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In Bill Vrscak’s paintings, the simplest statements mean the most.

By Stefanie Laufersweiler

Bill Vrscak, a Pittsburgh-based watercolor artist, knows his neighborhood so well he can describe every porch or pole. But the more he leaves off when painting, his work improves. “A bold, simple statement respects the viewer’s intelligence,”He says. “Do your viewers a favor: Don’t bore them with extraneous detail. Make your point and get out.”

5 Things to Leave behind to Make a Better Paint

“Simplification can occur during every step of creating a painting to make a scene more interesting and impactful than you found it,” Vrscak says. He suggests leaving behind the following:


Tiny shapesComplex subjects are composed of many small, contrasting hard-edged shapes. These shapes create confusion and ruin the clarity of a painting. Instead, connect areas with similar values. 


Large darks.They can devour small light. Instead, use middle values to lay a strong foundation for your painting and then place darks—and lights—sparingly and carefully to add sparkle and interest.


Insignificant information. Don’t clutter your painting with details that add little or nothing to the overall visual statement just because they’re in the subject. 


Surface details. They call attention to themselves and can weaken a form’s sense of volume. 


Perfection.Focus on the painting and not the subject. Only be as accurate as necessary to make your point understood. 

Germantown (watercolor on Arches oil paper, 18×24) 

Less is More

The removal of distracting buildings and extraneous items led to simpler, more satisfying images in Can You Hear me Now? The following are some examples of how to get started: Going Down Arlington (all watercolor on paper, 18×24, below). See how each painting evolved from a photo to a sketch to a finished painting.

Behind the Playground

“I intensified the color to create a strong focus on the building, tree, and truck in the center of the painting’s composition,” Vrscak says.

Bill-Vrscak_Behind the Playground - Photo
Behind the PlaygroundPhoto
Bill-Vrscak_Behind the Playground - Sketch
Behind the PlaygroundSketch
Bill-Vrscak_Behind the Playground
Behind the Playground

Can you hear me?

“The figure completes the statement and adds a spot of color,”The artist describes the painting.

Bill-Vrscak_Can You Here Me Now - Photo
Can you hear me?Photo
Bill-Vrscak_Can You Hear Me Now - Sketch
Can you hear me?Sketch
Bill- Vrscak_Can you hear me now
Can you hear me?

Going Down Arlington

Vrscak, in this painting of his, opened the path leading to the buildings at the center by clearing the foreground left.

Vrscak_Going Down Arlington - photo
Going Down ArlingtonPhoto
Vrscak_Going Down Artington - Sketch
Going Down ArlingtonSketch
Vrscak_Going down Arlington
Going Down Arlington

Meet the Artist

Bill Vrscak, a Pittsburgh-based representational painter, has a unique style that is both fresh and simple. This is in line with his philosophy of painting. “the simplest statements make the most impact.”The award-winning artist has been a member of the American Watercolor Society, the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators and the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society.

Riley and Me

‘ Credit:
Original content by “A Common Connection | Artists Network”

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