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How doing jigsaw puzzles has helped my painting skill

By Mary Fran Anderson

Experts say that Jigsaw puzzles enhance creativity..

In fact, research continues to prove that creative thinking and problem solving skills are enhanced by working on jigsaw puzzles and painting a picture.

The two hemispheres of your brain control different functions. The left side of your brain controls analytic and logical thinking and the right-side controls creativity. When you are working on puzzles, and painting a picture, you are engaging both sides and giving your brain a real mental workout.

Jigsaw puzzles involve creative energy because there are many solution paths and solution strategies. This sequence of events is similar to what an artist does while painting. There are always various options when considering the next step. Unlike jigsaw puzzles however, the watercolor artist often needs to start over if the wrong path is taken and mistakes are made!

Notice how I commented (in red) on the areas that didn’t work in this painting.

When working on a jigsaw puzzle and painting, you are engaging both sides of your brain. Just like in assembling a jigsaw puzzle, the artist needs to be able to visualize the final puzzle or painting.

I usually use a photo reference when painting. However, through the use of thumb nail and value sketches, I adjust the reality of the photograph so that it makes a better composition for painting. This means that I have to figure out what puzzle pieces are necessary to create a visually pleasing painting.

I take a step-by-step approach.

The following shots show a progression of a painting done on YUPO paper (YUPO paper allows you to wipe away mistakes unlike ordinary watercolor paper):

Step 1: The first puzzle piece: Determining the background. (I’ve sketched out the entire picture in pencil using the ability to visualize the final painting.

Step 2: I started to add some detail to the foreground and part of the background.

Step 3: I determined where to place the center of interest. The house on the right with the red roof is my center.

Step 4: Background, Foreground, center of interest and some details.

Step 5:Fine Tuning and detail work.

Step 6: More detail work and fine tuning

Step 7: Fine tuning, adding color, detail work.

Step 8: More fine tuning, cropping areas I don’t like, removing excess color from the grapevines.

This is my final image. I’m not sure that I like how it turned out. I still think it might be too dark. I preferred how the background looked in step 1 and step 2.

I do like the cropping of the figure in the foreground to just show her hat and glass of wine. I hope it draws your eye from her to the house with the red roof.

Improvements can be made. There is also the option of starting over.

Maybe it would help if I did more jigsaw puzzles!

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