Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy

Many of my paintings are based on quite simple subjects. My latest one, for example, is really just a still pond with a few trees, clouds, and a crisp blue sky. But simple doesn’t always mean easy.

Sometimes you need to work even harder to make simple subjects work. Your technique and execution must be spot on and it’s essential to get the key features right. Anything less and the painting will appear bland and uninviting.

With complex subjects, you’ll get some credit simply for painting it well enough. For example, if you paint a tricky portrait of a loved one, you’ll get credit, perhaps even praise, if there’s some likeness to the subject, even if your technique is sloppy and there are obvious mistakes. You don’t get that same freedom with simple subjects.

It’s like good cooking. If you’re serving a simple meal such as grilled salmon, you have to really nail it if you want to impress anyone. Any mistakes in your technique, timing, or the quality of the ingredients will stand out. But if you bring out a seafood platter with lobster, crab, fish, oysters, and chips, decorated with herbs and flowers, you might be able to hide bad technique behind the extravaganza.

If you find yourself thinking that a particular subject is easy, perhaps that is more a reflection of your standards than the subject. Even the most basic exercises can be impossibly hard if you set the standards high enough. Drawing a circle doesn’t seem too hard. But what about drawing a circle that is 99% accurate?

Just something to think about.

Also, we have rolled back the price on our 30-Day Creativity for the next 4 days. It won’t take up much of your time, but the impact may be profound. I invite you to join us (we have already applied your discount code at the checkout):

​​Join the 30-Day Creativity Kickstart​

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

PS. You can see my latest painting ​here​ if you missed my last email.


Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

Enjoyed this post? Join over 123,000 artists who subscribe to the Draw Paint Academy newsletter.