The Oil Painting Book

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The Oil Painting Course You’ve Always Wanted

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Varnishes are made from various gums or resins dissolved in a solvent such as alcohol, turpentine, or oil, as the case may be. The lighter gums are the best for pictures, because they do not affect the color of the picture. Much care should be [Pg 64] used in putting on the varnish—that it is even and as thinly distributed as will serve the purpose. It should not be flowed on, but carefully worked out with a clean brush, and then kept from dirt and dust until dry. The finer varnishes in oil or turpentine are best for ordinary use.

Those in alcohol do not hold their freshness so well. Varnishes are sometimes used as siccatives, and to mix with colors which are liable to affect other colors, or to lack consistency. Usually, however, they are not needed. The most important qualities in a palette are that it should be large enough, and that it should balance well on the thumb. Whether it is round or square is a slight matter. The oval palette is usually best for the studio because the corners are seldom of use, and add weight.

But for sketching, the square palette fits the box best. Get a palette much larger than you think you want. When you get it on your thumb the mixing-surface is much less than there seemed to be before it was set, for all the actual surface is between the row of colors and the thumb. If the palette is polished it is not essentially better; it is easier to keep clean, as far as looks go, but of no greater real service.

If the choice is between a larger unpolished and a smaller polished one, the price being the consideration, get the larger one. It is an assistance in painting not to have to compare the tint you are mixing with too dark a surface, for the color looks lighter than it is; so the light wood will help you to judge justly of the color while the palette is new. When it has been worked on a while it will come to have a sympathetic color anyway.

This bears on the cleanliness of your palette. It is a mistake to consider that cleanliness demands that the palette should be cleaned to the wood and polished after every painting. On the contrary, if a little of the paint is rubbed out over the palette every time it is cleaned, after a few weeks there will come a fine smooth polish of paint, which will have a delicate light gray color, which is a most friendly mixing surface.

Make it large enough to go over the ball of the thumb, and set easily on the top of the hand. When the hole is too small the thumb gets numb after working a little while, which this will obviate. If you try to clean off all your color every day and polish your palette nicely, you will not only take up more time with your palette than you do with your painting, but the fact that some left-over paint may be wasted will make you a little stingy in putting on fresh paint, which is one of the worst habits a beginner can fall into.

You cannot paint well unless you have paint enough on your palette to use freely when you need it. It is all well enough to put on more, but nothing is more vexing than to have to squeeze out new paint at almost every brushful. You must have paint enough when you begin, to work with, or you waste too much time with these details. If you are painting every day, leave the good paint where it is at the end of your work, and scrape off all the muddy or half-used piles, and clean carefully all the palette except those places where the paint is still fresh and pure.

Then, when you have to add more to that, clean that place with the palette-knife before squeezing out [Pg 68] the new color. In this way the palette will not look like a centre-table, but it will be practically clean, have a good clear mixing-surface, and you will neither waste paint nor be stingy with it. The Arm Palette. It is in the way rather than otherwise for small pictures, and is useful only as it is particularly called for.

It remains to speak of those tools which are not essentials, but conveniences, to painting. Even as conveniences, however, they are of importance enough to have an influence on your work. You can paint without them, but you will work more easily for the having of them; and something of the sort, although not necessarily of the same kind, you must have. You may improvise something, in other words, to take the place of these, but you would be wiser to get those which are made for the purpose.

The Box. You must keep your things together somehow, and it would be as well that you keep them in a box which is portable and suited to the purpose. When you sketch you must have a proper box, and why not have one which is equally serviceable in the house? Those most commonly sold to amateurs are of tin, and they are various in size and construction, and not too expensive. The only thing against them is the difficulty of adapting them to service different from that they were designed for; that is, if [Pg 70] you want to put in a different sort of panel, or if you want to fix it in the cover for convenience, or anything like that, you cannot readily do it, because you cannot use tacks in them.

This counts for more than would seem on a sketching trip. But the tin box is light, and is not easily broken, and while it is in shape is practical. The box to be most recommended is the wooden one. It costs more than the tin one,—about twice as much; but you can always arrange it for an emergency very readily, and if it gets broken you can fix it yourself, or get any carpenter to do it for you, while you may be a good many miles from a tinner, who would be necessary to mend your tin box.

