November 12, 2015

The Devil is in the Details

"At the Fair"  plein air study, 8X10"

This little plein air study presents an opportunity to discuss DETAIL.  In my slightly altered state of painting more with my left hand than with my right, I am finding making small shapes difficult.

That's kind of alright with me.  Why? So glad you asked.  In my opinion, a painter can never make a weak painting work by merely adding detail, so I'm not missing it much.  It has never been my tendency regardless.

This painting is a good example of suggesting a lot of small shapes without having to actually paint them.

Thinking painting all the detail will make your painting more interesting is like thinking people will be more interested in listening to you talk for an hour instead of for ten minutes.  Or having to read a twenty page essay instead of a two page essay in order to understand the essence of a thing.  Maybe everything that needed to be said or read would be more impactful if it was contained in one paragraph instead of twenty pages.  It would certainly be more engaging.

Don't misunderstand me.  Painting every hair or every thread painstakingly can be part of an exquisite and impactful painting, but more often than not, a lot of detail - that overly thorough explanation of everything, can be, well...tedious to both the painter and the viewer.  It can be death in the pot, most especially if the painter has continued to add more and more detail in a bid to disguise a weak idea, a flawed drawing or a poor design.

The painting above is not masterful, but it was a good exercise for exploring the suggestion of detail.  There is a surprising amount of detail that can be edited out while still having the painting "read".

Less is just about always more...and it's certainly more fun.  Just something to consider.

Happy painting all.


ps. I go in for a surgery to attempt to repair some nerve damage and restore some function to my right hand this coming week.  I'll let you all know how that goes...keeping my fingers crossed ;)

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