Fixing a Painting with Photoshop

Saturday, March 02, 2019

I'm all about the analog when it comes to painting, but sometimes a little technology goes a long way. Here's how I turned a dud painting into something passable with a little help from my friend Photoshop.

Remember when M. took me to San Luis Obispo to see Jon Batiste at CalPoly? Well, we stopped at at some vineyards on the way - first for lunch and then for painting.

Now, vineyards in January aren't your lush, verdant rows punctuated with plump grapes; they're raw and stark, their twisted twiggy fingers reaching hungrily for warmth. Still, it's California, so the rainy season brings out all the green on the hillsides.

I didn't have a lot of time to paint since we had to get to Morro Bay by dinner, and the light was changing rapidly.

I did what I could in an hour and then packed up. Back at home, I touched it up a little but I wasn't happy with the painting. The lines of clouds were too static, and they were largely parallel to the line of hills below. Plus, the painting wasn't dynamic -- it was pretty much 50% sky and 50% ground. No rule-of-thirds-to be found.

So I opened it in Photoshop to see what I could do. (I use a Wacom Bamboo pen tablet to make it easier to draw or paint in the tool.) I lightened the sky, reconfigured the clouds, and changed the distant hillside line to improve the composition.

I then used this version as a guide to revise my actual painting. I updated the sky color, the clouds, and the line of hills. I'm much happier with it now.

"On the Wine Trail," 8x10, oil.

190406 On the Wine Trail

How about you? Have you ever used technology to consider different outcomes for a painting?

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  1. Nice improvements on the painting!!! I don't have photoshop so I can't adjust with that kind of technology. Great idea though!