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Monday, November 14, 2016

Viewing Your Art Through the Buyers Eyes

Artists can be very myopic. We micromanage every piece of art we create and we fuss over every single detail incessantly. We see whats in front of us, but sometimes we miss the bigger picture.

The simple fact is that this is not how others view our work. Think about it, when you see another artists work for the first time, do you see every little detail about that work? Or rather do you take in the wholeness of the piece, seeing it as a complete structure and not as a series of small brush strokes?

Sure you might nitpick it into the ground later, but for that first moment of viewing you are seeing the whole thing in its glory.

This is something that artists need to train themselves to do with their own work. If we see it only in terms of the small details then we rob ourselves of the joy of seeing it in a fresh way.

Take for instance a piece of art you created years ago and put away in a closet. Only to take it out again after a long period of time thinking to yourself, "wow, that wasn't too bad". For that moment you did not see any of the nagging little details you first saw when you originally created the piece. You only saw it for what it was. "Art".

It's okay to be anal about what we do. Its a skill we shouldn't lose because often its the tiny details that take our work from being just another painting and raise it to the level of an unforgettable masterpiece. But if that's all you see every time you look at your work then you are missing an essential skill needed to complete that work.

Some artists trick the mind by putting the work away for a time where they cannot see it. Others ask friends or colleagues to view the work and give opinions. This is why being involved in an art group or cooperative can be so important. Unfortunately since an art group is all artists, it can also backfire leading to the same nitpicking commentary that we do to ourselves.

I use three techniques. The first is called "The Open Door". It is the method of placing the piece of art center-most in my studio for a number of days and then leaving it alone. Basically training my brain to overlook it for a time. Then when I enter the studio fresh at the beginning of the work day I take it all in in one flash image where I try to see it as a guest would when entering the studio for the first time. I will even light it to lay it in a pool of brightness in an otherwise darkened studio, so its the first thing I see when I re-enter.

The second technique (and I've talked about this in previous posts) is the "Mental Flyover". This is done just before I fall asleep. If I am working on something I picture it in my mind and I literally fly over it and around it for a few moments. I often pick up on things I never noticed when I saw it in person. Something will stand out that my unconscious saw but my awake brain overlooked. But the other benefit is that it gives me a new perspective in which to view the piece. And because I am on the verge of sleep, I free my mind of being anal and view the work in a relaxed state of consciousness.

The third technique is my camera. Viewing a piece of work through the lens of a camera can be the most rewarding way to free the mind of biases against your work. By photographing it and then leaving those photos alone for 24 hours, I can see the work from a completely fresh perspective the next day. I see it as a whole piece and I see it from further back rather than right on top of it.

Renoir was famous for saying he never created a painting that was meant to be viewed up close. The line work took away from the magnificence he was attempting to achieve. This is true when we look to closely at anything. It takes away the magic and reveals the magicians tricks. If we train our mind to see our art as our audience sees it, we will forget for a moment our own tricks and see the illusion for what it truly is.

However you might go about it, it should be the last thing you do with any given piece of art. Consider it the last brush stroke on the piece you are creating. Don't be afraid to develop your own techniques for viewing your work through the buyers eyes. It may make the difference between a flawed piece of art and perfection because you might just catch that one thing which you overlooked and which the viewer will see right away.  

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