The Importance of Reference

Last week I finished the drawing for The Bone Oracle. This the second phase of an idea that came to me in a daydream months ago. I'm planning to translate this idea into a painting later this year. Sometimes an idea has a life of it's own from the start, but more often than not, the artist must work to develop an idea further with the help of reference photos.

I had an idea and then I shot the reference for that idea in our spare bedroom, with my daughter as the model. This isn't the first time my daughter has modeled for my reference photos, but it is the first time I kept her features mostly intact. Most of my paintings you'd never know my daughter was the original model.  When using reference it's important to remember you don't have to stick to the photograph. It's not a copy, but a guide. 

Though I kept my daughter's likeness, I wanted more hair (a lot more hair) and claws instead of nails.  I narrowed her forearm to accentuate the clawed hands, but kept her muscular shoulder. The Bone Oracle is after all, descended from the Harpies. In the reference photos I placed long sticks around my daughter. I'm not sure what I was thinking there, but it's obviously an idea I trashed in favor of more skulls.

You can never have too many skulls right?

When I begin work on the painting I will likely refer to both the drawing and the original reference, to help me stay focused on the setting and the mood. Stay tuned for more!