Bad References

by | Feb 3, 2023

I usually paint from photos. I greatly admire the breathtakingly detailed work of artists like Susan Patterson It astounds me. But I don’t want to paint that way. Painstakingly, with small brushes, sitting close to the easel. A looser approach is what I’m after.

There are a number of ways I try to keep loose when painting. I use big brushes. Stand up. Walk away to view the work from a distance. Leave the room and pop back in to surprise the painting in progress to keep it on its toes.

Another thing I do quite often is use poor reference material. Not that I do it intentionally. But it may just be the quality of photo that I have on hand that inspires me. Oddly enough, I have discovered that it frees me up. Gives me permission to stray from the actual details of the subject matter, like light source, local colour. Some photos, so poor that most artists would delete them, have become at times my most valued inspiration.

The reference becomes more of a jumping off point. The medium takes over, allowing emotion, evoking, provoking, maybe telling part of a story, questioning what happened before this moment and asking what might happen next.

Reference for ‘body language’
Image © Norene Smiley. All rights reserved.
acrylic | 20 x 48 | sold