Using Reference Photos in Paintings: Beware of Copyright Infringement!

One thing I love about summer is the opportunity to add to my store of reference photos.hyacinths | Angela FehrGrape hyacinths from my flower beds. During the winter months, I love colouring my world with vibrant paintings. I have a large monitor on my computer, and it's easy to call up an inspiring reference photo and hold it on the screen to refer to as I paint. DSC_7162


This year my children and I raised Painted Lady butterflies from larvae to adult stage. I captured these photos as we released the butterflies on Monday. Won't they be fun to paint?DSC_7157

I am very careful to paint only from reference photos I have taken myself, or received express permission to use. Friends are always quick to give permission for me to paint from their photos, and I appreciate that! When I first started painting, I would often use photos from magazines for my reference material, and was very literal in painting from these copyrighted photos. That's a big no-no for an artist, and paintings copied from copyrighted reference material should be for learning purposes only, never sold, or even given away (since the recipient could sell that painting down the road). If a painting can be identified as having been sourced from a specific (and copyrighted) origin point, it is a copyright violation.As an artist, I am passionate about copyright and want to respect the copyright of others the same way I would want them to respect mine.