Building Your Own Art Reference Photo Library
In the last post, I described scheduling your own photo sessions to create a still life painting art reference library. Your inspiration meter might spin past 100 while considering painting and drawing materials designed and snapped in your own space, with your favorite things, or your most loved people. The painting above – Recharge – is from a photo session done over a decade ago, and I still paint and draw from images I took in that photo session. A little planning with a camera, good light and a few costume changes on your favorite persons can be a gold mine of inspiring images to paint, for years.
Plan with Simple Photos to Start
You can arrange and photograph still life from objects in your home, or ask a family member or friend to set aside two hours – and some wardrobe changes – to model for you when the light is perfect in your home. Take the ideas outdoors too, and arrange hammock scenes, al fresco images, or reading themes. In exchange for their time, you can offer a painting, a pet portrait or a print from your archive of sold paintings. If you’re painting family members, offer them a pancake breakfast. With bacon. 🙂
Painting from Your Familiars
Have you heard the saying ‘You put yourself in every portrait you paint.”? A life study professor told me I was merging my familiar self with the studio model we were drawing – as most artists do, by making her limbs long, like mine. I was skeptical when I first heard that, but over time, I’ve seen it in my work over and over again. You can use this subconscious-figurative-knowledge to your advantage if you paint your family. The familiar elements of inherited bone structure, eye shape and hand length are already second nature to you, because you share some of those traits. You’ve also been gazing at those faces and limbs and hands for many years. Familiarity gives you a head start up the hill of drawing and painting. The genealogical “knowing” your son or daughter’s carriage and gestures lifts a bit of strain off your artist’s eye scrutinizing and rendering figures from staged photo sessions with family members. And it helps if you love what you’re painting with your whole heart. 🙂 Do you model your family members to take series photos for paintings?
On the Topic of Painting Cats
Over the years, folks have emailed to ask why I include cats in my art. One of my long departed studio assistants (before Scout) was Lucy. Back in the day, she was a seasoned model who convinced me that adding her to a painting made the person or the rooms less lonesome. I tend to agree. So, I’m sorry if you don’t like cats, or dogs, or birds. They give me great pleasure to cozy-up an interior or figurative watercolor every now and again.
The Ventura Artwalk
The Ventura ArtWalk last weekend was a double dose of perfectly sunny days with an ocean view, and patrons of the arts mingling with artists. The set up for the artists was a first for me in that we were in PODS – the storage containers you can rent to hold all your stuff during a house renovation, or a move, etc. Rather than the usual 10’ x 10’ display space under my canopy, I had 8’ x 16’ in a solid structure with a translucent roof for great light and pull down door to lock up securely overnight. It was awesome! Big thanks to Steve Yapp at PODS in Oxnard, CA for donating Pods to this event. Next year, maybe I’ll build a Tiki bar at the rear of the booth, with umbrella drinks and a beach-printed carpet?
What projects are you working on in your art-making this week? Did you discover a new tool, or a new favorite artist? Share your news in the comments, and we’ll have coffee together in the studio. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!
P.S. Have you ever seen this video of Andrew Wyeth Painting Tom Hoving? Both are departed now, but I’m grateful that it’s posted where we can see it.
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Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.