Tuesday, May 27

It's Simple, Simply Simplify Your Paintings

Stucco Lighthouse
Acrylic on board
18 x 24 in/45.7 x 61 cm
Copyright 2014

Yes, the title of today's post is simply silly.

But the message is not silly. It's something I struggle with on every painting I attempt. I used the word attempt rather than complete because every painting I attempt does not always end up exactly as I imagined it would.

As a painter who likes to paint contemporary impressionism, I try to keep simplicity top of mind as I paint. That is, I try to keep it simple as I plan the composition, select my color palette, sketch out the main elements, and especially when I paint the painting.

Not that painting is ever easy, but it's easier to paint exactly what you see before you rather than to edit out any of it. But therein lies the problem. It takes experience and some courage to leave out not only superfluous details but also some major elements if they aren't adding anything for the viewer or the painting.

In his excellent book on how to master impressionism (of which I was fortunate to be able to purchase a copy), Creating Impressionist Landscapes in Oil, Colley Whisson says, among other really good advice, "don't overdo detail because detail kills imagination."

I try to remember that along with the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle every time I pick up my paintbrush.

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