You have snapped a photo of a scene and now want to turn it into a beautiful painting.  How do you go about it?  As artist's we have a big advantage over photographers in that we can literally move objects and landmarks around or even add or remove them to create a scene,  changing it to fit what we "see" in our mind's eye.

     This week in my Acrylics class, I gave everyone just such a photo.  It is of a beautiful "Royal Poinciana" tree in full bloom.  I shot the photo when we were in Argentina last December.  As a photo, it's just ok,  but as a painting, it has great potential.  The tree is full of luscious orange blooms and there is a drive curving right under it.  However, there are trees all around it that create a very busy scene.  So I will show the students how to pare down to the essentials to create the painting they can envision when looking at the photo.  I have a photo below for you to see.  Think about what you would do, add or take away, and give it a try to come up with what you would do with this photo.  I would really be interested in seeing what you do with it!  Yes, that means I am giving you permission to paint this scene.

     As you can see, it is full of trees and some obviously need to go, others can possibly be moved to another location.  I am going to sit down with my sketchbook and play with it for a while before class.  When I am done, I will post the drawing and then, of course, the final painting.  I will also try to post the class paintings.  Everyone's painting has differences even when painting the same thing, so this will be an interesting exercise for the students.

     If you have ever heard of the "HIGHWAYMEN" paintings then this make strike a chord with you. If not, you can google them.  There were approximately 20 african-american men and one women who worked in the 1950's building the Florida Turnpike system, and they painted many scenes as they went through the state and sold them to locals to earn spending money.  Some of those paintings are outstandingly beautiful.  They have become quite popular and several are here in St. Augustine at art galleries and museums. My sister-in-law found a couple smaller ones at a yard sale for $10 not realizing what she was buying.  She knows now, as her two paintings ended up in a book on the artists. How cool is that!  Every year Mount Dora, FL has an art festival and the remaining "highwaymen" attend.  A not to be missed event.
      I tell you this because they did paintings of the Royal Poinciana tree in all it's glory and those are some of the best they did.  It was always the feature in the painting, as these are gorgeous trees! I found a couple of their paintings and have them below for you to see.

                                Both paintings are by the Highwaymen.  Aren't they gorgeous!

Mine I think, will be rather a mix of these two.  My tree is larger and fuller than either, but I like the water in the background.  It is Florida after all. Below is the sketch I came up with.

            This is the sketch that I came up with, and below is the final painting.  We did this painting in our Acrylics class and everyone did a really nice job!

"A tribute to the Florida Highwaymen"
11 x 14
Acrylic on canvas - antique frame
As you can see, I decided to leave out the palm trees.  I just liked the simplicity of the one main tree.

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