Editing Reference Photos Can Help Make a Better Painting

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

The Making of My Painting, "Trailride Break at Moses Cone Mountain"

Pictured is a recent painting I finished. It’s called “Trail Ride Break Near Moses Cone Mansion.” The idea for this started when my husband and I were walking trails near the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. There’s an old mansion there called Moses Cone Mansion.

Very picturesque. As we walked we encountered people on foot and on horseback taking a leisurely walks through the woods.

I love horses so I snapped several photos. Some may still end up as a painting. As we made our way all the way down to Bass Lake and back, we saw a group of horses and riders taking a break near the mansion out buildings. I took a photo which included the riders too.

When I got back home I went through some of the downloaded photos and the one of the horses with the riders off jumped out at me. So, I decided to paint it.

Here's the slightly altered photo.

One thing I’ve learned to do as an artist is to edit out things I don’t like before painting.

I'm sharing this video I posted on my YouTube page which talks more about this process and how I made the painting. It also includes an explanation of the altered photo and why I meddled with it.

What you leave out is almost as important at what you leave in. You can also liven up a painting with a few additional tweaks that you may not see in your reference photo.

This finished painting is available on my website. Click here to be taken to the painting listing. Here’s the link.

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