Art Adventures: Keeping it Simple

“Keep it simple stupid” (“KISS”) is a phrase coined in the 1960’s (I think) to illustrate the principle that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. It was a concept I embraced quite often in my business life, especially when I worked in the High Tech industry. I managed a large team responsible for implementing (and then educating employees on) a wide range of computer-related services (new software or databases, hardware updates, internal websites, etc.). In order to reduce the confusion these technical communications inevitably created, we tried very hard to distill our messages down to the basics. Like the man (Jack Webb playing Sgt. Friday in the old Dragnet TV series) said, “Just the facts, ma’am – just the facts.”

As I’ve alluded to previous posts, with all that has happened in my personal life the last couple of years (and specifically in the past several months), I’ve often found that my creative mojo has deserted me. Even going into my little studio and just splashing paint on a canvas hasn’t interested me and, when, the rare impulse has struck … well to put it politely, nothing much has come of it. Even my Lifebook 2015 weekly classes didn’t generate enough interest to get me back into the swing. When a Facebook post offering a sale on online classes by Mindy Lacefield  came across my Newsfeed, though, I decided to take a look. I’d already seen some of Mindy’s YouTube Videos, and thought her classes could be interesting. I purchased the “Primitive Portraits 1 + 2 Bundle”  because the idea of creating something basic really appealed to me. Actually the idea of creating a face without having to be overly concerned about the accuracy of the details is what appealed to me. 

I binge-watched both courses and found myself totally captivated by Mindy’s art and her teaching style. Over the course of a few days, I’d created four “primitive” girls.The image on the left is on 9×12 Fabriano hot press watercolor paper using only graphite pencil, a yellow spray ink and some Titanium White acrylic (over tissue and book paper collage); the top two images on the right are on 4×6 canvas panels and the lower image is on a 9.×12 canvas panel – all three were done with acrylic paints.

You’d think by that point I’d had enough of online classes right? Hah! In something on Mindy’s site, there was a mention of Danielle Donaldson’s art. Also a sort of minimal but completely different and beautiful watercolor style! Swoon. So I bought both Creative Girl: The Land of Light and Shadows and Storybooks and Studious Girls, available through Jeanne Oliver’s site. The girl on the left uses graphite pencil and watercolors and the “Houses on Stilts” image on the right is the same, with layers of clear gesso and some Titanium White Fluid acrylic paint. Oh  – and I bought Danielle’s book CreativeGirl: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life! 

Not sure if the creative mojo is back for good, but in my case, doing less certainly did result in more. It relieved the pressure of needing to make something perfect.

So it appears that the KISS principle can also apply to art-making – not just to business! Have you ever tried a more “simplistic” approach to your art?

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  1. radha iyengar

    HI, I love ur blog. how u showed a easy way to transform a photo to look like a painting. Thanks. I love also the paintings of Danielle Donaldson. It gives me highs when I see people could do that kind of art. My father was an artist the usual paintings. but my forte is the paintings like Danielle Donaldson. I cannot paint at all but it is in my blood it gives highs when I see one like his. I love to do but I can’t.
    I love all the free help u give for digi scrapping which I do for now 10 years.
    love u
    radha iyengar

    • Vicki Robinson

      Thank you so very much for your nice words! I, too, always thought I couldn’t paint – or draw for that matter. I find that the more I practice the more I like what I do. I’ll never be a painting master, but like you, it makes me happy! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

      • radha iyengar

        Thank you Vicki for taking time to answer me. I just can’t tell you in words what happens to me when I see simple art even black and white splatters on profile gives me highs. When ever I am upset or down I go to profiles like urs to brings my spirits up.
        Thanks again
        Radha Iyengar

  2. Su Hall

    Hi, there,

    I, too, went/am going through a spell of just not having it in me to be creative. My life hurt so bad, I just wanted to cry. Literally. To try to keep my mind busy so I would not dwell on things, I signed up for some photoshop-related courses. I also signed up for Get It Scrapped, since I need a lot of help laying out pages. I don’t have the eye for design that comes so naturally for some people. So, I learned a lot of good techniques and different ways of doing things. Those sites, since what I am doing is all digital, were my escape from reality.
    So, here I sit, all knowledgeable and everything, and I still don’t have the mojo. LOL But, when I do get it, I am gonna be amazing! Yeah! Amazing.

    Love ya, lady! Your efforts are nice! I like the pencil with yellow on the left at top and the house on stilts in the bottom.


    • Vicki Robinson

      So sorry to hear that you’re struggling, Sue. I don’t know if it helps you at all, but lately I find that if I force myself to just make a start on making a background – with no expectations or specific idea in mind, I start to feel a little more motivated. Sometimes all I end up with is several backgrounds, but I do feel I’ve accomplished something – even if it’s just a little. Be sure to keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing! Hugs to you!

      • Su Hall

        Thank you, Vicki! You’re so sweet. I am such an emotional ol’ lady! LOL I just don’t handle things as well as I used to. I know I am not alone. But, all of it is great cause to reflect and work through and that is where MY art comes in, too. I can be having a dreadful day and, there I am, nose to the screen in Photoshop! LOL I have folders of ‘starts’! LOL I start playing around, get in the groove, start going great guns and, then, get sleepy. I save it and there it sits – still. LOL

        Hugs, back!



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