“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
Charles Bukowski was an influential, 20th century, German American poet and novelist. For Christmas several years ago, my daughters gave me a sketch book with the above quotation written inside the front cover. KISS, or “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”, was the first rule of good design learned at the beginning of my career. Later I adapted that tenet into this: “It’s simple to design something complex. It’s more complex to design something simple.” It didn’t take me too long to learn just how true that statement is and that became a guiding principle in much of my commercial work.
I’ve had the opportunity to stand in awe of original paintings by artists whom I admire like Velazquez, Monet, Chase, and Sargent for the simplicity and bravura they display in their brush work. In a single stroke, they said so much with so little. I’ve always referred to this as eloquence, but I hadn’t really ever made the connection, until I read that quotation by Bukowski.
The unintentional paintings I made for 20 years were simple by design and out of necessity. My process had to be adapted to the choice I made to have a family. Once I began to explore the new approach to painting, it became fascinating how the world seemed to open up to me. Simplicity had once again won the day.
My daughters are moving on with their own lives now, and I have the time again to focus on my painting. As my work has taken on a new, more ambitious direction that requires more focused observation, and more detailed images, I find myself returning to the quotation and seeking a new sensibility, a sense of simplicity and eloquence. It is a new challenge of finding a simple solution to a much more complicated problem.