Keeping Your Eye on the Prize

Most people don’t associate painting with a need for physical strength. The assumption is, if you have enough energy to squeeze color from a tube and hold a brush in your hand, you’re in good enough shape. However, artists do need to strengthen certain muscles in order to become better painters, and the most important body part for this occupation is your eyes. If they’re not occasionally tuned up, their sensibility decreases. Here are three good exercises to keep them in shape, and you don’t even have to go to a gym. In fact, they can all be done with the television on, while eating potato chips and sitting in a cozy armchair. Hit the mute button on your remote control, sit back, relax, and do these exercises during the commercials.

Visualizing Colors
How about an exercise to strengthen your ability to see color? First, locate an object, and then mentally mix its colors. For example, there’s a book on my shelf that most people would say is yellow. By mentally mixing its colors, I’m guessing that it contains about 50 percent yellow, 35 percent white, 14 percent red, and 1 percent blue. I’ll never know whether my supposition is correct unless I mix those colors together and find out, but the objective is simply to make an educated guess. By mentally mixing hues, you’re looking at an object’s color with far more intensity than the average person, which increases the capability of your eyes.

Cathy Woo has been painting and teaching professionally for more than 20 years. Her award-winning work has been exhibited in galleries and juried shows all over the country. A signature member of the National and the Northwest Watercolor Societies, she’s the past president of NWWS, as well as current president of Women Painters of Washington. To see more of her work online, visit

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