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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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