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Turning a Photograph Into a Painting

Updated on June 29, 2014
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When painting and photography meet is a rather new technique that, as the title indicates, combines two art forms; that of painting with photography.

The project or technique involves capturing images which are then, in turn, painted upon. The idea is not to totally paint over all of the elements in the photograph but rather paint parts of it to give your image a surreal aspect and thus, the audience has to evaluate whether the piece of art which they are admiring is more of a painting than a photograph or vice verse.

The best technique would be to actually take a brush and paint on the actual photograph. However through the use of most digital editing software programs this can easily be executed. With that said, using a digital program is never the same as actually hand painting.

It takes an artist to paint a photograph but with some patience,practice and some technical reading most people can actually do a good job of applying paint.

Once you have chosen a subject, try to photograph it with a clear background; in other words the background should not contain too many elements which will present a cluttered view. Try to do simple portraits to begin with. As you get better with your painting techniques then you can move into more complex settings such as still life.

A good technique is to paint accents on your shots and add more details as you grow. Start by using a permanent marker and sketching the elements that you want to paint. Then by using your sketch, paint over them. This is the easiest form for those just starting to dwell on this art technique.

Have your images printed on canvas on or on any paper or material meant for painting over it. You should not use regular glossy type photographic paper since it will not take paint very well and the paint can easily become smudged.

Don't worry if you already have photographs upon which you want to paint, the only problem with painting over regular photo paper is that it will take a few months for the paint to thoroughly dry.

Another technique is to place a clear panel of glass on top of the original photograph, paint your elements on the glass and after it dries, place another glass panel on top of the first glass panel. More expensive but it also has the effect of giving your art work a "3-D" feel to it.

Remember to separate the two glass panels with some pieces of felt placed at each corner. Small felt rounds used to put on the bottom surface of vases,lamps and figurines so as not to scratch furniture work very well for this.

Frame your finished products as if you were framing a normal painting and present them the same; as if they were on an art gallery, your home walls and so on.

Regardless of which material you use you should spray a fixing agent onto it after you are done painting and this can be acquired at most art supply stores.

Another technique is to paint a scene and then take a photograph that complements the painting, Then just intersect the photograph at an adequate spot on the painting,. Try to blend the edges of the photograph with paint so that the edges do not stand out so much and the photograph seems to blend into the painting.

Using Solvent

Traditional Hand Painting

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CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      HoneyBB: Thank you

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Helen Laxner 5 years ago from Illinois

      This is an awesome way to add depth and interest to a photograph. I love it. I think I will give it a try some day. Thanks for sharing. Voted ++++

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      alancaster149; thank you

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      A combination of media that was tried with spirit and thinned enamel paint before colour photography took off in the 1940's. An aunt of mine bought b/w prints and applied the technique in the late 1940's/early 1950's to glamourise family members (gave them the 'film star' treatment). It's been tried since, I've noticed, with more avant-garde results. These pictures are good results of the technique, especially the gentleman with the tin hat. Great stuff, Luis!