Simplicity And Imagination

Simplicity and imagination are the vital ingredients in most good art.

To build my case for that statement I want to introduce the watercolor paintings of artist Joseph Zbukvic (pronounced zee-book-vitch).

He is a master at the imaginative use of simplicity to focus your attention on the star of his picture.

In this first watercolor painting he leaves no doubt that the boat and especially its gondolier are the stars here.

Look how the brightest colors (blue) and a few dark values are concentrated in the boat and gondolier.

Most of the rest of the painting is more subdued colors.

Look how he consciously designed his art so the arch of the bridge in the background curves into the gondolier's head, thus pointing you to the stars.

The light reflection in the water also points you to the boat.

He puts just enough detail in the buildings and water to make them interesting, but not so much or so dark that they distract you from the stars.

Believe me; imagination plays a big role in these decisions.

In this next watercolor painting (below) see how he focuses your attention first on the cows (dark values in the painting). Then you see the stream (light and dark contrasting values and more detail).

And finally he brings you into the foreground by using simple plant shapes with dark and light value contrast again.

He used simplicity and imagination to create a misty mysterious background and make the painting much more interesting than this scene probably was in reality.

As I've pointed out before, you are a god in your work.

You can do or change anything…and you should do whatever your drawing or painting needs to become a great piece of art.

Joseph uses his god-like powers again to change reality in the painting at right.

He's put one long dark shadow in the street to point you to his stars – the people in the center of that sunlit area where the street turns.

He played god with this and the other shadows.

If one building casts a long shadow, then others should too.

But he didn't want other long shadows, so he decided to show only the one – exactly where his design needed it.

You should use simplicity and imagination like this in your own work.

Best Wishes,
Gary Gumble
Founder of
Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. (George Bernard Shaw)

P.S. These paintings are great examples of simplicity used with imagination.

No matter what subjects you like to draw or paint.

No matter what medium you use to draw or paint, what Joseph does in his art you can do in yours.

It just takes practice.

It just takes putting aside the time to do it. It just takes a little effort to study the work of artists who can teach you something.

You can see more of Joseph's work at

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