Why Paint from Life?

When I realized the difference between painting from a photograph and painting from life, I set myself off to paint from life as much as possible.

Kristina Close Up 2010

Lilibeth André, Kristina Close-up 2010.

Why paint from life? This can be answered in one word: depth. This doesn’t necessarily mean depth as in dimension. It means depth of color. To represent an object as it is, you must paint it from life to learn the intricate layers of color and light upon it.

When painting from a photograph you are working from a limited tool that provides you with a lesser sample than the life object. And working from photography by others is a different subject altogether.

There are, of course, instances when one must paint from a photograph. These are the cases when the sitter or object is not present for whatever circumstance and one must rely on a photograph to advance or complete the work. When this is the case, I prefer working from my own photographs whenever possible as well. This puts me in front of the subject and allows me to observe and take note of as much information as possible.

Cornbread WIP1

Lilibeth André, Cornbread WIP1

I would compare painting from life to learning to drive on the road versus reading the student manual.

Here I present the finished work for Kristina Close Up 2010. A work completed in two three-hour sittings.

I also include Work In Progress 1 for “Cornbread”. This piece is presenting a challenge because of the makeup and clown costume. I have the face of this mature individual in it’s natural color, and the grease paint. And the costume which is a wonderful fabric that absorbs light and appears to be made out of matte and crisp plastic.

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting. I’d never thought about that (maybe because I don’t paint), but it makes sense, now that you’ve mentioned it.


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