Seeing Your Art in a New Perspective

Last week I posted about Getting Feedback on Your Art. While getting feedback is essential to artist growth, it isn’t always a possibility. This week I’m going to cover what you can do to improve your art if you know something is off but either don’t have the time or ability to reach out to get feedback on your artwork. These are some tips and tricks that I’ve found helpful. Be warned, you may find more errors than you expect when using these methods, especially the last two. Don’t get discouraged! Seeing your errors and working to improve them is all part of the learning process.

  • Take a break. Despite your deadline find time to take a shower, get a snack, stretch and walk around your house, or even put the piece down for the night. Whatever you choose to do isn’t as important as getting some space from the piece. When I get really invested in a piece I tend to work on it long after I stop really seeing it. This causes me to make unnecessary mistakes and to frequently overwork pieces. Due to this I try to take a 5 minute break every hour or so (difficult as it is!) by setting an alarm and going to get water, play with my cat, step outside, etc. This allows me to come back to the piece with a fresh set of eyes and allows for me to assess the piece from a more open perspective.
  • When working on a piece for a longer span of time than a day or two I find that I get use to seeing it. This can be a problem when I need to work on a piece for a few weeks and can feel it slowly going off course but not being able to pinpoint how. To see a piece from a different perspective I’ll prop it up, stand back, and walk around the front of it. Seeing the piece from a different distance and angle can help see the piece as a whole instead of only being able to see the details. This can help with seeing how the composition works as a whole, how the lighting is balanced, and how the color usage is coming across.
  • Another trick that I’ve found is to take the piece to the bathroom (provided it is small enough) and look at it in the mirror. If this doesn’t work for you taking a picture of the piece and mirroring it in Photoshop will do the same thing. Looking at a piece reflected in the mirror will cause your brain to see your piece in a new, fresh way instead of a familiar way. Because of this you will be able to see compositional or proportional errors that you may have overlooked.
  • Similarly to using a mirror, flipping your picture upside down will help your brain register the piece in a new way. Seeing an image upside down allows your brain to perceive the image as a group of parts instead of as a whole, which can be especially helpful for faces. Because of this fresh viewpoint it is much easier to pinpoint what is off and how you can fix it.

 

Did I leave anything out? Let me know if I should add something to the list by commenting on my Facebook Page.

Getting Feedback on Your Art

As you may have seen a few weeks ago on my Instagram feed, my husband spotted an error in one of my pieces. Thankfully he caught it in time and I was able to fix it before it became a more difficult problem. This is one of the reasons that I LOVE frequent peer reviews and critiques. It is always helpful to have a second set of eyes to look at a piece and tell you what is off. Usually I find that I’ve been looking at something for too long and can feel that something isn’t right but can’t really place a finger on what it is. This is where critiques come into play.

For critiques I’ve found a few helpful sources.

  • One is my grandma. Back in the day she worked as nurse in a hospital. She has always loved all things medical so while she hasn’t worked as a nurse for a long time it is still at the forefront of her mind. I know that if something isn’t right proportionally or anatomically she will spot it pretty quickly. She is who I turn to with most of my character studies or complex illustrations where the person doesn’t feel quite right. Since my grandma is not practical to be used as a resource I’d recommend finding and befriending someone who is trained and familiar with the human anatomy. This can really be a HUGE asset to both beginners and experienced artists when working with the figure.
  • Another resource that I’ve found helpful is local art groups. I’m terrible at keeping up with them and getting out of my house but when I do it has always been a fantastic experience. To find your own group check out Facebook art groups or even your local galleries to see what events are going on around you. Most cities are teaming with groups of artists who are in your area who like to meet up, discuss art, and hang out. By engaging with local artists you will make connections, learn new skills, as well as be able to get necessary feedback on your work when the time comes. These groups are especially helpful when it comes to critiques on composition, lighting, and color use.
  • Ask a friend. If you can’t meet up with an artist friend/group and can’t seem to figure out what is wrong with your piece, ask a friend. Even someone who isn’t trained in art can usually point out pretty big  errors in your work. My husband has notoriously shocked me with what he has pointed out in my pieces (like the time I drew the wrong food on a leg. That was an embarrassing day) when I get too caught up in my work.
  • When all else fails, ask an online community. I personally feel it is best to get critiques in person since communication is a lot more clear and direct and the artwork is always slightly different when scanned in vs seen in person. However, when all else fails or when you have a SUPER short deadline this is a surefire way to find help. I’ve used the forums on DeviantArt, Facebook illustration groups, and the Forums at SVS Learn to get feedback on my work. Depending on the level of the group you may get some really in depth feedback on your piece and how to improve it.

Where do you go for critiques? Were any of these ideas useful to you? Let me know on my Facebook page!