Monday, May 31, 2010

Words of Wisdom: Alfred Stevens Part III

In a portrait, it is better to let the sitter take an habitual pose than to strive for effect by an unusual one.

A smile is more difficult to render than tears.

An old woman is easier to paint than a young girl.

The nude is the great difficulty of art, and the man is more difficult to execute than the woman.

The Japanese have made us understand that nothing in nature is to be disdained, and that an ant is as well constructed as a horse.

A commission for a picture is almost corrupting to the artist, since it injures his originality of impulse.

All the masters have painted the Virgin and the Infant Jesus. It is always a mother and her son, and this will be an admirable subject to all eternity.

The masters of all countries and of all ages have practiced portrait painting, which is perhaps the finest of all kinds.

A painter ought sometimes to consult a sculptor, and vice versa.

Do not exert yourself to make too perfect studies from nature. A study should be an exercise without pretension.

I do not like a model who never moves.

To paint a good portrait, it is indispensable to enter into the spirit and the character of the model, and compel one's self to depict him not only by exactly reproducing his features, but more particularly by interpreting his mind.

Painting is nature seen through the prism of an emotion.

It is easier to do a head in several hours than in several days.

A student should avoid beautifying his model; he ought rather to exaggerate it in order not to detract from its character.

Painting executed in the open air gains in the studio.

It is always dangerous to paint a portrait for nothing, for the person who has sat for it never defends it when it is criticised.

The religion of art abandons most often the painter too much flattered, too much petted, too happy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Random Inspiration: Richard E. Miller Part II

Miller was born March 22nd, 1875 in the "Gateway City," St. Louis, Missouri. In the short time between 1803, when the city was acquired by the United States during the Louisiana Purchase, and Miller's birth, St. Louis had become one of the most important cities in the country, providing one of the largest trade ports in the nation, and offering the jumping-off point for all of America's western expansion. With the industrialization of St. Louis, came prosperity to the city, and soon after, increased educational and cultural opportunities. Miller's father, a civil engineer, enjoyed the offerings of his metropolitan area, and often brought his family to the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the city's Museum of Fine Arts at Washington University. With this early introduction to the arts, Richard Miller's course was set.

Despite his father later balking at the teen-aged Miller's idea of becoming a professional artist, it seems that his family was very supportive of Richard's artistic pursuits. By the age of 12, he was making pastel and watercolor portraits of his family members, and by the time he was in high school, he was working as a "brush-boy" for local portrait artist, George Eichbaum. When it came time for Miller to begin his formal training, and his father tried to dissuade him from studying art, Miller pointed to his neighbor's example, who, at only one year Miller's senior, was working by day as a lithographer and taking night courses at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. Miller is purported to have said, "If Oscar Berninghaus can do it, I can too."¹ (Berninghaus later gained fame as a member of the Taos Society of Artists in New Mexico). In 1891, Miller enrolled in the School of Fine Arts' night classes while working days in his father's office: the following year he became a full-time student while also working as a clerk at the American Art Company.