First off, I want to start by saying that I hate drawing from my own references, or at least I did. I have them, thousands of them. In fact, my last photo transfer from my old computer to my new computer involved moving 25,000 photos (No. I'm not kidding. It was upward of that number). Incidentally, that was before I got a smart phone with the in-your-pocket-everywhere-you-go camera built into it. Now, I look for references everywhere I go, but I still didn't use them, until now.
It is easy to be inspired by the photography of others. Too easy, I think. I can look and instantly see the end result of a photo: the composition, the light, the feel. It all speaks to me in an simple-to-grasp moment of clarity. Training my eye to see the possibilities in the world around me, using my own creativity to find the piece that will speak to others, is much more difficult and requires active searching.
Leather & Tack: A Trip to the Saddle Shed
Just a few yards from my house at the ranch is the old saddle shed where we keep more than a dozen saddles in various stages of use. Whenever I want to experiment with photography or grab a unique photo, I head to the saddle shed. It is believed to have been built in the 1920s after the original structure burned down. The logs were cut higher up the mountain and brought into the valley by mule. The logs, the wood, the filtered light--they all give ample opportunity for interesting composition. I took at least fifty photos the day I went to get the reference for "Blood, Sweat, & Tears," and I knew the second I saw it in the viewfinder that it would be the one I would draw. I couldn't resist the light and character of the reference.
Blood, Sweat, & Tears
Honestly, I couldn't be happier with this piece. The end result was everything I hoped it would be.
Faber-Castell Polychromos & Caran d'Ache Luminance White on Arches Hot Press 300lb Watercolor Paper.