OLD MASTER PORTRAITS, VOLUME I, Photographic Reference for Artists

Copyright Free Photographic Reference For Artists ~ now on iBooks 

I use these photos to make sketches ~ to study lighting and work out interesting shadow patterns for paintings.

As in this drawing above (from photo in Volume I, page 19), I usually draw on toned paper since I paint on a toned canvas. This is cheap brown typewriter paper I found in a stationery store. Oftentimes I draw on brown wrapping paper as I like the tooth and the tone.

If I were drawing to figure out a likeness, I'd use a larger paper (this is only 7" high).

This is the first half of a beautiful collection of rare vintage photographic portraits of stage actors that were originally published in 1911. 

As as body of work, they offer some stunning and insightful lessons to enable us to recreate the nearly lost art of classical portraiture. 

These old-time photographers knew how to use a camera’s lens - like the Old Master painters used a brush. 

They could turn an ordinary person into an extraordinarily beautiful picture. 

The introduction to this collections, points out what to look for, what they knew, and how they accomplished these masterful portraits. 

I'll repeat some of this as a separate post for those of you who cannot access iBooks.

 Copy them. Study the lighting and the pose. Examine the costumes, props and settings. Understand why these photos are so good and let them inspire your work.

And yes, there are photos of men too... but because of the costumes, they just aren't as "interesting."

This book is way to big for this blog... nearly 300 pages of delicious Old Portraits.  Thus I am offering my iBook as a way to reach more artists because I have found good reference material very useful.

The technology just isn't there for devices other than the iPad with iBooks 3 or later and iOS 5.1 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

The cost of a print book would be astronomical and the iBook (although it is a lot of work on my end) can be owned for the price of a fancy greeing card ($4,99 USD).

All images are copyright free for artists to study and use.


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