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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.
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.
Can you hear me?
“The figure completes the statement and adds a spot of color,”The artist describes the painting.
Going Down Arlington
Vrscak, in this painting of his, opened the path leading to the buildings at the center by clearing the foreground left.
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.
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