I’m often asked if I use photography as reference for my paintings.
The shortened answer to this question ( I could go on and on about this subject! ) is that photography and art are both passions of mine. And because I choose to paint in a very realistic style, the photography is invaluable. I have never found an animal that can pose in one position for as long as it takes me to paint him or her!
I use digital photography these days and have a camera that shoots 10 frames per second. I use that when I’m interested in moving animals and it allows me to capture moments that might go unnoticed by the naked eye. I usually shoot between one and two thousand photos of, say, a horse that I want to paint.
Clients fly me to their ranches all over the U.S. so I can paint portraits of their animals or children and I always use my photographs as reference material.
In my studio, again, I edit them down to the ones that interest me and I rarely paint from just one photograph. I combine things I like from different shots and then usually put in a different background entirely.
Lesley Harrison on the use of reference photographs.
Images: (L) Older photo of Lesley taking photographs of swans with film camera. (R) Lesley in full cold weather gear photographing wolves in the snow.