Portrait Artist Forum    

Go Back   Portrait Artist Forum > Methods of Seeing

Topic Tools Display Modes
Old 12-19-2002, 06:02 PM   #11
Peggy Baumgaertner Peggy Baumgaertner is offline
SOG Member
FT Professional
'00 Best of Show, PSA
'03 Featured, Artists Mag
Conducts Workshops
Peggy Baumgaertner's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2001
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 233


Yup. I'm left handed.

  Reply With Quote
Old 12-19-2002, 09:06 PM   #12
Mari DeRuntz Mari DeRuntz is offline
Mari DeRuntz's Avatar
Joined: Apr 2002
Location: Southern Pines, NC
Posts: 487
Nathan -

Nice drawing, and I think what you're bringing up is very important: after spending time on a drawing, the artist needs "tricks" to help break that hypnotic hold the piece has on our perceptions, so we can see it objectively, to work through basic drawing and compositional weaknesses.

Viewing it in a mirror, or upside down, or in a digital photograph all help. And ideally, these negotiations are made early in the process, not days into the final painting.

What's your medium? Looks like three colors, a cool black, an earth red and an ochre.

I also think it's interesting that the left-handed artist is the only one who thought the second image read as the original.
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2002, 12:27 AM   #13
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
Juried Member
PT 5+ years
Steven Sweeney's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Stillwater, MN
Posts: 1,792
The specific flaws I seen when flipping it were one of my eyes is off kilter, my nose is off-center, and my mouth could use a slight adjustment.
Count your blessings, Nathan. Among the flaws I see when viewing my self-portraits in reverse are a lack of sufficient commissions to keep me from having to do self-portraits to stay sharp, an extra twenty pounds that doesn't show up only around my waist anymore, false representation of left-handedness, a student with skills exceeding confidence, and a fierce critic telling me that I'd better get everything right or else the guy who's looking into the mirror is going to be all over my case.
Steven Sweeney

"You must be present to win."
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2002, 08:40 AM   #14
Margaret Port Margaret Port is offline
Associate Member
Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Cairns, Australia
Posts: 98
Hi Nathan,

If you are going to flip your painting, then you also need to flip your source photo or if you are working from life, use two mirrors for the reference image and compare those images, rather that original and flipped.

Comparing an original and a flipped will get you into all sorts of messes because faces are asymmetrical.

If you were to cut the painting in half and copy one half and flip it and join the two together, you will get another completely different person.

This aspect of faces becomes more obvious the older the person is.

I have seen this done with a photo of a famous Italian opera singer and you get two completely different people, one fat and one thin, who kind of look like the original but something is not right.

This is why we hate photos of ourselves and probably why, when we show our masterpiece to the subject, they stand and ponder and don't say anything for a long time..
Margaret Port
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2002, 10:35 AM   #15
Nathan Cremer Nathan Cremer is offline
Associate Member
Nathan Cremer's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2002
Location: Mt. Orab, OH
Posts: 38

My medium was Derwent Drawing Pencils. And you guessed the 3 colors. I drew it on gessoed cardboard. I also attempted to blend the colors with a wet brush.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2004, 06:47 PM   #16
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
Juried Member
Joined: Oct 2002
Location: Lincoln, NE
Posts: 260
Get a mirror

There is nothing like having a mirror stationed about 7 to 10 feet behind your easel. Turn and look into it fairly often. You'll be seeing in reverse, of course, which almost instantly lets you spot a place where you may have gone wrong. It also automatically doubles the space from you to your painting. It it's (the mirror) is 7 feet behind you, your painting appears to be twice that distance when viewed in the mirror. You get a different look both ways -- in reverse, and in distance.

This method has been used for a very long time because it works.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-2004, 02:42 AM   #17
Garth Herrick Garth Herrick is offline
SOG Member FT Professional '09 Honors Finalist PSOA '07 Cert of Excel PSOA '06 Cert of Excel PSOA '06 Semifinalist, Smithsonian OBPC '05 Finalist PSOA
Garth Herrick's Avatar
Joined: Mar 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 1,445
Rudolf Arnheim

Hi Nathan and all:

I became suddenly aware of the mirror phenomenon you describe at about the same time you first posted a year and a half ago.

Here's what happened:

I photographed a good friend's body of small still life paintings, about thirty in all. In Photoshop I was processing each individual digital image painstakingly, when I accidentally flipped one painting to its mirror reverse. I was shocked my friend's painting composition completely fell apart in reverse, and yet it looked perfectly stable when viewed normally!

I tested all 30 paintings and they all miserably failed as compositions in reverse. Then I had the nerve to telephone my friend and tell him how his paintings did not work in reverse!

His response was matter of the fact that he did not care if they did not hold up in reverse because that is not how he intended them to be viewed. But he also admitted that he has never in his life tested his compositions in a mirror.

I said I compulsively check mine in a mirror every hour, flip them upside down, and sideways too. He asked me why, stressing none of that is even necessary.

I soon came to realize that almost all Western art, if not all art, including sculpture becomes very unstable in a mirror view. My friend thought I should write a serious treatise on this. When I told my portrait agent about my discoveries, she said Garth, this has already been done, it was all in a chapter of a book she had.

Rudolf Arnheim's "Art and Visual Perception" was first published in 1954, and more than covers this human perceptual phenomenon. In a nutshell, it seems we humans at least in the Western tradition, read all images and compositions from left to right. Simply put, what looks correct from left to right , does not necessarily hold up from right to left.

Apparently perception has a set directional flow, just as time does.

So the bottom line is: Nathan, don't worry about how your drawing looks in a mirror, because it looks fine to everyone else as you drew it.

  Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-2004, 08:45 AM   #18
ReNae Stueve ReNae Stueve is offline
Associate Member
ReNae Stueve's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2001
Location: Kapolei, HI
Posts: 171
mirror check

I picked the first one, but it doesn't count now!!! Anyway, I find that after 20 hours of gazing at a piece, my eyes fill in that which I think should be there, also. To remedy this, I've placed a large mirror on the wall not quite opposite of my easel. I can easily turn and check were I'm at while I'm blocking. This also helps a good deal with still life work I do. You may think your perspective is OK but when you look in the mirror you can pick up those slight errors that throw things off.

I liked this exercise........ I picked #1 because, I would have chosen that pose myself. the flow of the painting reads left to right and circles back over your head nicely.
ALWAYS REMEMBER Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by
the moments that take our breath away.

  Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-2004, 02:14 PM   #19
Tom Edgerton Tom Edgerton is offline
SOG Member
'02 Finalist, PSA
'01 Merit Award, PSA
'99 Finalist, PSA
Tom Edgerton's Avatar
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 819

Jean and ReNae have it right.

The mirror is a great tool for alerting you to problems of composition, design, "flow," value, and sometimes problems with drawing, which will scream out at you when reversed if they're really serious.

But don't whip yourself overly if the face doesn't look exactly the same both ways. As Jean stated, no face is symmetrical, except maybe a supermodel's, who get hired for having perfect math in their visages. Your draftmanship in this drawing is better than most already, so don't worry so much. If it's off, you're good enough to catch it.

"The dream drives the action."
--Thomas Berry, 1999
  Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing this Topic: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Topic Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


Make a Donation

Support the Forum by making a donation or ordering on Amazon through our search or book links..

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:30 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.