I wrote last year about the importance of working in abstractions, and in looking at some of my work lately, I feel I am trying to put too much in, explaining too much. These little detail bits of paintings below I think emphasize the importance of simplifying, and the kind of dramatic results you can get.

Wouldn’t these make completed paintings on their own?

9 thoughts on “The value of simplifying

  1. Good questions, Steph. I’m going to try a couple of things: 1) do a 3-value notan sketch before I start painting; 2) using really large brushes, to force me to focus on big shapes. These are technical things I can do that will help, but I think the biggie is just to keep “simplify” in my mind as I’m choosing a composition.

  2. yes you’re totally right Ed. Paintings constructed with simple but interesting shapes and unexpected colours…you might try these larger?? trouble might be keeping the bravura in the brushstroke.??!!

  3. Absolutely correct! Sometimes i just render tooooo much, and to my mind, that’s no fun. Indeed, landscape (and other genres) is the art of abstraction. I agree, Ed, these snibits from your larger images look great!

  4. Sounds like a plan. What was it that made you notice how intricate your paintings had gotton?
    I know I often see a scene and jump right in drawing or painting. I keep meaning to force myself to take my time, and consider what I want to portray before I set pen to paper, as it were. Time is always a factor for me. Often, sketching time is time I steal between doing other things. 15 minutes parked up in a park before driving onto work… That kind of thing doesn’t leave me much time to think.

  5. Really cool details Ed.
    It is so hard to simplify sometimes. One of my students once said it best. “The urge to paint the details, it is stronger than me”.
    I think that my mood of day dictates how detailed I get sometimes.

  6. Well said Ed! Those really are beautiful spontaneous composition and an issue I struggle with. I’d love to leave all details behind and paint just like those samples.

    Frank- I love that quote! Sounds like the dark side of the force that he can’t resist.

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