Now...this whole idea did not come without it's....erm....unique issues. Luckily, having spent all of art-making career incredibly broke, I've sort of learned to MacGuyver things together to make reference photos. I'm not talking about making maquettes here, although that's a pretty great option if you're stuck, because, frankly, I can't afford to dish out Scupley money. And Sculpey isn't so great for BIG props. I needed a metal helmet for the reference, and although I have an ever-growing collection of hats (ranging from Victorian top hats to 40's style stocking caps), I actually don't own any sort of helmet. Not even one of those Halloween, plastic Viking helmets I could pry the horns out of. What to do?
This is when you sit down and think through what exactly is involved with the prop you need. In my case? Metal + helmet shape. Well...tin foil is metal. And it's the right level of "shiny" as far as what I'm looking for, so there's that. And bowls are pretty helmet-shaped, right? All I'd have to do is "build" on a lip to make it look legit. Imagine my mother's surprise when she came home to find me rooting through her glass popcorn bowls, methodically trying each of them on head. Luckily, luckily, one sat on my noggin correctly and I figured if I only needed to wear it for a little while to get the photo, the whole "this is cutting off my circulation" problem wouldn't be TOO big a deal.
To make a long story short (too late), the picture above is actually me sitting with a tin-foil covered popcorn bowl on my head. It looks much less goofy in the painting, which is good news for us all.
The lesson? You don't need fancy, expensive props (most of the time-I'm not going to say always because I refuse to be held accountable for your results). With a little ingenuity, and a lot of patience, you can pretty much make anything you need for a painting. Provided, of course, you're not afraid of looking like a lunatic.