The Big Picture, The Details

A painted Easter lily, detail from Resurrection Lilies
A painted Easter lily, detail from Resurrection Lilies

The direct method of enlarging a picture by observing its major geometric shapes, the relation of those shapes to each other, the negative spaces they create and paying attention to the way the light illuminates the shapes to create forms is said by another way in a simple but overused sentence:

Look at the big picture.

If you are like me you can easily get sidetracked and bogged down by the details.  In fact, details are so enjoyable that one can easily focus on the details that the major emphasis of the picture is lost by the mastery of creating details.  You know if you fall into this category of artist if:

  • You create a poster and enjoy the picture so much that you minimize or even forget the headline text that draws people to the event.
  • You have a compulsion to draw or paint every eyelash in a portrait.
  • Working with a magnifying glass is exciting, rather than tedious.

    magnifying glass
    magnifying glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Small teeny tiny brushes are considered some of your best painting tools.
  • You sharpen drawing pencils constantly so that you only draw with a very sharp point.

For those of us who love details, pushing ourselves to observe the big picture is not something that comes naturally.  But push ourselves, we must.  Let’s consider this on a little deeper level and expand our thinking.

  • What do you want to communicate in this drawing or painting?
  • What about this subject appeals to you?
  • What do you think the selection of this subject (or the way it is drawn or painted) says about you?
  • Do you have a memory you associate with this subject?
  • How is your outlook on life reflected in this piece of art?

Now, as you work on this piece of art, make it your practice to step back twenty feet every 15 – 30 minutes.

  • How does this change your perspective?
  • Has this improved your art?
  • What insights about your creative process do you glean from having answered these questions?

Two “tools” from the toolbox of the artist who is a life-long learner are:

  • Observe and grow in skill from focusing on the details.
  • Make stepping back and gaining perspective from the big picture a part of your working routine.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it … Autograph your work with excellence.” ― Vince Lombardi

Italian American
Italian American (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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