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DID FAMOUS ARTISTS USE PHOTOGRAPHS?

I know this is going to annoy a lot of people, but it has to be said. Before you start reading, may I clarify that I am NOT saying artists MUST use photographs and I am not even saying it is better to use photographs. What I AM saying is that if artists wish to use photographs to work from, then it is not a sin. I use them all the time. I rarely copy directly these days, but I use photographs as a catalyst for my work … a launching pad, so to speak. I copy basic lines from the photo and then discard it and allow my imagination to take over.

This photography/painting debate is an argument that is worldwide. Many artists deny ever using photographs. I agree, it’s nice if you can paint from life, but I’d like to try to prove that those of us who use photographs as reference are NOT breaking any rules. Even before photography, artists used the camera obscura.

Here, as a result of much research over the last day or so, are some photos that will nip in the bud any claims that famous artists don’t use photos. I always remember reading once that there are two kinds of artist … “those who sometimes use photos and admit it and those who sometimes use photos but don’t admit it”.

Please note that I am quoting (as close as I can remember) and the above quote is intended by me to be tongue-in-cheek. I am quite aware that many artists NEVER use photos … and that is cool.

PICASSO:

DEGAS:

DEGAS:

DEGAS:

DEGAS:

ALPHONSE MUCHA:

ALPHONSE MUCHA:

KAHLO:

CEZANNE:

GAUGUIN:

PICASSO:

PICASSO:

LAUTREC:

LAUTREC:

LAUTREC:

VAN GOGH:

VAN GOGH:

ALPHONSE MUCHA:

So … if it was good enough for them … :)

yes, I use photos a lot of the time. I don’t do photo-realism though … too time-consuming and too much like hard work :)

For anyone interested, here is a little about my methods of using photos:

It is only now and again that I do a straight copy of a photo and usually in black and white anyway. I use photos as a jumping off point. I may draw a few pencil lines to indicate the outline, but when it comes to the actual texture, etc.

Here are a few more I did from photos, in case anyone reading this thinks I copy exactly what I see.

Here is one I used a photo for, but it is clear that I discarded the photo pretty early on in the painting process:

I based this on a photo I took of our cat Mao. The background is from my head and no-one could accuse me of doing a photo-realistic representation of a cat :)

This was done from three or four different photos. There is also a lot of my own imagination involved in this. I only used the photos to get the perspective right and the form of the cat.

And finally, here is an insight into the way I work. The following three paintings were all done from the same photograph (taken by me):

DID FAMOUS ARTISTS USE PHOTOGRAPHS?

BLYTHART

Blyth, United Kingdom

Artist's Description

For decades i have been hearing the same old grumble … “artists mustn’t use photographs to copy from or to refer to …”

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