One of the most challenging things for artists to do is to critique our own work and to do so objectively. With experience and hundreds of paintings under my belt, it does become easier, BUT after spending hours with a painting we cannot always see what needs to be done to communicate what we want it to say — the trees can be difficult to separate from the forest.
What do I do when I need to critique my work? Often I ask for input from people whom I trust will give me helpful criticism. Interestingly, sometimes seeing the image on the computer assists in seeing the painting differently. I will also create a black and white image of the painting via PhotoShop to evaluate the value patterns. Often, I turn a painting upside down on my easel.
During such a critique, I am asking questions such as: Do my colors work harmoniously? Does the eye to travel through the work as I want it to go? Do the dark values connect? Does my area of focus sing? etc.
In the two paintings I am showing here – “Segue,” and ” A View With a Room,” I wanted to achieve more drama in them and to make them more cohesive. Looking at them upside down assisted me in doing that.
|Before: By looking at “Segue” upside down, I see areas that are too light and that the lower area is not integrated with the main area of the painting.||After: As you compare this version with the left image you can notice a number of changes. This is the finished painting and you can compare it to the image on the right.||After Again: “Segue,” is finished and right side up! Does it look more integrated to you? (I see that I have line to level, oops!) 30×24, $1,595.00.|
Studying a painting upside down helps me to see the lights, the darks and the colors as shapes, and less like the subject or thing I am painting. I can also see and feel the rhythm of the work differently and determine what seems out of balance. (BTW, some artists are known to look at their paintings from the view of a center on a football team. Try it sometime!) Does it feel unnerving to look at the paintings upside down?
Before: With “A View With a Room,” I noticed that the dark values were not connected and contrasts are not as strong as I would like. The checkerboard was also too distracting.
After: Stronger contrasts were created in the vines and the spotlight, and I darkened the areas around the window. I also subdued the checkerboard. What do you think of the changes?
For fun, I turned several of my paintings upside down throughout my studio all at the same time; that made walking into the room a little disconcerting. I had never done that before. Hm-m-m-m, is there an exhibition idea in the making?
Would you look at a painting upside down?