Earlier this week, I wrote about artistic license. When we paint with artistic license, we reinterpret our subject and analyze it as a combination of lines, masses, patterns etc. Then we freely use those elements as we see fit for our composition.
Another way to paint is almost the reverse. I'll call it "contemplative painting" because it's best done with a sense of mindfulness and peace. This little study is one example:
In Contemplative Painting, the artist does edit and select, but the main purpose is to look more and more deeply into the subject. As the artist loses track of time he begins to see the flow of light over and around the subject; the way light bounces back into the objects and reflects off the surroundings. Painting this way, you will become wonderfully aware of the miracle of seeing.
This is best done with still life painting, because you won't be rushed. When painting outside, you will always have fleeting effects to capture -- it's delightful but it's a different way to paint. When you are painting from reference, whether photo or sketch, you are back to re-interpreting what you see. And portrait painting involves the interaction with another person... or, again, a photo.
Even within the discipline of representational art, we find as many approaches as there are artists. Isn't it great to be creative?