Thursday, March 20, 2014

No Shame in Reference Use

I remember going into my first art class ever, well at least since grade school. You know back when you did finger paints and made the really cool paper-mache stuff?

Anyways, I walked into the first art school my sophomore year full of myself, complete with all the misguided confidence of a teenager. I knew I knew it all, and I remember that very first assignment where our teacher had us draw a fantasy picture, but forced us to pick out reference photos to use.

I was not happy.

What in the world did I need a reference photos for? I knew it and had seen it all.


I didn't realize then in my teenage knowledge, but I had little to no stock logged away in my internal visual library.

Since then I have learned to love reference photos, and for all those young artist out there. YOU NEED THEM!!!!!

Don't fight me on this, nothing to be ashamed about, even the masters of the field need a reference photo from time to time. Anyone that boasts they don't need a reference just smack them. Because they are either insanely good and bring down your confidence through their pure awesomeness, when it is suppose to be all yours. OR they are lying out their… 

Well you get the idea.

Here is the thing, just because you have to use a life model, a photo you found online, or a book to draw from doesn't mean anything is wrong with you. It doesn't make you any less talented then the person beside you. Your visual catalog of the world just hasn't been completed, and building it is not as simple as just drawing something once from a reference.
Oh no, it takes time, and more time, and a hell of a lot of practice. Until the point when you close your eyes and you can see only that subject, and even then you need more practice.

By the time you start hallucinating while awake you go it!
If you are having a hard time picking something up, a curve of some form, a layout, the perspective of some room; throw a piece of tracing paper over your reference and trace like the devil. Use this to train you hand to move the way you want it to, and to train your brain to get out of those old, sometimes bad, drawing habits you have.


this is by no means a way to draw for life. Do not use this as a crutch, as my art teachers say. It is a guide to help you expand outward. Not to copy someone else's work, which is something you 
NEVER want to do. It is a reference and not to be used as a copy. 

So the next time your art teacher tells you to use a reference don't get offended. We all need them, because lets face it even I don't know or have seen everything. (though I like to think I have)

Until Next Time!!