Research, that is to say my investigation and study into what it means to “simplify” a design in drawing and painting.
Building A Knowledge Base.
Hi! Over the past few months, I’ve been looking for articles on the topic of simplification. That is, I’ve been trying to find out what simplification is all about. You see, I figure that if I am to lead a class or workshop on the subject, I ought to have a solid foundation of knowledge.
It hasn’t been easy finding articles. Rather, the research process has been slow, especially at first. Sometimes, though, one article leads to another relevant article and, eventually, another. So, the idea, then, is to plod through and keep looking.
That being said, I have found several references that I like. In other cases, with books, for example, I can see “simplify” in the index. But, I have yet to read the all documents.
I Like Research!
And, the fun thing? Yes, research can be fun. One gets to expand one’s horizons and meet interesting people through their writings. Also, the artists represented include realism to abstraction; photography, drawing and painting!
Links To Articles.
One additional note. Several of these links have books, online classes, etc. The purpose is not to advocate or promote the books or classes. Rather, to share bits of insight on simplification.
So, in not any particular order, here are some links and references to articles on how to simplify.
1. Mitchell Albala.
Mr. Albala is an artist and instructor working in the Pacific Northwest.
From Mitchell Albala’s blog: “Any good landscape painting I’ve ever done was also simple”, https://blog.mitchalbala.com/the-not-so-simple-art-of-simplification/
Quote: The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. – Hans Hoffman
From Mitchell Albala’s book, Landscape Painting. Simplification and Massing: Learn to reduce nature’s complexity by looking beneath the surface of a subject to discover the form’s basic masses and shapes.
2. Website: Composition Study.
Though the purpose of this website is to be a resource for photographers, I think that the information is relevant to any visual artist. There is one article specifically on simplification: http://compositionstudy.com/simplification/
The author includes a wonderful example of simplification in a black and white photograph.
3. Johannes Vloothuis.
Via Artistnetwork.com, “5 Art Composition Tips: How to Simplify a Busy Painting”; useful tips and examples!
This short article and video focusing on simplifying by seeing the underlying shape and form of the subject.
5. John Burton: Organizing Chaos.
From Tucson Art Academy On Line, a short video from artist John Burton. He discusses how he organizes a complex scene. Its all about seeing shapes; working large to small, and leaving the details to last. I recommend this short video: Three Key Steps to Simplifying A Complex Scene.
6. Keene Wilson.
Mr. Wilson’s article “Design and Composition: Practical Advice for the Advanced Artist” is compilation of notes from the artist on design and composition. Embedded in the many of the notes are tips on how to enhance and simplify your design. And, you are rewarded as you read down the page where you find an entire paragraph titled “Simplify”. This might be an article you want to book mark and come back to!
7. Miles G. Batts.
One of my favorite artists is Miles G. Batts. He has a paragraph specifically on simplification on page 68 of his book “The Complete Guide to Creative Watercolor”.
8. Linda Kemp.
9. Tom Hoffman.
An artist I admire from the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Hoffman has a book out plus teaches. I have not read his book, but I frequent a blog he uses for some of his watercolor classes. It seems to me that simplification and how to do it are topics imbedded in his instructions. I find the blog useful.
10. Frank Eber.
Artist Frank Eber, another fine artist whose work I admire has a blog with several excellent articles that include the subject of simplification. All are worthy reads and provide insight to the painting process and simplification in particular.
- Simplifying A Scene.
- Drawing Skillz. Mr. Eber suggests doing an accurate drawing first; then doing a second drawing from the first. You start to edit and simplify.
- Revisiting France 2.
- The Illusion of a Street Scene. Includes Leonardo deVinci’s quote: ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’.
- Paris, The Seine and its Beautiful Bridges. His own quote: “paint the essence not the detail.
11. Mark Alan Anderson, “Just Sketching” Blog.
I like Mr. Anderson’s articles. To elaborate, I find the practical, accessible and useful. Its about the practice of drawing and sketching. So, I’ll list a couple of articles that apply directly to the topic of simplification.
12. Stephen Berry.
Tip: Try smaller reference photos, such as from a cell phone. Helps you see the big shapes! From “10 Tips to Help You Improve On Your Own”.
Some of my other articles about simplifying:
- Simplifying – In Drawing & Painting Composition.
- One Way To Simplify: Using Silhouette Shape Design Studies.
About The Paintings.
The paintings shown in this article are part of my “KittyKitty” series started in 2009. One of my favorite ways of doing research, whether or not I want to simplify, is to do a “variation on a theme”. Put another way, working in series gives the artist an opportunity to see first hand how changes influence design. Plus, its great fun!
#simplify #simplifyyourpainting #watercolorpainting