In art, just as it is in life, more is not necessarily more. This is a hard one for me to remember. My default in may art making is to just keep adding things. If one kind of shape or mark feels good then surely 37 more will feel even better!
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. Somewhere along the way—just enough, becomes too much. Do you know what I am talking about? You can tell, when you look at your art from across the room and it tires you out just by looking at it.
So the obvious answer seems to be to remove things, but this can be tricky especially if you love so much of what is there already.
So here is another way to look at it …
It’s not that you can’t have lots of shapes or elements; it’s just sometimes visually too much when everything is equally noticeable. In other words, all the shapes are high contrast (different in light and dark; value difference) then all of them will be competing for the viewer’s attention.
And that, sometimes, can make you’re painting look like a garage sale. In a garage sale everything is thrown on the table and nothing is curated. We should always be aware the elements or areas that we want to make the most noticeable. And let me say, there is nothing wrong with a busy garage sale kind of painting. It is of course your preference.
But if you desire to restore a visual calm to your art, we have to edit the values of the shapes or areas so the viewer is not overloaded visually. We need to make the value differences of all the things that you don’t want us to notice at first glance so that their values are closer in value to the surrounding area’s values.
For example if you have a dark background and you have dozens of light shapes that are over crowding the painting, try making half of them darker so they sit more quietly with the background. (They are now closer in value and as a result are less noticeable.)
So next time your painting feels too busy, remember that you don’t necessarily have to throw anything away, just change some values of what is already there.
This is a very cool thing to learn so if it is unclear leave a question below and I or someone in the community will answer it!
Also pop on over to the new FB Art2life page:
Tomorrow, Friday July 14th at noon I will be doing a FB Live all about this topic and I can answer your questions there too!
See you tomorrow, Friday
the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.