Arts as inspiration

For inspiration visit an art collection

If you ever feel in need of inspiration I recommend a trip to an art museum. Here is why:

  1. It is nice to see images larger than standard screen size.
  2. It is not photography so there is no immediate comparison.
  3. There is just so much more history.
  4. The degrees of freedom on an empty canvas are far greater.
  5. The paintings you find are likely to have outlived and survived their commercial purpose.

Clearly more notable others took that trip before you and me.  But that should not stop you or me from trying our hand at it. My experience is that my attempts  of bringing artistic impressions into my images never quite proceed as intended but always result in something unique.


Sandra Kontos has a nice blog post on the subject which inevitably ends with David Hockney’s Polaroid collages. For me two aspects characterize Cubism, simplification of shapes and merging of different perspectives. The latter is easily done using multiple photographs and layers in Photoshop. The simplification of shapes is actually quite achievable using simplicial decomposition, I just haven’t found the add-in that does so in Photoshop. If you piece together images using layers in Photoshop you easily move  selected pieces around and resize them.  Here are a two results.

Clearly both images show Hockney’s handwriting but they were inspired by very different painters, namely Max Beckmann (not a cubist) and Pablo Picasso’s, see paintings below.

But this is only a first step. Cubism had many variations and one can try to blend photography with these. Even without different perspectives one can simple decompose an image and reassemble it in different ways. Regardless the end result will engage the eye. things-fall-apart



Still Life

The golden age of Dutch painters left us with a large collection of still lives by Masters such as Pieter and William Claesz. To show just one example:


This is a great practice all it takes are a couple lights to play around with, a table , some items from  your fridge and a few decorative pieces to complete the set. On second though if you want to include the typical symbolism of decay you might find all you need in the garbage.  I only took one stab at it and while I failed to recreate the monochromatic toning the result was still a pleasant surprise.



If you want to see how to have fun with photography spoofing Dutch painters I highly recommend taking a look at Hendrik Kerstens.  Another photographer whose artistic sensitivity stands out is Dan Winters in particular his portrait of Laura Dern immediately took me back to El Greco and Mannerism.  Using such historic examples is straight forward, all it takes is a light or two, a neutral background and a willing participant.

Below two examples. The first a portrait of my oldest son, inspired by Mannerism’s elongated features, which suits his physique well. I asked him to wear a green shirt, toned the back ground in a similar tone leaving only warm color tones in his face. The crop around the shoulders is deliberate to make it look as if the upper part of his torso is mere the base of a bust.


The second one is a self portrait of sorts. There is no need to go into Chiaroscuro or Rembrandt’s light many have done so. All it really takes is an awareness that it exists, a window or single light source. Throw a blanket around yourself and and place the light to illuminate just half of the face and a little under the second eye and voila you are almost there. If anything it will make you enjoy playing with a single light.


The only thing left to do is to go out there and find the artist that inspires you, good luck.


2 thoughts on “Arts as inspiration

    1. Glad you enjoy them. As to technique the funny thing is often when taking a picture I have an image a mood in mind and the initial image is really just a starting point. As a result I end up spending quite a bit of time converting the image to match my vision. Maybe that makes me more aware of the process.


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