Level of details

Hi everyone, I was just wondering how do you usually understand the level of "definition"/details in a painting?
Everything that can't be seen from a certain distance should be avoided? 
I'm painting a 60x90 cm currently and I would like to know if there is a "standard" distance from where is commonly accepted to look at a painting of this dimension.
I know generally in arts there are no fixed rules, I am asking just to understand how u faced this problem.

Thanks in advance


  • Bobitaly

    If I am interested in a painting I spend the most viewing time at about six feet (2m) away.
    Then I scrutinize the brush stokes from three inches (75mm) away.
    If I am still interested I get back ten to fifteen foot (3-5m) to look at composition and balance etc.

    However, from my observations in museums, most folk casually stroll past at about six to ten foot and spend about seven seconds taking it in.

    Much depends on the size, lighting. framing, glazing and whether or not I remembered to bring my glasses.

    I suggest, to be safe, to have max detail at the focal point and progressively looser further out.


  • Thank you @dencal for ur answer it's very clear. For what concern the 7 seconds folks it's better to not even think about it..
  • Bobitaly

    Yes. The seven seconds is the average as measured by the British Museum.


  • That's very interesting @dencal     I spent about 2 days visiting museums in San Franciso recently, I could have spent a day on each floor but I was amazed at how many people walked through as if they were on a sidewalk and seemed to have some destination in mind (like to leave or lunch).  I noticed in the old master paintings, most of the ones I enjoyed had extreme attention to detail on every square inch of their massive canvases - there was no fuzziness (like we normally see) and it was beautiful.  I'm confused by this too when painting.  I think one must make up their mind on style - whether they want to be tight and detailed (beautiful) and loose and painterly (beautiful).
  • For me the question of where to place detail and where to omit it is an aesthetic choice up to the artist. Usually more detail on your center of interest and less as you move away from it. I never really thought about it as a function of the viewer’s distance from a painting 
  • https://us.v-cdn.net/5020129/uploads/FileUpload/44/98feba8ee980712b15c66e5ecb54e8.jpg

    @Bobitaly, This is one by @Ronna, one of our members. Except for the background, there is detail throughout but most of the areas are large and without much detail. The composition lures you in to see the details.

  • Thanks everyone for answering, as I supposed there are no fixed opinions and that's maybe the beauty of art.

  • @Bobitaly I suggest watching Mark's video about maintaining the abstraction.  In it he says that you should not be painting detail that you cannot see in your reference.  This is in reference to the details in a feather in a still life, if I recall, but it applies to everything.


    So that would mean don't paint asphalt, paint asphalt colors, and add some variation in color to achieve the same kind of abstract patterns you see when you look at the road, which is large patches usually, and not individual stones.
  • Thank you very much @PaulB, I will watch it and see if I can understand more about this! I found this have to be one of main problem I will face now on.. thank you again for all this information and support:)
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