So you learned that taking photos of your painting as you work on it will help you see potential problems in its composition. Now, let’s take that useful trick a step further…
When you are about 70% finished with the painting and you are hesitating, afraid of overworking it, get another photo of it and upload it to your computer screen. If you have a Mac, you’ll be able to click on “Edit”. When you do, you’ll have the option to increase or decrease the “Contrast” on that particular photo. If you increase the Contrast, chances are you might see that painting come alive. It will show you where you need to increase your values and darken your shadows. As you compare that photo to your painting, it will become clear what your next step should be.
I know that there are other Photo programs out there, but I’m not familiar with them. Sorry! But I’m sure each one of them has similar options.
A good Composition is even more important than good Technique.
Bad Composition doesn’t win awards, not matter how cute your painting is.
Here there are 2 easy ways to fix that.
1- First: Observe the Masters. Devour any Art books that come you way. Most of the paintings in those pages will teach you something. Observe the negative spaces in them; how and where the main subject is placed; the contrast of lights and shadows, and how shapes connect with each other.
And do me a big favor: DO read every line in the book, not just the captions! Most authors are kind of sneaky and hide juicy tidbits of priceless information among the generic stuff.
2- Second: You get your Digital camera out every day and take a few dozens of photos of subjects that intrigue you, all from different angles. Then, later, spend some time editing and cropping your photos in your computer until you end up with just a handful of shots that look really good to you. The more photos you take and edit, the better you become at finding good compositions. Keep it up for 3 months. You will not believe how much you improve after such a short time! Compare your first chosen shots to your last best ones. You’ll be amazed at the results.
Of course, there are many other ways to learn Composition, but these two methods will give you an inexpensive head start.
Good luck to you, fellow painter!
YOUR BEST CRITIC AND ALLY IS YOUR CAMERA!
Take a picture of your painting as soon as you’re done mapping your under-painting. Upload that photo to your computer screen and you’ll be able to see MUCH better any potential flaws in your composition. It really feels like you are looking at someone else’s painting, so you can be more objective about it’s problems in shapes and composition.
Take another shot of it when you’re about ½ way done and again show it in the computer screen. That shot will help you see where VALUES need to be increased or decreased to help the overall composition.
Take yet another shot whenever you’re “stuck” with a 95% finished painting that doesn’t look totally “real”. You might see then color problems or where the shadow values should be increased to make things “pop”.