Leaving out details can make your art better

Dwarf under a tree watercolor art by manelle Oliphant

Have I mentioned how thrilling it is to sit down with a sketchbook and watch TV?

It might be one of my favorite things especially if there’s chocolate. 

A few months ago, while I was still building this website and planning a class for illustrators I found solace in an evening of tv watching while drawing in my sketchbook. To be clear, watching tv while I draw is nothing new. I’ve been doing that since I started watching Commander Mark’s Secret City. A show where a man named Mark Kistler taught kids how to draw. I remember watching it religiously, it started airing in 1985. I was four. So I came by this habit honestly I guess. I’m not sure when the chocolate entered the equation.

Let us now come back to the present, or at least the more recent past. I was working on my website all morning and spending free evenings drawing in my sketchbook. I didn’t approach each page with a plan just started drawing scribbles and sketching until something emerged. (If you want to see something cool watch how Iris Compiet does the same thing in this video) That technique turned into this page.

Manelle Oliphant Sketchbook page Wizard in the tree. Tales Fantastic blog
Dragon art by Manelle Oliphant. Tales Fantastic blog.

I have been calling it “The Wizard in the Tree” page. As you can see it does have a wizard and a tree. The title comes from one of my favorite childhood books by one of my favorite childhood authors Lloyd Alexander. 

As it turns out The Wizard in the Tree page has some lovely little sketch gems which I scanned into my computer, cleaned up, and printed onto watercolor paper. The tree sketch (Sans wizard but including the dwarf.) is one of my favorites so I turned that into a painting. 

I’ve been trying to improve my painting skills by leaving out details that don’t need to be there. Why?  It adds interest to the artwork by giving the viewer something for their brain to do. But I have to work hard at it because my brain wants to fill everything in when I’m painting. 

So, I went into the painting with a plan that I would not paint certain details. Watercolor landscape artists like Andy Evenson do it all the time. And when you have a watercolor painting with lovely washes not bogged down by too much detail it really makes the medium shine. So that was my plan, a shining example of a watercolor painting. 

It took me two tries. I wanted to show you the failed attempt but I think I threw it out. (Probably so no one would see it.)

Thanks to the miracle that is the modern printer, after I messed up my first try I printed my sketch again and made this more successful attempt. 

Watercolor illustration by Manelle Oliphant. Dwarf under a tree fantasy art. tales fantastic blog

So next time you are creating an illustration, look for places where you can leave out detail. It will make the painting more interesting.

Illustrators, this one trick will improve your paintings. Tales Fantastic Blog
Leaving out details can make your art better. Tales fantastic blog by Manelle Oliphant

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.