Sunday, 17 April 2016

Less is more... and a little sketch of a French landscape

I just wanted to share the great honour I had discovering that the artist/instructor Jeanne Mackenzie wrote about my painting 'Cold Winter Day - Alexandra Park' (see image below) for her series of articles titled 'Why This Works'; where she discusses why a contemporary painting succeeds as a painted image. This was published for PleinAir Today, the weekly enewsletter for PleinAir magazine.

She describes better than me why I  like to keep things simple and almost abstract. I hope she won't mind me sharing her words because they perfectly express my approach to painting:

"From a distance, this painting tells a story with a lot of detail — parks, buildings, roads, hills, trees. But as you look closer, you see that the story is told with eclectic spots of color and shapes. The viewer loves to fill in the rest of the story with information that they bring to the painting. As simple as this application of paint seems, it is difficult for an artist to just leave well enough alone when it comes to detail. We want to make it more real with windows and branches and cars. That can often have the opposite effect. This is a beautiful example of ‘less is more.’"

Cold Winter Day, Alexandra Park  10"x8"  oil on board

I like what she says about "the viewer filling the gaps". I've always liked the idea of an active viewer to my paintings that can see and imagine the details I'm not including and make the painting his own. This reminds me of a theory I heard at University years ago. This was originally about music but it can apply to painting too. It said that when the listener hears a song/ music piece that is easy/finished/obvious/catchy, he might like it at the first listening but gets bored of it very quickly because he is not involved in the listening process. But if the song is more subtle/abstract/unfinished/complex, the listener will have to be personally involved to try to decrypt it and give a meaning to it, and will not only make it his own, but also will keep rediscovering new layers at every listening which will make him want to listen again. Well I would be very happy if my paintings have such an effect on the viewer.



If you haven't fallen asleep yet with this long wordy post, then I'll just take the opportunity to post a new little sketch below. This was done after a trip to the South of France. I wanted to capture this quiet early morning light before the heat kicks in.

The courtyard, sunrise - Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt  5"x7" oil on board


  1. Haven't read your blog for ages - too much going on with AFAS - but this is a prime example of your less-is-more style and I love the colour harmonies, which create exactly the right light for the day.