What is the use of trying to capture something that is FLEETING? The curve of a hip before the model moves, the cast shadow of a tree before the light dies, the clouds swimming across the sky...
Impermanence is integral to passion. Motivation. Freshness. Longing to capture that moment before it is gone forever. Feeling something.
How does working with a temporal imperative compare to drawing or painting from photographs? Photos are already two-dimensional abstractions of our tangible world. Many artists use photos for reference but to copy a photo can be shallow mimicry. It is very difficult to render dimensionally starting from a flat image. You must train in observing physical realities as well. Bad photographs are probably the best to work from. Then you have to meet it somewhere. Avoid being spoon-fed.
If you have to copy something, try copying drawings and paintings that inspire you. This sort of observation will allow you to get into the mind of the artist, simultaneously building skills and your aesthetic direction.
The best training for SEEING is attempting to catch the gesture in physical phenomenon. It is a workout that builds strength and stamina. Genuine growth happens here. Lately this has manifested for me in doing small gouache "meditations" plein air. Most are tiny, (3"x4") and I can do multiple studies in a day. I never photograph the location. I only take away my impression in paint.
In the studio, these translate into larger paintings based on memory and the incidental painterly effects that happen when working quickly outdoors in water-based media. Having a photo of the site and referring to it knocks the wind out of the memory, encapsulating it into some sort of truth. Paint contains mystery and room for improvisation.
Until next week...try and capture something fleeting and notice how it feels. CREATE.