I’ve been unwell over the weekend and that has continued a bit into today but it has given me some time to work on some more of the photographs I took on my recent trip to London and think about when does my photopainting process start? I think I have mentioned before that I often get funny looks when I am taking photos, particularly of tourist attractions as I seem to be facing the wrong way, taking it from a funny angle etc. That is because I can ‘see’ the final image when I have finished processing it. Like this abstract of the Big Ben clock that I have called ‘Big Ben Variations’ – my eye could immediately see the potential for something and then the important thing was to get a good quality photograph of it in order to develop a photopainting using digital software.
What do I mean by good quality photograph? Well, a good photopainted image derives from a good photograph – so I am looking for an interesting subject, good composition, straight horizons, strong contrasts that I can work with. On the whole an out of focus photograph does not make a good photopainting. If you have over or underexposed the photograph by and large you can work with that. But if you have got a poor composition, elements that are not straight or have missed crucial bits of say the roof of a building or someone’s head (!) then there is not a lot you can do with it.
I like to work with my own photographs or paintings for my photopainting adventures. I wouldn’t rule out using public domain images at some stage but at the moment I am content starting with nothing and building an image up from scratch. One of my fun experiments is of course my Barnie Paw Print Designs taken from a simple photograph of dog paw print impressions and still going strong.
So, I have a good photograph (as outlined above). What happens next? Well sometimes as I have suggested, when I take the photograph I know exactly what I am going to do with the image. For this one, for example, I was drawn to the contrast of the old lamps and the buildings. In some images I had taken at night I had the plan to work on them to give the impression of the old pea soup fog you see in all the old Sherlock Holme’s films etc. This idea of ‘fog’ and ‘Victorian’ or ‘vintage look’ carried over into this shot which is also reflected in the title ‘Looking Back’. So, once back home I was looking to work with the picture to develop that feel by playing perhaps with colour saturation or adding various textures and layers.
In my work with buildings I am reminded of one of my favourite artists Pieter Saenredam a Dutch Baroque artist. When I studied art history at school I was captivated by his work, the lines and arches of his church interiors. So sometimes I see something that reminds me of his work and I look to see what the possibilities are for creating an image with a similar feel to it. This was my thinking behind my image ‘The London Palladium Rear View’ and it occurred to me as soon as I came across the back entrance of this wonderful theatre. As you can see the Victorian foggy theme carried forward. Okay this isn’t an interior but you know what I mean about the lines and contrasts. I am currently working on a view of the roof of St Pancras station in London taking a similar perspective.
Sometimes you turn a corner and you just know you have a good image waiting to emerge from the photograph you take. This was the case with ‘Carnaby Street at Christmas’ – the bustle of the people, the atmosphere and the Christmas decorations, what is not to like about this shot?
So, when does my photopainting process start – when I turn a corner and see a potential image in my mind’s eye.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!