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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Take Another Look or Two Before You Sign

My day was laid out in black and white.

Fact: Got up and threw out my back making the bed. Ouch. So much for housework. So much for painting.

Fact: There were big storms coupled with tornado warnings in the area. Rain was pelting the windows and high winds threatened the electricity. So much for going out and about.

Jump to conclusion: It's a great opportunity to spend as much time as possible at the computer.

So, I decided to spend the day selecting family portraits for the dedication page of the blog book I'm putting together. I thought drawings would be more appropriate than text for a book about drawings. I thought they should all be black and white, I wanted the layout to be uniform. I needed to convert a few.

The Jasc photo album and Pro 8 are wonderful two-fold art tools. As soon as you download the photographs of the art, the weaknesses and the successes of the piece become obvious. Color values and their relationships stand out clearly telling you if the composition is balanced. Turn the work up side down,you can double check the composition. Convert the painting to black and white and the values are even more obvious. Get a mirror image and you can check out the accuracy of the drawing. If all checks out well, go back to the studio, sign the piece and walk away. If not, the photographs have clued you in to where work is needed.

The computer photographic programs are a fantastic aid to evaluating your art truthfully. The transformation from artwork to photograph of artwork removes you from the studio and places you in the darkroom with a different medium. The separation puts enough distance between you and the artwork to evaluate the work with a critical eye and a lot less emotion.

My portraits of Z.S.Roth, my grandson, were drawn from a particularly lousy, flat photograph,a school photograph that was taken without proper lighting equipment. It was one of my first attempts at portraiture--and it's tight. It's flat. And while I did splash in some watercolor months after I signed it to give it some sort of depth, depth is still missing in the head. Good drawing is missing too. I can see that from the mirror image. His head is lopsided. It needs more shaping and highlights in the hair on the right. The color value on the upper lip is too light. There's also a pencil slip on his nose that looks like a stray hair. This nana would like to remove it. About all I can say that's okay with this drawing is that I like my handling of the hooded sweat shirt. I can leave that alone.

I'm not going to discard this portraiture attempt, nor make the corrections. It's what I could do in 2008. Two years later, I am doing better. My computer photographic programs are a great partner. Through the blog and having to photograph something to show daily, I've learned to check out my work photographically throughout the drawing/painting process. The photographic perspective has helped to sharpen my eye, my skills and my work.


  1. Dear Linda, skills amaze me. I'm computer hopeless. One day, when I see you in person, please teach me. I'm serious.
    Kind regards, Sadami

  2. Thank you, but I have no big deal computer skills, I just know how to get around in Pictures and the two photo programs I have that help me see my paintings from other points of view without any emotions attached. I have Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album and Paint Shop Pro 8, I down loaded them a few years ago. In the old days, I would just stand my paintings upside down and also look at them through the mirror to check composition. I didn't have the advantage of being able to switch them to black and white to check color values. The computer is a great art tool. For my birthday I would like Photoshop--it's expensive I'm told, but has a lot to offer.

  3. Having a blog is great way to record one's work and progress. I like the drawing - you are your toughest critic :).
    I do like your process of scanning into the computer and checking... I still use the old method of mirrow, upside down etc.