From photo to watercolour

Do you want to put your own spin on the current trend of having an old small painting in a room and want something unique? Try seeing what you can do using filters and effects in your photo editing software. I learned a long time ago that I don’t follow trends but like putting my own spin on everything. I’m not into old oil paintings of landscapes so I’ve been playing with watercolour effects instead. If you want a real painting, these could always be used as a template that can be transferred onto a canvas or as a reference for the brush stokes and colours.

This week I’ve been going through old photos of our 1986 family trip to Europe. Using photos without many references to the era was a criteria for me so I could make them look old without a sporty car or mobile phone dating them. Obviously there’s a few different eras in the first photo but nothing says 1986.

Original photo. Kendal, Cumbria, England. I cropped it down to this.
The colour is saturated because I don’t want it to be dulled by the printing process. I recently found out if you set the file type as an sRGB, it prints out fairly close to the colours you choose but it’s still an experiment for me. I don’t use Light Room and only do basic Photoshopping so I’m happy with the result for my skill level. I cleaned up the photo and took out some of the plumbing on the outside of the hotel and part of the lamp post. I had to warm up the colours a little as the trees in the background were too bright. I added a subtle vignette effect. I deliberately went overboard with the watercolour and accented edges effects so it would really look like a painting. Increasing the contrast makes all the layers stand out instead of blending together like the original.

While the definition of the ruins was lost a little, there’s enough on the left to suggest what they are. It was an overcast day so some loss of definition is okay in my book. I’m making it into an artwork so some artistic license is fine.

The funny thing about the photos I’ve played with is they’re quite close to the colour schemes in the “trendy” oil prints that are used by the major interior designers, not that it bothers me, I love these neutral tones and depth of colour. I wouldn’t enlarge these too much, they’d just be for little A5 size prints in frames for a book shelf.

This next one is also from England. I love the light and overhead leaves.

I did the same effects to this photo but the effect was quite different but no less beautiful. When the colours were less saturated, it lost that lovely atmosphere of the magical light on a cloudy day so I’ve left it as is for the time being. There’s strong contrast as the foreground leaves were blending in too much with the background leaves when there was less contrast.

You’ll see plenty of foggy mountain photos on walls on Pinterest. This is my take on the theme taken about 2002.

This one is the view from my Mum’s old house overlooking Araluen in Perth. It was the best foggy day I saw there. In colour, it’s very monochromatic in greens. I love the tree lined road that reminds me of Italy.
I wanted to see what this looked like in watercolour and did the same things to this one as I did to the others. I added in a little green to the grey to give it a little something.

I’ll make any adjustments to the saturation and value if they need it when printing. I love good photography but I like these watercolours better than the photos.

Happy painting,


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