Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk briefly about minimalist art. Or, rather, I’ll be talking about my own approach to minimalist art. This is mostly because knowing how to make art that includes relatively little detail can be extremely useful when you are either feeling uninspired or if you don’t have too much time.
There are lots of different approaches to making minimalist art, and I’ll only be covering one of them here. But, here are a few tips for how to make minimalist art in the way that I do:
1) Darkness: Shrouding large parts of your painting or drawing in darkness can be a great way to make minimalist art. Not only does the darkness make all of the colours in the painting look bolder by comparison, but it also allows you to do things like play with the lighting in your painting and to use a limited colour palette too (just remember to use pairs of complementary colours when choosing your palette).
One of the advantages of using darkness (with a few small light sources) is that, if you know what you are doing, you can leave a lot to the audience’s imagination. In other words, you can tell a story only using a few small visual details.
For example, here’s a reduced-size preview of a digitally-edited painting that I’ll be posting here in September:
The full-size painting will appear here on the 15th September.
As you can see, most of the painting is filled with black paint. But, the silhouette of a tail against the red doorway in the background implies the presence of some kind of alien monster. Likewise, the outline of the man is standing upright in an alert way, with the lights in front of him illuminating part of a pistol in his hand. This picture contains a fairly small amount of detail, but it still hints at a story of some kind.
2) Detail choice: Although your painting should look “minimalist” from a distance, one way to make it seem less minimalist (and look less “lazy”) is to add a lot of detail to a few small areas of the painting. These should usually be areas that are close to the foreground.
For example, here’s another art preview. This is a digitally-edited painting that will be posted here later this month and it features no background detail whatsoever and only four objects (three trees and a glowing orb).
The full-size painting will appear here on the 24th August.
As you can probably see, the tree in the foreground has a lot of extra detail. There are striations and realistic shadows on it’s trunk, there are veins on the leaves and even the soil that it sits in has some level of detail. The other trees have considerably less detail than this but, because the detailed tree is the first tree that the audience sees (and the other trees are further away), they’re just going to assume that the other trees have the same level of detail. They don’t.
So, if you want to make a “minimalist” painting that doesn’t seem like something lazy, then add a high level of detail to a few select parts of the picture.
3) Silhouettes: One way to give the impression of detail, whilst keeping your painting fairly minimalist is to make heavy use of silhouettes.
But, as a general rule, if you are going to include a silhouette, then there should be a light source of some kind behind it. After all, this is how silhouettes work in real life.
One advantage of using silhouettes is that, as long as you get the outline vaguely right, then your audience will automatically imagine all of the details that you haven’t included.
Plus, even a more limited use of silhouettes can also give your artwork an ominously gothic “look” too- like in this almost-minimalist digitally-edited painting of mine that makes heavy use of silhouettes:
“Storage” By C. A. Brown
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