Becky Joy Fine Art

Simplification, Just What Does Simplify Mean!

– Posted in: events
afternoon shadows 30x36 oil

Someone asked me recently just what does simplifying mean and can you give examples to show what it is.

So …. here goes. Simplifying means to leave out some of the detail, to have less clutter, unify your lights, and unify your darks.

I recently went painting with someone who wanted some help from me. Something that I noticed immediately was that the artist was putting in all the little spots of light that was in the actual scene. I suggested to take out some of the light and just concentrate on the larger areas of light. This one suggestion helped to simplify, unify and strengthen the painting.

Now to show you some examples. First is a photo of the actual scene and then the painting of that scene. Notice that I concentrated the light in fewer areas than is in the actual scene. I made the decision to leave some of the lights out to strengthen the composition.


afternoon shadows 30x36 oil

More examples of simplifying by unifying areas of light and areas of dark.

fall colored trees print

desert giclee print

When you first approach your scene that you are going to paint, look to see if you can have fewer areas of shadow by connecting your shadows. Is there a small amount of light in those shadows, that can be eliminated? Look at your lights the same way. Can you elminate some small spots of light in the scene? By doing these two things, you can strengthen your composition. It won’t look so “spotty”.

Now, look at colors. Are there some objects that are unimportant to the scene? Can they be eliminated?

Look at all aspects of your scene, leave out unimportant detail and objects. Always keep in mind what your painting is about. If something doesn’t help in telling that story, it might be wise to leave it out. Remember that a good painting is about what you left out, not everything you put into it.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Marilyn Gentile Davis March 24, 2014, 1:20 pm

I subscribe to John Pototschnik's news letter Becky, and love reading his interviews. I saw the interview with you and the others! Love his art too!

Nyla Witmore March 24, 2014, 2:51 pm

Great explanation, but there were no photos of the scene or the painting.

Mike Kennedy March 24, 2014, 5:24 pm

Hi Becky. Thanks for the info! Okay, some comments about the page. As noted by someone below me in the comments, where's the pics to go with the blog? Also, there are related posts at the bottom – I can't click on them, they are not active. I went to your home page blog and there's no way to search for the related posts. I just thought I'd check them out. I could click on 'Older posts' all day until what I'm looking for pops up but that's undesirable. Great post anyway and good suggestions!

Becky Joy March 25, 2014, 7:38 am

Yes, I realized tonight that I had a problem with the links and also forgot the photos (which I now have) Thanks Mike.

Becky Joy March 25, 2014, 7:39 am

Thanks Nyla, I just added the photos, I had forgotten them.

Becky Joy March 25, 2014, 7:39 am

He has a great blog and paintings too!

Becky Joy March 25, 2014, 1:49 am

I’ve got the links fixed. Whew! That took a while! And photos up too. :) Now I can go to bed.

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