Inspiration: Scott Deardorff

Photograph Art Inspiration

Scott Deardorff is a digital painter and photographer whose medium is Adobe Photoshop, and it’s a medium in which he is a master. While most digital artists work with a broad brush and a loose style, Scott’s work is highly refined, with an exquisitely detailed finish. His works beg to be studied close-up. As you can see in the above detail from the portrait “Green Eyes,” there is an almost jewel-like quality to the painting (especially the eyes).

Inspiration: Scott Deardorff
© 2020 Scott Deardorff., All Rights Reserved

This approach to portraiture is where only the face is in sharp focus. There are other ways to “step away” from the source photograph. One way, as I had mentioned in the article, is to remove the photographic details. But as Scott Deardorff shows, you can leave the details in and still create an obviously hand-painted worked. Scott achieves this by changing the lighting so that it becomes quite dramatic. Here is the original photograph that Scott began with (image copyright by Fred James Photography):

Here is the full-size painted version of “Green Eyes.” Notice how dramatic and warm the lighting is. The background is jet black, eliminating the distracting elements in the original. The cropping is changed so that the figure has more space surrounding it. The finishing touch is the glowing reflection on the tabletop.

When we talk about turning a photograph into a painting, the first question we need to answer is, “What style of painting?” Scott Deardorff is working firmly in the Realist tradition, which has roots in the distant past, before computers or cameras. Some say the early “Old Masters” relied upon optics (such as the “camera obscura”, seen in the movie “Girl with a Pearl Earring”). Perhaps they did, in which case, Scott Deardorff is using the modern-day equivalent of those tools. Whatever methods they used, the masters of the past continue to inspire us today. Take a look at the following painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, and notice the high level of detail everywhere. Somewhat photographic, wouldn’t you say? 


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