Learn From The Masters—Create A Database Of Traditional Art

I was working on some painterly textures yesterday and started thinking about paintings. As photo artists, we are often—as R Christopher Vest said in a previous post—Neo-Pictorialists. What better place to take our inspiration from than the master painters? This may seem self-evident, but really take it on as if you are researching a term paper. A term paper that you will research for the rest of your life. I suggest creating a database of art inspirations. When I was at University, my theatre make-up professor suggested we keep what he called an Image Morgue. A Morgue in this case is a file of photographs, drawings, anything that you can use to draw upon for inspiration or reference.

I’ve carried this useful practice forward in my work. When I was a professional hand-colorist, I had a file folder of tear sheets, postcards, etc. Now that I’m a digital artist, I keep a digital file of inspirations and references. Look at lighting, color, composition, texture and saturation. Look at highlights and shadow!

I’ve pulled some images from the Wikimedia Commons for your inspiration today. The Wikimedia Commons is a great place to find inspiration! If you haven’t started already, start your art Morgue.


Maurice Quentin de La Tour, Marie Fel

Marie Fel

Maurice Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704-1788), Autoportrait au jabot de dentelle

Maurice Quentin de La Tour

Rembrandt 1606–1699, Self-portrait

Yury Pen, Portrait of Marc Chagall

Yury Pen

John Singer Sargent, Eleanora Duse

John Singer Sargent, Eleanora Duse


Charles Daubigny , Crepiscule
Charles Daubigny - Crepúsculo

ALFRED SISLEY, Louveciennes

ALFRED SISLEY Louveciennes

Johan Barthold Jongkind, Zondondergang bij Overschie.

Johan Barthold Jongkind

Armand Guillaumin, La Place Valhubert

Guillaumin LaPlaceValhubert

Winslow Homer, Gloucester Harbor

Winslow Homer

Still Life

Henri Fantin-Latour

Henri Fantin-Latour 003

Henri Fantin-Latour

Henri Fantin-Latour 004

Emilie Preyer Still Life of Fruit

By Emilie Preyer Creator:Emilie Preyer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pierre Dupuis, Basket of Plums

By Pierre Dupuis Creator:Pierre Dupuis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Claude Monet Pêches

Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Update: Use Pinterest boards!

One Response to Learn From The Masters—Create A Database Of Traditional Art

  1. Chris Lord November 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    I’ve kept and added to an Art Morgue for years. It uses a couple of terabytes of hard drive space these days. It’s always fun to sit back and listen to music while running a random slide show or looking at specific sections of the morgue. It includes every type of art imaginable I just never thought of it as a morgue before. I like that term.
    Chris Lord recently posted..American Habitat

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