Our studies will be forever, in a very great degree, under the direction of chance; like travelers, we must take what we can get, and when we can get it - whether it is or is not administered to us in the most commodious manner, in the most proper place, or at the exact minute when we would wish to have it.
No art can be grafted with success on another art. For though they all profess the same origin, and to proceed from the same stock, yet each has its own peculiar modes both of imitating nature and of deviating from it... The deviation, more especially, will not bear transplantation to another soil.
A painter must not only be of necessity an imitator of the works of nature... but he must be as necessarily an imitator of the works of other painters. This appears more humiliating, but is equally true; and no man can be an artist, whatever he may suppose, upon any other terms.
The general ideas which are expressed in sketches, correspond very well to the art often used in poetry... every reader making out the detail according to his own particular imagination... but a painter, when he represents Eve on canvas, is obliged to give a determined form, and his own idea of beauty distinctly expressed.
Let me recommend to you not to have too great dependence on your practice or memory, however strong those impressions may have been which are there deposited. They are forever wearing out, and will be at least obliterated, unless they are continually refreshed and repaired.
Poetry operates by raising our curiosity, engaging the mind by degrees to take an interest in the event, keeping that event suspended, and surprising at last with an unexpected catastrophe. The painter's art is more confined, and has nothing that corresponds with, or perhaps is equivalent to, this power and advantage of leading the mind on, till attention is totally engaged. What is done by Painting, must be done at one blow; curiosity has received at once all the satisfaction it can ever have.
Excellence is never granted to man but as the reward of labor. It argues no small strength of mind to persevere in habits of industry without the pleasure of perceiving those advances, which, like the hand of a clock, whilst they make hourly approaches to their point, yet proceed so slowly as to escape observation.
From a slight, undetermined drawing, where the ideas of the composition and character are just touched upon, the imagination supplies more than the painter himself, probably, could produce. And we accordingly often find that the finished work disappoints the expectation that was raised from the sketch...
The first degree of proficiency is, in painting, what grammar is in literature, a general preparation for whatever the student may afterward choose for more particular application. The power of drawing, modeling, and using colors, is very properly called the language of the art.
An artist who brings to his work a mind tolerably furnished with the general principles of art, and a taste formed upon the works of good artists in short, who knows in what excellence consists - will, with the assistance of models... be an overmatch for the greatest painter that ever lived who should be debarred such advantages.
Those who, either from their own engagements and hurry of business, or from indolence, or from conceit and vanity, have neglected looking out of themselves, as far as my experience and observation reach, have from that time not only ceased to advance, and improve in their performances, but have gone backward. They may be compared to men who have lived upon their principal, till they are reduced to beggary, and left without resources.
But young men have not only this frivolous ambition of being thought masters of execution, inciting them on the one hand, but also their natural sloth tempting them on the other. They are terrified at the prospect before them, of the toil required to attain exactness. The impetuosity of youth is disgusted at the slow approaches of a regular siege, and desires, from mere impatience of labour, to take the citadel by storm. They wish to find some shorter path to excellence, and hope to obtain the reward of eminence by other means, than those which the indispensable rules of... Read more »
Grandeur of effect is produced by two different ways which seem entirely opposed to each other. One is by reducing the colors to little more than chiaroscuro... and the other, by making the colors very distinct and forcible... but still, the presiding principle of both those manners is simplicity.
The spectator, as he walks the gallery, will stop, or pass along. To give a general air of grandeur at first view, all trifling, or artful play of little lights, or an attention to a variety of tints is to be avoided; a quietness and simplicity must reign over the whole work, to which a breadth of uniform and simple color will very much contribute.
It is to Titian we must turn our eyes to find excellence with regard to color, and light and shade, in the highest degree. He was both the first and the greatest master of this art. By a few strokes he knew how to mark the general image and character of whatever object he attempted...