Well, it turns out to be true.You all saw that phenomenon demonstrated in your own work this week. The ability to tell the difference between the essential and the optional elements comes to the surface, and the skills that are required to realize your assertions seem to have been ready and waiting to be called upon.
Heady stuff! We are all much better painters than we think.
One very helpful awareness tool is seeing the similarities that unite the components of a complex part of the subject. Looking the collection of wooden spoons, forks and spatulas flourishing from their container as a single shape allows you to make a very general statement and call it good, or to keep adding information till the painting tells you to stop.
In his watercolors, Andrew Wyeth gives us just enough information for his shapes to do their jobs. Here he makes it easy to recognize the big dark green rectangle as a stand of conifers, but he is sensitive to the degree of specificity that is required. He shows us specific information only along the profile of the shape, and only what it takes to enlist us as participants in the process of sustaining an illusion of complexity.
Anita's birds are very similar to Wyeth's trees. The descriptive brushwork around the edges tells the story.
Here are a few examples of what happens when you paint a subject enough times to begin seeing what you can let go of.
Set up a still life you can work from at home, and paint it till you start to let go of the non-essential bits. Be brave. Risk failure! Have fun.