In the last few weeks I’ve discovered two very simple techniques that have vastly improved the quality of my paintings. Of course “quality” of art is subjective – but we all know when our work has taken a leap forward, right?
Well that’s exactly what happened to me when I started using this first technique:
1. Paint in silence
I usually like to do several things at once. So when I paint I have always had background noise. . . perhaps a book on tape, the occasional movie, or at the very least some music.
But last week I suddenly noticed that I was painting in time to the music I was listening to. I thought this was odd, so I turned it off, and it made an immediate, marked difference in my ability to focus. I suddenly became much more in tune with each stroke.
I’ve been painting in silence since then and am convinced my paintings are improving because of it—I actually feel like I’m learning more deeply as I paint.
I’m sure that there is some complex brain science behind this, but what I know for sure is that I paint better when I allow myself to immerse fully in that one task.
This next tip is possibly even more obvious, and many of you may do it already—but I didn’t, so I thought I’d share it here:
2. Stand while painting
I’ve always known it’s ideal to stand while painting, and I remember being forced to do so in art school. But somehow along the way I decided I prefer to sit, and my lazy side prevailed.
(I feel it’s important to note here that I have a significant hip injury for which I still do PT twice a week. I didn’t think I could stand for hours without pain, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I could—with good shoes, anyway. Point is: if I can stand, most of you can too!)
About the time I turned off the radio I also started standing to paint, and again, I feel that it has made a huge difference in my work and focus.
There are many benefits to standing, not the least of which is the ability to constantly step back, squint, and check your values. It’s invaluable to get a little distance from your work during the painting process.
So there they are—my recent breakthroughs. Many of you probably already do these two simple things. But for those of you who don’t, give them a try, and watch what happens!