Oil Painting Techniques: C.W. Mundy: Painting From Upside-Down Photographs

11 Sep 2008

Mundy Bourbon StreetC.W. Mundy teaches his students to paint effective portraits. Here, we look more closely at his innovative technique for painting portraits from upside-down photographs in this step-by-step demonstration of Bourbon Street Chef, New Orleans.

Mundy Bourbon Street Mundy Bourbon Street Mundy Bourbon Street
Step 1
Mundy began the demo by lightly sketching in an underdrawing.
Step 2
Holding his photograph upside down to make sure he was seeing his subject subjectively, Mundy next began blocking in his light, medium, and dark values.
Step 3
Mundy worked from the bottom of his canvas up as he painted sections of colors.
0807munddemo4_600x423 Mundy Bourbon Street Bourbon Street Chef, New Orleans by CW Mundy, 2006, oil on linen, 36 x 24.
Step 4
The artist painted in his darkest darks with large strokes of color.
Step 5
Once the form began coming together, Mundy added his lighter values and details to the figure.
Bourbon Street Chef, New Orleans
2006, oil on linen, 36 x 24.
Private collection.


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thu wrote
on 22 Jul 2008 9:47 AM
interesting technique! I'll try that to see how it goes
vicki nikitin wrote
on 22 Jul 2008 2:58 PM
I've used this many times. The more complicated the photo, the easier this is to make it come out. For more information, read Bettry Edwards book on drawing.
Barb Byers wrote
on 22 Jul 2008 4:24 PM
I've forgotten about this technique. It works (re: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain -Edwards) Thanks for the reminder as I am stumped on a painting where this could be helpful. Very good for portraits.
Karen wrote
on 29 Jul 2008 10:19 AM
I have never tried this but I will in the future. I have used a mirror. Thanks for the new technique.
steven sewell wrote
on 1 Aug 2008 4:42 PM
This right brain technique taught by Betty Edwards in her book Drawing on the right side of the brain can get anyone drawing realistically; as she says, seeing the subject upside down allows us to really see what it is we are drawing, rather than our drawing it the way we THINK it looks like, or should look like. It simplifies the process of drawing, where that we are no longer drawing off our symbol system, but are drawing what is truly out there. We are not even naming parts, e.g. thats an eye, thats a nose, etc. I make my living as a right brain artist everyday.