Using Your Painting as a Photo Reference

Into The Mangroves pastel painting by Julie Skoda.
Into the Mangroves, 10×16 inches (painted in 2019) was used as my reference for a new painting.

One of the most common questions I get about painting is “How can I loosen up?”. A technique that I use quite often, especially in my mangrove series, is to use an older painting as the photo reference. It’s a great way to take yet another step away from your original photo. Often there are times when working on a studio painting, I rely too heavily on the information I get from my photo. My colour choices may be brighter or softer but my emotional response and energy may be lacking. I have found that using a painting as the reference is a great way to focus more on mark making, texture, colour palette and, as a result, create a more energetic and exciting painting.

I am a big fan of the Unison Colour half stick collections. The half stick size is perfect for making marks using the broad edge of the stick. I work primarily dark to light and large shapes to smaller shapes. I have attached a short video demonstrating this process. It isn’t until the very end of the painting that I will use an edge of the pastel stick for intricate line work and detail.

Mangrove Melody pastel painting by Julie Skoda.
Mangrove Melody (9×12 inches) new painting created from using Into the Mangroves as my reference.

For any comments or questions, email me at [email protected]



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3 Responses

  1. Thanks Julie for your blog. The colours are lovely when you layer them. I am going to try putting an under painting in on my next painting. I must admit that I do paint to tight it’s a bit hard to change as I did a year at a drawing class. Having good pastels and paper is the way to go.

  2. Thanks for sharing your technic with us . Really enjoyed watching your tutorial. The vibrancy of your painting is lovely.

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