Process: Preparing a Reference Photograph

A great deal of my paintings are based on Cartes de Visite (CdV) from the 19th Century - the easiest way of thinking of these is Victorian trading cards, thin photographs mounted on something akin to illustration or mat board. CdVs were handed out like business cards and served as an early incarnation of social media. There were sometimes adornments like calligraphed signatures, foil stamps, or gold edges. The subjects look stoic and expertly coifed - a contrast to the current overabundance of casually snapped smartphone selfies. I roam around online until I locate a CdV that grabs my attention and then do some work in Photoshop, preparing the image for projection, pencil drawing transfer, and then painting.  Here's a quick glimpse at the Photoshop manipulation. The changes are subtle but I am always focused on eliminating unnecessary details without losing anything that anchors the portrait or skews it too far into abstraction.