Keep It Simple

Classical absence of complication...

There is a lot of discussion in the photography and visual art world around why monochrome, black and white and less complex images are becoming more popular. Some are mistaking common black and white street photography and minimalism or ministract as the thrust of the movement but although it is an element it does not encompass all of it. What I am referring to is what appears to be a reaction to photographs or visual art that has been highly post processed or overly emphasizes an overly complex style and high ornamentation. Specifically images that are so highly edited that for many the color is garish, the perspective stretched beyond belief and has gone way beyond fantasy into freakishness. I admit to not caring much for this work either but if someone else likes it that is their choice. Personally I do like a well processed photograph that is striking although that is not my skill or style, I much prefer processing pictures into visual art that appears more as art which is not a photograph, painting, drawing nor collage.

The current dialogue came to me serendipitously and not as a conscious decision and I am not completely in any camp of one style or technique and view it as interesting from afar. I find defining myself into a class or style too limiting, preferring to go wherever my moods, current skill level and personal progression as a person and artist leads me, both in writing and visual art. Recently with my photography I had to make a change in editing programs I was using due to limitations, lack of support for the 64 bit operating system I use and the programs were unstable. It brought me to the decision to learn more than simple Photoshop and also Adobe Lightroom. Simultaneously I started learning to use Android camera apps more vigorously which has brought me to a renewed sense of starting afresh. I view it as opportunity since now I am unable to produce artwork that has multiple layers upon layers of post processing. It has led to a more rudimentary way of producing pieces as I acquire new skills combining getting the knack of mobile photography apps with the ins and outs of a professional version of Photoshop. I haven't begun to touch Lightroom yet after some initial sense of being overwhelmed therefore decided one step at a time and that brings the topic back to simplicity.

While in the midst of my own progress of rendering my visual art while in mastering mode my output has naturally been less complex since I am still gaining skill with new tools as I am creating. As happenstance would have it as it usually does I've become a curator of a monochrome art page on Google Plus (Monochrome Arty Club) as well as in various places discussions regarding the popularity of certain types of images. Let me state that I am not a fan of minimalism or ministract finding them stark and difficult for me to do but to each his own. Also I often find that the idea what you leave out speaks without being present actually often leaves the viewer sensing something really was left out. Nonetheless as I am cracking new tools and processes I am also out of necessity relearning the value of simplicity, its elegance and charm while creating my own preference in visual art. In the evolution I believe I am acquiring skills that are beginning to produce a more refined and cultivated work that is categorized simply as my own.


  1. This is another post I could type all night about, but I'll do my best to keep it brief...if I understand your thoughts about black-and-white not equaling minimalism, then I am with you completely. I don't see BxW as inherently minimalist at all; I think if anything it's about the densest visual medium in part because it SEEMS simple. Shadows, lighting, all (to me, anyway) seem much more forceful in monochrome than in color. It's organized and neat and semi-controllable, but I don't think I'd call it simple. (I'm thinking of some of the shots in "Citizen Kane" as I type this; they were magnificent without a touch of pigment.) If I had to choose one "style" to work in, it would definitely be black-and-white...luckily, that's not a problem. :)

    Also, I got a chuckle out of "Also I often find that the idea what you leave out speaks without being present actually often leaves the viewer sensing something really was left out". You are so right; I can't imagine intentionally leaving something important out of a composition for the sake of forcing a viewer/listener/reader to somehow infer that it's there. The audience will find enough implications without the artist's intentionally adding one to the mix...the whole "intentional implication" scene strikes me as the converse to what my mom has said many times: "the part of the painting you like the best is usually the part you have to get rid of." A fine balance between obviousness and necessity, I guess.

    Anyway, I have no idea what any of my rambling added up to here, but that's OK. Your work is inspiring, sir, as is your willingness to discuss the thoughts and methods that lead you to create it. So: thank you!

  2. You description Mike of what can be done with shadows and light and the appearance of simplicity in monochrome I take as not being "simple-minded" but rather complex without appearing so. That is probably just as much a reason for its resurgence as is the rejection of the over-layering of a lot of visual art.

    When I was in high school I was struck by minimalism but also frustrated by it causing me to try to figure out why. The reason is what made you chuckle, I "didn't get it" since I didn't see the point of making a viewer guess by inference.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!