Check All
Check None

wo fresh ones at a time, in this or that part of the partially wilted group, using the same kind of flower as that which was in that place before ; FLOIVERS 283 then work more closely from these new flowers, letting the whole bunch preserve for you the mass and general relation. As you work, the bunch will be gradually changing and constantly renewed from part to part, and you can work slowly from general to particular. Finally, from new flowers, put in those more individual touches which give the personal flowers. This is the only way you can work a long time, and it is not easy. But it should not discourage you. Nothing takes the place of the flower picture, and the only way to learn to paint flowers is to paint flowers. General Principles Hold Always. — Still, the principles of all painting hold here as elsewhere, and what is said of painting in general will have its application to flowers. Paint flowers because you love them ; and if you love them, love them enough to study patiently to express the qualities most worth painting, even if there be difficulties. Details Again. — Don't make too much of unimportant things. The whole is more than the part ; the flower than the petal. Of course you can't paint a flower without painting the petals, but you need not paint the petals so that you can't see anything else. If the character of the flower as a whole is to be seen at a glance without the emphasis of any special petal, suggest the petals 284 THE PAINTER IN OIL only. If the petal is important to the expression of character, then paint it ; and if you do, paint it well. Use your judgment ; make the less expressive of the greater, or do not paint it at all. Colors. — Colors and tints in flowers are always more rather than less subtle than you think them. If you have a doubt, make it more delicate—give delicacy the benefit of the doubt. Still, flowers are never weak in color. Subtle as they are, it is the very subtlety of strength. Black will be the most useless color of your palette. Make your grays by mixing your richer colors. A gray in a flower is shadow on rich color, and it must not be painted by negation of color, but by refinement of color. Sketches. — Make sketches of flowers constantly. Try to carry the painting of a single flower or of a group as far as you can in an hour. Practise getting as much of the effect of detail as possible with as little actual painting of it, and then apply this to your picture. Get to know your work in studies and sketches, and you will work better in more difficult combinations. When you have, as you generally will have, stilllife accessories to \our flowers, rub in quickly the color and values of the vase or what not first, but leave the painting of it till the flowers are done. It will be a more patient sitter than thev. FLOIVERS 285 Apply the ways of painting spoken of with reference to still life to the sketching of flowers. Either rub in quickly A.frott^e and then paint solidly into that, or work frankly and solidly but deliberately to render the characteristic qualities. When you sketch flowers don't take too many at a time ; calculate to work not more than an hour and a half or two hours, and have no more flowers in your sketch than you can complete in that time. When you sketch, quite as much as when you work at more ambitious canvases, get the mass first, especially if the group is large. Then put in the accents which do most to give the character or type of the flower. Make studies of single flowers and sketches of groups. In the study search detail and modelling ; in the sketch search relations and relief, effect and large accent. 286 THE PAINTER IN OIL CHAPTER XXX PORTRAITS Don't look upon portraits as something any one can do. A portrait is more than a likeness, and the painting of it gives scope for all of the great qualities possible in art. Only a great painter can paint a great portrait. Some great painters rest their fame on work in this field, and others have added by this to the fame derived from other kinds of work. You must not think it easy to paint a portrait, or rest satisfied with having got a likeness. Likeness is a very commonplace thing, which almost any one can get. If there were no other qualities to be tried for, it would hardly be worth while to paint a portrait. Back of the likeness, which a few superficial lines may give, is the character, which needs not only skill and power to express but great perception to see, and judgment to make use of to the best advantage. Character. — The first requisite in a good portrait is character, — more than likeness, more than color or grace, before everything else, it needs this ; nothing can take the place of it and make PORTRAITS 287 a portrait in any real sense of the word. Everything else may be added to this, and the picture be only so much the greater ; but this is the fundamental beauty of the portrait. Some of the greatest painters made pictures which were very beautiful, yet the greatest beauty lay in the perception and expression of character. Holbein's wonderful work is the apotheosis of the direct, simple, sincere expression of character in the most frank and unaffected rectitude of drawing. There are masterpieces of Albrecht Dtirer which rest on the same qualities, as you can see in the Portrait of Himself by Diirer. Likeness is incidental to character; get that, and the likeness will be there in spite of you. Hubert Herkomer said once that he did not try for likeness ; if only he got the right values in the right places, the likeness had to be there. The same can hardly be said of character, for this depends on the selection from the phases of expression which are constantly passing on the face, those which speak most of the personality of the man ; and the emphasis of these to the sacrifice of others. The painting of character is interpretation of individuality through the painting of the features, and, like all interpretation, depends more on insight and selection than on representation. Try for this always. Search for it in the manner, in the Dose and occupation, of your sitter. Get like288 THE PAINTER IN OIL ness if you will, of course ; but remember that there is a petty likeness, which may be accident or not, which you can always get by a little care in drawing ; and that there is a larger character which includes this, and does not depend on exaggeration of feature or emphasis of accidental lines, but on the large expressiveness of the individual. You may find it elsewhere than in the face. The character affects the whole movement of the man. The set of the head and the great lines of the face, the head and shoulders alone would give it to you even if the features were left out. Study to see this, and to express it first, and then put in as much detail as you see fit, only taking care never to lose the main thing in getting those details. Qualities. — There are other great qualities also which you can get in a portrait. All the qualities of color and tone, of course. But the simplicity of a single figure does not preclude the qualities of line and mass. The great things to be done with composition may as well be done in portrait as elsewhere. If you would see what mav be done with a single figure, study the Portrait of his Mother, by Whistler. You could not have a better example. It is one of the greatest portraits of the world. Notice the character which is shown in every line and plane in the figure. The very pose speaks of the individuality. Notice the grace and repose of line, and the relations of mass to mass and space— Diirer, by Himself. To be studied as an example of directness and naivet^ of painting. PORTRAITS 291 the proportion. See how quiet it is and simple, yet how just and true. Of the color you cannot judge in a black and white, but you can see the relations of tones, the values and the drawing. It Portrait of his Mottier. Whistler. is these things which make a picture ; not only a portrait, but a great work of art as well. Drawing. — Good work in portraiture depends on good drawing, just as other work does. Don't think that because it is only a head you can make 292 THE PAINTER IN OIL it more easily than anything else. As in other kinds of work, the drawing you should try for is the drawing of the proportions and characteristic lines. Get the masses and the more important planes, and don't try for details. You can get these afterwards, or leave them out altogether, and they will not be missed if your work has been well done. Don't undertake too much in your work. Make up your mind how much you can do well, and don't be too ambitious ; the best painters who ever lived have been content to work on a head and shoulders, and have made masterpieces of such paintings. You may be content also. See how little Velasquez could make a picture of ! and notice also the placing of the head, and the simplicity of mass, and of light and shade. Painting. — Of course you can help your color with glazing and scumbling, but work for simplicity first. It is not necessary to use all sorts of processes ; you can get fine results and admirable training from portrait studies, and the more directly you do it, the better the training will be. Study the Portrait of Himself, by Albrecht Diirer. You will find no affectation here ; the most simple and direct brush-work only. You will not be able to do this sort of thing, but that is no reason \vh)- )-ou should not try for it. It will depend on the brush-stroke. It implies a precision Portrait of Himself. Velasqjies PORTRAITS 295 of eye as well as of hand. It means drawing quite as much as painting, — drawing in the painting. You will not get this great precision ; nevertheless, try f-or it, and get as near it as you can. Don't