When you stand in front of nature your subject is limited by your human comprehension. We can only see so far in the distance and the amount of colors that exist are more than we can visually see.
A photo on the other hand is limited by mechanical means. The light areas in the photo will loose detail as well as the shadow or dark areas, while the lens will distort shapes, for instance we've all seen a photo when someone's face was too close to the camera making it look huge and strangely curved. This happens throughout a photo in a less detectable but inaccurate way.
Just accepting nature or a photo at face value, using it "as is" does not usually net the best painting and it's also a boring way to proceed. To create a painting that works the subject needs to be manipulated in order to make it work, here's an example:
This is a photo I took of some greens apples, a cantaloupe and flowers on a silver platter. It has a lot of the makings of a good painting but I'll need to see it differently to find out it's best potential. I'll use grey markers in a maximum of 5 shades of grey and a layout pad.
My goal is to break the image into simple shapes of shades of gray, I use shapes because a painting is made up of shapes unlike a drawing which is made up of lines. The fewer shades I use the stronger the design. I ask myself how I can join several smaller areas into one larger shade of gray while still making the image "read" as what it is. I am trying to create eye movement around and not out of the scene.
Here is the marker value sketch made from the original photo. In my next post I'll show the resulting painting and some of the choices I made manipulating the subject.