I always draw from a reference photo that I have taken myself. I like the whole process of creating a still life. I enjoy selecting the objects and setting it up and choosing the colors and lighting. But no matter how many photos I take I always end up changing the final composition in some way or another.
For example “Wine Time” Photo One is the Reference Photo. This photo was taken on a screened-in porch in front of a field stone fireplace in late afternoon. As you can see the Reference Photo and the Final Artwork are not identical. A few changes were made in the final drawing. For example, I thought that the vine needed a few more flowers, it looked a little sad, so I added five new morning glories to the vine and brightened up the green color. I removed the porch railing on the right side and created a wooded garden background. I added some color to the stone backdrop. I also added a punch of color to all of the food items on the tray. The pattern and color of the fabric was also altered to make it more attractive.
To me the reference photo is not a map but a subtle guide. It makes suggestions but I seldom listen to them. Once the line drawing is laid down I look at it and make decisions on the composition as a whole. Then it’s time for creativity to take the wheel to see where we go.