- A simple viewfinder to better isolate composition and determine a paintings format. This can be most helpful for the painter that suffers from visual attention deficit syndrome.
- A red plastic viewfinder to neutralize the cool color temperatures that tend to dominate most landscapes. This helps the painter to see relative reflected light values more accurately without the allure of color.
- A mirror that can be positioned over one shoulder with our backs turned to the painting and/or scene, to see them in reverse. This provides a means of angle and shape comparison and polices compositional side bias. Most of us have a dominant side and prefer things positioned there or leaning a certain direction. A mirror can also be positioned at our foreheads and angled so that when we look up into it we can see what is in front of us upside down. This is extremely helpful in challenging what the mind believes it sees. All of a sudden nothing is recognizable. This makes major shape, value, and color relationships easier to see.
- Another tool that has not been discussed previously but one can prove very helpful in ascertaining if a painting is made up of good visual information whether you are painting on location or in the field is: the viewing of a painting through the translucent glassine or tracing paper often used to protect it in transport. These protective papers have a low surface tack and are semi transparent. When the paper is placed over a painting, either in process or near completion, a diffusion of edge detail, value contrast, and color saturation will be visible. This allows a painter to see the “Big Picture” of the painting without the distraction of definition. If the painting reads well when viewed in this fashion, you can be confident that you have a solid visual design.
Eventually, your ability to see with the innocence of a child, unencumbered by the prejudices of experience, will happen. Until then, these visual aids can prove quite helpful.
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