I hesitate to draw from photos. I do it, but never allow it to be my only form of reference. It gets too easy to fall into the prowess of technical ability, and an artist can dilute their style trying to live up to the exactitude of a still image. Drawing from my imagination, from life and from memory help keep a good balance between technical ability and originality. Things don’t have to look photorealistic to feel real. Yeah, photo-realism can be hard and is an incredible skill, but it’s worth tends to stop there.
Basquiat, an artist known for his messy, childish graffiti style, once said, “Believe it or not, I can actually draw.” Just because you can draw perfectly proportional and clean images, doesn’t mean you should. Art should push your mind beyond the superficial seeing of an object, place or person.
I had to remind myself of this lesson while drawing this little leaf. I used a photo reference of a really beautifully crackled leaf and once I had finished the drawing I realised it was nothing like the picture. But instead of being disappointed I was kinda glad. I had taken this real thing and turned it into a version of itself. So before I riddled it with lines in an effort to make it exactly like the picture, I stopped myself and thought that maybe, just maybe, the way I saw it was good enough.