Visual means visual! AAAA!

So I realized later in life that I am visual…I know, very not self-aware for a lot of years. Anyway, I am a visual-- so whenever I want to rearrange furniture for instance, I have to push it all around till I see what i like best.

I am better now at visualizing in my mind’s eye but still a lot of times I need to see it first. That’s true of backgrounds, sizing, composition on my art. So I usually work from a photo (groan from lots of you-I heard that.) And in Photoshop I approximate the size of canvas vs. the image and move it around to where it looks best.

But wait! There’s more. Then I print a low res image of what I think I am going to paint and tape it to the canvas and leave it because sometimes I think that’s great and look at it 1/2 hr later and hate it. :smiley: (No, I’m not crazy!)

It is time consuming but I def don’t want to throw away a painted image I really like that is in the wrong place on the canvas. My set ups are very basic, and I prefer only one thing on a canvas! Haha. Didn’t realize this was true until I started this thread. See? Still not too self aware!!

Anyway, my process is time consuming. Anyone have the same problem? Shortcut?

We all have our peccadillos and compulsions, and that determines how our work is going to develop. I don’t much care about painting textures and details, but if I get the lines and shapes wrong then the negative spaces are wrong and the entire painting makes me nuts. So my methods address the things that drive me nuts. Your mileage may vary.

I often work from photos-- my studio is open, and I have people walking by fairly regularly, so this works well for me. I have to compensate for dynamic range in the darks and lens distortions, while painting from life I end up with an average of the conditions over the time I’m painting-- I’m not going to get all insecure about which is truer. I generally work from a computer in the studio, and I’ll often superimpose a big grid to help avoid those shape and line problems mentioned above. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for others-- I don’t really like the dimness of the screen and problems with ambient light affecting the screen image. But it is so convenient to stockpile and organize a number of edited reference photos and get to work quickly. I’d be tempted to work from more printed images if I could keep a color printer in good working order, but I was spending more time unclogging the ink jet printer than I did painting.

It sounds a bit like you need to spend a while getting comfortable with a composition before painting. I guess my equivalent is that I stockpile a bunch of edited reference photos and I look through them quickly in order to see what appeals to me that day. Looking at them a lot over time, I may figure out that I want to tighten up a composition-- I almost always have included too much in the image, so I generally have to crop down. I don’t really have any shortcuts, except maybe have more than one image in the pipeline and go with the one that appeals in the moment. Eventually go back to the ones that never appeal, and figure out why.



Thanks Nat! I visualized your post!

I am quicker than I used to be, just through having more experience and I don’t mind not going faster-it just helps the bottom dollar that way. :slight_smile:

As long as you are printing and testing on the canvas before you begin, try printing two…one of the original image, and one a reverse of the image. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided the composition looks better in reverse, it also helps me identify composition issues.

Absolutely @lindamccoyart! I was late to learn that myself. I don’t think I do it often enough still.

Another tip is to make it grayscale to see if it holds up. If I took my time with these steps, I would never get a thing painted! Because if I hurry through - it hurts the painting in the end. The paintings I like most are the ones I really took my time setting up.

For me, there is no shortcut to seeing it then letting it sit for a while and reevaluating again before I commit. I know I will get quicker with these steps but there may be no replacement for learning the basics! I think I skipped over some and like a kindergartner, I end up having to repeat the ‘class’ in subsequent paintings.

I am my worst critic though…so I will cut myself a break now and then. :smiley:

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Composition is so important. I too use photos for reference (it seems to have become the norm) too. Sometimes it’s 5 reference photos for one painting, a sky from one, foreground from another, etc. It’s just practical since I’m inside most days and can not practically work on site although that is my preference many times. I have a day job like many. I’d like to avoid the photography becoming a crutch however. Major difference between a photo reference and life.
Reversing the image is pretty much like the, “look at it in the mirror” trick which I use sometimes or the turn it upside down trick.

Working with photos I find I am perfectly willing to work upside down sideways and or right side up. It’s all the same if I’m working with photos.

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It’s amazing how our eyes or brains can trick us! If I can’t find a solution to something that bothers me about anything on a painting, turning it upside down and usually can spot it right away! I guess it depends on how much we trained our brains to overlook something. It becomes automatic and we have to learn to ‘see’ again. :slight_smile:

When I am doing a still life I often take a photo of it with my ipad and put it up on the screen on the other side of my easel. That way I have both the original and a photo from the fixed point of view that I chose to paint from.

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