2022 Blog Post #4 Finding Photo References
Where do you get yours? Most artists will take their own photos of subjects they want to paint.
Sometimes it might be a random drive with the photographing of a subject in nature that is oh wow. I tend to call these a 'drive by shooting' while not 'politically correct', most of us know what I mean! I know of one artist who took a day trip on a train through the country to take photos of the landscape for reference. Some will take specific photos at times of day or seasons to use for a painting. A purposeful destination for a reference gathering day out is fun too.
So what if you can’t do this? Not everyone has the mobility or freedom to go out taking photos or even plein-air painting for reference material.
We can ask friends and family for the use of that great photo they took. Most times it is better left as a photo than used for a painting, as that’s why they took it in the first place. Artists tend to see the subjects differently and so look for photos that translate as paintings, photos that has elements of light and dark, bright and dull etc.
The references we use must be ones that we are sparked by, that fire us up, or sound some kind of delightful bells in our hearts. They are relatable and inspiring. So don’t use ones by family and friends unless they are on the same wavelength as you are, their photos light you up and you can see a painting in them.
There is also the issue of copyright. Now this is definitely one for you to go and do your own research on. Each country has its own rules. Artists need to understand what the rules are and abide by them. I hear so many beginning to mid stream artists say that if they change some one else’s picture just by 10% then its no longer copyright infringement. Believe that and loose your house. Do the homework. I encourage you to ask questions from the correct information places, get clear on what you can and can't do. Even the pic that Aunt Mary wants you to paint...she will own the copyright on that image, which dictates what yo can and can't do with it.
Art shows often ask for the artist to be able to show that the references that used are their own.
So that is why this article is about finding your own references, or references that are given free to use rights by the owner. Search that one out too. Type it into your browser and sew what information comes up. Artists need to take responsibility for the integrity of their reference photos. Just Googling a reference photo is not on, that could lead to a copyright infringement and can get you into all sorts of trouble.
Some online companies tout free to use images. This is a bonus for those who can’t get out to take photos….or is it? The ones listed below have free to use images. These may have special licensees attached to them so that artists can make any sort of artwork from them without the need to get permission. Make sure you read the licence, and know where you stand.
There are sites on Facebook that offer 'Use My Reference' for a painting. These are terrific places to source painting reference material. Have a scroll through Facebook to find these sites Do remember though that some photos are better left as photos.
Be guided by your integrity. If it looks suss it usually is. Question the site offering the free to use reference photos. Ask what are the limitations? Are they offering only references to learn to paint from? What happens if you sell the work? What happens if you keep the work as a practice piece? Can you use these images in a workshop? Can you show but not sell these paintings done from free to use images? Ask questions, get the answers and know that your reference photo is good to use for the purpose you want.
I know it is a struggle to get great photos to paint from. Look for other ways to get them.
Maybe your art group has a meeting to swap and share their pics, copyright free. Artist friends can often give each other great reference photos. Be imaginative and stick to the simplest, most honest ways to get a reference photo. That day train trip is looking good especially if it is with artist friends!!
All the best in your painting endeavours
These are some of the sites that have reference photos but check out the 'rules' and the licences of use.
Internet sites: www.unsplash.com www.shutterstock.com www.pexels.com www.pixabay.com
Facebook: Free to Use References for Artists
Courses on pastel painting: www.onlinepastellearning.com
www.theonlineartsociety.com home for artists of all media to connect, learn and be inspired. Membership is monthly or annually.
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The Curious Artist Blog-
talks about everything and anything to do with painting.
It's my aim to share techniques, tips, tricks, adventures, products, paintings, educate, inspire and foster the appreciation of painting.
I welcome your feedback and questions and don't promise to post regularly, but to let you know when I do post .
I'l give it my best shot to answer your questions and if I can't I'll let you know. Gee I may even be able to give you the name of someone who can answer.
Either way this blog is about art, artists and everything to do with painting and drawing, being informative, heck maybe even inspiring, all aimed at making painting enjoyable. I sincerely wish you to join me on this adventure. best wishes, Karol