Sedulous Indulgence and Instruction from Carolus-Duran

Book notes on A Manual of Oil Painting by the Hon. John Collier published in 1887.

sed-u-lous – adjective – (of a person or action) showing dedication and diligence : he watched himself with the most sedulous care.

This book was a great pleasure to read; each paragraph a joyous reminder of all things technically practical and pragmatic.  The biggest surprise for me was finding an anecdote on the teaching methods of Sargent’s teacher, Carolus-Duran:

The model was posed on Monday, always in full light, without shadow effect, and against a strongly coloured background, which we had to imitate exactly in its relations to the figure.  The figure was drawn in in charcoal, then we were allowed to take a sable and strengthen the outline with some dark colour mixed vith turpentine, but not to make any preparation, nor put in conventional brown shadows. The palette vas set as follows :

Black, verte émeraude, raw umber, cobalt, laquc ordinaire, brun rouge or light red, yellow ochre, and white (the colours being placed on the palette in this order from left to right).

We were supposed to mix two or three gradations of yellow ochre with white, two of light red with white, two of cobalt with white, and also of black and raw umber to facilitate the choice of tones.

We were not allowed any small brushes, at any rate for a long time–many months or years.

On Tuesday Duran came to criticise and correct the drawing, or the laying in of the painting if it was sufficiently advanced.  We blocked in the curtain first, and then put in the figure or face in big touches like a coarse wooden head hewn with a hatchet; in fact, in a big mosaic, not bothering to soften things down, but to get the right amount of light and the proper colour, attending first to the highest light. The hair, etc., was not smoothed into the flesh at first, but just pasted on in the right tone like a coarse wig; then other touches were placed on the junctions of the big mosaic touches, to model them and make the flesh more supple. Of course, these touches were a gradation between the touches they modelled. All was solid, and there were no gradations by brushing the stuff 0f the lights gently into the darks or vice versa; because Duran wished us to actually make and match each bit of the tone of the surface. He came again on Friday to criticise, and on that day we finished off.

– this account given to Collier by a friend.

Below are the annotations I made while reading the book on the iPad:

Annotation Summary for: A Manual of Oil Painting – 9781440087929

Page 9: Cover

Page 16: The studio must not be too small.

Page 28: No sharp edges!!!

Page 28: Put in the sun or near a fire!!!

Page 29: Beads on ducks back solution!!!! Breath!!!!

Page 30: Rule: no small brush if big can do the same

Page 31: Be on look out for lost edges!!!!

Page 32: The real difficulty is getting truth in tone and tint.

Page 32: The difficulty in tone (read to beginners)… Painting what they know not what they see.

Page 33: Years of training to understand shadows…

Page 35: Fortunately… Grey days!

Page 37: Black glass!

Page 37: Intolerable errors in human figure… Yet why do we make them??

Page 38: Sedulously?

Page 39: Avoid ugly!! (tell Kingsley)

Page 39: A discourse on the nude…

Page 40: Men and women together… Not necessary

Page 41: On figure drawing…

Page 41: Do figure drawing shading with a stump

Page 41: A painter should never be in a hurry, but do work in shortest time possible.

Page 41: Excellent! The 5 to 10 minute rule!!!!

Page 41: On cast painting…

Page 42: Texture and it’s relation to flesh!

Page 43: Mottled colors of cheeks…

Page 43: Following the direction of wrinkles… Form is direction!

Page 43: Hair!! And this is what I do!

Page 44: Honesty in perception!

Page 44: Drapery… For next week in Velazquez.

Page 44: To be looked at askance… Great word.

Page 44: Difficult to paint folds…maybe this iscwhy they were so often painted…to show skill.

Page 44: A painter’s objective: acquire such masterly rapidity that drapery is painted straight from the model!

Page 45: Anatomy is overrated.

Page 45: Quote on the Greeks and ignorance of anatomy

Page 46: Do not let knowledge override observation! I.e. Draw what you see, not what you know.

Page 46: Leonardo quote…”bags of walnuts”… Dig at Michelangelo?

Page 46: Anatomy is a good servant but bad master.

Page 46: On portraiture…

Page 46: Likeness is simply accuracy!

Page 47: Pursue accuracy with earnestness.

Page 47: On memory and imagination… Kept in abeyance… If indulged too early, try can hardly fail to be fatal to accuracy… The foundation of all good painting!

Page 48: The choice of subject..

Page 48: Painting should explain itself! No need for elaborate explanation!

Page 49: Modern vs. Non-modern subjects.

Page 49: … Yet Caravaggio made due!

Page 50: Pathos and dramatic intensity as a counter-balance to beauty.

Page 51: Subject matter choices…

Page 52: After choosing the subject, here is what you do….

Page 53: Abandon all idea of slavishly copying the model?

Page 53: Trust more to memory than actual copying.

Page 54: Rich’s dictionary of antiquities

Page 55: On painting folds and accessories.

Page 56: When portraiture is taken up seriously…

Page 57: The considerations of portraiture…

Page 58: The portrait must be characteristic,

Page 59: … The first sitting can be spent arranging the picture! This is great! …get your sitter to talk!

Page 60: Two ways to paint landscapes…

Page 60: Turner’s evanescent vs. Millais’ rendering of form and color.

Page 61: The laws of the Medes and Persians, Mr. Poynter South Kensington

Page 66: Using a palette kind to get general tones, then modifying…

Page 66: Use of a palette knife to map different tones…

Page 67: Carolus Duran!

Page 68: Carolus palette…

Page 68: Blocked in curtain first, then head…

Page 69: Millais, canvas side-by-side… Memory.

Page 70: Yes! This is me!

Page 70: The Murray method…

Page 71: Reynolds: “I am established in my painting…”

Page 72: Titian’s method…

Page 73: Leonardo….

Page 73: Mrs. Merrifield’s “treatises on the arts of painting”

Page 74: (artists) always imagine that they set to work much more systematically than is really the care.

Page 75: Theory…

Page 75: Few people will maintain that we shall do anything the better the less we know about it.

Page 83: The true primaries are red, green and violet

Page 91: The Young theory of color…

Page 93: Can pigment represent the same intensity of light and shade of the natural world?

Page 94: Comparing moonlight to sunlight in painting…

Page 94: The key is in their relative colors and luminosities…

Page 96: How DO we distinguish between sunlight and moonlight in a picture?

Page 96: The answer…

Page 97: The stronger the illumination, the warmer it will lick.

Page 97: Interesting!  The idea of “breadth”; to avoid bringing out too clearly unimportant details.

Page 99: Look away… Endeavor to retain the scene as a whole.

Page 99: Velazquez anecdote…

Page 100: The only case of “actual deception”…

Page 101: Fascinating! How our eyes perceive the whole… Tough much is often double vision.

Page 101: “we disregard that which is important to us in the act of seeing.”

Page 102: Fascinating! “distances” in painting not perceived by the eyes.

Page 104: A simple mystery… Eyes of a portrait that follow the viewer.

Page 106: The crux of the matter: why is painting difficult?

Page 107: “touch” is key to our understanding of form and distance.

Page 116: Excellent observations on black/white mixtures:  wet vs. Dry

Page 116: General observation on color temperature with regard to ground color.

Page 116: A glaze vs. A stumble

Page 117: Leveraging stumbles and glazes…

Page 118: “the meaningless eloquence of the writers on aesthetics in general”

Page 118: Painting should be studied with the same intelligence as men of science.

Page 120: List if paints…

Page 127: Index of other books!

Marked up using iAnnotate on my iPad

Sent from my iPad

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