Photographing a painting

Posted in: Photographing Artwork | 5

Wearing all the hats, as an artist, can be a challenge, but there are benefits. One of them is, I have learned to work around my limitations when documenting my paintings. My main concern is colour; representing colour as accurately as possible.

In a pinch, if I colour-correct in photoshop, I can photograph my work in bad lighting and still come out with a relatively decent document. It would be nice to just take excellent photos right out of the box, and save a lot of time and hassle.

I take the original painting home to my desktop computer and compare my digital image to the real thing as I colour-correct.

This is an example of a photograph that I took and worked with:

Photographed in mixed lighting –some daylight and some daylight overhead fluorescents — without a flash, underexposed, and needing to be cropped and sized, this was a typically good candidate to work with. It was selected out of a batch of shots that were taken on a variety of colour and white-balance settings.

This process works relatively well, if I have all the time on earth, and have the original painting beside me when I’m colour-correcting. However, in this case, in order to meet a deadline, this painting flew out the door without my completing the corrections.

In this scenario, I was relying on my memory of the painting to adjust the colour. The liability, my worry, was that the photograph could end up looking better than the original painting. Obviously, it is not a good thing if an art buyer finds that the painting is not as exciting in real life as it was when they saw it online.

If the photograph looks better than the painting, the benefit, for me, is that I have done research that will make me a better painter. And I realize that this is a great way to work on paintings. I have also learned that photo documenting my work needs to be taken more seriously. Although I have learned a great deal, it is a task that I am looking forward to paying someone else to do.

As an aside, it was said of Jack Shadbolt that if you gave him back a painting to be repaired, when he was done with it, you were returned an entirely different painting.

This painting was juried and accepted into the North Vancouver Art Rental at Cityscape Community Artspace. It will be shown in the Art Rental Show in January 2018, along with one more of my landscapes. It was shown previously at the Parker Art Salon 2017, but I have repainted it since.

landscape painting of clouds over water

“Cloud Mirror” oil on canvasĀ  9″x12″