Reference Photos

Stuck for painting ideas? Then this section is definitely for you. We have several themed photo sets taken by members that could inspire you to paint a masterpiece, so what are you waiting for?

If you have good pictures to contribute, the ideal size of the original is 1024 x 768 pixels, in themed sets of 6 – 12 photos. Whilst copyright remains with the owner, members have permission to use them as painting references.

But, ever since photography was invented painters have used photos as an aid to their painting. But the emphasis must be on ‘reference’, as in ‘refer to’, not as in ‘copy every detail’. Don’t slavishly copy only one photo, use it as a starting point. Ideally use a set of reference photos. At some stage, put the photos aside and let the painting take on a life of its own. Remember, they’re reference photos. Roger

Waves on the Beach, Scotland

Soft light on a balmy summer’s evening at Dunbar, E. Lothian.

North Sea, Surf, blue sea

You can almost hear that surf

Who said the North Sea can never be blue?

The North Sea can be so blue

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Examine the darks under the waves

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Could this make a good painting?

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Shimmer and sheen


Sepia tones

Sepia tones – ideal for watercolour?

Markets & Street Scenes, Costa Del Sol, Spain

By contrast the strong Spanish sun brings out vivid colours with deep, violet-blue shadows (sol y sombre); plenty of potential here for some vibrant acrylics.

Look for the violet-blue shadows

Riot of colour in the Spanish sun

Spanish street market, mercado, Fruit stall in the sun

Costa Del Sol market stall

Mijas pueblo, bougainvillaea,  Spanish village, Andalucia


Spanish Market

Plenty of market atmosphere to paint

Old Town, Marbella

Old Town, Marbella

Street Cafe, Old Town

Street Cafes, Old Town

Marbella, Old Town

Quiet corner of Marbella

Tropical Gardens, Spain
The photos are from La Concepcion Botanical Gardens, Malaga. Plants from around the world grow here, check the website:

Date palm. pictures of date palms

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Reflections on St. Katherine’s

The placid waters of St. Katherine’s Dock, London, provide a perfect haven for quiet reflection away from the frenzy of City life. The ideal place to sit and paint, or we could always work from photos. Website:

St Katherines Docks London

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What the Dickens?

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photos of st katherines dock London

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Autumn Tints

Some reminders of last Autumn here in Essex and Kent. You could paint some attractive loose watercolours from these; deep shadows painted in subtle complementary violet-blues could make a painting really ‘sing out’.

Maple Leaf, Autumn

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Autumn at Dover College

Langdon Hills

Plenty of colours to find here

Note the shadow colours

Silver birch and Autumn tints

Langdon Hills

Autumn cherry tree

Embankment and Trafalgar Square, London
You can probably work out when these were taken – suitable for some dramatically-lit or sepia-toned watercolours?

Waterloo Bridge


Big Ben

Somerset House, London

Trafalgar Square fountains

Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column

Collonade, Courtauld Gallery, London


Trafalgar Square fountain

Nelsons Column