One Clever Way To Make Minimalist Art Interesting (With An Example)

Well, I thought that I’d talk about the best way to make interesting minimalist art today. This is mostly because, due to tiredness, the 1920s-50s style “film noir” drawing that will appear here in a little under a week ended up being a lot more minimalist than I’d expected. Here’s a preview of it:

This is a reduced-size preview. The full-size drawing will be posted here on the 8th July.

Anyway, one of the most important ways to make minimalist art look interesting is to imply things that aren’t directly shown. Whether this is done through things like shadows, facial expressions, outlines, silhouettes, background details etc… the best way to make minimalist art interesting is to hint at lots of stuff that isn’t directly shown in your drawing or painting.

But, how does this work in practice?

First of all, the presence of a large dark room in the foreground is implied by a few silhouettes and outlines (eg: in the bottom left corner and top edge of the window). The room also gains some depth because the smoke disappears behind one of these silhouettes. The drawing’s composition also helps to add scale to the unseen room, via the size and position of the window.

The historical setting of the picture is implied through the “film noir” style outfit the man in the background is wearing, the fact that the picture is in black & white and a few angular lines that are reminiscent of the woodcut print art in the “wordless novels” of the 1920s.

In addition to this, art involving windows usually shows people looking out of windows. So, by placing a bright sunlit scene behind the window, I was able to turn this on it’s head and add an ominous atmosphere to the drawing (almost as if something is lurking inside the room). The unlit neon signs of a casino and a nightclub in the bright background also help to add to the eerie atmosphere too.

Finally, both people in the drawing stare into the room with amused curiosity, implying the presence of something that the viewer can’t see. Yet, their expressions are ambiguous enough that they might actually be looking at each other, implying that they are also a couple.

Learning how to imply more than you actually show takes practice and it isn’t something that you’ll learn overnight. Even so, you’ve probably seen a lot more examples of it than you think. But, some good things to study if you want to learn how to do this sort of thing include stuff like online videos about film theory, old survival horror videogames, graphic novels etc…

But the thing to remember about making interesting minimalist art is that, if possible, every detail in the picture should matter. Every detail should tell the viewer something about what they are seeing. And, even more importantly, what they aren’t seeing.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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