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Elspeth works at her painting of Phebe, with the panel inverted, April 2011
Strange as it may sound (we often surprise Studio visitors with this one!), working on a painting while the panel is turned upside-down, as shown above, can be a marvelous problem-solver during an otherwise difficult painting session. In the final stages of her painting of Phebe, for instance, Elspeth has spent several painting sessions over the last couple of weeks, with the panel inverted. This technique enables the artist to "forget" that he or she is painting a face, an eye, a hand, etc. and, instead, focus only on the color shapes, contours, and textures of a given area.
Particularly in the case of a foreshortened hand position or problematic facial angle, working with the painting upside-down can erase preconceived notions about how a hand or face ought to look; in other words, such a practice objectifies an otherwise subjective task. At other times, turning a panel or canvas a different direction allows the artist to add new brush strokes without smearing wet paint already applied to the canvas.