The painter’s algorithm



Spreading attention

Hierarchy of detail

Similar to the way in which you want to make sure you are always keeping an eye on the overall composition of your painting you also want to maintain a discipline over which parts of a painting you develop and when.

This means don't spend time developing the details of one section while neglecting another.

As you can see during the first few minutes of painting (the version on the left) very few small details are added to the piece. We don't spend time developing an eye, ear, mouth, or any other feature we might end up not liking later until we are ready for it.

An easy way to make sure you adhere to this concept is to give yourself limits on brush size. For the first 15 minutes of a new piece don't use any brushes smaller than, say, 100. At 15 minutes you can go down to 30. At 40 minutes you can go down to 20. And so on.

(Of course depending on the canvas size and your own work speed this rate may vary.)