Get one long enough for the brushes; but if you are going to use it out-of-doors much, get a narrow one with a folding palette, so as to save weight. In this way you will get a larger palette than you could get in a smaller and wider box, which is an important consideration. The Palette-Knife. You cannot keep the palette clean without it.

Now and again you may want to mix colors, or even paint with it. But you constantly get rid of the too much mixed color on your palette with it, and this is essential to good painting. Take some care to select a good knife; have the blade long enough to be springy and flexible, but not too long. About five inches from the wood of the handle to the end of the blade is a good length. And see that it bends in a true curve from one end to the other, and is not stiff at the end and weak in the middle.

It should have the same even elasticity that a brush should have. For painting you need a "trowel palette-knife," which has a bent shank, making the blade and the [Pg 72] handle on different levels, so that as you press the blade to the canvas, the fingers are kept away from the painted surface. The shank should be round, and the blade very fine and flexible. The knife should balance nicely in the hand, and turn freely in the fingers, so that you can paint with either face of the blade with equal balance. It takes some care to pick out a good trowel-knife, as a poor one is worse than none.

The Scraper. You can use an old razor for the first purpose, or a piece of broken glass, if you use it carefully, and any old knife can be used to clean your palette. But a regular tool is better than either. The scraper here shown is the best. The Oil-Cup. But when you need them you must have something to keep them in, convenient to the brush when working. It should have a spring to hold it on to the palette, and of such form that the contents are not easily spilled by the movement of the hand or the body when painting.

The Mahl-Stick. The "mahl-" or rest-stick has a ball on the end, which one usually covers with a wad of rag, so that it can be placed against the canvas without injury, and the hand rested on it. It is so light that it can be held with the brushes in the palette hand, and stiff enough to support the brush-hand. Sketching Adjuncts. The [Pg 74] best seat for a man, because it can be folded into so small a space, is the three-legged stool.

This is not usually satisfactory for a woman, whose skirts tip it over. The better seat for her is shown below. The back is not very firm, but it does give support, and the whole is light and strong. The umbrella should be large and light, and one such as the illustration, with a valve in the top to let the wind and hot air through, will be found cooler and less easily blown over.

You should have some strong rings sewed on to it, so that you can fasten it from four sides by strings, to [Pg 75] keep it steady if the wind blows hard. The umbrella should be of light-colored material, preferably white; but if it is lined with black, the shade will be better, and give no false glow to the color. A painting-room is always a matter of serious consideration, and to the beginner one of difficulty.

The arrangement of light is not easy, and a special window is almost always out of the question; yet in some way the light must be so managed that the canvas is not covered with reflected lights which prevent one from seeing what the paint is really like. The North Light. A window looking to the north for this reason is generally selected. The sun does not come into it, and the light is diffused and regular. The effect of the light in the studio is cool, but colors are justly seen in it, and the light that falls on any object or model in it will be always the same.

If there is to be a skylight, this should be arranged in the same way. The sash must not be flat, but must be nearly enough to the vertical to prevent the sun's direct rays from entering, and it must for that purpose [Pg 77] face to the north. This makes the skylight practically a high north light in the roof or ceiling, and that is what it should be.

Whether the sash is above the ceiling or just below it, in the roof or in the wall, is of no particular importance. The thing to be seen to is that it is high enough for the light to enter above the head of the painter, and that it be so directed that only north light can come in. The size of the window is also to be carefully considered. It should not be too large. Too much light will be sure to interfere with the proper control of light and shade on your model, and too little will make your painting too dark.

The position of the window with reference to the shape of the room has to do with this. The most probable form of a room is long and narrow. For painting it is better that the window be in the middle of the end wall, high up, rather than in the middle of the side wall. You will find that you can more easily get distance from your model, and at the same time get the light both on him and on your canvas. But a painting-room should not be too narrow.

About one-third longer than it is wide, with the window in one end, will give you a good light, and the further end of the room will not be too dark, as it would be apt to be if the room were longer. Preferably, too, the window should be to the left of the centre of the wall [Pg 78] rather than to the right, as you face it; so that when you are as near the side wall as you can get, with the light over your left shoulder as it should be , the light will strike on the canvas well, and not too directly on the front of the model.

It will give you a better lateral position to the window, in other words. If you have to accept a window in a side wall, this is even more to be looked for. If the window is to the right of the centre, you will have a strong side-light on your model; but you will either have no light on your canvas, or you will have to turn so that the light falls on your canvas from the right, which is awkward, as the paint is in the shadow of the hand and brush which puts it on.

