A Lesson Learned
Everyone has heard the carpenter saying “measure twice, cut once.” I believe that the same analogy applies to artists when they begin a new painting. Not necessarily cutting but certainly measuring. Getting the perspective and the drawing correct is certainly one of the most important steps.
Without following these all-important steps, everything is off right from the beginning.
I recently learned that the hard way with an oil painting of Reno, a beautiful rescued Greyhound. The painting was a gift for two special people. I started early enough and had plenty of time to finish it. So why did I rush? Was it the excitement of tackling a new subject matter for me?
Perhaps I should start by offering a definition of perspective: it is the technique used to represent a three-dimensional world (what we see) on a two-dimensional surface (a piece of paper or canvas) in a way that looks realistic and accurate, as we see it in its natural state. And then of course there is the accuracy of your drawing.
Have you ever gotten into the beginning steps of your painting and realized that something was off? Maybe the eyes were too far apart or the entire head was just wrong, leaving you looking at your painting in total frustration. Now you realized that you made a big mistake and going back to fix your drawing is going to be a massive hassle. Why were the eyes so far apart? Why was his head longer than I envisioned? His head is tilted a lot more in the reference photo than on the canvas. Oh my –was I off that much? OK – let’s fix it. Get out a straightedge and start making vertical and horizontal lines on your reference photo and then apply them to your painting on the easel. Why didn’t I do this in the first place.
So how does one go about measuring correctly? The idea is to compare two distances on the subject matter (often a horizontal distance, such as the eyes) to find a relationship between the two and apply that same relationship to the drawing. My studio muse always tells me (in capital letters) to measure extensively at first until it becomes a natural part of the process. And as your accuracy improves with practice, you’ll see how helpful measuring can be .
I have always been more comfortable painting landscapes in either oil or pastel, but once in a while I like to challenge myself by painting something out of my comfort zone. With that challenge in front of me I am inspired to greater heights and better artwork. I am proud of the work that I have completed thus far with several paintings shown and juried into numerous exhibitions receiving Merit and Juror’s awards accordingly.
I invite you to visit the Main Street Artists Studio and Gallery at the Hungerford Building (www.mainstreetartistsgallery.com) to view my work and the artwork of my fellow talented artists. The friends that I have made in this studio, and the endless support that I receive from my associates, inspire me to continue creating great art.
˗ Gabriele Lodder