But the figure in the background reveals what happens when the execution of simple techniques show too much restraint. So flat and simplified is she, that she seems almost a mistake in the composition, with no features, cartoonish hair and geometric skirt and shirt. She seems pointless.
Story can also stumble in the use of heavy outlining. "Mixed Blessings" (48x48) features a central figure, the Virgin Mary, hovering over a seething mass of seals. But she is so heavily outlined that her crudeness and flatness seem to come more from a lack of expertise in painting the human figure then from a desire to express something about her symbolism. The same is true for the seals below: they lack force and life, and therefore seem pointless.
Uneven gloss on the surface of "Mixed Blessings" also adds to its amateurish look, making the painting appear unfinished. There is a difference between energetic brushwork and something careless.