Quick! Get the Camera!

Quick, get the Camera!  Oh, never mind… It’s at home!  I sure did learn the hard way to always have a camera with me. Years ago – long before cell phones/cameras — we were driving through the beautiful countryside on a winding road in the fall, through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. As we were headed down into the valley were eight of the most beautiful hot air balloons I had ever seen.

It was so unexpected! I had driven on this road hundreds of times, watching for deer, checking out the various horse farms, but never had I seen I sight like this.  These weren’t just your usual type of hot air balloons with the various striped color designs. Each balloon was a different character- one was even the shape of a witch!

Last weekend was a beautiful fall day, so we went for a walk at our local park. Even though we didn’t see any extraordinary sights like hot air balloons I still like having that camera along so I can add to my files of reference material. I also want to use a camera that can take clear photos and close up photos. I can’t tell you how often I needed to find reference material of something that was out of season at the time.

Illustrating magazine articles are usually done six to twelve months ahead of time. For example, in December, you may be asked to paint a butterfly sitting on an iris for a spring edition. After years of collecting reference material, it is easy for me to go to my reference files and look through my photos.  It also helps to keep reference material organized.

Sometimes I will have the same photo filed in different locations.  For example, if I have a horse standing in front of a barn, I will put the photo in my folder marked barns and another copy in the file marked horses. That is the method that seems to make the most sense for me, but everyone will have their own filing system.  (I will never understand my husband’s filing system — but somehow it does seem to work for him!)

There are always so many things to take photos of. Not just the obvious scenes like a lake or the pond, but also those little tiny things to photograph.


If I am taking a photo of holly leaves, I also want to take a photo of the entire plant, so that when I have to paint holly, I know how the plant and the leaves look as they grow from the ground and upward.


I never know when I might need some strange little plant to paint in my next painting. This time, we saw these little red seed pods on small plants. They seemed to be everywhere in the wooded area we were walking through. I don’t know what type of plant they are.  Do you? I’m pretty sure they will show up in one of my paintings somewhere along the lines. Now I just have to figure out which file to put the photo into.


I hope the next time you go for a walk or on a mini adventure you will also remember to take a good camera with you so you can continue to grow your reference files. I was just looking through mine tonight and came across three new ideas I want to paint for my next paper sculpture paintings.

Hope you will be inspired too!


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