Often times people ask me where I get the photos that I paint from. For the most part, they come from my husband’s HUGE collection of image, or they come from people I have met online who generously offer up their own images for me to work from. Sometimes I purchase royalty free stock photos of subject matter I just can’t seem to find otherwise, and sometimes I purchase the rights to work from images directly from other photographers. There are other photographers?
Last week Doug and I took the morning and went kayaking on the Wekiva River with fellow photographer Alex Olivera. We were enjoying the weather, and hoping to capture a few good images of gators, turtles, birds, and lily pads.
If you are not lucky enough to have a professional photographer on hand, there are also several online sites that offer photographic images, these sites include about.com’s Artist’s Reference Photos and photos from somewhere such as Morgue File, which provides “free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits.” Another good source of photos are those labeled with a Creative Commons Derivatives License inFlickr.
I have taken countless images with my fancy iPhone on trips to visit my family in New England. Oh how much fun I have driving around Western Massachusetts with my Dad, stopping at every dairy farm and creamery for photos of the cows and their barnyard friends. I love chasing roosters, they are way too fast! You don’t need an amazing image to work from, sometimes the iPhone camera is enough… but Doug’s stuff is so much BETTER!
Purchasing the Rights to Paint
When I was working on my Noah’s Ark Series, I created 25-sets of male/female animals. Photographer and artist Julie King helped me out with many reference photos. I paid Julie to search out specific animals for me, and she was ever accommodating. She chased down cows, llamas, pigs, and even big horned steer in her neck of the woods, rural Indiana. Julie and I met on Facebook, I was quite taken with her photography. I reached out to ask her if I could work from one of her original photos of a pear tree in her front yard that she had posted, the rest is history. Thank you Julie!
Artists often Share and Share Alike
Alyson Champ is a French Canadian collage artist who I also met on Facebook and have corresponded with over the years. Alyson is not only a collage artist, a fellow member of the National Collage Society, but she is also a farmer. I have painted many a goat and rooster from photos she has shared with me. One thing we don’t share is a love of goats. I just love painting goats, they are so funny and make me laugh. Alyson does not laugh about goats, in fact she thinks they are related to the devil. One of the best blog posts I have ever read is by Alyson about her first hand experience with goats. You really will chuckle over her post “Sheep Go to Heaven.”
Just this month I sold a painting based on one of Alyson’s rooster photos, “Floyd and Friend” through the Grand Bohemian Gallery in Asheville, NC. Thank You Alyson! You can see that my work is by no means an exact replica of Alyson’s photo, her reference image is merely a place for me to start.
Speaking of the Asheville, NC Gallery, one of the engineers there raises goats and provided me with a wonderful reference photo to work from that became one of my all-time favorite goat collages. Arnold knew I might like to work from his photos after becoming familiar with my barnyard animals in the gallery.
What’s on my Easel?
Currently I am working on a 30×40 peacock based on a manipulated image shared with me by friend and fellow artist Kimberly Kelly Santini of Michigan (almost Canada), where the snow just recently melted. You can follow the progress of this painting through an album of images on my Facebook page, no account necessary.
I am forever thankful for everyone who shares images with me for reference. Doug has even taken many an apple photo for my Small Apple Exercise in workshops. But scouting images via a kayak on the Wekiva River is the most fun I’ve had on a business trip in a long time. We were lucky enough to be accompanied by a fellow photographer Alex Olivera, who shot that wonderful photo of Doug in the kayak. Doug is always behind the camera, so it’s nice to have a photo that includes him once in a while.
Remember my blog post “A Wild Day at the Zoo” about our trip to the zoo for giraffe images? Well that project is finished and getting ready to go to Grand Rapids for Art Prize. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum has accepted “Giraffe Pixels” for display. It’s pixels because the 6×4 foot art is made up of 15 different sized panels, all collaged separately. You can see this project in progress via a Facebook photo album too!
Click on any Douglas Nelson Photography image to enlarge, and visit his photography Facebook page!
for being a part of my