Most of my work is photography, but sometimes when I am looking at a photo, I start to wonder how it would look as a painting or sketch. Now I’m no artist in that sense – I can’t draw much and I’m not that good at writing these days with spending so much time using a keyboard. And so my best approach now is to use digital painting tools to see if I can get close to what a real painter would be able to do. In this story, I’ll talk about my various paintings and show the original photo and would be really interested in your thoughts on which you prefer. First up for discussion is a crayon sketch of a monarch butterfly on a beautiful flower. I was really pleased to have captured this insect in such detail in my garden last summer. They flit from flower to flower and so it is a constant chase to get the whole of the butterfly sharp and detailed but not have too much fussiness in the background. To help me, I used a flashgun on the camera to highlight the butterfly and darken the background, and so I had a reasonable success rate!
This first drawing is a colored crayon sketch:
I think this would look great on a canvas print and I added some canvas texture to help illustrate that even further. The original is here:
Even as I look at them now, I do wonder if the photo has more presence perhaps and is certainly dramatic against the darker flowers in the background. But which would look better on a wall – I’m not sure!
I also did this pencil sketch of the same butterfly on a different plant after seeing a real charcoal drawing on the site of a friend of mine, Katrina Gunn. I think this one is perhaps more successful?
I was really attracted to the next location. We were exploring the oldest part of Athens in a district known as Anafiotika and came across this narrow street.
The original street did not look just as pretty as this unfortunately.
The wires strung along the roofs and particularly the mass of wiring underneath the little streetlamp meant that I had to spend quite a bit of time getting this cleaned up and suitable for a print. Even the Greek Flag on the Acropolis above was not having a good day!
I chose an oil painting approach for this one as I thought the warm colors would really bring out the warmth of the day:
Now I am more confident in my opinions here. I certainly prefer the oil painting version. It feels warmer, the details around the edges that could be a distraction fade away and I even added a bit of light to the streetlamp. So, this is definitely my favorite of the three!
Traveling back to the USA, I took a short vacation in New York and traveled on the Staten Island Ferry across to, yes, Staten Island! Not an awful lot to see there, but the journey across gave some very nice views of Manhattan. The river was very disappointing though – I am not sure this stretch of water is ever very attractive, but it certainly wasn’t that day. So, my image of the skyline of New York City was pleasing enough, but the water surface spoiled it.
I’m not sure an artist should show their preparatory sketches, but this is mine! I decided it could really benefit from a brighter more pleasing river, especially as that would give the image a much stronger first impression and so I created this version for my store.
I could really imagine this in the offices of a Wall Street bank – perhaps in a large metal print! Well, I can always have dreams!
I decided that this would be interesting to see as a pastel drawing instead, which would hide the artificiality of the ocean surface, and so this is what I created.
My final examples are from a tour of an old castle in Slovenia built into mountainside in a large cave. I thought there was something magical about the plain walls of the castle and the brilliant garden outside the window, but the photograph was a bit too stark for my liking.
To simplify it and also to add back the warmth I felt when viewing the scene, I decided on a pastel treatment:
I personally think this works as well – much warmer, and the slightly blurry effect of pastel crayons makes it much more inviting. A canvas print perhaps!
Well, those are my thoughts. As always, I welcome any comments and ideas. And if you would like to be advised on new stories as I add them and to get special discount offers on my work, please sign up here.