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Stepping back

One thing I try to do fre­quently when paint­ing (and don’t do quite fre­quently enough) is to step back about ten feet and look at it. It’s a good idea to do that at least every few min­utes. By step­ping back, you pull your­self away from focus­ing on the pas­sage you’re work­ing on right now and look at how all the parts relate to the whole. You see mis­takes in pro­por­tion, sym­me­try, form, com­po­si­tion, color, and value. You see, lit­er­ally, the big pic­ture. And you work the kinks out of your back.

If you can’t remem­ber to do this, then force it. Keep your palette 10 feet behind you so you have to step away. Keep the paint­ing next to the thing you are paint­ing, so you have to step back to a sta­tion point to see the view that you are paint­ing. Or set a kitchen timer to go off every five min­utes. What­ever you need to do to make your­self step away often is a worth­while exercise.

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  1. Matthew says

    Keep­ing an object in between your­self and the paint­ing helps as well. Once I started using a French easel I real­ized I was always get­ting too close and pick­ing over details before it was needed. It’s a hard habit to break but well worth the effort.

    Another big help. Don’t choke up on your brushes, the han­dles are long for a rea­son use them to your advantage.

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