To be an artist or to create anything of value, you learn how to pare your creation down to its most essential elements. After doing this, no wasted effort remains. The quest to strip your creations of all unnecessary adornments can be called economy of expression.
In art, it is known as Minimalism. An artist who is a minimalist will place on the canvas only that which needs to be there-- no more. In Minimalism, there is no wasted motion.
The great virtue of Minimalism is this: Whatever is not expressed on paper is left to the imagination to express. A minimalist enhances the imagination of his audience by doing less. In doing less, he is doing more.
He doing more because he is expressing more.
The minimalist gives just enough to get the idea across and no more. If a few lines on the canvas will do, a few lines will do.
Misplaced lines on the canvas can only destroy the illusion the artist is trying to create.
The older a painter gets, the less he paints and the more he leaves to the imagination. You see this in crowd scenes with older artists.
It appears that every face in the crowd was painted. But look closely. Each face is just an impression of a person with not enough detail to actually create a person. Yet, each person appears different.
The impression of the person is painted without actually painting the person.
Mime acting is an artform that is minimalist in expression. A mime is a silent actor. When a mime wants to get an idea across, he does it with as little physical action as possible. In doing so, the mime does much, but appears to be doing very little.
Why do you want to remove wasted motion from your art and your life? Because wasted motion is mental clutter. Nothing will destroy imagination quicker than clutter.
You need to see clearly to imagine and you cannot imagine clearly if your imagination is cluttered.
Observe carefully the words and actions of people who clutter their expression unnecessarily. Their ideas are often limiting to themselves and to others and more importantly, highly unimaginative.
On the surface, a cluttered expression may appear to be brilliant. On closer examination, however, it is clear that it is going nowhere.
Contrast this with someone who is highly imaginative. This person will evoke imagination in others with the simplest of expressions. Often this person is a small child.
Become childlike in expression by removing all unnecessary noise from your compositions. When you do, you will find yourself communicating with others almost effortlessly.
Effortless communication looks easy, but is highly artful. The key to being an effortless communicator is to say more with less.
If you are a writer, you want to get the idea across with as few words as possible.
In art, less is more.
©Edward Abbott 2003-2006