How do you feel about painting portraits from photographs? Do you think they should only be painted from life or is it acceptable to use photo references?
Christopher M. Grimes - join me on Facebook
To me, it's acceptable a) if I start with the person from life and b) if I take the photographs.
Everyone has to start somewhere, of course if the work is for sale then they should be your photos, or properly referenced and used with permission. If the work is just for practise and study then I think you should feel free to use photos. (seeking permission if applicable).
As a beginner I can not justify paying for a model and i feel there is too much familiarity in family and friends so for portraits i will paint from photos for practise.
of course a life model would be ideal but sometimes you have to make do where you can.
I agree it's difficult to find and pay for your very own model. But there's lots of ways of getting round that.
The best advice I ever received from a tutor was to go and join a life class and develop skills in drawing from life. Not just so I could draw people but also because I could become a more effective artist
I continue to do a drawing class - although it now relates to drawing the head. Personally having got the experience I now find it much easier to draw from life than to draw from a photograph and try and make it look like I drew from life - if that makes sense.
I also draw people all the time while sketching when out and about. I can now draw them very fast because I've drawn them in class.
My name is Katherine and I write about art every day on my blog Making A Mark.
I started portraiture initially by copying other portraits to get a feel for mixing flesh tones etc. I then started painting family and friends from life after I had done some time with a few life sessions with a group. However to date every one of my commissioned portraits have been mainly from photographs as my clients in each case have been far too busy to sit for me other than an initial photo shoot and occasionally a follow up shoot.
I think if you understand fully the limitations of painting from photos you can be succesful in portraiture. Nothing beats at minimum a study or sketch from life if you can accomplish that. Drawing skills are paramount, there is no getting away with that. When taking photos be sure to take some from different angles to the selected pose as that will give you a sense of proportion that you cannot get solely from a photo.
I have examples of my work at My Portrait Page
I use photos all the time. It's easier than having the person sit for hours. However, drawing from life is the best. If you sketch all the time you'll get better, so that you don't spend forever making a life drawing. At first, though, I spent a lot of time trying to make it right, but with practice... you do get better and faster. Sue
Since I do primarily animal portraits from all over the country, I rely on photos.
I do sketch my pitbull, Otto, often. It really does help to understand the anatomy, is fun, and sharpens up those drawing skills.
Like Katherine, I also sketch humans all the time, mostly on the train.
The school where I'm taking my woodcut print class offers free drawing and painting from life classes. All you need is to chip in for the model. I hope to take that next semester. Philadelphia art schools have a long history...the longest in the US...of learning to draw from life models. So I am very lucky in that I actually have a choice of where in town I want to go. Many of the instructors have trained at the Academy, and that influences our community art groups as well.
My Pet and Childrens Portrait Website
My FB Page