Location Sketching vs Photographs :: Peindre sur les lieux vs photos

At the workshop this weekend, I had the time to draw in this scene, but did not have the time to paint it. So I waited until tonight, took out a picture that I had taken, and painted Place Jacques-Cartier in Old Montreal from a photograph. What is strange is that the scene looks surreal, almost Daliesque. I do not know why, but it might be because I painted from a photograph instead of sketching on location.

Let me explain… when I started watercolours in May 2012, I painted once in awhile from photographs as painting outside was daunting for me and not always possible… then a few months later, Raynald Murphy, a well-known watercolour artist in Montreal and long-time teacher, started commenting on my paintings and told me that if I painted on location as opposed to painting from photographs, my particular creative style would appear much much faster and that my paintings would evolve very quickly. I heard what he told me and took heed — I stopped painting from photographs — and what a change! When I was painting from photographs I tended to become technically obsessed and would put in details after details and I could not stop… and I would end up ruining the painting as I had totally overworked and over-analyzed it. When you are painting on location, the sun moves, the wind stirs things up, people are walking, cars are moving and things just happen… so you stop being obsessed by the technicality of the scene and your paintings become fresher and lively… they have more vitality. If some of you are painting from photographs and have not tried painting on location yet, you should really give it a try, as it is really worth it. I have not even mentioned the fact that photographs are 2D… they are lacking the third dimension and do not have the depth that is necessary. If you are looking at photographs from a computer screen, then the result is even worse… the photograph is totally flat. Anyway, try it out and let me know what happens. In the Urban Sketchers Manifesto one of the requirements is not to paint from photographs… very wise advice from painters who have experience -).

Pendant l’atelier de cette fin de semaine, j’ai eu le temps de dessiner la Place Jacques-Cartier, et non de la peindre. Donc ce soir j’ai regardé une photo que j’avais prise et je l’ai peinte… et le résultat est surréel, bien proche Daliesque. 

Voici ma théorie. Quand j’ai commencé à faire des aquarelles en mai 2012, des fois je prenais des photos d’endroits et je peignais de ces photos car il n’était pas toujours possible pour moi de faire bien des kilomètres pour aller peindre de mon automobile. Quelques mois plous tard, Raynald Murphy, un aquarelliste et professeur bien connu de Montréal, a commenter sur mes peintures en me disant que si je peignais sur le vif, ou sur les lieux au lieu de peindre de photographies, mon style créatif ou ma voix créative ressortirait beaucoup plus rapidement que si je peignais de photos. Je l’ai écouté et bien proche immédiatement j’ai vu un changement et une progression soudaine… merci Raynald! Quand nous peignons sur les lieux, le soleil change de place, le vent se lève et fait bouger les choses, les personnes passent, les autos crient du criard, etc. et on devient moins obsédé par la perfection et nos dessins deviennent plus frais et vivants. Si vous peignez en ce moment de photos, essayez de peindre sur le vif pour voir la différence et donnez-moi des nouvelles sur votre progression. J’aimerais savoir -)

Colours: Schminke Cerulean Blue, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre
Paper: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook #9


4 thoughts on “Location Sketching vs Photographs :: Peindre sur les lieux vs photos

  1. So true what you have written about painting in real time. it a mini party you want to ignore the panhandler, tourists and your urgent need to pee or have a caffeine fix …..the clock is ticking and the meter needs to be feed.


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