Challenge 77 – American Robin and How to Simplify Complex Subjects

At this time of the year all of us are getting ready for holiday season and have a lot on our plate. Finding a spare time to paint a new challenge could be even more challenging. I do get that and I really appreciate the effort and dedication all of you you put into the last challenge and gifted us with your beautiful creations. Before we continue with our next challenge, I would like to wish you very best 2018/2019 Holiday Season and a lot of joy and happiness for the next 2019 New Year.

About the composition

This is an american robin bird, and it was taking a bath in a small water pond in front of it when I took its picture. I love the expression on its face. Thoughtful and curios at the same time and it could be a real challenge to capture it.

However, in this challenge, I would like to talk about about something else – how to simplify complex subjects. They are everywhere, especially outdoors in nature. I was thinking about how to put it into words, and classify, so that it is easier for you to understand and apply in practice. And here is what I came up with. I hope you will find it useful and applicable.

— The 1st method – Be proactive – Plan and tell your own story by asking questions upfront

Below are examples of the questions you might ask yourself in order to simplify this painting reference.

1) What is the most important subject, feeling, impression, and story I would like to portray in my painting?
In this photo reference it is likely a bird. Then you will know that you cannot eliminate the bird from your painting.
2) Next, you ask yourself what about the rest? Do I care what is around the bird? Do I want to paint it standing on the ground, or maybe posing on a branch up in the air? Each choice will guide you towards a different composition. Towards a different approach to the simplification.
3) How about the water? Do I want it in my painting, and how do I want it? Maybe as a nice swimming pool the bird is enjoying, or maybe I want to communicate that there was pouring rain, which just stopped, and just now the sun showed up in its full glory.
4) What should be the texture of the background? Should I keep all leaves and make an amazing, complex and highly detailed painting, or I just want a few the most interesting brunches, because anyway this painting is all about the bird not background.

— The 2nd method – Be reactive – Let your artistic muse guide you in starting the story and finish it yourself later

What I mean by being reactive is to look around yourself, look at other artists works, look outside of the window, and find something that speaks to you and you would like to portray in your painting. It might be background, it might be position of the subject, it might be windy and stormy weather outside. Whatever it is, it is an excellent starting guiding principle throughout the painting process. Drop in the colors and figure out later what to do with the rest of the painting. This approach has high probability to lead to a messy and unsatisfactory painting, but is also the most likely to teach you something new and take you on a new road of discovery.

I hope you will find the guidance above helpful, and apply some of it while painting this lovely american robin.

To participate in this challenge, please sign in to this website and create a new post as a response to the current challenge, the latest by December 23, 2018. After that we will be having a new challenge.

Happy Painting!

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