Assignment 1: Going from Van Gogh to Monet to nowhere, but still a portrait!

Thinking about painters I thought I'd like to take a photograph in an impressionistic style. Without doing a lot of research beforehand, which seems to be the case in a lot of photo shoots I do (I need to change this!) I just thought of a few famous paintings of Monet and Van Gogh and decided to take an image in a colourful blurry background. I had done a photo shoot with a family and this image sort of reminded me of the self portrait of Van Gogh and that's how I got the idea to do photographs in the style of specific painters in the first place:

Portrait that reminded me of Van Gogh-.jpg

Why does it remind me of a self portrait of Van Gogh? Mainly the colour palet and the blurry grass that looks a bit like paint strokes. Does it look like a painting of Van Gogh? When I got home and googled his paintings I came to the conclusion: Not at all.

Anyway, when looking at places to take the photo for Assignment one, i looked for a background that was colourful, kind of even and with a not too obvious pattern. I wanted the image to have the same kind of look of the painting of the waterlilies in the pond and thought this would be a nice spot. 

I started taking photos. It was an overcast day and the corner was right next to a big white wall. Besides that, I used a white reflector to get as much diffused light on my subject's face as possible. I tried different poses, close ups and apertures. At a certain point she let her hair down. 

This shoot was not well prepared in a way that I had not envisioned well enough what I wanted the photo to look like, I had not done enough studies to know what a painting of Monet looks like (maybe because I had started out wanting to do Van Gogh style), I had not thought about poses or props. I just got there, looked at the situation and made the best of it. 

After having done the photo shoot, I chose two that I liked most and started retouching them. This is the first one I did. I got a bit carried away with getting rid of the wrinkles:


The image has a very dreamy look, I like the blues and the greens, but it looks somewhat over processed. I wanted to get a bit more subtle image, with more distance between the viewer and the subject. So I chose this one:

Adrienne monet-.jpg

I have desaturated the image somewhat, softened the skin and brought some contrast and sharpness to the eyes. Does it even remind you of Monet? Maybe only of the colour palet used in one specific painting.

After finishing the image, I thought I'd google some images of Monet and see which one comes closest to this. I looked at a lot of his paintings, read some articles on his studies of light, how revolutionary he was in the art scene in his time, how photographs influenced his work and the other way around, etc, etc. I have learnt so much more about Monet and impressionism than I knew. I realise now that if I wanted to take an image in a Monet style, I should bring an umbrella and a small child in the image as well, I should let the sun light play on the subject, I should try to get rim light, more colours and create a scene that feels warm and reflects the calm country life. Coming up: Blog about Monet!

So what I have learnt most by this experience is that first of all, I base a lot of my ideas on very basic knowledge of art and photography. I think of an image that I like, or look one up on the internet, pick up a few elements and try to copy that. It's not proper preparation. It's not really studying the ideas behind the work, or the work process the artist has gone through to produce the art.

I'm a very impatient learner. Now I discover that I want to do my work too fast, skip a few steps that are so important to really develop myself as an artist. So I'll put the brake on wanting to do things fast, spend more time reading, looking at other people's work, studying, practicing and not even think of where I want to end, but completely focus on the learning process itself. 

I am happy with the final image though...