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Splendid Peacock

I so enjoy painting this beautiful bird in watercolor! This is the fourth one I have created over the past 25 years, and I have reached the point with him, as I often do, of asking

Is It Done?

As you work on a new painting, you become very enmeshed with it, intertwined with its creation, its subject, the process…you can lose almost all objectivity. You can take it to the pinnacle of perfection only to look at it the next painting session and say NOT THERE. And worse yet, you can add a bit more, a little bit here and there and Ugh! It is overdone!!!!! In watercolor this is a special danger, as all water colorists know.

Through research, talking with other artists, and my own ideas, here are some ways you can access if your painting is indeed done.

  1. Take the painting way across the room, walk away, turn around, wait a few minutes and then turn and look at it. You may see it with a different eye, see perfection or see a glaring area of need.
  2. Turn the painting upside down and then repeat the above process. This can help with compositional flaws, dark/light balance problems, color needs.
  3. Take the painting into the bathroom or any area with a decent sized mirror and hold it up to the mirror. You will see it reflected backwards, and be able to look at it with a new objectivity. This can really help.
  4. Put the work across the room, walk away and block out the left side with your hand. Analyze what you see there. Bland? Too busy? Not enough dark, light, detail, etc…? Then do it to the right side. This can help too.
  5. Use your camera to take a pic, then adjust it to a black and white image. b-and-w-fbDoing this can really help you with color values; you can see where it pops, see where it is boring, see how the dynamics match what you want for your work.
  6. Ask a friend or family member for an opinion of your work. This is really helpful at first, people who care for you will offer their genuine ideas about your painting. Unfortunately after the first 50 times you ask them, it gets old, they get less objective too, this is your thing, ultimately, not theirs.
  7. Set up an alliance with a fellow artist. This is a biggie. You critique for them, they critique for you. Invaluable! Of course you will differ. Of course you may not agree all the time. But a person who knows artistic principles and what you are trying to accomplish and convey with your work can be exceedingly helpful. Be a good art friend to have one.

So there you have it, my best ideas to help you help yourself. I have been through 1 – 5 already, time to bounce this one off of my friends and my artist buddy.

Hope my blog writing helps you!