Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Painter's photo shoot


Come Fly With Me
Original oil painting  28x22"
by Susan Roux

This summer I took my model to the ocean for a photo shoot.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well you need to remember we're in Maine, nicknamed Vacationland. People flock here from everywhere. Summertime is the busiest. Many arrive ready for a bellyful of lobster with the beach as their destination. It was a beautiful warm July day and it was no exception.

How I found a parking space on a side street adjacent to the ocean with a sand path for the rentals is still a mystery to me. It was perfect. A long stretch of sand where cottages line the streets located between two very busy/popular beaches. My model hadn't been to the ocean yet this season and she was already bubbling with joyful emotion. Laughing and giggling, her whole body was already wiggling as we parked the car. Her eager enthusiasm was uplifting. It was like taking a young child to the beach.

The salty sea has a distinct smell that arouses the spirit long before you reach the sand. Excitement was in the air. We had been trying for awhile to find an open moment for this day, but busy schedules made it difficult. Our anticipation coupled with the perfect weather had me imagining a wonderful shoot.

I came prepared.

We found a nice open area in a sparsely filled section. I laid out an old bed sheet on the sand. My bag was full. I unloaded it telling my model, these are the skirts, these are the tops, hats, scarfs etc. I had shopped for white clothes, borrowed white clothes and gathered lots of accessories. The sheet looked like a clothing store. As she looked at every piece, I explained that she could mix and match any of the pieces. Even if they didn't exactly match, they were all various shades of white and I could paint them to look like they did. I had been wanting new photos to work from and the moment had finally arrived.


She picked her favorite skirt. It was a long flowing one. I told her to go dance at the water. I love this model. She has such elegant movements, perfect for the look I was seeking. Still giggling, she bounced to the water's edge. I followed with my camera. The sun lit her up. The breeze was gentle and consistent. I couldn't have picked a better day.

People were gazing. She didn't care. Still like that child, she began to dance in the water. She was totally uninhibited by the onlookers. It wasn't long before what seemed like every man on the beach wandered by. I've never seen so many males walk the beach without a sweetheart by their side. How they slowed their gait as they circled wide around us. We laughed. She continued to dance.

I took shots from the left, shots from the right, shots from the back. The sun made different patterns as I switched sides. She made many costume changes and with each one, she became a different character. Sometimes she strutted, sometimes she flowed. She threw things up into the air. The sun danced with her every move.


We didn't take a break. Outfit after outfit we continued to work. I couldn't help but think I had the perfect job. Who else gets to go to the beach while they're working? Not many.

Every piece of clothing was soaked by the time we were done. She was exhausted. It had been quite a workout. As we stopped, nearby sunbathers came to talk. They wondered what we were doing. They had been entertained by my little beauty. People had their reading material, but not a book was opened while we were there.

As we walked off the beach, an older couple stopped us. They had decided we were taking pictures for the cover of a magazine and wanted to know which one and when it would come out. She did look very beautiful out there dancing in the sun. It's no wonder they imagined this scenario.

I returned home with nearly 1000 pictures. Certainly there are a few real good ones to work from.


Do you work from photos? Do you go on photo shoots to set up the pictures you desire? How about still life's? Do you ever set them up and take photos? It's a great way to have original material. Pick the perfect day and you could have enough material to work from for a year!

38 comments:

  1. You captured the model's spirit beautifully. I feel the warmth and joy. I can taste the salt water. Truly the mark of a Great Artist is to capture those feelings in their work as you have! Please never stop sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved reading about this shoot! And, so glad that you included a pic of her at the the end! I do paint from photos for some landscapes and skies, but not usually for still lifes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good job, Susan! I know that using photos is looked down on by some, but it beats painting a stiff model who looks bored out of his/her skull.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love the sunlit painting and the pose of the model. I especially enjoyed reading about your photo shoot and how expressive the model is. So glad you shared a photo of her as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. the painting is beautiful...
    the story about it is very interesting, and the photo also...
    you might have captured more...
    hope for more nice paintings out of them...

    ReplyDelete
  6. just gorgeous susan!! i loved reading about the photo process. i always paint from photos, i like to be alone when i work and i get anxious thinking the light will change or someone will move. just wonderful work. hope all is well!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, this is beautiful! The way you make the colors dance around her as she is dancing, and the waves are dancing, it's wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  8. First of all..this is a beautiful painting and such an interesting post! Can I borrow your model?..LOL She's what we all need!. I only paint with a photo..I don't do well with live models..but admire people who do. This painting of yours is so full of soft, delicate colors and you did a beautiful job with it, Susan.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Après une pause pour toi... reprendre cette peinture fut une grande joie qui se traduit parfaitement en elle... Un mouvement de couleur, de lumière, de vie en fait une grande force. On sent que tu as tout donné.
    Tu as su traduire tous tes sentiments en ouvrant le tiroir de la boîte à bons souvenirs de ton coeur.
    Une belle peinture... Comme je t'envie de peindre en ce moment! ... Gros bisous

