Complimentary Art

It is quite a compliment for a photographer to be asked if an artist could use their image for a reference photo for a painting.

The important thing is to ask! There are copyright laws specifically made to protect the artist/photographer and their ownership of their work. Some people think because an image is posted online it is ‘fair use.’ No it is not. (This is the reason I put my mark on nearly every image I post online. For both protection and identification.)


Last year, my second cousin Ellen Freeman Mac Arthur asked for my permission to use one of my photos for a painting. I gave it to her along with my blessing to use any of my photos she wished, as long as I know which ones.

I had been curious about the painting and finally got to see it at our recent 2018 Stearns Family Reunion. I loved it! Very beautiful and very charming. She plans to add more leaves (perhaps real pressed ones) and I look forward to seeing it then. She is very good and I am honored she chose to use my photograph.

I share this photo here with the artist's blessing.

Thank you Ellen!

(It looks much better in person!)

If someone wants to use one of my photographs as a reference photo, just ask. I will probably say yes. But the important thing to do is ask. It is the right and legal thing to do.

I have asked people in the past and have been granted permission. Some of them I used and when I do, I give them the credit for the image. Some are still in folders awaiting when I get to them.

I have also used multiple elements of different photos to create my own work, but by the time I am done, they are changed so much they are ‘mine.’

I confess that when I first began painting, I used a few images of people (such as Janis Joplin and Helena Bonham Carter) and did not ask permission. For this reason… the work (aka as ‘Fan Art’) will never be available for sale. They stay in personal collections. But, as much as I can, I prefer to use my own images as reference photos for my own artwork.



I haven’t been painting much lately but now that I have more time I am getting ready to begin again. And, since I have been focusing on photography the last couple of years, I have plenty of my own photos. Should be fun!