What is your Bias?

MurrayG

Contributing Member
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249
Yes, I know this is an odd question. While going over a number of my paintings, I found many, not all, but many, especially in landscapes had sloping triangles facing the same way. By this, I mean for example a hill that slopes down from left to right. I noticed that several of my works exhibited this and I began wondering..... It may be just a coincidence that the views I see are just that way, but then...? I often apply the rule of thirds (or try) and use diagonals in whatever direction enhances the painting. The "insight" was brought about when I wanted to draw a landscape that sloped down from top right to lower left and found for some reason, it was uncomfortable. I am right-handed. There was a photo that I painted (hill top left to the right lower) that worked well and felt "good", I tried to do it sloping the other way blehh...
Maybe it's just me, but it was weird. I mean I sketch often what I see and it seems to work, is this a coincidence or bias???
 

Bongo

Well-known member
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802
I find a lot of my verticals, buildings, windows, poles, etc. can lean right. I think this is from being right-handed. I'm aware of it now, and still often have to go back and correct it. "hand bias" tends to be pretty common, you can see it in a lot of paintings.

I also tend to paint scenes from a more elevated position - with Plein air, and in the studio. Why? haven't figured that one out yet.
 

MurrayG

Contributing Member
Messages
249
I find a lot of my verticals, buildings, windows, poles, etc. can lean right. I think this is from being right-handed. I'm aware of it now, and still often have to go back and correct it. "hand bias" tends to be pretty common, you can see it in a lot of paintings.

I also tend to paint scenes from a more elevated position - with Plein air, and in the studio. Why? haven't figured that one out yet.
Hi Bongo, yes I am righthanded as well. There are unconscious biases. This is something that I have just noticed and maybe nothing. But I was curious if others have odd "preferences" in their styles etc. Colours, subjects, media etc. When is a preference a bias? It no big deal and may sometimes define an artist. Take Van Goghs swirls for example :)
 

OliveOyl

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185
I like your question.

I suppose I have lots of “biases,” but never thought of them that way. Maybe I’d call them preferences instead.

For example, I’ve always painted figurative things but not specific people, or portraits. I tend to use them, and consider them, as objects. Not sure why I have a people bias because I don’t even like people.

I like nature much better but never once have I thought, “I want to paint this scene.” I assume there’s a bias I have that thinks I’ll never be able to capture nature any better than the way it actually is.

In fact, I just don’t like painting much of anything in real life because as I often say (tongue-in-cheek), “I hate real life.” That’s probably a huge and weird bias right there.

I put outlines around everything and of course things in the world don’t have outlines around them. Although I gave up sketching and drawing and using “sharp and dry” line drawing tools years ago, I start every painting by drawing lines…with paint. I suppose my strongest bias is for the love of lines.

And on and on…

I think we make choices about the way we work that feel good, or correct, natural or organic. I’d ask…why not just embrace all our preferences/biases and make them do the work for us? Aren’t they the little devils that create our style?
 

laika

good intentions
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925
For example, I’ve always painted figurative things but not specific people, or portraits. I tend to use them, and consider them, as objects. Not sure why I have a people bias because I don’t even like people.
Heh. I wonder how common that sentiment is among artists? Myself, I want to like the humans, but something always gets in the way.
In fact, I just don’t like painting much of anything in real life because as I often say (tongue-in-cheek), “I hate real life.” That’s probably a huge and weird bias right there.
Again, one has to wonder how common that is among artists?
 

laf.art

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1,460
Good question.I'm a leftie who sometimes uses my right.I don't like sharp rigid lines and prefer my tables to have rounded edges.The lines on my paintings are freehand and a bit squiggly which suits me🙂
 

Marc

Member
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73
For example, I’ve always painted figurative things but not specific people, or portraits. I tend to use them, and consider them, as objects. Not sure why I have a people bias because I don’t even like people.

I like nature much better but never once have I thought, “I want to paint this scene.” I assume there’s a bias I have that thinks I’ll never be able to capture nature any better than the way it actually is.
I'm similar. I like people, but I want them in the distance. LOL A landscape is improved in my mind with figures in it, but they should just be shapes.

I certainly feel that way about vases of flowers or bowls of fruit.
 

john

Well-known member
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454
Oh my, this question opens up a huge can of worms. Why someone would want to do that is another can of worms to open, and why one would want to do that...................

I haven't noticed this handedness with my paintings except that sometimes making the mark requires some awkward motion for me or rotating the work so it's easier to do. And my manual dexterity is terrible in all directions. It's so mental. I blame my third grade writing teacher.

But, between the law of thirds and the western way of reading from left to right this can certainly result in a certain look. We have cultural and genetic makeup (handedness) biasing our paintings right from the start.

And that's before we get into what our third grade teacher did to us. Made us get a crew cut, so she couldn't pull our hair....for instance.....so maybe now we paint round squiggly people, though we hate people, because they are our third grade teacher, who we can now control with our paintings. So there Mrs Beauterus ! You don't own me!

All because I could not hold the pencil the right way, even though I am a natural righty. But no, that wasn't good enough.


