Friday, January 29, 2010

Caleb Revisited and The Art Spirit

This is the same painting of Caleb, with the background darkened and dulled down.  I also decided to photograph it instead of scanning.  The scanned image was more garish than the original, and I guess the lesson here is to try both ways and see which one works out to be more accurate and pleasing.  I was working from a photo that I did not take, though I know (or at least knew) Caleb, and that is part of the reason this portrait is a little static. As an experiment with a new material, I think it works, though.

I stumbled upon a blog recently that I haven't followed long, but find intriguing.  It's called Following the Masters, authored by Michelle Burnett.  She posts information about master painters, this month it's Robert Henri, and both suggests reading and painting challenges.  It was from this blog that I decided to read Henri's collection of notes, letters, and lectures called The Art Spirit.  My fiction has suddenly been shoved aside, and I find myself eagerly reading his insights on art.  I thought I'd post some of the comments that ended up in my journal in the next few posts.  Most of these were written around 1915-1920.

Following the Masters

- An interest in the subject, something you want to say definite about the subject; this is the first condition of a portrait.  Completion does not depend upon material representation.  The work is done when that special thing has been said.

To start with a deep impression, the best, the most interesting, the deepest you can have of the model to preserve this vision throughout the work; to see nothing else; to admit of no digression from it; choosing only from the model the signs of it; will lead to an organic work.

-From my point of view the simpler the background is the better the figure in front of it will be, and also ...the better the figure is the less the observer will need entertainment in the background.

-At time, secreted in the appearance of a simple tone there is a gamut of color, a shifting across the spectrum which keeps the thing alive, illusive, and creates a mystery of depth.

-The art student of these days is a pioneer.  He lives in a decidedly colorless, materialistic age.  The human family has not yet come out of the woods.  We are more barbarian, we are still barbarians... We have yet as a body to come up with the art of living.  The art student of today must pioneer beyond the mere matter of fact."

-I believe the great artists of the future will use fewer words, copy fewer things, essays will be shorter in words and longer in meaning.  There will be a battle against obscurity.  Effort will be made to put everything plain, out in the open.  By this means we will enter the real mystery.  There will be fewer things said and done, but each thing will be fuller and will receive fuller consideration.  Now we waste. There is too much "Art" too much "decoration," too many things are made, too many amusements wasted.  Not enough is fully considered.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The portrait is amazing! I also really appreciated your sharing some of those quotes from the Henri, as they were helpful at just the right time in a painting that has gone wrong and now I know why. It was these two sentences that gave me the clue:
"The work is done when that special thing has been said."
"To start with a deep impression... to preserve this vision throughout the work; to see nothing else; to admit of no digression from it..."