5 MORE Tips to See & Draw Better (Part 2)

Image: pen & ink drawings by Augustin de Saint-Aubin and Jusepe de Ribera

This is the 2nd part of the two-part article “5 Tips to See & Draw Better”. Click here to view Part One.  I’ve compiled these tips to give you a “visual advantage”; helping your eyes communicate with your brain and hands- with less fighting! And don’t we all want that? Let’s pick up where we left off…

“Sometimes when you know what to look for – you’ll see it.” –Karin Wells

6.) Look at the “Negative Space”: That’s the space surrounding the object in an image. Check for its size and shapes. It’s a surprisingly easy way to check accuracy! *And I might add, it’s the only good time in life to focus on the negative.*

“Create with the heart; build with the mind.” – Criss Jami, Killosophy

7.) Squint/Take Off Your Glasses: In the 1st stages of a drawing especially this will help you to simplify and not get caught up in details. When you get the major proportions down, the little stuff falls into place.

8.) Mirror: Look at your drawing in a mirror to see your work more objectively. Consider adding a compact mirror to your art supplies.  I can’t tell you how many times a mirror has helped my art!

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

9.) Take A Photo On Your Phone: If you’re feeling techy, take a pic! Funny how it’s easier to see “the big picture” when looking at a little one. Seeing your drawing on a small screen can feel like viewing it for the 1st time. Great for when you’re working in a space where there’s no room to back up. Extra benefit- you’ll have progress shots!

10.) Get a Fresh eye/Take a Break: Looking at something for a long time ironically makes you stop seeing it. Even if you enjoy what you’re doing, set an alarm; It’s important to make and take breaks. It’s good for you eye health as well as mental. When you get back to your easel you’ll see things more clearly.

One way to test a picture’s integrity is to turn it upside down – a technique used not only by connoisseurs but also by artists trying to see their work with a fresh eye. -Peter Landesman

BONUS TIP, 11.) Turn Your Drawing Upside-Down: Similar to using a mirror, it’s just another way to get a fresh take. I usually spot exaggerated asymmetries when I do this with my work.

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If you read both Part 1 & 2 of this article, which of the 10 (or shall I say 11) tips do you think is the best? Are there some you use that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

Kelly Foss Author
Teacher, Writer, Drawing New York Kelly Foss Art
Author Details
I love painting faces, flesh, and fabric. The more tactile I can make a painting feel, the more I’m satisfied with it! I feel blessed to make art every day and look forward to the next day to continue my projects. Traveling to teach workshops is also something I can’t believe I get to do.
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Kelly Foss Author
Teacher, Writer, Drawing New York Kelly Foss Art
I love painting faces, flesh, and fabric. The more tactile I can make a painting feel, the more I’m satisfied with it! I feel blessed to make art every day and look forward to the next day to continue my projects. Traveling to teach workshops is also something I can’t believe I get to do.
3 Comments
  1. I can see these improving my drawing. I take myself way to seriously when I should just let my mind and heart dictate how I draw. Or Tip 11…..hire you to complete my drawings. 😀

  2. These tips are so practical and so helpful. I had never heard the mirror tip before which is great. My favorite might be tip #2. Keeping your easel vertical so it doesn’t lean away from you. Another thing I have never considered. I want to take one of your workshops!

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