Thanks for this question Murray. This has been so cathartic. I'm going to paint a rabbit now.
 

laika

good intentions
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925
I haven't noticed this handedness with my paintings...
This talk of handedness makes me realize that I like to imagine light sources on the right in my sketchbook doodles, where I'm free to light things the way I like :)
And that's before we get into what our third grade teacher did to us. Made us get a crew cut, so she couldn't pull our hair....for instance.....so maybe now we paint round squiggly people, though we hate people, because they are our third grade teacher, who we can now control with our paintings. So there Mrs Beauterus ! You don't own me!
🤣 Hilarious and insightful. A lot of my early drawings were of the principal with horns and swastikas.
 

snoball

Certifiable
Supporting Member
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6,344
I like the dramatic, whether it be lighting or subject. I also prefer my light coming from the right on portraits but from the left on landscapes. I like my subjects to either be facing me or facing the right. I always paint or shade drawings from the upper left to the lower right. Strange how we prefer these things. :giggle:
 

stlukesguild

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1,931
I suppose I have lots of “biases,” but never thought of them that way. Maybe I’d call them preferences instead.

I quite agree with Olive. I have lots of preferences. I prefer figurative art... especially paintings of the human figure. I lean toward asymmetrical compositions... but even when I employ a more symmetrical design, I need some element(s) that are leaning... diagonal. I employ a shallow use of space. I love flat areas of color, flat shapes, and strong linear elements. Most of my paintings play with a contrast of geometric elements... patterns and tessellations... against the curvilinear figure. I also make much use of hard lines drawn with a ruler against the more painterly elements of texture in my use of pastel. Olive wrote, "(tongue-in-cheek), 'I hate real life.'" I fully understand. Although I make use of "realistic" elements, I prefer an art that is much more about invention and artifice. By the same token, I prefer the use of color that is based on color harmonies that suggest a mood or atmosphere to me rather than naturalistic color. Having said this, there are certain colors and certain harmonies that I prefer over others. I'll also note that I far prefer working large.
 

MurrayG

Contributing Member
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249
Hi Sno, Laika, Olive, Marc & John. It was great to read other peoples reactions. Yes, I think I want to call them preferences as well, as a bias sounds a bit too radical :) I also kinda get what Sno says, I also have to really work at light direction, especially in portraits, landscapes it tends to be clearer, but.... my clouds are often on the righthand side :oops: I actually don't for the most part have a problem with my or others "preferences" as this is what makes art unique, as opposed to a photo. I'm not sure if my lefthanded hills as just a coincidence, but now this thread has opened up some other things to observe and ponder. Thanks all.
 
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Bartc

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350
Strong color and contrast. Almost always paint with that way. Have to make myself lower contrast, paint higher key and mute the saturation.

Being essentially a plein air painter (no, I'm not really limited, just a preference this past decade), I have learned to fight the tendency toward capturing broad vistas and narrative detail. Much better when I isolate and compose and go light on the detail. My desire is toward the "lyrical" and not the "literal", a direction that takes work to achieve.
 

P. Barrie

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781
Agreed, reading from left to right is common in many languages which may lead to that “bias” when working. The Left to right rule is one sometimes applied to photography composition.
I know I have this preference when choosing scenes and setting up still lifes.
 
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stlukesguild

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I used to work in the manner I learned in Art School... working all over from the very start. After I spent some years working in collage... completing one area and then moving on to the next with each new area worked in such a manner to harmonize with what already went before. The figure is always the last thing I complete... and the first thing I establish.
 

Artyczar

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8,654
Interesting thread. I'm late coming in, but I'd like to contribute a bit. My preferences range all over the place because I like experimenting even after decades of painting. I still don't feel like I have a set "thing" and feel like every piece I embark on is a new learning experience. I start with an intention, but the painting seems to dictate something else as the process moves along no matter how much planning I do. This goes for abstracts forms, landscapes, or even my strange attempts at figurative and/or animal-things.

But like Olive, it all begins with the line. And I hate real life too. I tend to draw the line first in pencil. I like the idea of doing it in paint but have hardly started off like this. Learning how to hold one's pencil from a young age is an interesting concept since I began life as a lefty and hold the pen/pencil like one, but now I'm right-handed. It obstructs the following letters I write from left to right at times and smudges them, so I'm always looking for good pens that won't smudge easily.

Not all writing goes left to right though, and I do like to see things from both perspectives. Not that I look at my art in a mirror, but I will look at it in Photoshop at times in reverse as I'm taking in-progress shots. I often get left and right mixed up. Very often in fact. I don't think I have a leaning to skew the composition in either direction, but maybe I'm not noticing it.
 

MurrayG

Contributing Member
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249
Hi Folks, it's interesting to follow this. When I put this up, I thought I had discovered a "habit" of mine that I wasn't aware of. I'm still not sure, partly because certain tasks when I paint are "uncomfortable". That may be cos I've had a lifetime to cement patterns rather than a lifetime of artistic practice - Don't know!. I am self-taught mostly, started painting seriously late in life so maybe there is the answer.
But another way of looking at it is - is a bias a "habit". So, if you habitually work a certain way and cannot seem to break that... maybe its a barrier that is worth exploring. Just a thought!. Kinda like, if you are expecting something new/change and are not embracing change, then what can you expect. Because I feel I am "running out of time"..... I tend to try all sorts of stuff, often with a crap result, but sometimes, I am surprised!. I don't know if my hills are a habit, but I do seem to find a left to right "sloppiness" , maybe its a habit I gotta wack down :)
 
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