The height of the lower part of the window should be at least six feet from the floor, and for ordinary purposes the proportion of window space to floor space should be about one-tenth. It is impossible to give a rule; but if the floor is about twelve feet by sixteen, say, a window about five feet by four will be enough, or six and a half by three if it is placed horizontally.

If you want intense light with strong contrast of light and shade on your model, have the window smaller and squarer, and place your easel just under it, where the light is good. The rest of the room will be dark. Better have the window large enough, and have it so curtained that you can cut [Pg 79] off as much light as you need to.

All this is if you are going to make yourself a window; in which case you will think well before you commit yourself. More probably you will have to get along as best you can with the ordinary room and the ordinary window. In which case get a high room with the window running up as close to the ceiling as possible, and facing north, then you can curtain it so as to control the light.

Arrangement of Ordinary Windows. You can either close the light out of the right-hand window, or, better, arrange a curtain so the light from one window will not fall on the same place as that from the other. When you are working from still life or from a model this is often an advantage, for you can have a strong side-light on the model, and a second light on the canvas.

To arrange this, have a sort of crane made of iron, shaped like a carpenter's square, which will swing at right angles with the wall, the arm reaching, say, six feet into the room. Swing this by means of staples well up to the ceiling, so that the light cannot get over it, and near to the [Pg 80] right-hand window. From this arm you can hang a thick, dark curtain, which will cover and shut out the light from the right-hand window when swung back over it.

If you want to pose your model in the light of that window, while you paint in that of the other, swing the curtain out into the room at right angles to the wall, and it will prevent a cross light from the two windows; so that when the model is posed back of the curtain the light from that window will not fall on the canvas, nor the light from the other fall on the model. The light will be best on your picture coming from well above you as you work.

There will then be no reflections on the paint. You may find it necessary to cover entirely the lower half of the window which gives your painting-light. You will find it useful to have a shade of good solid holland, arranged with the roller at the bottom, and a string running up through a pulley at the top; so that you may pull the shade up from the bottom instead of down from the top, and so cut off as much of the lower part of the window as is necessary. If you need the light from the lower part of the window, you may make a thin curtain of muslin to cover the lower sash, which will let the light through, but diffuse the rays and prevent reflection.

The Size of the Studio. The size that I have mentioned, twelve feet by sixteen, is as small as one should have, and one that you can almost always get. If the room is smaller than that, you cannot do much in it, and fifteen by twenty will give ample space. There is a theoretical and a practical side to art. The business of the student is with the practical. Theories are not a part of his work. Before any theoretical work is done there is the bald work of learning to see facts justly, in their proper degree of relative importance; and how to convey these facts visibly, so that they shall be recognizable to another person.

The ideals of art are for the artist; not for the student. The student's ideal should be only to see quickly and justly, and to render directly and frankly. Technique is a word which includes all the material and educational resources of representation. The beginner need bother himself little with what is good and what is bad technique.

Let him study facts and their representation only. Choice of means and materials implies a knowledge by which he can choose. The beginner can have no such knowledge. Choice, then, is not for him; but to work quite simply with whatever comes to hand, intent only on training the eye to [Pg 86] see, the brain to judge, and the hand to execute. Later, with the gaining of experience and of knowledge, for both will surely come, the determination of what is best suited for the individual temperament or purpose will work itself out naturally.

The student should not allow the theoretical basis of art to interfere with the directness of his study of the material and the actual. Nevertheless, he should know the fact that there is something back of the material and the actual, as well as in a general way what that something is. Because the student's business is with the practical is no reason why he should remain ignorant of everything else. It is important that he should think as a painter as well as work as a painter. If he has no thought of what all this practical is for, he will get a false idea of his craft. He will see, and think of, and believe in, nothing but the craftsmanship: that which every good workman respects as good and necessary, but which the wise workman knows is but the perfect means for the expression of thought.


Oil Painting BOOK

Some consideration, then, of the theoretical side of art is necessary in a book of this kind. A number of considerations arise at the outset, about which you must make up your mind:—. You must decide these questions for yourself, but you must remember that it depends upon how you decide them whether your work will be good or bad. To take the last consideration first, you may be sure that it is worth while to try to do good work, and mainly because you may hope to do as good work as you want to do. That is, precisely as good work as you are willing to take the trouble to learn to do.

