Chapter 7: Reference Material
Back in art school at Mass Art, as part of the illustration program, we were taught about using reference materials when creating realistic images. These could be photographs, photos in books and magazines (as long as they were not reproduced exactly as shown), and live models. Since that time when I was in school, the internet and google has replaced a lot of book research regarding finding photos of specific things I want to draw.
Many years after art school, while studying clay modeling sculpture here in Florida, we used live models. I learned a lot about the human figure and anatomy, which informs the figurative work in wire I do today. I still need to use photos for reference for my wire sculpture for certain poses, animals, and elements in our environment. Often, to create the 3-D relief sculpture I do, I need a front and side view of the subject (especially for portrait commissions).
In my new work, I am combining painted and mixed media “backgrounds” with wire sculpture on canvas or board to create scenes. I need reference photography to guide me in creating specific background images, such as architecture. I stylize and abstract the images in my own way, never striving for a literal interpretation.