Friday, July 23, 2010

Finished works Friday, and photo tips for your artwork

Miss You Grandpa

watercolor 8 x 10

     When my husband and I had been dating for a few weeks he took me to see his grandparents. Almost instantly they loved me as one of their own grandkids. Once we were married and my husband was going to school, and we were beyond poor, they let us live in their basement apartment. It was one of the happiest times in my life because I got to spend so much time with them, and my son (we just had one at the time) got to grow up knowing and loving them too.

     They became my grandparents.Then three years ago my grandpa died, he was one of the best men I have ever known and I still miss him so much. I painted this quick portrait of him the day after his funeral. I had to do something with the emotions that wanted to drag me down to despair, so I painted this image of him, it's how I remember him.

     Miss you Grandpa, I love you.

Photo tips for your artwork

     These tips are things I have found useful, I am not a photographer. I have very basic photography skills and am in no way trying to sound like an expert. These are just some things that work for me and I'm sharing them with you because I thought they might help you too.

     First: the number one thing I try to do is to take a picture that accurately represents my artwork. And so I might try a couple of different things to get the image I'm looking for. Like lighting or camera settings.

     Second: I use a digital SLR camera. I've tried once to use a point and shoot when I first started, but it just didn't work. If possible always try to use a DSLR camera when taking your photos. Of course a film SLR is just as good, but since most art competitions require you to enter digitally it's just a whole lot easier to use a DSLR.

     Third: I always use daylight, and I almost never use artificial lighting. What I like to do is take my photos before noon in  my kitchen where I have a big glass door that leads to the backyard. Lots of nice light comes in right there (incidentally this is also where I take any photos of models or still lifes, you need to find a spot that has the kind of light you feel comfortable working with. Indirect sunlight is what I think works best for photographing your work.) 

     Fourth: Always, and I mean always photograph ONLY your artwork. Don't include the frame or mat or let any gaps show if you can help it. This is for competition guidelines and also for work in your portfolio or website, it looks more professional. And I know of at least one artist who had a very beautiful piece that did not get accepted to a prestigious competition because they photographed the mat too.

     Okay, so now I'm going to contradict myself, if you want to show the mat and frame in your photo, maybe an art buyer wants to see the frame, or maybe you want to show what it looks like all finished up (Sandra did this a few weeks ago, and it worked really well), then by all means do so. But not for competitions or your website.

     Fifth: Always turn your flash off. It's harsh and washes out your colors, and it does not look pretty :)

     Sixth: The exposure compensation button is your friend :) This button is on all DSLR cameras,it looks like a plus and minus sign (look it up in your camera manual, I had to do that :). Just by adjusting this control up or down even a little bit, can make a HUGE difference in how your photo looks. I use this button when the light is low, or even when it's very bright. I love it, it's my new best friend on my camera.

     Seventh: I make sure my painting is straight and flush to the wall, and then I hold my camera at the same angle to minimize distortion.

     Eighth: I take lots of shots of the same painting, sometimes adjusting the exp comp button, sometimes drawing the curtains or opening more up to get the right light, and then I go through them and pick the one that I think matches the artwork the best.

     Well, that's what I do :) Hope it was helpful. Have a great weekend guys!


  1. It's a sweet portrait you have painted of your Grandpa. Art can be pretty therapeutic.

    Thanks for sharing your photo tips. You're lucky to have a nice big window in which the sun shines for your still lifes and models.

  2. I always wondered how you captured your artwork so well when you post it digitally; now I know. I love the portrait of your Grandpa, it really looks like you captured his kind spirit.

  3. Hello Crystal. Your Grandpa exudes joy in your painting. Bet he was like that all the time. You've done a wonderful job with this painting. Thanks for the tips. I do have quite a time trying to get the right photo of my artwork. I'll try some of these tip next time. You're a dear!

  4. Very touching, emotional work of your grandpa - what a great thing to leave your children to pass down to their children! I did a portrait of my grandparents years ago and it now hangs in a family member's house and is very much loved. As for your photo tips, they are right on. I don't have (and can't afford right now) a DSLR. I bought a Canon G2 ten years ago (for an outrageous sum at the time!) but it has served me well. I take all my shots with it. Taking pics around noon time, in open shade is what I strive for. I have tried setting up special floodlights, getting the light meter readings, etc, using my film SLR camera, and never, never, NEVER got decent results. Natural light, not too bright, but very even is what works every time. I hope to get the new Canon Tli at some point soon...I always research this stuff before buying anything that costs serious money. It seems to have most of the features I am looking for, although I will miss having the swivel screen (my G2 has it); it is on the Nikon but I don't like the Nikon for other reasons. Oh yes, one more suggestion, put the camera on a tripod to take shots of art work to be sure of a "square" set for the shot and no wiggling.
    I crop out the extraneous stuff on my iPhoto program.

  5. I love it Crystal! I've painted a tribute to my Grandpa also. It's a great way to keep their memory alive. The expression you captured in your portrait makes me feel like I know him.

  6. Hi Crystal,
    Thank you so much for your's very nice to learn!
    I would have to translate it thoroughly more because I maybe understand just little in english...
    All above, this portrait is very nice...and I think it's a wonderful tribute to your grandpa...
    Lovely work, Crystal!

  7. This is a wonderful portrait to remember your Grandpa, which can be past down to the children. Will try the camera compensation button, thanks for the info.

  8. I do, so love this painting Crystal - He looks full of beans! A real chirpy chap! And I love the red cap!
    These photography tips are really helpful. Thank you for sharing them! Most of my artwork is too big for my scanner so I have to photograph it. I also think it's important to photograph in daylight so that the image is as true to the real thing as possible and the colours aren't affected.:0)

  9. Grandpa face looks full of life, love and laughter Crystal. As long as you carry him in your heart he will never be gone.

    Thanks for the tips .. all advice gratefully received! :)

  10. Its such a awesome thing that you got to spend so much time with with grand parents and were so close to them. And of course a very nice portrait. The quickness has given it good fluidity. But the emotions behind it make it such a great work.

  11. What an endearing portrait Crystal, he looks like he was a wonderful person and you have captured that essence! A wonderful memory to have and pass down to your children.

    Thanks for your tips on photographing....I was going to mention the tripod too! I find you get a crisp clear shot every time!

    Lovely blog post!

    Happy painting!

  12. Nice painting of your grandfather Crystal and something to remember him by. Although you probably painted this from a photo, paintings are much more special than photos, so this is something special of someone special.


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