Capturing the Essence

This is one of those rare occurrences where I actually like a piece I’ve made. I focused on simplifying and abstracting a lot of elements here because I often get into the habit of adding too much realism and detail. There’s nothing wrong with realism and detail, but a piece that should take a couple of hours can end up taking a whole day to complete and be none the better for it. The focus should be on capturing the essence of an object and allowing the viewer to complete the illustration with their own details, rather than making the piece so realistic that there is no room for interpretation. If you look at the backgrounds of popular animated shows like The Flintstones, Samurai Jack, and Scooby Doo, you don’t see a renaissance painting, you see abstract and simplified shapes.

Anyway, above is based on a place in Norway called Hamnoy. Enjoy!

Making things hard for myself

The above illustration is actually only the top half of a larger image. As far as composition goes I think this is an improvement on the original (see below). The reason for this is the reduced colour palette and the shape of the canvas. A limited colour palette tends to bring a piece together more harmoniously; there’s fewer colours to clash against each other and the use of values is more noticeable, thus you can be more subtle with their use.

As for the canvas shape/size, the key difference from the original is that the focal point for the viewer is much more clear – your eye is drawn to the window cleaner; he is in that right third (a compositional mainstay), and he stands out very clearly.

The image below is the original. While it’s not an awful picture, I do think there is a bit too much going on. It’s also not clear where the eye should be led, and I think it’s fair to say that the window cleaner stands out a lot less in this version despite the colours remaining the same. Suffice to say it would’ve taken probably less than half the time to complete this had I just painted the top half – you live and learn. I could be totally wrong of course, so feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. As always, enjoy!