It’s the architect’s job to decide and communicate which quality attributes need to be emphasized in order to achieve the overarching mission of a solution. Similarly the iconic American artist Edward Hopper, in his paintings, captured the essence of a scene while abstracting the negligent elements of the situation.
In painting Haskell’s House you clearly see that the artist chose to omit the wires from the electrical poles. The busy harbor behind the house is not depicted in the painting: the core emphasis is on the house. Also notice how the sun rays draw your attention on the house and you can almost forget about the mundane details of trees, landscaping, and electrical poles. A software architect has a similar job: capture the big picture (e.g. security, environment constraints, composition of services), but note the critical solution qualities (e.g. usability, performance).
In the infamous painting, Nighthawks, Edward Hopper uses light and shadows to concentrate viewer’s attention on the situation in a dinner. Notice lack of pedestrians, cars, or any other artifacts that would detract from the developing situation inside of a dinner. The viewer may dully acknowledge the presence of outside, but all the attention is concentrated on what is happening on the inside. Similarly an application architect that works in a mature design environment simply needs to acknowledge the presence of certain assumptions, but concentrate his work on the essence of a solution.
If you ever have a chance to see a collection of Edward Hopper’s paintings do not miss that chance. A closer look at the paintings can be found here.