if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t…

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23/11/2010 by Sarah Ritchie

You know that feeling you get when you look at a scene, a painting, an object, etc, and you feel something is not quite right?

Tim Gunn, from Project Runway (Series 7, Episode 12) said: “If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t“. He was commenting on the design process of a garment, and I would confidently propel that sentiment across all the arts.

I have said a similar statement – many times – to my graphic design students. If they look at their page design, or photo composition, and something doesn’t feel quite right, usually something needs to change and the onus is on them to figure out what that “something” is. If it irks the designer, it will – invariably – irk other viewers of the work.

With Canvas #10: Grace to you, and peace, I showed Simon what I considered to be the finished painting. He tilted his head and looked at the painting thoughtfully – as he usually does. He commented that it needed something behind the dove – stripes or a cross or similar. Initially I said “no” and stated that the painting was finished. In an effort not to be stubborn I put on my Simon-tinted glasses and took another look. Although I wasn’t prepared to put extra elements into the composition, I could see that adding a darker area behind the dove would give dimension to the piece and help the dove to stand out better. Simon was right…”something” in the painting had needed to change.

This gut feeling is akin to an “artisan’s conscience”…that inner check declaring “right” from “not-quite-right” (not “wrong”…an artist can never be “wrong”, surely?! That’s a discussion for another time!).


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Sarah Ritchie
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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
Exhibitor, The Original Art Sale 2011


© Sarah Ritchie 2014

Please do not use copies of my original artwork for profit, however you are welcome to share my artwork images as much as you like!

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