Artist Websites  Artist Websites |  Featured Artists |  Art Marketing  Art Marketing |  Art Contest |  BrushBuzz |  InformedCollector |  FASO Loves You - Share Your Art, Share Life


« Right Brain. Artist. Left Brain. | Main | Exposure: The Ugly Myth »

Follow this Blog

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Quick Links

Artist Websites and Good Design
How to Sell Art
How to Get Your Art Noticed by Galleries
SEO For Artists - The Ultimate Tip


Blog Roll

Mikki Senkarik's Blog

About the Artist
acrylic painting
advice for artists
art and culture
art and psychology
art and society
art appreciation
art blogging advice
Art Business
art collectors
art criticism
art education
art fairs
art festivals
art forum
art gallery tips
art history
art law
art marketing
art museums
art reception
art show
art studio
art supplies
art websites
artist resume advice
artist statement
Artwork videos
BoldBrush Winners
Brian Sherwin
Carolyn Edlund
Carolyn Henderson
Carrie Turner
Clint Watson
commissioned art
Cory Huff
Curator's Pick
Daily Art Show
Dave Geada
Dave Nevue
email newsletters
Eric Rhoads
exposure tips
FASO Featured Artists
Fine Art Shows
framing art
Gayle Faucette Wisbon
giclee prints
Guest Posts
Internet Scams
Jack White
Jane Hunt
Jason Horejs
Jen Piche
John Weiss
Juried Shows
Kathleen Dunphy
Keith Bond
Kelley Sanford
Kim VanDerHoek
landscape painting
Lori Woodward
Luann Udell
Mark Edward Adams
mixed media
Moshe Mikanovsky
New FASO Artist Members
Noteworthy Artist
oil painting
online art competitions
online art groups
open studio
plein air painting
press releases
pricing artwork
S.C. Mummert
sell art
selling art online
selling fine art online
SEO for Artist Websites
shipping artwork
social media
social networking
solo show
Steve Atkinson
still life art
support local art
Think Tank
websites for artists
Zac Elletson

 Apr 2018
Mar 2018
Feb 2018
Jan 2018
Dec 2017
Nov 2017
Oct 2017
Sep 2017
Aug 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
Apr 2017
Mar 2017
Feb 2017
Jan 2017
Dec 2016
Nov 2016
Oct 2016
Sep 2016
Aug 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
Apr 2016
Mar 2016
Feb 2016
Jan 2016
Dec 2015
Nov 2015
Oct 2015
Sep 2015
Aug 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
Apr 2015
Mar 2015
Feb 2015
Jan 2015
Dec 2014
Nov 2014
Oct 2014
Sep 2014
Aug 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
Apr 2014
Mar 2014
Feb 2014
Jan 2014
Dec 2013
Nov 2013
Oct 2013
Sep 2013
Aug 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
Apr 2013
Mar 2013
Feb 2013
Jan 2013
Dec 2012
Nov 2012
Oct 2012
Sep 2012
Aug 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
Apr 2012
Mar 2012
Feb 2012
Jan 2012
Dec 2011
Nov 2011
Oct 2011
Sep 2011
Aug 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
Apr 2011
Mar 2011
Feb 2011
Jan 2011
Dec 2010
Nov 2010
Oct 2010
Sep 2010
Aug 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
Apr 2010
Mar 2010
Feb 2010
Jan 2010
Dec 2009
Nov 2009
Oct 2009
Sep 2009
Aug 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
Apr 2009
Mar 2009
Feb 2009
Jan 2009
Dec 2008
Nov 2008
Oct 2008
Sep 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
Apr 2008
Mar 2008
Feb 2008
Jan 2008
Dec 2007
Nov 2007
Oct 2007
Sep 2007
Aug 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
Apr 2007
Mar 2007
Feb 2007
Jan 2007
Dec 2006
Nov 2006
Oct 2006
Sep 2006
Aug 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
Apr 2006
Mar 2006
Feb 2006
Jan 2006
Dec 2005
Nov 2005
Sep 2005
Aug 2005


Don't Sweat the Details?

by Kevin Mizner on 5/5/2011 12:52:17 PM

This post is by guest author, Kevin Mizner. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.  We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 14,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.




Warning:  The wearing of steel-toed boots is recommended for the reading of this blog.  We can not be responsible for any discomfort from toes being stepped on.  Thank you.


We all know that the number one rule in art is, "There are no rules".  There are, however, axioms, tenets, general suggestions, standard way of doing things, my way, and what the hell are you thinking?  One of the non-rules is, "you can't learn to draw from copying photographs".  I agree.  Copying them only gives one a thin veneer of reality.  So, put those polaroids away and go copy an old master's painting!  Another accepted non-rule, but would be a rule if it were open for a vote, is "do not put all the details in your painting in focus".  I know I stand the risk of sounding like the self-taught, totally ignorant hack that I am, but I have to ask-- why?


