Tag Archives: Sargent

Unity of Effect

“Go for the tout ensemble!” At art school, my teacher, Charles Cecil was keen to drum into his students certain aspects of our training and this phrase was often repeated like a mantra. He would exhort us in our painting … Continue reading

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Above is a recent self portrait. There are pros and cons to painting self-portraits: Pros: The model is always on time. He keeps still. He takes a break and comes back to work at your bidding. He wears the right … Continue reading

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Verticals, Horizontals and Curves

In his book Composition of Outdoor Painting, Edgar Payne mentions the effect of the direction of lines in a picture.  “The vertical line is emblematic of great height, stability and nobility. The horizontal line denotes repose and tranquility. The slanting … Continue reading

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Artists using the sightsize technique

I paint using the sightsize method which means placing the image alongside the subject. When I stand back from the subject and image, I can compare both at a glance and paint more accurately and effectively. Here are some photos of old masters doing just that. Above is … Continue reading

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Stealing from the Old Masters

Good artists copy; great artists steal. (Pablo Picasso) The aphorism above is glib (and probably apocryphal), yet it brings to mind a truth which, to a few artists, is both inconvenient and distasteful: nearly all art is derivative. But should artists strive for absolute … Continue reading

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Portraits of Couples

Although I have painted husbands and wives separately, I have yet to paint a portrait of a husband and wife together. I looked at some double portraits of the Old Masters only to realise that there are fewer than I had expected. Above … Continue reading

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Character in Portraiture

Painting an accurate likeness is a matter of time and hard work, but painting the look that unveils the character of the model is the true challenge and real aim of the portrait painter. Here are a few Old Master portraits which show the artists performing just this feat. Above … Continue reading

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When I look at the works of the Old Masters on line I can occasionally find a very high quality image which means I can scrutinise the artists’ brilliant brushwork. Above is Sargent’s portrait of Helen Dunham. Yes, she is lovely but what I find interesting here is the artist’s … Continue reading

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Landscape composition

One of the aspects of learning to paint I found frustratingly slow to grasp was how to compose  a landscape. I eventually came across Composition of Outdoor Panting by Edgar Payne – a jewel of a book. Payne gives some ten or … Continue reading

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Recommended Reading

Here are a few art books which I have found helpful and inspiring. Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne: I spent years looking for someone to teach me landscape composition – most art teachers are frustratingly vague about this subject*. In this … Continue reading

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