Three views of the same scene, done in rapid succession, in an effort to learn to simplify

A Seattle artist took some advice to heart — and found that it helped her loosen up in her painting process. How does it work?

Brooke Borcherding was inspired by advice from artist Victoria Biedron to paint several canvases in quick succession to simplify and let go of details. Borcherding picked a scene, set an alarm for 25 minutes, and started painting. “My focus was on shape and color,” she says. “I tend to get overwhelmed and want to paint everything. It was really hard to hold back, but that was the exercise, to not paint the way that I wanted to and try to get everything in.”

The view Borcherding chose to paint three times

Borcherding said the exercise went well, and as she expected. The first piece was the most simplified one, and the last piece was the most accomplished. “The first one was supposed to be choppy, just a response to the scene, just getting the strokes down,” says the artist. “I didn’t draw the perspective correctly. The second one had a stronger composition because I had been looking at the scene longer — I got to know the subject. In the third piece, the colors changed because the rain came in. I decided to add a bit more detail — the telephone wire, the stop sign. That sort of thing interests me, the subplay between man and nature.”

She recommends the exercise to artists who want to simplify. “It allowed me to be less involved in detail and let the paint be paint, and let the viewer’s eye put things together,” says Borcherding.


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