WIP : Sunset 31 Dec – Photographing Paintings & Retouching Plein-Air small formats.


Sunset 31 Dec – after session in the field and two retouching sessions in the studio
30 x 40 cm – approx12 x 16 inches
oil on panel
Sunset 31 Dec – after first session in the field
30 x 40 cm – approx12 x 16 inches
oil on panel

Photographing Paintings

Look at the difference betweeen these two photos.
It’s dificult to know which one is the closest to the orginal painting if you don’t know the the orinal painting. However, to the eye with some experience in photographing paintings, IMO, I reckon that it’s possible to identify a photo that is poor. That’s to say :

  • badly exposed
  • has a wonky colour cast
  • that has been overly-distorted in photoshop etc
  • that a crazy discordance with the colour profile of your computer screen

I miss two photgraphic lamps (it’s a bit early in the year for letters to Santa Claus isn’t it 😉

Taking photos in daylight means taking photos in variable light, which is not always (rarely!) the optimum 55 K & thus gives wild colour casts… unless you wait for the right light. But then you can forget about real-time blogging.

Which one of the above paintings seems to you about right, given that you don’t know the original painting?

Retouching Plein-Air Paintings

Look at the above two paintings.

  • Can you see the retouching?
  • Has it improved the painting?
  • Which one seems the most ‘real’?
  • Which one has a unifying ‘illuminant’ (coherent set of ligh/colour conditions)?
  • Which one keeps closest to the artist’s to the orginal impression of the scene? Does it express the orginal seduction, the thing that me you want to paint the scene in the first place?
  • Which one works best as a picture?
  • Should a plein-air piece be finished on the spot or can it be developed at a later date in the studio & allowed to evolve into something different?
  • Need a plein-air piece have ‘finish’ or can it exist/be exhibited as a kind of sketch with ‘rough’ finish?

How much you retouch/develop plein-air paintings is a debate central to plein-airism.

I consider the above painting as ‘finished’, especially as it’s part of a recent series of sunsets – Five to date, three more to be blogged over the next few days. Stay tuned.