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Creating Painterly Photographs

Lesson 2 of 21

What is the Painterly Look?

Kathleen Clemons

Creating Painterly Photographs

Kathleen Clemons

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Lesson Info

2. What is the Painterly Look?

Lesson Info

What is the Painterly Look?

This is a quote from me and it says your photographs should be a celebration of how you see your world. And I want you to get more comfortable with trying new techniques and because of that I have given you an artistic license. Because some people feel like they can't they can't, you know, they can't change it it has to be right out of the camera and they can't do Photoshop. Yes you can because I have given you permission. This is your artistic license that certifies that you have permission to photograph any subject in any way you wish and to post process that photo to your liking and I have signed it. And if you would like a print of this let me know and I will make you a print. So painterly type photography has been in and out of fashion like anything that comes in and out of fashion. The Pictorialists started that sort of as a revolt against more representational photography. They found that photos that were only based on reality didn't really have an artistic interpretation. They ...

didn't want to just do a documentary capture of facts. They wanted to see photos in a more artistic way. The group f/64 was in opposition to this so from the late 1800's to the early 1900's pictorialism was pretty strong and now both are accepted and so that's fine. So if you, you know, there are some subjects I want to capture in a documentary fashion, maybe two percent of what I shoot but that's okay, i have the right to do it either way that I want. So when you're thinking about a painterly style of photography I think it's important to do some study of painters and find out what you like. I mean do you like really abstract photos? Do you like photos that are just slightly unrealistic? Do you like large brush strokes, bright colors, deep colors, tones? And I think starting to make a list of what you like will help you choose some ways to process your photos and some different avenues to take. So I'm gonna talk about three of my favorite artists and the first is Andrew Wyeth. There's a Maine connection there so that's part of the reason but not the only reason. I like his dark, the way he uses these are two of my photos that make me think of that style. I like his use of dark, warm tones. There's sometimes a feeling of isolation, loneliness and I like the simplicity of his work. This is one that I actually photographed in the Olson house which is where Andrew Wyeth did a lot of his painting. So that was pretty special for me. Georgia O'Keeffe, I absolutely adore Georgia O'Keeffe's work and what I do love are her use of color, the strong lines and curves. I find that in my work I am attracted to color and curves. I sort of had an epiphany one day where I was looking at a lot of my pictures at once on a large screen and went it was all color and curves. I really hadn't thought about it so that's something else that you might want to think about. What are you attracted to in your work? What are the images that you take that make you go (gasp)? It's probably a connection between a group of images like that and this is another one of mine that I sometimes can just feel Georgia. I also love Claude Monet. I love his color combinations. I love his brushstrokes from wide to dapples and I especially love it when he puts blue and green together. It's one of my favorite color combinations. And I shot this with my Lensbaby and I just felt, whoa, I just felt Monet at that time. When I look at the Lensbaby effect in the tree it's just, makes me very happy.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Make yourself stand out among nature photographers by adding a new dimension to your images. Painterly techniques draw attention to the delicate patterns, lines, textures, and designs that we often overlook in the natural world.

Kathleen Clemons is an experienced nature photographer, known for her creative techniques and her unique, stunning compositions. 

Join Kathleen for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to achieve the painterly look in-camera with slow shutter, selective focus, Lensbaby, and multiple exposures.
  • How to evoke the painterly look in Photoshop with panning.
  • How to use Topaz Impression and NIK software to make painterly photos.
In this class, you’ll learn how to create painterly images by using a wide variety of techniques. Kathleen will show you how to apply effects using in-camera settings, different lenses, Adobe Photoshop®, and low-tech tricks like applying vaseline to filters. Capture the magic of nature and turn your photography into remarkable impressionistic art. 



Wow. I really loved this class. I took her other class, "The Art of Flower Photography" as well. She is very thorough, explains concepts clearly and is professional, yet kind. I have been doing photography for decades, but flower photography is a little bit of a different animal. I have found it to be extraordinarily challenging - which is also invigorating! At the same time, using Kathleen's principles, I feel like I now have basic rules and tools under my belt which I did not have before. This is a little humbling as I have been doing photography for so long and was surprised there were a few basic concepts I didn't "get the memo" on. haha. This class will save me heaps of trial and error time. I will be much better able to zero in on what I really need to work on. I actually recommend taking both her Creative Live courses. Yes, there is a bit of overlap - but that little bit of repetition is actually helpful. They are not the same class. Oh, and one more "perk" get to view some of the most stunning flower photography ever created. Masterful. Thank you, Kathleen.

Donna Macri Stevens

As I've been watching this class, I have literally been sitting at my computer and saying aloud, "Wow....WOW!" This is an absolutely amazing class!!! I began watching it while it streamed, but had to buy it. Kathleen is an amazing instructor, and she is SO generous with her tips and techniques. I love that she supplemented her instruction with on-site videos, in class photo manipulation and so much more. If you love flower photography or want amazing tips on how to make your photos more painterly, CLICK BUY NOW! I'm just blown away! This is a GREAT, GREAT class!


Kathleen's images have a very artistic and painterly character, so she is a great presenter for this subject. In this class she openly shares many of her methods of shooting to create in-camera artistic images (even with your phone) as well as post-processing techniques. She presents this material with her open, calm, strong and passionate manner that gives you an "artistic license" to experiment and discover "What happens if?" I have admired her work for a long time and am so excited that she shares the secrets of creating her enchanting images here. If you are interested in capturing images that go beyond what you see to incorporate how you feel about a subject, you will love this class!