What does painting from life mean?

Painting from life means painting without photographs or tracing.

Illustrator, Norman Rockwell, painted from life for around 20 years before he began using photos. His advise was to paint from life until you can function completely without photos - and only then use photos. I've done it backwards, it seems.

For my 20 years as an illustrator I've painted almost exclusively from photos. It's unavoidable when you couple painting realistically like I do with tight deadlines. Most illustrators do it and I see nothing wrong with it. It's even becoming more acceptable in the fine art world when a subject isn't able to be still for extended periods of time.

But personally? I'm taking a break from photos. Painting from life is the traditional Fine Art method, after all. Besides that, though, I find that all of the detail replicated in photos gets in my way as an artist. Without them, I'm better able to edit out the irrelevant details and paint the essence of a subject. Also, the subtle color shifts in a subject are an essential part of their essence and photos simply don't get that right.

So, you have entered a photo-free zone. No photos allowed. Unless otherwise noted, all of the paintings featured on this blog are drawn and painted from life.