Realism from a photo

by Karen Minnie in Painting


The Definition of Realism:

“An artistic style characterized by the representation of people and things as they actually are” – Oxford dictionary (

So my understanding is you paint realistically what your eyes actually or naturally see – but hang on, no two people see something the same way – not even two artists!

I paint (so I thought) exactly what I see from a photo. THEN when I am happy and satisfied with my creation, there is always some “positive” critique from my best critics (MY FAMILY) whom I must admit, have given great input and sometimes the change has led to an enhancement of my creation. See the photo and painting below:

Here is the BUT:

I am always asked “Where is the photo” and normally I hand it over without hesitation and no other feeling than satisfaction over my creation.

But quickly did I learn, the comments were often on borderline issues. It makes no real impact, change or sense that what I haven’t seen or did see, is of any significance warranting a fiddly change, only to lead to a tempted reply from me “Really, you saw that?”

So my advice which I now follow:

Good to have family as your critic but only if you need immediate feedback and if you feel you DO need a second opinion, otherwise ask an independent person, and BEFORE you hand over a reference:

Throw it away or lock it in a safe place where it cannot be found other than by yourself.

Forget that you ever had a reference even for your own peace of mind.

However if you are painting a commission portrait – that will warrant a different approach.

Happy painting!

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