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Less is More, Part Two

Rule number one: there are no rules. Rule number two: see rule number one.

By: Frank Werner
Photography by Frank Werner

Most of us think of abstract art as involving images which have no relationship to reality, but in the hands of many old time decoy makers, it was just a means of saying more with less. They painted their decoys with bold plumage patterns, replacing individual feathers and sometimes entire feather groups. They didn't see a need for blending. Their colors were distinct, and one could make them out at a distance. Kenneth Ames's book Beyond Necessity: Art in the Folk Tradition suggests that many pieces of folk art, particularly functional items, were made better than necessary. I can't really define what may or may not be necessary for a decoy other than that I should be pleased with how it looks. I like shapes and colors that you can see from far away. There are no rules. 

This article is from the Winter 2012 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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