    ReplyDelete
  10. The colors and light in this are so lovely! Nice to read about the process as well :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a description of a most fabulous day! Your model sounds like she has a wonderful personality! I'm intrigued by the watercolor look to the scarf in this beautiful painting!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Susan, It sounds like you had a very enjoyable day and you have managed to transfer that feeling to the painting. I can feel the heat and breeze of the day. Your model seems to be a free spirit and perfect for the shoot. Love all the pastel colors you include in your works.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I never even realized you used models! I figured you painted from your head:) How fun that would be to model and know you have been painted!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Marvelous colors. I really like your treatment of the waves.
    Yes, I work from photos and from life. As someone else commented, I would love to borrow your model!
    Your photo shoot sounds wonderful. Two free spirits, model and photographer. I think the experience of the day translated into your painting. Your day sounds joyfully free and that's just what I see in your painting.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've gotten to the point that I hate to work from photos, though sometimes it's necessary. The camera cannot see what we see when we work from life, even with my lousy eyesight! I always set up my own still life arrangements, because that way I get to paint exactly what I want. I have asked my lovely daughter-in law to model for me in different scarves and such in the back yard, but i have yet to paint her. One of these days I'll take her to the beach with a dozen different hats and skirts. Thanks for the idea.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good post Susan. With time at a premium, working from photos saves travel time and the time of setting up and breaking down. The photos I think will work great rarely do and the ones that are blah sometimes give me enough of a start things go well. You've obviously done well with your series of beach beauties. Glad you shared a photo of your model too.

    ReplyDelete
  17. It sounds like the perfect day, we do have the best job in the world. I love your result, the painting is wonderful. So will there be a series?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I forgot to mention that my preference is to paint from life. I set up lots of still lifes and I paint a model if I get the chance and get out to paint plein air some but I do paint from photos also. I think it would be impossible not to use photos. You take your photos and I am sure that makes you a better painter as you viewed it happening.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lovely painting and a lovely model, and also a good photographer. You beautifully narrated the whole sequence, on the whole you not only made it fun for yourself, your model, your spectators, but also us.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Susan, this painting is beautiful! Your photo shoot sounds fun.
    I love the variety of color, and the expression of the model.
    'Bliss' if I had to use one word to discribe this.
    I will work from photos also, but have never tried a photo shoot with a model..yet!

    This is an inspiring painting, and post!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh, the sunlight! And the spirit and the joy of this piece! I love the movement of the model and the scarf, I love the color and the flow. It is truly wonderful, Susan!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Excellent painting as usual. I love the way you handled the the water. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  23. That close up of the water is amazing!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow Susan, what an amazing photo shoot! I've taken pictures for reference before but never with such an elaborate method. I usually shoot landscapes when it's not possible to paint at that moment, or still life's when I want to capture a certain kind of light. I'm really impressed with the complexity of your photo shoot, and the result is a beautiful painting with gorgeous sunlight effects on water, and a carefree, fun loving expression in your models pose. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Beautiful painting as always. Very cool to hear your feelings about the photo shoot. I always take photos of my still lifes. I never know when my cat may take a notion to play with something AND sometimes I re-visit setups that I didn't paint the first time. It's nice to have that reference.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Every aspect of this is beautiful...

    ReplyDelete
  27. Beautiful paintings Susan, great work.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Susan,sorry I took so long to reply.Very busy time of year.Thank you for taking time to view my artwork.Your paintings are very inspirational your blog is very interesting.After the holiday season I will be catching up with posting my artwork.Shirley Evans

    ReplyDelete
  29. Beautiful light and color!
    I use photos from my past travels of places I love and somehow working on those I feel connected to those places.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I read you did this model shoot in Maine. At first I was thinking her legs would be painful from the cold icy ocean water! I am glad you included a photo of your model. I could imagine the scene as if I were there. Thanks for that. It is a cold Winter day here in Maine. I too am a painter. I would outdoors most of the time here in Acadia National Park. But I do work from photos!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Beautiful work, as always and a great idea. I always take photos when I'm out and about, but I've never set up a photo shoot.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Great post, Susan! What fun and it shows in your painting... I bet you got more than "a few" worthwhile shots, too. I love working from photos.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Susan! Just stopped by to see what's next! I enjoy your paintings and hope to see more!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love the colours you have used and the textures, the painting is full of joy and exhuberance, lovely piece.

    ReplyDelete
  35. An amazing painting. A very happy New Year to you my good friend.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts, questions and discoveries, Susan. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. I've been asking myself some of the same questions as the year changed.

    How wonderful you've found such a wonderful model to help you with the ideas you want to paint. She's a lovely and inspiring muse!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I work from photos all the time! I feel confident translating the photo into my work, because I spend so much time with live models. You cannot work from photos all the time, you need to remember how to translate light, space, and time, all which is lost in a photo.

    ReplyDelete

Please share your thoughts. Your comments are always appreciated.