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Why we MUST take breaks from our work

I don’t know about you, but have you ever noticed that the longer you work on a drawing or painting, the more difficult it becomes to see your errors? So you become frustrated because something doesn’t look quite right. Then you start to second guess and try to fix and redo, and before you know it, you want to give up or, worse, rip it up!!??


Before you give up, there’s many valid reasons for this, starting from your eyes tiring of the subject to confirmation bias. If you are a beginning student, it may also be that you cannot quite see accurately just yet. Whatever the reasons, we all need to learn to recognize our errors, mistakes, etc.

Rest your Eye

Confirmation bias; is a fancy term for tired eyes and lazy brains. Let me explain…have you ever taken a few days, weeks, or months off from drawing or painting a subject only to come back to see tons of obvious mistakes? That’s confirmation bias. The longer we look at our subject, the more our perception dulls. What’s more, it can happen in as little as fifteen minutes!

(REMEMBER: Take a break)

Plus, the longer you stare at something, the less you see. Why? Because our brain gets lazy and wants to see something and move on. So you give in, make a decision, and now your brain believes that what you’ve drawn has to be correct because you just drew it! Simply put, the main takeaway is that frequent breaks can disrupt that bias.

Give your eyes and brain a rest so you don’t lose the power of judgment.

Squinting your eyes

I love this example. The hunters in some Native American tribes looked for game (or the enemy) by staring out and blurring their vision. By dismissing their focus, their ability to observe movement was magnified. You aren’t looking for actual movement; you’re looking for errors. Squinting your eyes helps you see mistakes in context. It’s different from just looking away because it helps you see your drawing and subject in your entire field of view.

Negative Shapes

When you look at your subject, let’s take, for example, a human face. So you look at it, then your brain jumps in and says ok, I know what that is; 2 eyes, one nose, and a mouth in an oval shape; therefore, that’s a human face. What to do about that pushy brain? Well, here’s one solution. Break it up into shapes. The actual head/face are positive shapes that you are drawing, and the negative shapes are the shapes that create the background. This may sound complicated at first, but if you take the time and tell your brain you’re looking at shapes, not a face, in no time, you’ll be able to draw just about any subject, I promise. It just takes practice and discipline.

Standing Back

This is another important step, remember to stand back from your artwork at least 5ft because by doing so it forces your eyes to see the big-picture. You’ll be able to can see specific shapes, values, colors, and edge errors. However, you are also changing your view as you back away from your viewing position. When viewing your artwork, always have it at your eye level. This also applies to work on an easel. Your eyes should be directly pointing out in front of your work. If you work on a flat surface like a table, your focus will be distorted because perspective distorts your view slightly.

Practicing these simple steps will help you create beautiful art with less frustration.

Leonardo da Vinci says..

"Beyond taking intentional breaks, many artists keep multiple projects going at the same time. That way, when their eyes or mind fatigues they can keep painting by switching to a different one."

He knew a few things about art.

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The Grid Method

The grid method is a helpful tool for artists to capture the likeness of a reference image. It helps maintain proper proportion, shape, and relationship, reducing errors and speeding up the layout process. However, using the method correctly is important, as it's not inherently good or bad.

Some people criticize artists who use the grid method, but many famous artists throughout history have used it, including Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Van Gogh. Modern artists like Escher, Close, Degas, and Durer also used it. There's nothing wrong with using the grid method as a tool to improve your art. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about it. Remember your love for art and why you started creating it in the first place.

I sometimes use the grid method to help me with my art. Even though I can draw without it, there are times when I need extra help. The best thing is to figure out what works best for you and your art and not let others' opinions bring you down.

5 Benefits of the grid method for accurate drawings

  • Drawing accurately can be easier with grids. They help break down the subject into manageable shapes, so you can focus on each element without feeling overwhelmed.

  • Using grids is a good way for you to improve your observation skills. Drawing each section of the grid helps you pay close attention to the details and features of the subject.

  • Making scaled grids can help you understand how objects in an image are related to each other in space, which improves your spatial awareness.

  • Grids can help you learn artistic skills like shading and perspective. Once you get used to grids, they can improve their drawings and make them look more realistic.

  • Grids can be used to teach drawing subjects such as still life, landscapes, and portraits. They help improve accuracy and precision.

Some drawbacks of using the grid method

To get the best results using the grid method, it's essential to consider different viewpoints. Using only the grid can make it hard to see and draw accurately, and practicing these skills is necessary for progress in your drawing skills. Also, using grids might not be as creative as other techniques. You can also try different methods like comparing measurements, looking at positive and negative space, using linear perspective, understanding facial proportions, and experimenting with different approaches. But remember that using a grid can be time-consuming, especially for more complicated subjects. When it comes to your project, you have a choice: to use a grid or not to use a grid, and it's essential to carefully evaluate your options and select the best fit for your requirements.

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