Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fresh Eyes

Sometimes it's hard to see the problems in your own work. We get too close to it, look at it for so long that mistakes can look normal. Here are several tricks to get a fresh look at your work: We'll use a couple of N.C. Wyeth's paintings as examples. 
1. Look at it upside down or in a mirror:
Flipping it around may help you see your piece differently, especially when it comes to noticing big compositional shapes. A mirrored version often will show if you've tilted the composition or if you have some asymmetry problems with figures.
2. Look at it across the room:
"Get back from your work" was a constant refrain in my figure drawing classes. A little distance helps you see the piece as a whole, and look at in terms of composition or proportion, rather than getting caught up in the details. If you are working on the computer, you can also try zooming way out.
3. Squint:
If you look at your piece out of focus, it melds the details into the larger shapes, once again helping you focus on the larger elements of your piece. This is very helpful for checking your values.
4. Change it to black and white:
This one focuses on your value structure. If the values aren't strong your composition is probably suffering, or it may even be hard to "read" the image.
I hope these tips are helpful! I was reminded of the upside down trick by Art Director Cecilia Yung, who likes to check artist's designs that way.
Jen Betton writes and illustrates for children. Her debut author-illustrator book, HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG will be published by Putnam in 2018. She is also currently illustrating TWILIGHT CHANT for Clarion Books. You can find her work at
@jenbetton on Twitter on Facebook

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