How do you choose what to paint or draw when there are so many choices in front of you?
Whether your subject is a landscape, still life, or portrait, arranging your composition can be challenging when your options feel limitless. A viewfinder can help you select your best option.
A viewfinder is a simple tool you can make yourself with strips of cardboard or popsicle sticks and a glue stick. You can decorate your viewfinder with markers to make it unique!
If you use a viewfinder with the same proportions as your paper (i.e. square or rectangular) you’ll be able to “try out” cropping your composition in different ways until you find a result that inspires you. A viewfinder helps you look closely at the world around you and narrow down your options. It works best if you close one eye as you look through your viewfinder.
A viewfinder can also help you apply the “Rule of Thirds” in your work. The Rule of Thirds is a guideline artists use to draw the viewer into their work by creating an interesting composition. Simply tape some pieces of thin string to the back of your viewfinder to divide the space into thirds in both directions. Then locate your main area of interest where vertical and horizontal lines intersect.
What if you need a viewfinder in a pinch and you don’t have the right supplies with you? Just use your fingers! Make a “letter L” with the thumb and index finger of both hands. Face the back of your left hand toward you and the back of your right hand away from you. Then make each thumb touch the index finger of the other hand. Voilá – a “handy” viewfinder!
The CMACIVICKIDS challenge for June was an Upcycled Viewfinder! You can make my project (above), CMA’s viewfinder project, or come up with your own unique idea. Have your project added to CMA’s online exhibition by sharing it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using the hashtags #CMACIVICKIDS and #TeachKidsArt. Follow Teach Kids Art on Instagram to see more viewfinder photos!