|Photo by Tina Jones "Headless Burrow"|
Using photos as a reference. If it's not believable in the photo, it won't be believable in paint. This particular photo is an extreme situation to show how "off" something can look. The rear burro turned his head to nibble/scratch at his far side just as I snapped the photo, and now appears headless. If I wanted to shock scare people, I'd paint it as is. If not, I'd use another photo.
I take ten to twenty reference photos for each subject, because people and animals move, light changes and what looks normal at a glance may not upon later inspection.
These are some questions I encourage you to ask yourself about your reference photos. Be critical of them. I use reference photos as a sort of shopping list of what I'd like in my painting, taking what I like and leaving the rest. Following is a quick, loose sketch to show how I chose to place the burro on my canvas.
Burro Composition Sketch in Acrylic