In this series, plein air painter and instructor Jeanne Mackenzie takes a look at new paintings by contemporary artists and points out why they succeed as painted images. This week, Michael Hackett’s “Bishop Peak.”

Lead Image: “Bishop Peak,” by Michael Hackett, watercolor, 10 1/4 x 7 1/4 in.

This is an excellent example of beautiful, simple shapes. There are less than four main shapes, including the sky, giving it the solidness that a rock outcropping needs. The artist has then subdivided the shapes with subtle value changes and just enough texture to differentiate the masses between brush, rock, and field. This could have just become a triangle but there are subtle balances of shapes that move it away from being too symmetrical. The diagonals help to move your eye into and up to the peak of the rock.

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