The Old Master’s – How I became inspired to create fine art portraiture

The Old Masters Painterly Photographs

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved old paintings! I can clearly recall being 6 years old, sitting swinging my feet  at my Great Grandmother’s kitchen table, trying to recreate the painting of children playing with a pail of water that hung above the fire place. She had numerous paintings hanging all around her home and I often found myself sitting looking at them for the longest time, mesmerised by each one, my imagination running wild creating different stories for them! 

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As I grew older, I naturally gravitated to spending time in art galleries like Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum  or the wonderful Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. Time seems to melt away when I’m wandering around these places, we’re so lucky in Scotland to have access to such gorgeous galleries!  My love and total appreciation of fine art has always been a huge part of me, so it makes perfect sense that my own photography led me down this path!

My very first trip to the famous Dutch baroque painter, Rembrandt’s home in Amsterdam was something I’d wanted to do for the longest time and it did not disappoint! If you are an art buff like me, seeing things like the chair he sat in whilst painting, the mixing pots he used to make his paint, or the window he used to light his subjects, will blow your mind and maybe even give you goosebumps! (or maybe thats just me!) I am constantly inspired by Rembrandt and other great masters like Caravaggio, Michelangelo and Van Gogh. Isn’t it amazing, how art that they painted so many years ago, is still enjoyed to this day by millions of people? My art may not be a patch on that scale of appreciation (maybe one day? A girl can dream!) but knowing that my digital paintings will hang pride of place in my clients homes and be passed through their families for generations, means more to me than I can possibly explain. 

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The studio lighting technique that I use and recommend to my students is similar to how Rembrandt lit his subjects – also within his self-portraits!. Using a single light source to control my lighting and add depth and dimension with light and shadows to attain the ‘Rembrandt Triangle’. It’s not a complicated setup by any means but it does require a sound knowledge of strobe lighting and the ability to control and manipulate the light to give me the desired effect I want, it really is an art form in itself. As the saying goes ‘without light, there is no photograph’ 

Passing on the painterly fine art skills I have accrued throughout the years so that other photographers who appreciate this subject as much as I do can also create works of fine art is really important to me! Skills like how to achieve the Rembrandt style lighting with modern equipment, how to edit your images in photoshop to give the painterly illusion and also a helping hand on marketing your business, it’s a pleasure to teach budding photographers.

It’s so lovely to look back and think of mini CarolAnn at 6 years old re-creating paintings in her Great Grandma’s kitchen, and know that I’m now doing the job I would’ve only dreamed of at that age! It just goes to show that you should always follow your heart. Would 6 year old you be excited for the job you have? 

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