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Little Things Make a Big Difference

Artists know that before they consider a painting done, they often need to give it time to rest, to germinate.  Put it aside for a week, then look at it and see if you still think it’s done.  Turn it upside down, does it need anything?  The last thing I do before declaring a painting done, is scan it into the computer.  When I look at it on the screen, I see it differently.  Often, my reaction is, “OMG, how did I miss that?!”

In this latest example, I knew Lightning still needed work, but wasn’t quite sure what to do. Looking at it on the screen, what was needed became immediately obvious.

Lightning, original

Lightning, original



I had to dramatically tone down the three strong blue strokes in the bottom right corner.  My eye just kept going there and stopping. Not only were they way too strong for the rest of the painting, not only were they way too strong in the bottom half of the painting (a Frank O’Cain no-no), but they were also the same width (another Frank no-no).  In my defense, I originally painted this vertically [the three blue strokes were originally in the upper right corner].  But when I decided I liked it better horizontally, fixing those blue strokes was no longer an option;  it became mandatory.

My next example is a painting I’m calling Gnats.

Gnats, original

Gnats, original


















Just looking at the painting, I knew the orange block in the center was too strong.  So I blotted and softened it. But the computer image told me I also had a problem with the repetitive blue brushstrokes.   First I toned down the bent blue stroke in the center left area (the model’s leg).  That was better, but now the repetition in the blue strokes on the right side bothered me.  So I blotted and blurred those.

Now the painting is much better balanced.  My eye moves around the painting without being held too strongly in any one place.

Isn’t it amazing what relatively little changes can do?  Amazing also that it was the scanned image that enabled me to see most clearly what each painting needed.

Posted by ruthhurd on December 20, 2012

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