I’m often asked if I use reference images for my artwork and I’m not ashamed to admit I do. The images are not replicated to the tee but instead I use it to help with proportion and any lighting. Because my paintings are so abstract, I generally just use the outline of the figures as a guideline and use my own colours to alter the image. The end result is far from the original photo.
My drawings on the other hand tend to be quite realistic and I’ll draw the photo almost exactly, but with a little of my own changes here and there and in my own style.
I also paint and draw images based off of people I know and the result is much more intimate and intense. I would love to paint more from life but a model would need to be very open minded and willing to pose for long periods of time. I also frequently use images of myself as reference images, which pieces? I won’t say ;)
Although some may think using reference photos is easy, the challenge in it is taking something flat and lifeless and turning it into something real and emotional.