Update On The Photo Paintings Project

Fox Photo by Scott Bourne

Even before the Coronavirus drove us en mass to quarantine, I had been spending a fair amount of time trying out what I call my photo painting, technique. Now that I am home-bound, I work on it almost every day. And like anything else, the more you do it, the better you become. I think I have improved.

Why did I do this? I’ve been a photographer for more than 45 years. Every once in a while, you have to change things up. I have always studied great painters. The masters like:

Rembrandt van Rijn

Leonardo da Vinci

Vincent van Gogh

Claude Monet

Henri Matisse

Paul Gauguin

Eagle Photo by Scott Bourne

I have spent many hours in some of the great museums just looking at some of the world’s most well-known paintings. I wanted to understand the thinking behind the work so I audited art classes and read books.

I generally came away from all this study feeling like I am not worthy. I have been at this a while but long ago came to realize that I am NOT that creative. Art does NOT come naturally to me. I have to work 10 times harder than many of you to create something beautiful. I have all the technique down. I have the theory memorized. But the creative spark is slow in me so I have to take a workman-like approach that is mostly routed in refusing to give up, even if what I am doing isn’t gaining traction.

Egret Photo by Scott Bourne

I have finally come to the realization that my photo paintings are yet another attempt (in the sunset of my career) to find pure art in what I do. Fortunately, my avian subjects are works of art in their own right. Their creator having given these creatures unthinkable beauty that never bores me.

I have tried to take my craft as a photographer and marry that to the information I have gleaned from studying the masters. I figure I am maybe on rung three of a 10-rung ladder. At my age, I have no idea if I’ll live long enough to see the top rung, let alone grab it. But one thing I am certain of at this late stage of life is the old saying really is true. It’s not the destination, but rather the journey where we find joy.

Bird Photography by Scott Bourne

I have experimented with many tools. I have made photo prints on canvas and hand-painted over those creating mixed media pieces that I am proud of, but which obviously have limitations because they take weeks (or even months) to create.

I then experimented with Corel Painter. It is a powerful program but I found the learning curve too steep. I felt like I only a few of the photo paintings I made with this software were good.

Cloud Dancing - Egret photo by Scott Bourne

I then graduated to a product from Topaz Labs called Topaz Studio 2. Within Studio 2 are a bunch of LOOKS or filters or presets that I enjoy. One is called GLOW and the other IMPRESSION II. I use one (or both) of them on all my current photo paintings and finally believe I am getting better. I still have a long way to go.

I have posted some of my favorite photo paintings along side this article. I am not saying these are good. I am saying they came out the way I wanted them to and that I enjoy looking at them. I do believe that in a few cases, I came away with photo paintings that others seem to have enjoyed to.

Kestrel photo by Scott Bourne


I plan to continue to practice this technique and to bend it to my will, or die trying, whichever comes first 🙂

If you’re looking for a way to revitalize your photos or a way to get more creative ideas, try Topaz Studio. If you do want to purchase any of the Topaz products, use this link: http://bit.ly/TopazPlugins and enter the code METHODS at check out, to save 15%.


Picture Methods has partnered with Hunt’s Photo & Video to bring you the best gear at a competitive price and backed by personal service. Call Alan Samiljan at 781-462-2383 or Noah Buchanan at 781.462.2356. If you cannot reach either one try Gary Farber at 781-462-2332. You will ALWAYS get the best prices if you call the store v. Using the web site. You can also email Noah at: nbuchanan@huntsphoto.com or Alan at alansamhunts@gmail.com or Gary at: gfarber@huntsphoto.com. Hunt’s has been around a long time and you can trust them. Make sure to mention that Scott Bourne sent you. That will get you the best deal.