here's how I tweaked the painting.

Starting with the mountains, I warmed them up.  Using a mix of every warm color on my palette and some white to opaque it, I reshaped the tops of all those small rocks on the right and added some of the same mix without the white on the front sides of  some of the rocks in the back and almost all the rocks in front.  I also added more of a mix of dioxazine purple, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna in the cracks and creases to give better depth.

I completely re-worked the dead tree in the foreground making it about the twice the size it was and warming up the front and add more shadow on the back side.

I  added one more pass of highlight on the fir tree in the foreground on the right and the one on the left closest to the dead tree.  I also highlighted the spruce on the right again.

Finally, I took pure color to jazz up the flowers along the path and in the corners.\

Don't know about you, but I'm much happier now. (You want me happy!).
It only took about an hour.


  1. I think the problem lies in capturing something which is already in 2D. A photograph of an object or a scenery is converting 3D to 2D but in this case its a 2D to 2D.

    1. Good point. Thank you so much for the comment.

  2. I agree, I think the reworked paining and the reworked photograph are both better And yes, we want you happy, always!! And I know you know my struggles with photographing my art (have news on that I'll share elsewhere btw), so it's ok to talk to me...! Have a nice weekend, Sharon.

  3. Thanks so much for your supporting self and comments Meredith. We are supposed to get up to 31 whopping degrees today. Woohoo!


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About Me

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Ghent, Kentucky, United States
I'm a nature artist and I love to paint old barns, rivers and lakes, trees and fence rows and flowers. I work almost daily. You can purchase paintings by contacting me at and there is also a tab across the top of my blog for available paintings and one for small paintings with buy now buttons. You can also purchase through my Etsy shop using the name of Fine Nature Art. . Thank you so much for stopping by.