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  1. #31
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    Aug 2005
    Philly PA
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    Yeah some, on occasion, but I've understood that there's this wide misconception that nearly all of them used it, all the time.

    Maybe I'm wrong. I'm not speaking from experience here, only what the internetz has told me...
    One of the problems is that at certain points in history it would have actually been seen as heresy to use optical devices and could land you in big trouble with the church (like, torture and kill you sort of trouble), so if artists were using them, they had to be very secret about it.

    And besides that, who really cares how someone worked several hundred years ago? I hear that the old masters didn't use email to send in their finals either, but personally I just don't believe that.
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  3. #32
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    Dec 2003
    Lost in the Sound
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavePalumbo View Post
    I hear that the old masters didn't use email to send in their finals either, but personally I just don't believe that.
    yeeeah. that's just a little too far fetched for me. I mean, c'mon. How'd they deliver it? In person? pft.

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  4. #33
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    May 2008
    Belleville, IL
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    Well, I knew the quote was out of context, and as some of you have mentioned, misquoted too.Thats what I get for posting on the last 5 minutes of my lunch break. The spirit of the comment was intact in my head( if no where else lol ) Next time I will take the time to make sure I quote the statement correctly. I apologize for any ruffled feathers. : )

    Honestly though I am glad I got it wrong, because if I hadn't I never would have heard Chris's interpretation of the statement. I love that interpretation of the quote. And while all artist didn't use camera obscuras,many did use grid systems, and sketched from life. Alternate forms of copying but copying nevertheless. I guess what I am trying to say is like art, its a matter of perception for me. Some people will always see anything that isn't formed from pure imagination as copying and that is a perception that we have to get away from.

    Reference is a good thing! ( but only if you quote the reference right lol

  5. #34
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    Jun 2008
    San Antonio, TX.
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    Hello, I'm new here. I'm so glad to have read this thread. I've recently experienced personal issues about ref material in my own work. The info. here has really expanded my thoughts on the topic.

  6. #35
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    Dec 2007
    Edinburgh, Scotland
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    Emily G, thanks for this thread! I'm constantly surprised at how many young artists seem to think that reference is some evil crutch that "real artists" don't need. The truth is not only is it ok, it's a damn good idea, and if you aren't using reference you are doing yourself a major disservice!
    Thats pretty much me

  7. #36
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    Oct 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtznCraphs View Post
    It is if you group Old Masters as a whole. But it's been widely accepted that Vermeer was one who did on occasion. To say that any use of it was a myth is the same as saying real artists' don't use photo reference.
    Widely accepted by people who have never used a camera obscura, I'll betcha. I've used one (a reproduction at a museum), and a modern overhead projector, and a photographic enlarger (as a tracing aid)...and light tables, pantographs, grids and pretty much every other device ever dreamed up with for working directly from reference. (In renderings of machinery they want accurate, they want fast and artsy is barely an afterthought).

    I've got to tell you, even with modern projection equipment using bright electrical light sources and good lenses, it's VERY difficult to draw from a projected image. If you turn up the room lights enough to see what you're doing, you can't see the projection. If you turn down the room lights to see the projection, you can't see what you're doing. And the MOMENT you make a mark, you are no longer projecting that information onto a white surface, but a dark one. You ever projected an image onto a dark surface? Oh, and then there's your hand shadow. And keystoning.

    Now imagine doing all this without electrical lights and dimmer switches and focusable lenses, but with candles and tents and pinholes and sunlight.

    I. Don't. Think. So.

    Drawings done from projected images have a distinct 'look' about them (until they're worked over by a decent draughtsman). A jerky, spikey, wavery, hesitant the person couldn't quite see what he was doing. Because he couldn't. Does that sound like Vermeer to you?

    Vermeer's specular highlights are round, just like highlights seen through an unfocused lens, and that's what gave the original bright spark the idea that he worked with a camera obscura. You know what else makes round specular highlights? Paint that is looser and oilier than the stuff we're accustomed to. And that's clearly what Vermeer worked with.

    Ummm...sorry to come completely unstrung here, but every time I read that assertion it makes me The proper use of reference entirely aside, it's just not technically feasible pre-electricity. If you ever get a chance, try it. It's a cinch the 'experts' never have.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).

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  9. #37
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    Sep 2008
    Long Island, New York.
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    Im glad this thread exists. Never has an art teacher told me to even bother looking at pictures for sources of references. It's so obvious now. I'm 18 (Soon to be 19) and have yet to be told by any of my art teachers about this stuff. Guess there are some things that going to college can't teach you about art.

  10. #38
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    May 2003
    Hudson River valley, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by AeonPhoenix View Post
    Never has an art teacher told me to even bother looking at pictures for sources of references .

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  12. #39
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    Feb 2004
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    You are absolutely right about Vermeer's paint. If one uses pure white lead in linseed oil (no additional fillers) and your paint is oilier than what normally comes out of the store-bought tube, the combination of the oily paint and the wonderful natural ropiness of white lead results in very beautiful, and very easy to achieve, white dot highlights.

    I can achieve a tinier highlight with pure white lead in oil than I can with pure titanium white in oil. The secret is the ropey stringy quality of pure white lead. White lead is the best paint of all!
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  14. #40
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    Jan 2006
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    Just adding to the topic:
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  16. #41
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    Oct 2008
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    Comic artists

    A hell of a lot of comic artists obviously use figure reference. Bryan Hitch and Tony Harris are examples. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it's how they use the reference that matters. Hitch manages to imbue a dynamism to his work (Ultimates, etc) , whereas Harris' work (War Heroes) can look stiff sometimes.

  17. #42
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    Jul 2007
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    Yeah I just wanted to also pass on my appreciation and thanks for the thread. Its really insightful and makes me even more motivated now. Cheers!

  18. #43
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    Oct 2004
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    If your just trying to learn about anatomy or surface materials etc just copy the photos or from life straight up. Once you have them memorized somewhat then get more creative with the references and change it up a little.
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  19. #44
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    Sep 2004
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    Thanks Emily !....these are all great reminders.....and you won't find them at the box stores these days. to get the time and money to do all for another thread lol


  20. #45
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    Nov 2004
    New Haven, CT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Isn't it sad? It actually wasn't until IMC 08 where I had anyone ever tell me that reference was not only 'ok' but was a very legitimate tool. Well actually, you told me that 1st in the beginning of the year here on CA. But yea, seems the difference between teachers and professional painters on methods seems to be drastically polarized at times.

    Frustrating for me as a student still. The general consensus among my art teachers seems to be that you do life drawing so you can do a painting and not use reference. Everything is so much better now that I use reference for them.

    Thanks for the thread Emily!
    Last edited by Blue; November 16th, 2008 at 11:29 PM.
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