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Grey Cross Studios
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Artists Eyes Deceive

The human eye, especially when working closely with something tends to see the overall composition and glance over the details. We do this in life all the time. We take in the broad view and miss the tiny flaws. I am sure there is a medical term for this, but for the sake of this article, it really doesn't matter what its called.

Artists benefit from this because when the average person views a piece of art they take in the whole composition first and may never even scrutinize the details.

But for an artist, perfection is important and overcoming the obstacle of this "broad view" habit is difficult. I will give you an example.

On a recent sculpture I had drawn some guidelines across the front to help me keep things straight. The material I was using was porous and when I'd drawn the lines with a fine point pen I hadn't realized that they had indented the material just slightly. When I went to paint the composition, I did not even realize that the guidelines could still be seen even after the painting was finished. My eye, already used the guidelines being present, just chose to gloss right over them even at the stage where they shouldn't be showing anymore (damn my eyes). It wasn't until I had photographed the piece for a Work in Progress photo that suddenly these darned lines came barreling out of the photograph. How the hell hadn't I noticed them before? Thankfully the solution was an easy fix once it was brought to my attention.

But that is just the point. Sometimes we need the photograph to allow us to look at the work in a totally different way. I might well have noticed the lines at some point, but I might have never noticed them and cursed myself out later when someone brought them to my attention.

For the artist, details such as this are crucial to what we do. It can make the difference between a great piece and a mediocre piece.

I photograph every single piece I create from the start to the finish. At every stage of development I snap a quick shot and I analyze it and then the image goes up online for others to see the development and allow other artists to follow the steps in its creation.

It takes a little more time doing it this way but the benefits are many. Not only does it allow me to look at a piece of work from another perspective, but it gives me a lifetime record of the piece. Even once it sells I still have a file that shows me every step and every angle. If I forget something (which I inevitably do) then I can look back at the files. It also serves as a verification of who made the piece.

I know some artists say "I don't have a camera good enough for this". It doesn't matter if you are using the crappiest camera out there. If you have some way to document your work, DO IT.

Sure where it comes to posting photos for a portfolio you want the best images available. But this isn't about the final images (which I will also discuss sometime). This is about the inner workings of your creation. Whether its a painting, a sculpture, a collage, etc., you are missing a major step in your art if you are only photographing it only at the end of its creation.

Make this a habit. It will make you a better artist.


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