THE ART OF BUYING ART: From Photo to Painting


Studio Brambilla Toronto Artist: Home Decor: The art of buying art - From photo to painting

The Request:

“Hi. I have a favourite photo that I would love to have you paint. Can you do that?”

The client took this photo (when he and his wife were in Israel) from the top of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea at sunrise. A beautiful location and image. He wanted this to be a secret birthday gift for his wife so there was lots of pressure to make sure I got this right.

Here is the photo

Studio Brambilla Toronto Artist: Home Decor: The art of buying art - From photo to painting : Masada Dead Sea Photo

I spent a great deal of time looking at the photo to “feel” the scene, the atmosphere, and the colours, and imagining that I was walking in throughout various sections of the image. This made me feel that there were certain aspects of the photo that had to be enhanced to improve the image while staying true to it. This process also helped to determine what the optimal size of the canvas should be. This level of prep takes hours and sometimes days to get the proper image in my mind.


I then turned to the client and gave my ideas. I saw it as a large painting. We agreed on the size, 40”x60” which is like the size of a large dinning table.  I also suggested that we enhance the sunrise, change the colour balance, and give the Dead Sea more prominence with reflected light while making the top of the sky somewhat darker to act as a compelling contrast that moves the focus of the painting more to the sunrise and water rather than the dark foreground which is what the photo emphasized.

I sent him progress pictures over the weeks it took to paint this, and he agreed with every step of my artistic approach an added some valuable comments of his own, so there were no surprises when it was done, and he can actually say that he helped.

Here is the finished product from this Toronto based artist who never had the privilege of seeing the Dead Sea from atop Masada but who felt it from the photo.



Studio Brambilla Toronto Artist: Home Decor: The art of buying art - From photo to painting : Masada Dead Sea Painting




He was beyond delighted with how I captured the atmospheric quality of the moment, how the sunrise and the Dead Sea have a spiritual glow and how the overall image is so dreamlike and even more beautiful than the photo. Perhaps more importantly, his wife was blown away not only with his thoughtfulness but also with the beauty of the finished painting and her memory of the event. What a surprise it was for her!

This large piece of wall art now hangs beautifully in their bedroom as a wonderful reminder of their trip to this magical location.

And since then the couple has acquired a number of my other paintings they now have hanging throughout their new home.


Here’s what the client had to say:

“I absolutely love Dan’s artwork - his blending of colours and some of his abstract work I find mesmerizing. I have purchased several paintings from him, but my favourite is a painting I commissioned him to create, based off a photo I had from a sunrise over Masada in Israel. Dan shared his progress with me as he worked on it and we were able to make some subtle changes as the painting came together. The photo was taken on a trip with my wife and the painting was a gift to her. It perfectly captures the mood and distinct lighting from the picture but some of Dan’s unique artistic ideas really make the painting pop.”

Do you have a favourite photo that you would like turned into an impressive, one of a kind painting? Please feel free to get in touch to discuss.




Dan is a Toronto based award winning artist who has been painting for over 25 years. Dan’s passion is interpreting the primordial images of sky, horizon and water as viewed through the child-like-eyes of our prehistoric ancestors…images which are now burned into our modern collective unconscious. Dan imagines how these images were experienced and translates them into an atmospheric, minimalistic and somewhat surrealistic style representing the essence of what has enthralled us for millennia. Collectors of Dan’s artwork often describe the visual experience as: “Walking into a dream. This is the most serene, peaceful and ethereal art we have ever seen."