Leapfrog - in progress
30" x 40" oil on canvas
I am the first to encourage technology use in art - up to a point. When reliance is completely on a subject that can only be scrutinized through an artificial lens, the view point becomes skewed and a lot of valuable information is lost.
Of course, not everything can be seen in real life and some things simply don't sit still long enough to do detailed paintings or drawings. However, with experience and a keen eye for repetitive motion, capture of light and lots of practice, even fast moving subjects such as animals and children can be painted or drawn. The masters had this down to a science obviously, when digital images or even cameras were not the tool of choice or ability to assist painting tasks.
I am sure that if many of these people were alive today they would use photography and digital technology and photo editing and projectors, etc., etc. to make their life easier. But I don't believe they would rely on them for all the information they needed.
I use photos for reference. I have little choice in winter when boats are in sheds or upended on wharves or docks with snow and ice piling around them. I use photos as the bones of a piece. They are my idea and provide the structure that shows me shapes and colourways. But I don't stick with them to record each detail. I draw by hand, though if I'm really in a hurry and really need accurate placement I will use a projector to find relationship points that are my guide to completing a drawing. But mostly I draw by hand/eye/mind and enjoy the fact that my pieces aren't exactly as an initial photograph looks.
Once the drawing is done and the palette decided on, I toss the photo and go on instinct. I add colours that others may not see. My mind and my experience see colours within colours, within shadows, within light. I only refer back to the photo to ensure that I'm capturing light or shade in the right sections. There is so much freedom in not being dictated to with a mechanical image that lies about colour and shadow depth, warmth or coolness and even shape.
So use a photograph, but let it be the starting point for your creativity. Move outside the lines and the colours. See the real object wherever possible and let its shapes and colours inform you. You will gain a lot of knowledge from reality and it really needs to be your partner in creating a painting that is art, instead of a painting that is a copy of a photograph.