The argument behind not having everything in focus goes like this:  The human eye does not see everything in focus at the same time.  While we're looking at an object, everything else in it's periphery loses detail.  Thus, we should make our paintings with the point of interest having the highest amount of detail, and everything else with a lesser amount because that's how our eyes see.  As a matter of fact, having everything in sharp focus is the mark of an amateur.  Or so says Virgil Elliott, the writer of Traditional Oil Painting.  I love that book.  Of all the art books I own, it's one of only three that I keep with me in the studio.  (The others are John Carlson's book on landscape painting, and Rockwell on Rockwell).  In fairness to Mr. Elliott, I've seen that opinion from a whole lot of other artists too.


But here's why I question that (Oh, no! It's not a) rule.  I want my paintings to be very realistic, so why shouldn't I make everything as accurate as I can, then let the eye of the viewers see it as it would the real thing?  In other words, should I paint the way the eye interprets the scene, or let the eye interpret the scene in the painting?  Now, a disclaimer:  I am certainly aware of hard and soft edges, and I'm not saying that everything should have a hard edge.  What I'm asking is why can't I paint everything with the same level of realism and detail?  Let me show you a few examples of what I'm thinking about.


At the top of the page is a detail from one of my all-time favorite Andrew Wyeth paintings, The Patriot.



I stood for hours in front of this painting when I saw it at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine.  What I love about this painting is the exquisite detail Wyeth gave everything.  If Wyeth only wanted the focus to be on the face of his subject, he could have merely indicated the medals and buttons on the uniform.  Instead, everything is in such sharp focus that you can read the inscription on the medals.  Wyeth isn't telling you, "Look only at what I want you to see,"  he's letting your eyes do the work.  When I look at the subject's face, I don't see the medals in focus at all.  My eyes interpret this painting in the same manner as if this gentleman was sitting in front of me.  



Another of my favorite Wyeth's is Weathered Side




This is not a great reproduction of the painting, but again, look at the degree of focus he gave every element in this scene.  The composition leads your eye into and up the side of the Olsen House in Cushing, Maine, but each object is sharply rendered.  The window panes high up on the house are as crisply realized as the bucket at your feet.  The clapboards are not a mass of color, but as detailed as the shingles beside you.   Wyeth didn't paint this the way our eyes see it, he painted it the way it is.  We do the rest.


Now let's look at Jean-Leone Gerome:




Yes, there are soft and hard edges here, but look at the way he portrays the tile over on the extreme right edge.  Keeping in mind the change in light and corresponding values, the detail is as clear as the closer tiles on the left.  Again, Gerome let's our eyes wander wherever we want over this image, he's not dictating what is important.  His composition does that.  I like that in a painting.


I know that the idea of a central focus point comes from the great landscape artists like Constable, and later with the Impressionist and, of course, John Singer Sargent, and it shows in many modern paintings today.  I truly like that style of painting.  And I sure know I'm no Andrew Wyeth or Jean-Leon Gerome!  I'm old school I guess, but to me, I just don't see the Devil in those details.



Editor's Note:  You can view the original post on Kevin's blog.


FASO: The Leading Provider of Professional Artist Websites.
FineArtViews: Straight talk about art marketing, inspiration - daily to your inbox.

InformedCollector: Free daily briefs about today's finest artists in your inbox.

BoldBrush Contest: Monthly Online Painting Contest with over $25,000 in awards. 

Daily Art Show: Daily Show of Art that reaches thousands of potential collectors.


Related Posts:

The Devil at Work in the World

Artistic Maturity Enables Growth

Developing Your Individual Style

The Wiper

Making Your Own Rules

What Exactly Makes Art...Good?

Topics: FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration 

What Would You Like to Do Next?
Post your comment Join Email List Follow via RSS Share Share


Loading comments...

Carol McIntyre
Go for it Kevin! I have never liked those who insist on "my way" as the only way. Your mentioning of Andrew Wyeth reminds me when I saw one his originals in PA as a teenager and I stood there marveling at his brushstrokes and detail. I was mesmerized.

Let's not the the "paint-it-loose" folks prevail! Sometimes I wonder if they are just jealous because they can't paint details or how to arrange them effectively. Oops, did I just step on some toes? :)

Jeff Musseau
Nice article Kevin ,i am also a detailed artist and i dont want to paint any other way , not saying its the right way but its my style , i have had teacher tell me to be more loose , da i dont want to be loose i want to show the viewer what i see and what i want them to see , if i am doing a detailed painting of old wood then i paint every single woodgrain that i can , then after explaining to viewer it a painting not a photo i grab there attention and 9 chance out of 10 its all positive.


FASO Resources and Articles

Art Scammers and Art Scam Searchable Database


FineArtViews, FineArtStudioOnline, FASO, BrushBuzz, InformedCollector, BoldBrush
are Trademarks of BoldBrush Technology, LLC Licensed to BoldBrush, Inc. 

Canvoo is a registered trademark of BoldBrush Technology, LLC Licensed to BoldBrush, Inc

Copyright - BoldBrush Technology, LLC  - All Rights Reserved