View Full Version : hooded self portrait

Joe Steiner
10-17-2007, 01:45 PM

Title: hooded self portrait
Year Created: 2007
Medium: Oil
Surface: Board
Dimension: 14x18
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This is my second self portrait from a photograph. I'm trying to change to looking at photo instead the of a model, or looking in the mirror.

I would like to know your views on painting for photographs as opposed to painting from life. Thanks Joe

10-17-2007, 01:53 PM
Good portrait, with a childish, cute look.

I am against both painting from a photo and life, the only way for me is draw things out of my mind.

10-17-2007, 02:56 PM
Great portrait..shy expression. Was this painting done using a photo or from life..with a mirror for example. I dont agree with the above comment about drawing "from my mind" only. I guess it depends on the type of artwork you do...representational work benefits from actually seeing the subject in front of you. Many artists don't have the luxury to always be on "site", so there is nothing wrong with using photographs as long as they aren't strictly adhered to. Photography is an artform, too!...Great piece..thanks for sharing it.

10-17-2007, 03:03 PM
As long as one remembers that as far as that blank canvas goes, that you and not the photo are the "god of the field". You make the decisions, you do the creating of the image. The photo is not your master. I think photos are very important tools. They give us access to the world as never before and reveal images that on our own we could never see. Only the above caveat need apply.

I appreciate toramans view as well...art is comprehensive, it works with everything that comes its way. We need only keep in mind that any given approach will within itself fall short of covering all the bases, and present its own problems. Imaging from the mind is good if your mind is a treasure trove of ideas and if you have the painterlyskills to transfer the idea/image to canvas. What can happen is that one becomes tied to just the symbol of the thing, and cannot paint the essence, the personality of that one specific given item. An apple for example does not become that deep burnished mahogany red with shine and voluptuous shape, the five bumps on the end with the flower in the center, that proclaims it to be a "Delicious" Apple. it simply becomes the round shape with the necessary stem with leaf attached that says: "apple".

I like the portrait. It has a clash of light sources, but with the cowl it works.

Joe Steiner
10-17-2007, 03:35 PM
Thanks I appreciate the comments. I would love to paint from my imagination, and I tried to often, but it's so difficult.

When you have a reference, something to look at, it makes it so much easier. I guess a combination of both using a reference, and your imagination, is the best I can hope for. Hopper, and Tooker, are my favorites.

10-17-2007, 03:48 PM
I think this self portrait is wonderful. I like that there are conflicting light sources. You handled the mustache and goatee very well.

10-17-2007, 04:50 PM
well done! great paint application --I love the background

10-17-2007, 05:37 PM
I'm working with a photo now as part of a workshop and it's such a struggle that I'm tempted to chuck it and follow Toraman's dictum.
Photos are good for capturing proportions and relationships but are lousy for color and subtle value changes.
The big problem for me with photos is that they tend to homogenize the very lights and very darks.
Intuitively we know that the dark section of the cowl adjacent to your left cheek, for example, contains some reflected light from your cheek, but a photo might merge that in with the other darks and we get an almost monochromatic dark section that is not what we would see IRL.
Ditto with that dark section on your left above your tee shirt. There has to be more complexity there.

10-17-2007, 06:19 PM
Joe: There is nothing wrong with painting something from a photograph. If you were to paint from the mind ( memory ) you would probably miss all the little nuances involved in your art as you would probably forget a lot of it. Those gifted with that have what is called a photographic memory but, it's not the same. There are no art police yet who can tell you what you can and cannot do in art. The use of a projector, a photo, carbon paper, the grid system, etc. are simply tools that you use at your discretion to achieve the art you desire. Buyers of art NEVER ask if the art is from a photo. They are just pleased with it if they like it and want to purchase it. Use your artists license without regrets my friend. Your portrait looks good! And if you like it, it really doesn't matter how it came about.....................tj

10-17-2007, 07:12 PM
Great work. I don't think I would change a thing.
For self portraits, I always work from life. I think that's why I have so many of them.
Otherwise, I typically have to paint from a photograph but then I try to give it something extra to make up for the things a photo takes away.

10-17-2007, 11:11 PM
Nice portrait. I like the expression and personality.

