Once your oil painting work area is prepared and you’ve selected an area of your still life to paint, a viewfinder is a useful tool for composing a strong picture. A viewfinder crops out the areas of your still life that you’re not going to paint and keeps you focused on what you want to paint. Use this figure as a template for making your own viewfinder. Don’t forget to cut out the interior opening (or the viewfinder wouldn’t offer much of a view). (The circle represents the position for a hole punch so you can store the viewfinder in your work journal or hanging from your easel.)


Here’s how to use the viewfinder:

  1. Hold the viewfinder with your free hand.

  2. Focus on an interesting section of your still life with the viewfinder.

  3. Look through the viewfinder and draw the shapes in the same position and the same size as you see them.

The viewfinder should be proportionate to the canvas in height and width and keep the viewfinder distance from your eyes the same while laying in your drawing.