Sunday, October 18, 2009


This is the demo painting I created for the Society of Western Artists on Saturday. It was a wonderful group of enthusiastic artists. I always have such a good time at demos.

Here is the problem: Because I work on Tyvek, a very slippery surface, I need to keep the painting flat so the watercolor doesn't slide right off. I draw the image on with a wet line, so the painting stays flat from the drawing on. There is a distortion that happens (slight parallax) and I don't discover it until everything is finished and dry! The first image is what I was seeing and the second image is what I actually drew and painted. Rats!!! I really like the head but the body and hand are too small (or the head is too big!) What to do? I have a few choices. The first is to try and scrub out the arm and hand and change it. Not too sure that will work with this paper. I could do a drastic crop. I could do it again. I think I will start with the first idea and work my way through the choices until the problem is solved.

The real question is how to prevent this in the future. A number of possibilities here, as well. First, I could draw the image on the paper with something that doesn't run so the paper would be upright and I would avoid the distortion. Second solution is to view my drawing in the overhead mirror before I start to paint. I think I would notice a distortion. The third idea is to print out the reference material with a parallax distortion and then I would automatically correct it when I drew it on my paper. The fourth idea is to use a "reducing glass". This is the opposite of magnification. It allows you to see the image you are working on as if from a distance. You can find this item in a shop that caters to quilters. They can't pick up their work in the planning stage as it would fall apart!

As with so many things, there is always more than one solution. I think starting with a distorted image is the one that appeals to me the most. Once I get started, especially with demos, I work fast and furious. I forget to slow down and check the drawing. Can't wait to try this theory.


Maggie said...

Each image conveys a different mood. The 'big head' isn't necessarily bad unless you really don't like it. Still, it sure is nice to end up with what you intended. They are both beautiful.

Dan Kent said...

I love the head - just love it. Shame about the distortion - I think it is a common mistake. You are the most intellectual of artists I have encountered on line; what Ayn Rand is to writers, I think. Your analysis is so interesting. One thing, how do you print out the reference material with a parallax distortion? And I wonder, won't you be subconsciously correcting for it when you paint? Or is that the idea? Maybe, once again, I don't get it. :}

Myrna said...

Thanks, Maggie, but the big head bugs me!
Dan, being compared to Ayn Rand is a rare compliment. How to get the distortion in the reference material? In Photoshop Elements under filters is one to correct camera distortion. If there is no distortion, you can create it. Very fun to play around with. My idea was that I would correct the drawing automatically if I started with a distortion. So far it is a theory. I need to try it out.

Carrie H. said...

Maybe you could just leave the painting the way it is and hang it very high in a stairway under a focal light. It won't be as noticeable until the viewer climbs the stairs.

Elisha said...

Hello Myrna,
I just came across you blog and it's fabulous.
I hate it when I am finished or near finished with a painting and that's when I notice I did something wrong with the drawing. I'm like, "Really? I've been looking at this thing forever and I just notice that?" lol.
I don't know if it would work since the painting is flat, but I was taught to look at a painting and then look away from it very fast 10 or 20 times and then look back at it. But I think that may be if you know something is wrong, but can't figure it out. Have you/are you able to walk around the painting and look at it from the top down?

Joyfulartist said...

Paralax? Distortion? You are over my head. I didn't realize that happened from painting flat. I always paint flat; now I have something else to watch for. Thanks, Myrna, you are a good teacher.

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