Stepping Back

Many thanks to Tomáš Malík, sergio  souza, Tom Fisk, Pok Riek, Ben, Thom Gonzalez, Daniel Lazarov, Tomas Anunziata, Giant Asparagus, Ben Mack, Mikhail Nilov, Nick Wehrl, and Curioso Photography at for their beautiful drone shots.

21 June 2022

We learn to step back in our art practice as a tool of habit, to gain a different view.

I was thinking today about how we use visual distance in the studio - after I tripped over my studio stool while backing up from my easel. Again. No harm done, but it was a good reminder to move the chair if I’ve been sitting for a bit. Safety first, right?

But circling back to our topic … we learn to step back in our art practice as a tool of habit, to gain a different view. When we step back, we see relationships of colors, shape, light, mass or energy that we didn’t see close up. We see stuff that happens with a fresh perspective.

We create conditions for transformation, so we can receive the gift of the unexpected.

If we get too close to our work for too long, we can miss these golden opportunities.

By switching to a different view, we can take in the gestalt (the total effect) of a work. Where is the energy flowing? Does the composition offer us an inviting entry point? Does our eye stay engaged and meander internal visual paths? What can we change or rearrange? We can observe and analyze.

Then we step back into the work. This is a world where time doesn't exist. It's where we operate from our intuitive right-brain functions.

Switching our view like this is a constant process in studio, whatever medium you’re working with. It strengthens our ability to move from right-brain processes to left-brain processes. It helps our brain to rearrange any problem, and any solution.

There is much speculation, research, controversy and discussion about right-brain vs left-brain operations. Google it, and you’ll see lively discussions abounding.

If you’ve not read it, check out Betty Edwards'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Her methods of right-brain/left-brain switching for learning to draw are very effective. I've used them myself, and for many years to help my drawing and painting students learn to "see" and to draw and paint.

Having the skills to switch between perceptual modes at will is a useful life hack.

Read how to Get A New View in a recent post in the Golden Dragonfly Traveling Academy for Art blog, "Wondering How To Get Inspired?"

Julia O'Reilly