Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ways to Check Your Work

Point Lobos Path 10 x 8" oil on linen
© 2009 Katherine Kean - Available at TAG Gallery

The first method I ever learned for checking artwork is to squint your eyes. Look at your work through half closed eyes and the details drop away leaving the values and composition. Or use a Reducing Glass – I mentioned this before. A Reducing Glass is particularly helpful with large paintings. My favorite way to check for errors is to hold a painting up to a mirror – or for a large painting I bring the mirror to the painting. Right away weak areas stand out and if there is a drawing or perspective error it will show. Another method I use is to turn the work upside down – the composition is quickly revealed – strong and weak areas, value problems, and so on.

Jacqueline Gnott talks about how she checks her work in this post on her Contemporary Realism blog.

I have another, more complicated method for checking work – and for moving it along. I’ll post it soon.

How do you check your work? Answer in the poll to the right, or if you have a different way to check your work, let me know in the comments.


All images on this site are copyright (c) Suzanne McLean. said...

Hi Katherine, I often take a digital photo of a painting and pull it up on my computer. This must work much like a reducing glass. Instantly I can see problem areas that I couldn't see before.

Love your work.♥

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Suzanne,

Yes! I do that too - it's a great way to check work.

Thank you - I've just been over to your blog, Gallery of Dreams. Your work is wonderful.

Jean Spitzer said...

I do all of the above, including the digital photo; the only thing I haven't tried yet is the reducing glass.

Lovely painting; feels like dancing.

Anonymous said...

I use a hand held mirror as well as turing it upside down. I like the idea of letting a painting sit for awhile. It may be a day or a week. I also like to see it in different light from that in my studio. So I bring it into my living space, in different rooms, the light really varies and suggests some tweaks. Great post!

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Jean, Thanks for the comment!

A digital photo works much like a reducing glass, just not as fast. A reducing glass is good for quick checks and you don't even have to step back.

Katherine Kean said...


Brilliant - looking at it in a different light - literally. I'm so glad you brought that up! A change in the light can reveal so much.

I agree too, a little time also brings a fresh eye.

Anne M Bray said...

I glance at it while concentrating on something else. The time thing too.

Beth said...

I have a large mirror I can hold the piece in front of. It works every time. Sometimes being so close I can't see the problems in proportions, but the mirror knows...oh too well.

Katherine Kean said...

Anne - that's a great way to get a fresh look - let the subconscious take it in.

Katherine Kean said...

Beth - Yes, the mirror sees all.

flowers of my mind said...

Very interesting question, I haven't given it too much thought but do it all the time, taking digital pictures of my work as it progresses and also turning it around, looking at it from the distance and in very little light, squinting my eyes, all the above actually at one time or the other.
Btw. very beautiful paintings, Katherine, I just discovered your blog and find it very inspiring.
Love and peace

Katherine Kean said...



I think it's great to take pictures as your work progresses - it's so interesting to see how it evolves.

Thanks for your comments. Come back soon.

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