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Postby Khayria » Tue Mar 17, 2020 4:57 pm

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Subject title: How to know when to stop/battle your inner perfectionist

When I look at the art styles that I tend to like, they are usually a bit "unrefined", but whenever I paint something, it turns out "too polished" for my taste. Often I'll do a good sketch but it will lose it's charm during my painting process because I have a hard time stopping at the right point. Do you guys have ideas on how to recognize the perfect moment to stop painting between a sketch and a polished image?

 

Postby Audiazif » Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:57 pm

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Without seeing examples of what you see as "unrefined", I can only think of experimentation as a way to get what you want. It sounds like you already have an idea of the top end of polish you want in a piece, the paintings you say are "too polished". Now do a couple of pieces where you stop earlier than you would normally. See how little you can polish something and still have somewhat decent result. This will give you a range in between those extremes that you can use to gauge when to stop in future paintings.
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Postby Khayria » Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:13 pm

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That's a good idea, thanks!

 

Postby Kam » Sat Mar 21, 2020 2:00 pm

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I have this issue too, do you use soft brushes and blending brushes often? I find those are usually the culprit and what you can do is completely avoiding using them for a while, I haven't tried this yet but It seems like a way to get yourself unused to seeing a polished and smooth work as good and everything else as bad while you're working. sometimes when I leave an area rough on purpose and it looks bad and unfinished at the moment it doesn't really look that way anymore after a while or when the thing is finished, I think we get too caught up in individual strokes rather than the whole pictures because that's what everyone sees at first glance and most of the time all they see depending on whether they know art themselves and how long they look at the work.

 

Postby Khayria » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:28 pm

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I do use soft brushes alot, but I also like a little bit of pressure variation, plus even cell shading can have very polished look imo... But the thing about getting too caught up in the individual strokes is probably true for me ^^" So taking a break when I'm not sure if I could leave it like that is a good idea c:

 

Postby Ambiguity » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:42 am

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I think you'd be surprised at just how much work goes into a lot(though, not all) of "painterly" paintings to make them look as loose or effortless as they do. There are writings about John Singer Sargent taking a lot of time to prep his brushes and just staring at the canvas in between strokes to plan out how he was going to proceed to make as little marks as possible while describing as much as possible. It's not really about knowing when to stop so much as it is knowing what not to show, or what and how you can imply "details" in the first place. You've gotta learn to think like an editor instead of a recorder. All that being said, the simplest way to know when to stop is when you've achieved all your specific goals with the piece that you had before you started.

On a side note, I tend to find that people have a hard time translating their sketches to paintings not because they "polish" the painting, but because they change something fundamental about the sketch in the painting. A good example is lighting; a lot of people like to sketch linearly and don't denote the lighting in the sketch because of that. So when they go to paint the lighting, they'll often change what would be ambient lighting in the sketch(because there are no shadow shapes) into something more directional like top down, or Rembrandt lighting. Another example is not painting with line width taken into consideration. We don't actually see contours as lines, but if we are drawing linearly, it's pretty much our only tool to delineate the borders between things. This is all well and good, but the problem arises when you go to lay down your tonal shapes in paint. Do you paint to the inside of the line, the center of the line, or the outside of the line? Choosing between these will change the feel of the proportions quite drastically in some cases, even if the line is pretty thin all around.

 

Postby Mystipen » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:51 pm

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I think the shortest route to solving your over-polishing problem is to simply do master studies of artists that leave their work a bit rough as you mentioned you noticed. If you want to gain a particular aesthetic, then studying people who have already achieved it is more efficient than trying to reinvent the wheel. It is also a common practice in art schools from what I have heard, so might as well try it out.

I think the reason that your sketch looses its charm as you progress is because the sketch is essentially a reflection of all the decisions you have made. Often in the sketching phase or early stages of a painting, making decisions is necessary to get your idea on paper and as you advance with something those decisions tend to decrease in volume. So, as you render your image you kind of go into "auto-pilot" mode. The solution to the problem is simple though, you just need to be making decisions as you go, obviously staying conscious throughout the entire process is difficult and you do not necessarily need to be conscious of what you are doing at all times, but just ask yourself whether what you are about to do is going to reinforce the original idea you had or conflict with it.

For example, if you drew a beautiful pose with a nice gesture of a human figure, when you go into the rendering stage are the forms you decided to apply shadow to reinforce the gesture or work against it? Should you leave out some anatomical features so that the ones that do reinforce the gesture strengthen it? If you want the focal point to be on the arm of the character, do you really need to define all the anatomical forms as well as those of the focal point?

Questions like that should be constantly asked during the process, because from what I see perfectionism is a result of indecision, hence why it is characterized by constantly tinkering around with something to try and make it perfect. If you can't commit to your decisions, then you will constantly try to modify and play around with your piece until it "feels right." Studying other artists whose aesthetic you appreciate, is a good way to learn why they made certain decisions and why they chose to leave out some parts but keep out others.

Hope this helps.

 

Postby Khayria » Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:21 pm

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Sorry for the late reply!
Thank you for the detailed responses, I feel like I am getting on the right path and getting closer to where I want to be c:


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