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Author Topic: How much detail should you add to your paintings?  (Read 2717 times)

nolan

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on: July 10, 2010, 04:29:34 PM
In a painting detail is of minor importance, even if you do not think so in the beginning. What is of great importance, however, is the masses (colour and tones) in the painting, and the size and distribution of each. Let me show how you are able to quickly grasp the principle of masses. Look at a scene (or a painting) in front of you. What you see is all the colours and the detail. Now half close (squint) your eyes, and notice how the details disappear and change into blobs or masses of colour. You have just learned how to master your painting! NEVER get bogged down with details; learn to manipulate the masses first. Detail (finishing touches) can come later.

Half closing your eyes during painting sessions is a very good habit to learn. If you find yourself saying "My painting looks terrible!" or "This area in my painting looks a mess!", use this technique to keep yourself focused on the masses.

If you still aren't happy, then take the painting and put it into an "encourager" (an old frame) and stand back from the painting. The "encourager" pulls the scene together, and the distance reduces the details to masses and paradoxically, the "mess" into details!

Always keep in mind the normal viewing distance of the painting is usually much farther back than the distance you are painting at, so it is pointless to add fine detail that dissapears when you view it at normal distance. This is a common problem among painters. If you forget to stand back or half close your eyes while painting you end up 'fiddling'. When you then stand back you can't see the detail and then you try and bolden it. In the end you just end up with an overworked painting.

This is why smokers make better painters (not really, so please don't start  <!-- s:D -->:D<!-- s:D -->  <!-- s:confused: -->:confused:<!-- s:confused: --> ), they tend to stand up and take a smoke break every now and again giving themselves the chance relax and observe what they have painted. If you don't smoke, take a tea break every now and again and just sit back and enjoy what you have painted. By the time your tea is finished you will know where you need more detail and where you have enough.

A general rule to remember with detail is that it is to be used as finishing touches only at the focal point in your painting.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2010, 03:00:01 PM by dennis »


Val

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Reply #1 on: November 09, 2010, 02:31:48 PM
Food for serious thought.  :think: If this works..I'll clean your brushes for life!  :not_worthy: The gnashing of teeth could finally stop.
You two Clark boys think of everything! You give us so much to think about and then right out of the blue appear with the answer to a problem that has been festering for ages. Here's to you both :beer: sorry about the beer..pauper's budget!  :cost:
Cheers, Val

”Creativity is allowing yourselves to make mistakes. Work on knowing which ones to keep!”

- Alvaro Castagnet


nolan

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Reply #2 on: November 10, 2010, 12:00:20 AM
take a look at one of our new member's websites, Bottleman, he has perfected the art of simplification beautifully.


Val

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Reply #3 on: November 10, 2010, 01:22:21 AM
Will do, thankyou.
Cheers, Val

”Creativity is allowing yourselves to make mistakes. Work on knowing which ones to keep!”

- Alvaro Castagnet


Susan

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Reply #4 on: August 01, 2011, 04:58:18 AM
Geez, and here I was thinking 'the devil's in the detail'!!  :'(  This is excellent advice, and I do smoke and this does give me a chance to go away from it cos I smoke outside then come back and I can see then what needs to be done.  At the moment I'm trying to paint a kangaroo standing up on a small canvas but he looks more like quasimodo.   :blush:  I couldn't figure out whether to draw the outline first, which I did, or just start with the ears... I sometimes pour out too much paint so choose some photos then do two or three backgrounds on the canvases first then alternate as this gives each coat time to dry as well but maybe I should just do one painting at a time I don't know.   :-\

I couldn't fidn the 'ask the artist' thread and I looked everywhere so I'll ask here.  What am I supposed to do with the small wooden things that come with the canvases?  So far they've gone in the bin but if I need to do something with them would someone kindly let me know... thank you!  :painting:
To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.  ~Schumann


Susan

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Reply #5 on: August 01, 2011, 06:18:40 AM
LOL Sara!!!!!!!   :2funny:  You're too funny!  My problem is that I don't have to squint my eyes, they're like that anyway!!!   :2funny:
To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.  ~Schumann


Val

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Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 04:27:00 AM
Hi Susan... I wanted to try a kangaroo a while ago... so thought I'd try sketching one first. My proportion of head to body was way off but I'll try another one at some point. Will have to check and see if I posted it.
Cheers, Val

”Creativity is allowing yourselves to make mistakes. Work on knowing which ones to keep!”

- Alvaro Castagnet


Susan

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Reply #7 on: August 02, 2011, 05:35:14 AM
I'd love to see your kangaroo Val!  They're not as easy as they look!  I just take some photos from an old Australian wildlife magazine I found in a op shop.  The one I'm doing now is.. well.. he still looks like quasimodo and I spent some time trying to fix him today to no avail so really I ought to have tried to sketch him first but didn't want to mess up my background.. so instead I've messed up my roo...  :'(  He's short and fat instead of tall and slender but I'll not beat myself up, he's on a very small canvas and these are really just my practice pieces so I'll post him up here on Friday.  There's not a lot more I can do with him now really as the basic shape is already there but the shading from the photo is almost impossible for me to duplicate.  I can't understand why a human looks at one thing and can't put that same thing down on paper or canvas or whatever, I mean it really should be a lot easier you know...  :eek:
To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.  ~Schumann


nolan

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Reply #8 on: August 02, 2011, 12:53:25 PM
you could always use one of the transfer methods like the grid to get the proportions correct  :whistle:


Susan

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Reply #9 on: August 04, 2011, 06:01:48 AM
 :whistle: .....   :2funny:  That smilie cracks me up, it speaks volumes!!!  Yes Nolan, you are so right, I need to get more diciplined and have more patience, I just want to paint know what I mean, I can't be doing with all this messing around beforehand...  ::)  But it's true, if one wishes to do something right then you have to do some preparation!  Mmmm...  I need to study more and.. er.. go back to your vids... Thanks for the advice, I do appreciate it very much.  I haven't had a chance to paint today or yesterday so I'm putting Saturday aside.. grid system.. now what video is that?  I'll go have a look now...  :coffee:
To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.  ~Schumann


Val

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Reply #10 on: August 04, 2011, 10:52:18 AM
Hey Susan... I didn't see the roo in my drawings folder, so I'm guessing I haven't uploaded it. Will do that when I get a computer of my own. Boy do I miss it.
Cheers, Val

”Creativity is allowing yourselves to make mistakes. Work on knowing which ones to keep!”

- Alvaro Castagnet


Destry

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Reply #11 on: August 12, 2011, 11:04:09 AM
 :yippee:  Yep I agree.  I have stopped painting when something is not right, and come to it later and voila, I "see" how to resolve it.  Great advise. :clap:


patindaytona

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Reply #12 on: November 21, 2011, 10:39:54 AM
Great advice Nolan.  I know I fiddle and overwork.   I also know I haven't been doing enough of the squinting or stepping back. I usually use kind of a averted vision. Not directly looking at the painting, but kind of off to a side (but can still see it in a semi abstract way). That is probably not the same as half closing the eyes though.
The moment you find yourself mostly satisfied with a painting and think you'll "just quickly" do this or that, that's the moment to stop completely. Take the painting off your easel and put it aside for at least 24 hours, then reassess whether it really needs that tweak.


patindaytona

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Reply #13 on: December 13, 2011, 08:49:52 AM
Geeze Val..you're ahead of me...look at the number of posts you have just below your icon.
The moment you find yourself mostly satisfied with a painting and think you'll "just quickly" do this or that, that's the moment to stop completely. Take the painting off your easel and put it aside for at least 24 hours, then reassess whether it really needs that tweak.


 

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