The Illusion of a street scene

Washington street scene, by frankeber 2011

This was a work done in a class setting, a demo piece.

It is a great value exercise, but also fairly difficult for the incredible amount of shapes in it. When painting a street
scene it is important to reduce all the information to a minimum. Simplify. There is no way we can paint everything
we see on a photograph or worse, in real life while working plein air. We have to reduce it to a minimum and it will,
ironically, look more like the real thing than if we desperately try to paint everything ‘as is’.

Most students try to paint too close to reality and get lost in the details, it happens easily. To avoid that, it is essential that we always step back and check our work from a distance. A sure way to avoid overworking a section.
street scene, detail by frankeber, 2011
If you look closely at the details on the left side in this scene, you’ll notice that the people walking on the road are just an illusion. That means we make them up with our eyes. To give this illusion, I painted something that ‘looks as if’ there are people there.
I’d like to quote my teacher the way he always said, ‘if you can do it in one brush stroke or less, you should’. Quite funny, because you have to do at least one, but it serves as a reminder to bring as back to the important goal in painting: Simplify.

One other quote before I go, this one by one of the old masters, Leonardo da Vïnci. Also shows that the concepts we’re teaching today are certainly not new:
‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’

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12 thoughts on “The Illusion of a street scene

  1. freebirdsings - Timaree

    I really like it. And wow, there really is very little detail! I am just learning to leave some detail out and it is hard. I think it will be a while before my efforts (if ever) look anything like this!

  2. lesliepaints

    This is great advice and you have surely become adept with simplifying and yet giving my everything it needs to see. The shadow play, here catches my eye immediately and made me smile. Thanks, Frank!

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