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Friday, November 19, 2010

Less is More, More or Less

The pristine white canvas I posted the other day is no longer virgin. I made my mark.

The canvas is scarred and must be mended by adding more marks. The minimalists wouldn't think so. They favored less is more and would probably think I'd already gone too far. They liked to exclude personal expression by cutting painting down to the most basic elements. But right now, I need more. I'm not a woman of few words, nor a painter of a single dot. My initial gesture needs others to make the painting comprehensible. Summer Woods is pretty comprehensible in this primary state. I get it. It's the woods. There's trees and underbrush and a foreground, midground and background. I could sign it and walk away. But I won't. At this point, I'm going for overdone--maybe even over the top? Depends on how the marks go. Art is a form of communication. I'm a chatty Kathy. I like to make myself perfectly clear. But perfectly clear could be too many marks and as boring as an all white painting without a single mark?

Take a look at Frank Stella's Black paintings. They say a lot about simplicity. They say a lot about design, (but nobody mentions that). Do they leave you wanting more? Or less? They never drew me across the room to take a closer look, I didn't have to get any closer. I could appreciate and admire the brevity of their grand statements from the gallery door.


  1. I saw the link. Wow, even his non black beauties are beauties.. love the clean lines.. yes more- several more ...

  2. Makes me stop and wonder why go farther when just a few well placed gestures can capture the essence?

  3. yep, u r right on that...guess those famous quotes we come across are so powerful in their meaning??

  4. I had an epiphany today reviewing the work of the minimalists. My artwork is overdone. I must stop. I should not go for an absolute finish, but stop when I see what I saw. Leave the artwork open ended so the viewer can come to their own conclusion.

  5. Yes the black painting seems more like a tool for meditation than something that elicits curiousity or interest. Love the colors in your piece - and its complexity - like its painter no doubt.

  6. I personally like the more complex works. The black painting looks more like a textile to me.

  7. Hi Bonnie, Michelle, thank you for commenting.

    While I admire simplicity, the minimalists were too simple. Their work says design to me big time. And I do believe their designs had a big influence on furnishings in the sixties and seventies--particularly wallpaper.

    Then there's the size of their work--giant sized--taking up whole walls in museum galleries, a contradiction of simplicity.

    Frank Stella's shaped canvases and geometric constructions are fascinating, but I hardly think of them as being minimalistic. They too are huge--and even though the planes and cones and coils were painted, they were more relief sculptures that hadn't stepped out in 3D as yet.

    As an interior architectural designer, my work has been influenced by the minimalists. But my painting is expressive.