Katie Liddiard

Why Paint Vertically

Katie Liddiard
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Duration:   4  mins

Have you ever wondered why artists paint standing up? Or why many of them have their paintings positioned vertically instead of tipped back to rest on the easel? Artist Katie Liddiard explains exactly why she chooses to paint vertically. It has to do with the line of sight to the canvas. If the canvas is tipped the sightline is skewed, which will likely cause the artist to distort the proportions of the painting.

Chalk artists use this to their advantage, drawing their artwork from a particular vantage point and pushing their proportions to fit within that vantage point. But because the surface that they’re working on is horizontal, the image will inevitably look skewed when viewed from any other angle. Since paintings are mostly viewed hanging vertically on a wall, it is important to paint them vertically. Now, why would you paint standing up? Being able to step back and separate yourself from your work is also an important part of avoiding distortion.

When sitting down many artists tend to pigeon hole themselves into one area of the painting that may not be proportionally correct then be forced to overcompensate in other areas. Physically removing yourself from the painting and reevaluating every stroke keeps you in a self critiquing mode, able to easily correct for errors. So give it a try and see how your paintings improve!

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