Whenever possible I like to start the house painting en plein air. This extra step allows me to judge the color more accurately and to take in things that will not be obvious in the photograph. (Trust me on this- there are tons of things that you see in person that you would never think of from viewing a static photo.) If the client lives a good distance away or the order is placed in the cooler months, I always ask them to provide as many detailed photos of the area surrounding the home as they possibly can.
Looking at photos of the Precht house might lead you to conclude that there is nothing very special or interesting about their home. But when you are there and seeing it for yourself the colors are brilliant; you notice the details like the red mailbox and the waving flag and the brilliant color of the perennials. Spending a few hours on location allows you to create correct perspective and gauge color more accurately. The time of day is critical too. Some light on the house is desirable but you don't want to be painting with the sun behind the house.
The two hours I spend creating a plein air sketch are well invested. While I painted their cat appeared at the window where it sat and gazed at me for a good thirty minutes. This was providential; I'd received photographs of two cats that they wanted somewhere in the painting. Birds were flying up to the bird feeder continually. Would I have noticed this from a photo? Would I have even seen the feeder? Probably not.
Here are a few photos of this project taken while I painted. Notice the lack of detail.
Painting from life gives an artist ideas and allows her to immerse herself in the atmosphere of the scene. This creates a more accurate portrait of the setting and often a better composition.
18" x 24"
oil on linen