Watercolor painting from photographs

Painting today is fantastic due to the wealth of information on the internet.   Interacting, and viewing works by fantastic watercolorists such as Alvaro Castagnet, Michael Reardon,  Keiko TanabeOscar Norblom, Sadhu Aliyur, and others inspire my watercolors.

While it is cool to see finished paintings, I have always been drawn to explanations, or demonstrations of the painting process itself.  Watching an artist paint is fascinating.  After all, there are thousands, millions, of choices you can make.    I have stood, many times, for an hour or more, at fairs and watched artists paint.

I spend many years as a professional photographer.  While I loved traveling & photographing worldwide landmarks I was bound by the limitations of my camera and the subject I was shooting.  You can zoom in or use a wide angle to distort.  You can double expose film.  Photoshop could create outlandish colors and remove (with work) backgrounds and objects. You can be creative.  Very creative.  But something was missing.

A blank canvas, or in my case, a sheet of white paper, knows no limitations.

Now that I am painting, I have 10s of thousands of photographs to paint from.  Recently, I began work on a watercolor of the UNESCO World Heritage ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. I began with a preliminary painting several months, and recently completed the finished piece (below).

Original photograph and finished watercolor painting

Above are the original photograph(s) of Machu Picchu, with the finished painting on 300lb Arches to the right.

The photograph of the Incan ruin is a photo-montage of different photographs.  The savvy traveler might have noticed this is an impossible viewpoint at Machu Picchu….

Above is the preliminary sketch painted several months ago.  As you can see in the finished watercolor, I left out many details,  and drastically changed the colors.  The finished piece was fun- I painted the ruins in little over an hour.

I hope this gives you a little insight into my mind when I paint.  Unfortunately, no one will have the opportunity to witness me create my art (except neighbors, and I apologize in advance) since I have a tendency to paint in my underwear.

In North Carolina, that’s probably illegal. 🙂



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