Oriental Grunge, 10 x 15 acrylic, ink
“In mathematics the complicated things are reduced to simple things. So it is in painting.”
– Thomas Eakins
As artists we are taught that it is better to simplify what we put in our paintings – as Robert Browning said, “less is more”. When we start to paint objects or the landscape our tendency is to paint every last detail. For most of us, this is a strategy bound to fail. We learn to imply a million pine needles with one stroke of the brush. In figurative studies we learn that a simple line can convey as much or more about the human body than a realistic depiction. What isn’t literally there is filled in by the imagination of the viewer and thus offers a fresh dimension to each observer.
Yet many of my paintings are … complicated. I like to put a lot of “stuff” in them, different shapes, textures, colors, mediums, etc. Of course, in these non-representational pieces I’m not trying to make my work look like something else, so perhaps I’m not bound by the same need to avoid too much information which can make a realistic painting lifeless.
I’m sure it is a reflection of my own mind, which loves complexity in almost any form. People looking at work such as this may feel that it’s a bit of a mess, a chaotic jumble. I can’t deny a certain resemblance to my mind. Who knows, maybe if I get enough of this stuff out, I’ll reduce the mental clutter. Bear with me as I sweep out the attic…