Talent is only another name for love of a thing. If you love a thing enough to try to find out what is good, to train your judgment; and to train your abilities up to what that judgment tells you is good, the good work is only a matter of time. You will notice that you must train your judgment as well as your ability; not all at once, of course. But how can you hope to do good work if you do not know what good work is when you see it? If you have no point of view, how can you tell what you are working for, what you are aiming at?

And if you do not know what you are aiming at, are you likely to hit anything? Train Your Judgment. How are you to set about it? Make up your mind that when it comes to a choice between your personal taste and that of some one who may be supposed to know, between what you think and what has been consented to by all the men who have ever had an opinion worthy of respect, you may rest assured that you are wrong.

And when you have made up your mind to that, when you have reached that mental attitude, you have taken a long step towards training your judgment; for you have admitted a standard outside of mere opinion. Another attitude that you should place your mind in is one of catholicity—one of openness to the possibility of there being many ways of being right. Don't allow yourself to take it for granted that any one school or way of painting or looking at things is the only right one, and that all the other ways are wrong.

That point of view may do for a man who has studied and thought, and finally arrived at that conclusion which suits his mind and his nature,—but it will not do for a student. Such an attitude is a sure bar to progress. It results in narrowness of idea, narrowness of perception, and narrowness of appreciation. You should try all things, and hold fast to that which is good.

And having found what is good, and even while holding fast to it, you should remember that what is good and true for you is not [Pg 89] necessarily the only good and true for some one else. You must not only hold to your own liberty of choice, but recognize the same right for others. If this is not recognized, what room has originality to work in? The range of subject, of style, and of technical methods among acknowledged masters, should alone be proof of the fact that there is no one way which is the only good way; and if you would know how to judge and like a good picture, the study of really great pictures, without regard to school, is the way to learn.

How to Look at Pictures. It implies the study of the treatment of the subject in every way. The management of light and shade; the color; the composition and drawing; and finally those technical processes of brush-work by means of which the canvas gets covered, and the idea of the artist becomes visible. All these things are important in some degree; they all go to the making of the complete work of art: and you do not understand the picture, you do not really and fully judge it, unless you know how to appreciate the bearing on the result, of all the means which were used to bring it about.

All this adds to your own technical knowledge as well as to your critical judgment, both of which [Pg 90] ends are important to your becoming a good painter. Why Paint Well. There is no reason why you should be a bad painter because you are not a professional one. The better you paint the better your appreciation will be of all good work, the keener your appreciation of what is beautiful in nature, and the greater your satisfaction and pleasure in your own work.

There are better reasons for painting than the desire to "make a picture. The picture comes, and is the result; but the making of it carries with it a pleasure and joy which are in exact proportion to the power of appreciation, perception, and expression of the painter.

This is the real reason for painting, and it makes the desire and the attempt to paint well a matter of course. You cannot be too catholic in your opinion with regard to it. It is vital that you be not narrowed by any prejudices as to the surface effect of paint. Whether the canvas be smooth or rough, the paint [Pg 91] thick or thin, the details few or many,—the goodness or badness of the picture does not depend on any of these.

They are or should be the result, the natural outcome because the natural means of expression, of the manner in which the picture is conceived. One picture may demand one way of painting and another demand a quite different way; and each way be the best possible for the thing expressed. It all depends on the man; the make-up of his mind; the way he sees things; the results he aims to attain,—all of them controlled more or less by temperament and idiosyncrasy. What would produce a perfect work for one man would not do at all for another. The works of the great masters offer the most marked contrasts of ideal and of treatment, and painters have varied greatly in their manner of some painting at different periods of their lives.

Rembrandt, for instance, painted very thinly in his early years, with transparent shadows and carefully modelled, solidly loaded lights. Later in life he painted most roughly; and "The Syndics" was so heavily and roughly loaded that even now, after two hundred years, the paint stands out in lumps—and this is one of his masterpieces. So again, if you will compare the manipulation in the work of Raphael with that of Tintoretto, that of Rubens with that of Velasquez, or most markedly, the work of Frans Hals with that of Gerard [Pg 92] Dou, you will see that the greatest extremes of handling are consistent with equal greatness of result.

