I came across an opinion that I've seen in quite a few places before and in quite a few circumstances so I thought I'll open up a debate.
There is an opinion that tracing a reference or color picking from images or even referring to something is 'not good' for development. I've come across quite a few people who'll state that they did not use any reference at all, or they would not trace but only draw looking at a reference image because that'll make them better.
Generally promoting the hard way and scoffing at the easy way.
I'd like to contest this stance.
I've never painted with real oils, I only use oil paint digitally. But I've used a pencil in both real life and virtual. I recently came across a digital pencil that I absolutely loved and actually enjoy using it now even though whatever little training I had in my youth was in traditional medium and they always stressed upon doing it the hard way.
Now, I see both sides of the story and have come to a kind of understanding that all that is required is to find an optimal way to arrive at a desired result, whatever the methodology may be.
There is nothing sacrosanct about what the master artists did as long as one can understand wat they were trying to do and employ it in one's own way.
A computer program that lets you paint oils is quite a few notches above
a lead pencil on paper which is a far cry from marks scratched out on cave walls with coals and if we follow the philosophy of not using new tools made available to us by the way of technology we ought to revert back to the stone age or before that even.. isn't it?
We all are trying to emulate natural medium on a computer are we not? then why do artistes from the old school of thought (including me) have such a scoffing attitude towards the new tools that aid us in our endeavors?
After all to be able to make a drawing without tracing colors/lines is just a skill, of observation and reapplication of the observation, so, is art only about the skill then?
I have also been one of those who would at one time or the other feel that any dependence on 'devices' was , well, 'below the dignity' of the true artist until I realized that it was rubbish! What is the true threshold of art then?
Oh sure, if someone can do without those devices great, wonderful, clap clap clap, but let us not look down upon those that use them, because it is human nature to design/employ every thing possible to our advantage, and tracing colors or images is just a very small bit of that. It is what you trace and what you do afterward that becomes important isn't it?
Is there a reason to reinvent the wheel every time?
If someone traces, or picks colors it does not remain art?
What utter rubbish!
Of course it is art, because only the artist who put it together can do it that way, with whatever goodness/faults.
Oh sure, it means it'll take a few decades more for the individual to develop the 'skill' to pull out colors instead of picking them from the image or draw the form unaided, but frankly I don't think it will be missed, because are we not using a popular 'software' to churn out images (that are probably going to sell for pittance compared to what most things in galleries sell at because it is 'digital', if at all you're interested in selling them/ or this is your main occupation.) Me, I'm just here to have some kicks 'pretending' that I paint! And whatever gives me that satisfaction of seeing an image come to life under my virtual brush is good enough for me. If I wanted to be Michelangelo I'd have aimed to be born a few centuries earlier.
I have come across this ideology elsewhere too where traditionalists will resist the change to newer mediums. I think it is wiser to embrace the change instead of resisting it. We have a device that can make our task easier, I'd rather use it unless I don't require it.
If not using me make me more optimal to perform then by all means I'll not use it. ( I don't use the calculator to add 2+2) but if using it makes any difference to my productivity I'm sure as hell not only using it I'm going to try and master using it!!
But then you might believe in not using the calculator to multiply or drive an automobile or use electricity..!
All this is of course my opinion and completely open to debate.