The use of the grid

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The use of the grid

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005

Jeffery LeMieux wrote:
In defense of Fred's surprising statement about grids, I think it can be said with certainty that some small sketches possess a vitality that artists try to preserve by enlarging them into full-sized paintings by using the grid. I know that I've seen grids under quite a surprising number of paintings from the 17th and 18th century in museums, often in the shadows where the pigment has lost it opacity over time.

And while a grid may be useful for an initial drawing, trained artists understand that it is useless for the other components that make a good painting. Such artists are also constantly aware of the danger that a grid can kill a painting. Real artists, I think, know when to abandon themselves to gesture, at which point the grid becomes useless and the painting comes alive.


I don't see why Fred's statement should be considered surprising. A grid used in this manner is just for transferring the artist's design onto a larger format. As I said before, the grid can be erased after it has served its purpose, and the drawing/design refined further freehand, by eyeball judgment. And then the painting commences over it, and of course the artist can re-evaluate everything and make whatever changes he sees fit to make as he goes.