The tendency of great painters is rather away from excessive smoothness and detail than towards it. While a picture may be a good one and be very minute and smooth, it by no means follows that a picture is bad because it is rough. The truth is that the test of a picture does not lie in the character of the pigment surface in itself at all, nor in whether it be full of detail or the reverse, but in the conception and in the harmonious relation of the technique to the manner in which the whole is conceived.

The true "finish" is whatever surface the picture happens to have when the idea which is the purpose of the picture is fully expressed, with nothing lacking to make that expression more complete, nor with anything present which is not needed to that completeness. This too is the truth about "breadth," that much misunderstood word. Breadth is not merely breadth of brush stroke.

It is breadth of idea, breadth of perception; the power of conceiving the picture as a whole, and the power of not putting in any details which will interfere with the unity of effect. A man would, and should, work very differently on canvases intended for a study, a sketch, and a picture. The study would contain many things which the other two would not need.

It is the work in which and by which the painter informs himself. It is his way of acquiring facts, or of assuring himself of what he wants and how he wants it. And he may put into it all sorts of things for their value as facts which he may never care to use, but which he wishes to have at command in case he should want them. The sketch, on the other hand, is a note of an effect merely, or of a general idea, and calls for only those qualities which most successfully show the central idea, which might sometime become a picture, or which suggests a scheme. A carefully worked-up sketch is a contradiction in terms, just as a careless study would be.

A picture might have more or less of the character of either of these two types, and yet belong to neither. It might have the sketch as its motive, and would use as much or as little of the material of the study as should be needed to make the result express exactly the idea the painter wished to impart, and no more and no less. All these things should be borne in mind, as [Pg 94] you study the characteristics of paintings to learn what they can mean to you beyond the surface which is obvious to any one; or as you work on your own canvas to attain such power or proficiency, such cleverness or facility, as you may conclude it is worth your while to try for.

A picture is made up of many elements. Certain of them are essentially abstract. They must be thought out by a sort of mental vision without words. This is the most subtle and intimate part of the picture.

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These are the means by which the ideal is brought into the picture. Line, Mass, and Color. When these elements are combined they may make up such conceptions as proportion, rhythm, repetition, and balance, with all the modifications that may come from still further combination. It is because these elements are qualities in themselves beautiful that actual objects not beautiful may be made so in a painting, by being treated as color or line or mass , and so given place on the canvas, rather than as being of themselves interesting.

A face, for instance, may be ugly as a face , yet be beautiful as color or light [Pg 96] and shade in the picture. These qualities, I say, do not represent—they do not necessarily even exist, except in the mind to which they are the terms of its thought. Nevertheless, they are the soul of the picture. For whatever the subject, or the objects chosen for representation, it is by working out combinations of these elements, through and by means of those objects, that the picture really is made. The picture, as a work of art , is not the representation of objects making up a subject, but a fabric woven of color, line, and mass; of form, proportion, balance, rhythm, and movement, expressed through those actual objects in the picture which give it visible form.

I do not purpose to go deeply into these matters here. Elsewhere, as they bear practically on the subject in hand, as in the chapters on "Composition" and on "Color," I shall speak of them more fully. But I wish here to call attention to this abstract side of painting in order to show the relation between the two classes of things, the one abstract and the other concrete, which together are needed to make up a picture.

The concrete, or material, part of a picture includes all those things which you can look at or feel on the canvas; and by seeing which you can also see the abstract qualities, which do not visibly exist until made visible through the disposition of these tangible things, on the canvas. In learning to paint, it is with these concrete things that you should concern yourself mainly. The science of painting consists in the knowledge of how to be the master of all the practical means of the craft. For it is with these that you must work, with these you must express yourself. These are the tools of your trade.

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They are the words of your art language—the language itself being the abstract elements—and the thoughts, the combinations which you may conceive in your brain by means of these abstract elements. You must have absolute command of these materials of painting. No matter how ideal your thought may be, no matter how fine your feeling for line and color and composition, if you do not know how to handle the gross material which is the only medium by which this can all be made visible and recognizable to another person, you will fail of either expressing yourself, or of representing anything else.

Now you will see what I have been driving at [Pg 98] all this time; why I have been talking in terms which may well be called not practical. I want to fix your attention on the fact that there are two qualities in a picture: that one will be always within you, mainly, and will control the character of your picture, because it will be the expression of your mental self; and the other the practical part, which any one may, and all painters must learn, because it is the only means of getting the first into existence.

