April’s Blog – Reference Photos

Welcome to Paint with Ray’s April Blog all about using your own photographs as reference. Hi, I have often heard folk say “what can I paint” or “I don’t know what to paint”.  Well, I would like to give you a few ideas… why not paint from your own photos using them as reference for a new painting subject, which can be lots of fun.

Firstly we will take a look at Landscapes.

If you have several photos you like but they seem a bit daunting or seem too challenging for you to paint from, then why not simplify things and paint only a selected part of a photo.  Or, if you would like to incorporate something from another photo entirely, then you can do this.  For example, you have two photos and you take the sky out of one photo and the trees and foreground from the other, and say a river from a third photo. Using this mix as your reference can produce some absolutely amazing paintings.

If we look at the photo below you can see what I mean. I took this picture of a Chrysanthemum on my allotment.  I have cropped the picture to remove the greenhouse and some of the other clutter around my flower, then I have removed the blue pipe, and now I have a reference photograph from which I am inspired to paint. After drawing the picture on the canvas it still didn’t look quite right, so after some thought I decided to add another flower, which I thought looked much better and I was now ready to start the painting. I will keep my reference photos for future use maybe to mix with others for a different painting.

How I painted this flower.

Firstly I thought the pink colour of the flower would look good on a black canvas, so the next thing was to paint the canvas with black acrylic paint then let that dry completely. The next stage was to transfer my picture onto the canvas, then I apply a very thin coat of linseed oil around the flower, keeping the actual flower area quite dry.  Then I you take a paper towel and wipe off some of the linseed oil and what little was left would be about right. The next step is to add your leaves and finally the flower, and lastly put in any detail that is needed. Now you should have a finished painting to be proud off.

As far as subjects and composition are concerned, you can of course always paint outdoors on location (subject to weather of course!).  However, using your own photos for reference instead of copying existing work is a great way to paint and always very satisfying.


This photo of a Chrysanthemum was taken on my allotment


This is my finished painting. Have a go see how much fun this is.   I would love to know how you get on.



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