Morandi, 1942 You may recognize Morandi for his dusty still life bottles, carefully and quietly clustered in the center of the canvas. Recently, I’ve been revisiting his lesser-known but more personally inspiring collection of landscapes. In classes, we’ve been talking about simplifying a composition into shapes, and applying those shapes to pull you through the composition with a series of pathways, arrows, and repeating motifs. We’ve also been looking at extension of values (light to dark) or compression of values (low-key, mid-key, or high key). It’s easy to get distracted by detail and color, supposedly they are vital elements to the success and energy of a painting. But when I look at what simple shape and tone can do for information and mood, I wonder why we get hung up on the other stuff. Morandi in simplified shapes and mid-key tones The simplification of shapes is an exercise I always find surprisingly challenging. It looks so simple when it’s done for me! But to do it myself always takes much more work than I think it will to get something to really settle into place. Take a look at this simplified sketch, and the accompanying scene it was taken from. See how much he edited? Now imagine he did that much editing for each one of these compositions (because he did). Don’t take the simplicity for granted! (detail) So – back I go to my sketch. I had simplified it, but clearly not as much as I could. It’s still hung up on detail. More work to do! Thank you, Morandi.