The one, the abstract part, no one can tell you how to cultivate nor how to use. If I tried to do so, it would be my idea and not yours which would result. I can only tell you that it is the thought of art , and you must think your own thoughts. But the other, the material, the concrete, the practical, it is the purpose of this whole book to help you to understand and to acquire the mastery of, so far as may be done by words.

Teaching by words is difficult, and never completely satisfactory. But much may be done. If you will use your own brains, so that what does not seem clear at first may come to have a meaning because of your thinking about it, we may accomplish a great deal. I cannot make you paint. I cannot make you understand. I can give you the principles, but you must apply them and think them out. I must speak for all, and not to any one.

Yet I shall state principles which can always be made to apply to each single need, and I will try to show how the application may be made. The whole body of method and means is called technique; the several parts of technique are called by names of their own. That part which applies to the putting on of the paint may be generally called handling , although the word painting is sometimes restricted to this sense, and brush-work is often used for the same thing.

The other technical means will be spoken of in their proper place. Let me say now a few words as to handling in general. Ever since art began, men have been searching for means of fixing ideas upon surfaces. Oil Painting: Books

But it is only within the last four hundred years that the processes of oil painting have been in existence—simply because they are peculiar to the use of pigments ground in oil as a vehicle, and the oil [Pg ] medium was not invented until the middle of the fifteenth century. With the invention of this medium new possibilities came into the world, and a continual succession of painters have been inventing ways of putting on paint, the result being the stock of methods and processes of handling which are the groundwork of the art of painting to-day.

From time to time there have been groups of artists who have used common methods, and who have developed expression through those methods which became characteristic of their epoch; and because the resulting pictures were of a high degree of perfection, their methods of handling acquired an authority which had a very determining effect on different periods of painting.

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  6. Content-Based Image and Video Retrieval (Multimedia Systems and Applications)?

In this way have come those ideas as to what kind of painting or what ways of putting paint on canvas should be accepted as "legitimate. In the long run, methods and processes have received such authoritative sanction from having been each and all used by undoubted masters, that they have become the traditional property of [Pg ] all art, which any one is free to use as he finds need of them.

They have become the stock in trade of the craft. The artist may use them as he will, provided only he will take the trouble to understand them. He must understand them, because the manipulations which make up these different processes accomplish different effects and different qualities; and as the painter aims at results, if he does not understand the result of a process when he uses it, he will get a different one from that which he intended. The painter should not be hampered by process; he should not be controlled in the expression of himself by tradition. He should feel free to use any or all means to bring about the result he aims at, and he should allow no tradition or point of view to prevent him from selecting whichever means will most surely or satisfactorily bring about his true purpose.

Of course there are many ways of using paint which are unsafe. Some pigments are unsafe to use because they either do not hold their own color, or tend to destroy the color of others. You should always bear this in mind; and if you care for the permanence of your work, you should not use such materials or such processes as work against it.

But beyond this, the whole range of the experience and experiment of the workers [Pg ] who have gone before you are at your command, to help you to express yourself most perfectly or completely; to represent whatever of visible beauty you may conceive or perceive. And this is the whole aim of the painter; to stand for this is the whole purpose of the picture. Originality is not a thing to strive for. If it comes, it is not through striving. The search for originality seldom results in anything worth having. It is a quality inherent in the man; and the best way of being original in your work is to be natural.

Perhaps the most useful advice which you could receive is that you be always natural. Never be artificial nor insincere; never copy another person's subject, manner, or method, with the intention of doing as he does. The most original things are often the most simple, because they have come naturally from a sincere desire to express what has been seen or felt, in the most direct way. If every one were content to be himself, there would be no dearth of originality. No two people are alike, neither are any two painters alike; they could not be.

They do not look alike, nor see alike, nor feel alike, nor think alike. How, then, should they paint alike? The attempt to do a thing because another has made a success of that sort of thing is the most fruitful source of the commonplace in painting. Don't try to paint what appeals to some one else. If you like it, then do it; and do it in the most direct way you can find; only do it so as to fully and completely convey just what it is that you like, unaffected by anything else. And because you have seen or felt for yourself in your own way, and expressed that; and because you are not another, nor like any other that ever was, what you have done will not be like anything else that ever was—and that is originality.