10-18-2007, 04:07 AM
I like the portrait - it's lively, not too "figé" (what's the word in english??? kind of "dead", too still) like paintings from photographs can be sometimes

I always paint from photograph and don't think it's a problem :) - you can get expressions and poses with photos that you couldn't get otherwise+ I would have troubles finding place for models in my worplace...

I think working from photos can become a "problem" if you're a slave to it (the photo) and kind of copy it litteraly - (I'm not sure I'm using the right words!! sorry!)

10-18-2007, 07:11 AM
I like your approach to using the photograph, the painting is not photographic except for the focal/view point that always misses something that our two eye see.

My view on using photos is that I can't afford to have a model sitting around all the time, so a photo is the reminder about what I've seen... then I toss my interpretation on top.


10-18-2007, 01:16 PM
Joe: This piece is inimitably yours and fits right in with all of the other wonderful works you have created.

I didn't think working from photo source is still any kind of issue. And just as others have said, the key thing is to treat them simply as a starting point and not the try to be slavish about getting things "right" per the photo -- with the exception of those in the school of hyperrealism, who have a completely different and quite valid agenda: the treatment of realistic surface as an abstract concept.

Dana Design
10-18-2007, 01:57 PM
Joe, I absolutely love your work. All of it. And this piece is no exception.

I paint from photos as finding suitable subjects to paint from life is difficult. However! Having painted from life many many times, I think and hope I'm able to paint from the photos using my past experience of life-painting. Softened edges, realistic shadows, etc.

Joe Steiner
10-18-2007, 06:09 PM
Thank you all fo but your comments,and encouragement . I have always work from life, but now I don't have a studio outside of my house, so I'm trying to make this transition. when I did paint from life I always talked to my models, and I think that this process help my work.

Bill I also agree with what you said about how the photo loses things, usually into the dark. One of the great benefits of looking at the photo is that you can get extreme points of view, like birdseye, and wormseye views that you could never get in a simple studio.

Again thank you all for your comments and your interest in my problem

10-19-2007, 03:09 AM
Photograph or not this is not an exact copy of it. It has character and personality and the job was done right!

10-19-2007, 10:00 PM
I have not read all the thread, but I do like that painting
Very alive and fresh.
Great stuff

10-19-2007, 10:29 PM
The expression on your face is perfect. I doubt it would work as well without the hood. Excellent.

10-19-2007, 11:22 PM
There's absolutely nothing wrong with painting from a photograph for many reasons. For example, if I go on an epic walk, as I often do, it's far easier for me to carry my camera than an easel, a 20" x 30" canvas (and I don't like to work much smaller than that) and all the paints and mediums and brushes I need to use. I don't drive, so Plein Air painting isn't practical. Secondly, Plein Air painting is great for producing fresh, expressive pieces as the time constraints dictate this, but that's not how I usually like to work. I like to build my work up in layers over time. A photograph fixes those clouds or those shadows forever, so I can take as long as I like. And photography is pretty essential if you want to do a self-portrait in profile!

I think your portrait here is great and very much doubt that anyone thinks any less of it because you used a photograph rather than a mirror. The mirror way is way more uncomfortable!


10-20-2007, 09:07 AM
I like the portrait very much, the pose is unusual and intersting (I am not qualified to comment technically) and so how it was created is neither obvious or relevant in my opinion. However, the photo versus life question is one that bothers me as a part time novice painter with little choice but to use photos. I have struggled to shake the feeling that its somehow second rate, cheating almost and not what 'real' artists do. The comments on this thread are very reassuring for me and hopefully to you too. I checked out your website and its wonderful.

10-20-2007, 09:23 AM
I have struggled to shake the feeling that its somehow second rate, cheating almost and not what 'real' artists do.

There is no cheating in art, because there's no right and wrong way of doing things, no rules. I'm sure nobody would say Johannes Vermeer wasn't a real artist because he used a camera obscura to assist his paintings, as did a lot of other highly respected painters.

If you enjoy the process and like the results, that's all that matters.

10-20-2007, 09:23 AM
Nice Portrait Joe, I love the loose brush strokes.

I think it's great to work from a photo, but if you do a self portrait from a photo it's a good idea to have a miror handy and be in the same sort of light source as a point of reference