Painting from life

Painting from life and learning from it

For me it’s clear: when you can choose between painting from a photo and painting from life, always paint from life. Why? The two most important reasons:

  • Your painting will look more alive too. The risk with using photo’s as an example, is that your whole painting might look flat and boring.
  • You will learn more from it than you will ever learn from looking at a photo. In real life the weather or a facial expression can change. And you will have to deal with every single change. It teaches you to look very closely at all the aspects of your subject and the context surrounding it.

So painting from life it is. But still, there is more than one way to improve your painting skills when painting from life. For example, I find it very challenging to paint someone who’s busy with a certain activity. Other painters might not agree with me, but I think this is a nice way to look at the essence of your model in relation to the context and the activity he or she is doing.

But then again, when you’re interested in all the little details of the subject you’re painting, it’s probably better to ask your model to stay in one position or to paint a static still life in your studio. Painting from life (or not) will always be an interesting point of discussion, also on a lot of other blogs.

Below is a very quick and little study I made. My girlfriend was sitting on our couch and was doing stuff on her smartphone. I thought this was interesting to paint 🙂 Maybe the end result isn’t anatomically 100% correct, but that wasn’t the most important thing for me while making this study. This time I focused on the composition and colors.

painting from life - Maike with smartphone


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