Drawing or painting from a photographic model presents challenges all alone, but it was never a challenge that interested me. When I hear, “It looks just like a photograph,” meant always as a compliment, I always wonder, “then why not just take a photograph?” Honestly.
There are artists that work from a photograph, but put their own spin on it. Chuck Close comes to mind, with his wonderful, large pixelated self-portraits. Others contribute their own lush brushstrokes or distinctive line quality that – though based on a photograph – raise it to another level.
When I was learning to draw, I drew every single day. I sketched my husband, my children and my pets, but they grew tired of sitting still. Likewise, I grew tired of drawing still-life arrangements, room-scapes, and crumpled paper bags. Then, I would turn to photographs for subject matter.
To keep things interesting, I’d do what I call “mash-ups.” Rather than one photograph, I’d choose two or three, and combine them on the page. For instance, from a book of black and white photos of the excavation of King Tut’s tomb I’d get the “bones” of a drawing. From People magazine, a movie star’s face. The torso from another photograph. Add my own surgical scar to finish. It wasn’t always successful, but it was always fun.