The Art of Simplification

“Have no fear of perfection. You will never reach it.” – Salvador Dali

A friend shared this quote as a reminder to the way we work, just as I started with a new canvas today. I decided that the sunflowers are done and I liked the overall outcome, even though I see areas of improvement each time I looked at it. It feels thrilling to embark on a new challenge. This time, building upon previous experiences, to ‘simplify’ and search for more an economic way of painting and communicating the subject.

Ironically, I discover through the earlier paintings that my compulsion to wanting the work to be ‘perfect’, results in the loss of this simplicity in the process.

The process of simplification – from the observation, to perception, distilling, and translating, is not so simple. It is easy to create an image with a hundred or thousand strokes, correcting it in the process, and getting ‘lost’ in the details. Reducing it to the most essential few brushstrokes requires some creative translation, and is more difficult. It involves a fair bit of lateral thinking, being conscious of the way we perceive and reinterpret complex information, forms, tones, colours, composition, and reducing them to a simple and elegant story.

First session for the new exercise, let’s see how many sessions this will take me to complete…

Acrylic on canvas (in progress)

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