Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Art of Simplicity

I just learned of painter Andrew Wyeth's passing yesterday, January 16, at age 91. I've always admired Wyeth's work, and how he viewed his world and expressed it with paint very much influenced how I see my world in the viewfinder of my camera.

The center of Wyeth's style is simplicity. Both line and composition were pared down to the bare minimum. His tendency to actually remove things that were originally in his view is a byword in the art community; the actual view painted in his Christina's World had a tree and another outbuilding, both of which he left out of his finished painting to increase the purity of line.

While I don't actually remove things in the photos I take, I do frame my shots to create as simple a composition as possible, and do a lot of cropping in Photoshop to the same effect. I also take a lot of macro shots, getting as close to the subject as possible, eliminating or reducing the background and surroundings as much as possible and homing in on the essence of the shot. A Zen-like simplicity is almost always the goal when my eye hits the viewfinder, and I truly believe that same simplicity was Andrew Wyeth's goal as he sat at his easel.

Rather than publish a retrospective of Andrew Wyeth's life and work, I thought I'd present an hommage with two photographic slideshows which focus on simplicity. Both videos were previously published on

Simplicity is a compilation of my simplest shots, set to the Shaker hymn Simple Gifts performed by Yo You Ma (cello) and Alison Krauss (vocals).

Forest Floor is the result of a wander through Ballard Park in Newport, RI, with the camera set on macro. The music is "At First Sight" by Paul McCandless, from his 1992 CD Premonition.

Thank you, Andrew. You've left a legacy of inspiration that will be admired for all time.

© 2008, 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. of course after reading this thoughtful post I am now singing simple gifts....which is fine as it is one of my centering songs.

    andy - r.i.p. - at age 91 we can't say he didn't have a long life!! even though he was at an advanced there was was still a dimming in the cosmic universe at the passing....

    you asked about the label cloud on the mouse.... email me at kyanoshik at gmail dot com and I'll try and write out directions/instructions on how to do it...


  2. roy, i loved these on gather and happy to see them here. they are such a wonderful tribute to a simple soul.

    much as he has influenced you roy, you have been a big influence to me.


  3. regarding label cloud go here for instructions and the code:

  4. Aw shucks, Ms. Arleen! You were already taking great pictures before you knew me!

    Kim, thanks. I got your email, followed the link, followed instructions, and now I have a Label Cloud. How cool is that??? Thanks!

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