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Friday, December 06, 2013

When More Is Not Better....Painting Tip of the Day

'Summer Reprise'           11x14          pastel          ©Karen Margulis
Just one more!  That's all it needs. One more blade of grass.  One more pop of color.  Before I know it I lose track and I have lots more grass and lots more color pops.  Nothing is special anymore.  I have overworked the painting by adding MORE.

We've all heard the advice. Less is More....Leave something to the viewer's imagination....suggest things rather than spell them out.  It is easier said than done.

Has this ever happened to you?  You are painting and add something that really works. Maybe an interesting mark. Maybe a spot of unexpected color. Maybe the way you created an element such as grass or water reflections.  It is a bit thrilling. " Ohhhhh I did it! It looks great. Let me do MORE of that!"  So you add another and another.  Oh Look this is looking so good!"  You add more still.  And then you realize you have lost that magic.  You lost track and overdid it. 

I am going to print this out and put it on my easel:


this is the oil stain underpainting for my coneflowers

How can we avoid this problem of overdoing the details in a painting?  How can we develop the restraint we need to just leave it alone?

  • At the end of the painting process slow down and make sure that every mark you make has a purpose. Make a mark, step back and evaluate the painting. Does it need more?
  • Keep a mat or frame handy and when you work on an area that really pleases you.Stop. Put the mat up to the painting and step away. This can help you see that more may not be needed!

PLEASE NOTE:  I sincerely apologize but I have had to turn word verification back on for the comment section. I have been overwhelmed by spam comments...sometimes as many as 25 a day and most of them obscene. I have been just deleting them but I will be going out of town next week and won't be able to keep up with all of the nasty spam. I hope you all understand. I truly appreciate all of your comments and if there was a way to have you post without going through the word verification I would be thrilled to do it. Any tips???  Thanks for understanding!


Lynn Norton said...

Sorry you are getting nasty spam. Don't worry - don't think real followers will have a problem going through the extra step to post (even though it is sometimes difficult to read certain letters!)

Karen said...

Thank you Lynn, I feel so much better! I really appreciate your comment and thanks for following my blog!!

Marie Ludwig said...

A little word verification won't stop me from reading your great blog.

robertsloan2art said...

I'll still keep commenting despite it. With your great blog always stimulating me, I'll put up with word verification. You don't need the spam. Nobody does.

Really good point about overdoing it. Too much of anything doesn't work. I've got one autumn landscape that I just could not get right no matter what I did - and that was why. I might clean it off and redo it sometime thanks to this article.

Maryann Didriksen said...

Great post! I fight the one more demon all the time.

Catherine said...

I don't mind the verification. None of us want you to waste your time deleting spam when you could be painting or writing this blog for us!
Here is my little tip for avoiding the overdoing it. Stop painting BEFORE you are finished. Step away. Take a bathroom break or have a cup of tea. When you come back to your painting, you will have fresh, rested eyes. By getting out of the "endless loop" you can now see exactly what needs to be done, if anything (!) to complete the painting.