Learning to Simplify

  • Post published:February 16, 2017
  • Post category:Visual Art

Recently while walking down the street, I looked ahead of myself and saw a tree with many small rocks around it on the ground. Overall it was a beautiful sight and I imagined myself outlining the scene. I asked myself: Where would I start? Do I outline everything? Every rock? Every details and lines? I told myself that that would be complicated with just lines alone. Sure, if I were sketching it it might be easy with shading and so on. Then it dawned on me, “Who says that I have to outline every single rock? If my goal is to get everything down, I might as well take a photo!” Right? I love teaching moments like this. What you include is just as important as what you would leave out and vice-versa. In design, there’s a concept called “negative space.” Imagine a piece of design or art with absolutely no empty space. Look around you and notice that good designs have empty spaces in them. Sometimes, a lot! How about music? Can you imagine musics with no silence or pause in between notes? Why can’t visual artists do the same?

I’ll give examples later on. In the meantime this is a great introduction: How to Simplify and Sketch Buildings. When you’re out on the street and have only 7 minutes to capture what you see, the art of simplifying will be of great help.