I’ve been studying photos of my still life set-up for a week, and I still like it! I’m ready to start my drawing. First, I need to decide how large I want the finished work to be. I generally like to paint life-size. I find that still life especially, benefits from this approach. The image seems more real and compelling. I measure the front horizontal plane of the set-up to get a rough idea of the width of the finished painting. I composed the set-up looking through a viewfinder with a 8 to 9 ratio, so I can now calculate the height of the painting.
Drawing is a long process of looking and measuring. I divide up the rectangle of my drawing into a grid of horizontal and vertical lines. I mark these same lines on my viewfinder (scaled down to fit the viewfinder). If I hold up my viewfinder and look at the set-up through its window, I can see where lines on it correspond to key positions in the set-up. I hold a very skinny knitting needle up to the viewfinder at whatever horizontal or vertical position I like. I can then refer to my grid lines on my drawing to accurately draw in these key areas. As I progress, I compare the positions of key points in the set-up with others to gage their relationship.
After working on a drawing for several hours, I find that it helps to leave it, and then return to it with fresh eyes the next day. It’s amazing how mistakes that were undiscernible yesterday now stand out with glaring force! I correct mistakes. If there are any ellipses, I now construct them with paper and string, and transfer them to the drawing to correct my free-hand versions (which are already usually pretty good!). If items have an irregular shape and need to be symmetrical (like a vase), I trace one side that I think is correct, flip the tracing paper over and transfer this mirror-image to the other side of the vase. Thus, I attain symmetry!