Getting Reference Photos

This is an underpainting of a piece I’m doing from s photo I took right in my own yard. What will it be? I will post the finished painting here when it’s done.

A frustration for all beginning artists is finding subject matter to paint. Fortunately, there are now websites and Facebook pages dedicated to collecting copyright-free images just for artists to use.

Once you begin to think about getting into shows and exhibitions, though you might read through the fine print and realize that your painting must be based on your own photos… Even copyright-free images are not allowed!

For me, this has resulted in another enjoyable facet of painting: gathering my own reference photos has led me to visit many places practically in my own back yard that I never knew were just waiting for me to get to know.

Below is a list of places you might consider visiting to begin your own collection of reference photos.

  • Your back yard 😉
  • Your local zoo
  • The county fair
  • An arboretum
  • Botanical gardens
  • The alley when the sunlight strikes it just right
  • A farm
  • A farmer’s market
  • A bird sanctuary
  • A forest
  • A florist
  • An antique store
  • Local monuments
  • Local landmarks
  • A park
  • A church
  • A bakery
  • A plant nursery
  • An event unique to your area (crawfish boil? Balloon festival?)

There are 19 ideas for you. I’d love to hear your ideas! Just today I was reminded that we have an exotic animal farm nearby! I don’t have to go to Africa… Just down the road apiece.

One very important point: Be sure if you take photos of any people that you get written permission from them to use their photo as a painting model.

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