What I Don't Include in a Painting

Composing a painting can be so overwhelming at times. At the beginning of my painting career, I wanted to include anything and everything. And it is was KILLING my paintings. I would add so much "stuff" that it took away from the subtle beautiful moments that were happening. It also was just a distraction from that I truly wanted to focus on in my paintings, which is color and an emotional response.

Now I try to just get the essence of something, rather than spoon-feeding what my painting is. The landscape scenes in my newest series, Mississippi Scapes, don't scream "TREES! or "OCEAN!", but there is enough information that you can assume thats what they are.

Being this loose with my paintings also allows me to focus more on color and my feelings in the moment that I'm painting!

Here is an example of the inspiration that I'm painting from versus what I end up putting in the painting!


This is Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi!

Final piece!

"It’s not what you leave in, but what you leave out.

Think about editing and design all along

Edit out that which doesn’t help clarify

Everything for one thing

Look for the minimum visual information then add any detail on top of that. Yet, edit out that which doesn’t help clarify

Make a decision rather than mindlessly copying what’s there

For every painting you have to decide what it is about and what kind of reaction you want."

--Excerpt from “Pulling Together” by Skip Lawrence

Thanks for reading!


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© 2018 by Shelby Leigh Designs

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All paintings are original works by Shelby Leigh Kizer

Mississippi Watercolor Artist 

As Seen on HGTV's Hometown