But never imitate yourself, either. Be open. Be ready to receive impressions and emotions. And if you have done one thing well, accept that in itself as a reason for not doing it again. There are always plenty of things—ideas, impressions, conceptions, appreciations—waiting to be painted; and if you try to paint one twice, you fail once of freshness, and lose a chance of doing a new thing. That is what a painter is for, not to cover a canvas with paint, hang it on a wall, and call it by a name. The painter is the eye of the people. He sees things which they have no time to look for, or looking, have not learned to see.

The painter serves his purpose best when he recognizes the beautiful where it was not perceived before, and so sets it forth that it is recognized to be beautiful through his having seen it. There is the difference between the artist and [Pg ] the photograph, which sees only facts as facts; which while often distorting them does so mindlessly, and at best, when accurate, gives the bad with the good in unconscious impartiality. But back of the painter's eye which sees and distinguishes is the painter's brain which selects and arranges, using facts as material for the expression of beauties more important than the facts.

But what is a picture? I have met some strange though positive notions as to what is and what is not a picture. Some persons think that a certain or uncertain proportion of definite forms and objects are necessary to make canvas a picture; that it must contain some definite and tangible facts of the more obvious kind. I remember one man who asserted that a canvas in an exhibition was not a picture, but only a sketch, because it had nothing in it but an expanse of sea and sky.

To make a picture of it there was needed at least a moon, and some birds, or better, a ship and some reflections. All this sort of thing is idle. A picture is not a picture because it has more of this or less of that; it is a picture because it is complete in the expression of the idea which is the cause of its existence.

And that idea may be tangible or not. It may include many details or none. It is an idea which is best or only expressed by being made visible, and which is worthy of being expressed because of its beauty; and [Pg ] when that idea is wholly and fully visible on canvas or other surface, that surface is a picture. What the contents of a picture shall be is a matter personal to the painter of it.


The manner in which it is conceived and produced is determined by his temperament and idiosyncrasy. A picture is a visible idea expressed in terms of color, form, and line. It is the product of perception plus feeling, plus intent, plus knowledge, plus temperament, plus pigment. And as all these are differently proportioned in all persons, it is only a matter of being natural on the part of the painter that his picture should be original.

It is a mistake to make pictures too soon. The nearest a student is likely to get to a picture is a careful study, and he will be as successful with this, if he makes it for the study of it, as if he made it for the sake of making a picture—better probably. The making of a picture for the picture's sake is dangerous to the student. His is less likely to be sincere. He is apt to "idealize," to make up something according to some notion of how a picture should be, rather than from knowledge of how nature is.

Real pictures grow from study of nature. They cover a wide range of approaches, styles, and subject matter, which encourages versatility. The step by step pictures and instructions show every stage of the process as each painting is replicated. It deepens your understanding of each master's palette, their techniques, and composition.

This book is a gem of both technical instruction and art history education! Allrich writes eloquently about how and why he paints his paintings the way he does. You have the freedom to decide whether his way is good for you to emulate or you can modify it.

"Alla Prima II" by Richard Schmid: Chapter 2 Book Review

The book also does a good job of explaining oil techniques. My Find On Videos for oil painting instructions Rent it and Bring your Instructor to Your Home If you are a visual learner like most of the artists out there! You can pick up a lot by watching the videos. To me, it is easier to watch a favorite artist's demo on video than having to travel physically to a workshop. Not only that, with a video I can repeat the video at will or stop to take notes at any point whereas workshops have a much faster pace.

Videos will save you money, too, when the artists on the videos are nationally known, far from you, and command a high price for their workshops! What could be better than learning from great contemporary oil painters in the comfort of your home, and saving you money at the same time? Here you will find a wide array of oil painting instruction DVD's for rent. Bring your instructor home for a small fraction of the money you'd pay to attend an expensive workshops or demo.

I started using their service last year. I was skeptical at first, because I have had unpleasant experiences with other oil painting instruction tape services, but I have become one of their many happy customers. You rent them for one week at a time. Deliveries are prompt, the service is professional. The convenience and value you get for your dollar is unbeatable! From time to time I will post information on more essential resources for your oil painting education. Desire to take your oil painting skills to a higher level by studying classical oil painting?

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The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book The Oil Painting Book
The Oil Painting Book

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