Painting from photo references -

On Painting from Photo References > Shelby Keefe shares her goals and processes for her recent painting “Urban Patchwork.”

Shelby Keefe (featured in the art workshop video “Painting From Photographs”) shares a painting fresh from her easel, “Urban Patchwork.” She explains her goals for the piece and how she took an imperfect photo and turned it into a fantastic painting.


The main goal in painting this successfully is in the editing. Having a blurry photo helps to get rid of the infinite amount of tiny bits of information, but this photo still had way too many lights bouncing around, keeping the viewer restless and not knowing where to land.

Painting from photo references -

I did some pencil thumbnail sketches to help me decide on values of the biggest shapes, which is a great way to start in plein air as well as painting from your photos.

Thumbnail sketches


As I painted on this piece, I subtracted brushwork as well as adding to it. I probably should have moved the lightpost away from the building to its right, but I liked how the light shoots vertically along the edge of that building, so I decided to leave it caressing the side of the building. I eliminated the white car and the red motorcycle in front of it because it seemed like unnecessary information.

Exaggerating the values for the painting was also important for its success. Darkening the bulk of the building to the right and only suggesting windows helps hold it together as a composition, as well as heightening the lights to create glow.

(Click here to read related articles on this artist.)

To learn more about how to successfully paint from imperfect photo references, check out Shelby Keefe’s art video workshop, “Painting From Photographs”:

Learning to paint from photos gives you unlimited options for creating paintings that give you joy and make you proud.

Anyone, even total beginners, can learn how to take a good photo and turn it into an amazing painting…

All it takes is some imagination and a great teacher.

If you want to learn how to paint captivating, beautiful, colorful paintings from photos, then look no further than fine artist Shelby Keefe.

Bonus! Listen to Eric Rhoads interview Shelby Keefe on the PleinAir Podcast:

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