Thursday, January 19, 2012


These days, an artist needs to be a photographer as well as a sculptor/painter.  If you work at all from photos, it had better be your own.  Photography has been getting a slow but steady acceptance into the art world since Ansel Adams burst onto the scene with his artistic renderings.  I don't know why it took so long, but it is now widely accepted as an art form.  To use another's photo is tantamount to stealing, or forgery.

There are a couple of ways to get photos for reference..........

1. Take your own.  With digital all but taking over the film development, you can take unlimited photos for a relatively small investment.  Better yet, there are computer programs out there that can help you to crop and zero in on a good possible composition.  I use an Olympus 2 digital with multiple lenses, but I always carry a tiny Sony compact camera with me at all times for those unexpected and exciting opportunities (a camera on your phone works as well, if it has decent pixilation) .

2. Buy your reference photos.  There are lots of computer discs sold commercially just for this purpose.  You can utilize any of these copyright free photos with no legal problems.  Just check for them online, or look in the advertising section of most art technique magazines.

3.  Buy from photographers.  There are plenty of photographers out there who don't mind selling their 'less than perfect' photos.  Just be sure to get permission in writing for legal reasons.

Working from magazines and their slick, professional photos is good for practice, but you should not sell your art from them.  They are good as studies and practice only, unless you get permission from the photographer.  There are legal ways to get around this, such as using the photo for only a percentage of the painting (ex: the painting is rendered with 10% of the image, while the rest of the painting is from your own sources.)  I am still trying to find out the exact percentage acceptable legally...however, to avoid all problems, just don't use it! 

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