I have always read with great interest the argument of painting from photos vs Plein-air. I always say what works for one does not necessary work for another.
The bulk of my work is from photos that I have taken myself of the Flinders Ranges region. I will consider a commission from a photo taken by a client but do prefer my own. I would never paint a landscape that I am not familiar with, especially an area that I have never visited. Photos to me are a tool to remind me of what I saw.
Most of my work comes from my photos simply because I cannot afford the time away from the farm or the money spent on accommodation to work throughout the Flinders Ranges. This is not an excuse; it is just the way it is.
I do love to sketch and paint Plein-air. My early days of painting consisted of quite a bit of painting outdoors in my local area. Personally I think that it is a must to have these skills to get the best from your photographs.
Often in the past I used to feel guilty about using photos. I think that comes from reading so much from artist that have never gained knowledge how to handle painting from a photograph themselves, don’t want change or just plain think it is bad bad bad!!! The guilt is now gone, I do what I do and tough if someone says it is wrong. :D
Painting from an image on a computer monitor works well for me. Sometimes I will have three photos stitched together so that I am reminded of the vastness of the area that I am painting. It is from those three photos that I pick out the most interesting views/essentials, concentrate them and sketch them onto paper to work out if it will work or not. More often than not, the colours and atmosphere I use are from my memory of the scene when witnessing it at an earlier time rather than the photo that I had taken at that particular time. A commissioned work though is worked similar to a photograph unless the client gives me creative freedom to do as I want.
I am lousy at sharing my images that I work from along with the painting though will post an photo with a watercolour painting tomorrow, which will show you what a bit of creative license can do when working from a photograph.
Want to know what others are saying on this subject?
Dion from Art News Blog posted a story on Art & Perception about painting from photographs. There is further reading with many comments posted after Dion's story.
Wikipenia - Plein-air