oil on canvas original landscape painting artist

Less Is More - Simplify Your Painting

One of the most difficult skills for a beginner to master is how to simplify your painting. 

Painting everything in a scene will make it look too cluttered.

Identify what is important and simplify the rest.

If you are painting plein air or from a photo reference, survey your scene and think first about what you are going to cut - then cut some more. Doing a few simple sketches may help you decide what should stay and what needs to go.

If you are painting from a photo remember the photo will have everything in focus, which our eyes will not. For a more realistic painting the focal point should be in focus, the background slightly out of focus.  A few brush strokes painted out of focus can represent foliage in the background for example, which will look realistic and save you hours of work.

Simplify your palette

Stick to a few colours and mix these to produce different values and tones. Too many colours will make for a confusing painting. Different values of the same colour will make a more elegant painting and will add more to the painting than adding more colours.


A mixture of light mid and dark tones of green is more effective than adding a number of different colours.

 oil on canvas original landscape painting artist

Simplify your technique as well. Think about every brush stroke and make each stroke count. Mindlessly painting until you get it right will result in a muddy mess and will take forever to produce anything like a decent painting.

The painting below uses a simple palette and the trees in the background are slightly out of focus

oil on canvas landscape painting art
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