Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spring Classes at Chatfield College

I will be teaching two classes at Chatfield College starting in January in the Spring Semester. I find it odd that the Spring semester starts in January- especially since I agreed to teach a Landscape class.
(read the following in a grumpy old man voice) "Back in my day, the school year was broken up into quarters, and they were named appropriately!"

 Below is a painting I did at the college after my afternoon class. They have some lovely grounds on which to paint, though we will probably not be going outside until the weather cooperates.

Springtime in St. Martin, oil on linen, 20" x 16", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Thought I would post this in case anyone in the Ohio counties of Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Highland or Warren have been dying to take one of my classes. The college is in St. Martin, Ohio conveniently located betwixt  those five counties.
If you are wondering about the experience of taking one of my classes, one of the students wrote an essay about the class which you can read here: Extra Credit

"Spring" Semester Landscape Painting Class
 Drawing on the ideas of impressionism, you will practice the techniques needed to complete painted sketches, including basic composition, value, pattern, color spotting, and covering the canvas. Then, building on those skills, you will complete a larger fully realized landscape painting that will capture the impression of light and color. No experience necessary.
To register go to the following link and sign up now.
Chatfield College

The second class is an intermediate painting class.
A Monster Attacks at Breakfast, 22" x26", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2010

"Spring" Semester Intermediate Painting Class
  Probably more appropriately titled Beginning Painting II. I will probably teach this class very much like the beginning class. I am sure anyone that took the class before would agree, going over the basics again is a great idea.
This class is basically a still life painting class. We will set up a collection of items and paint from that week to week. There will be a few drawing and painting exercises in there as well.
Click the Chatfield College link to sign up.
Email me or the college if you have any questions.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Thought I would post about my last painting before the Mayan apocalypse. I think it is an appropriate painting to get folks ready for the end of the world.
Though I have had my coffee, it is already afternoon, and while the weather outside is frightful, it is has not really met my expectations for the end of the world. 

I posted about my basement series of paintings a while ago and have finished two more of these "still life" paintings.
Above the Washing Machine, 20" x 16", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Since the world seems to be moving on, I may even try painting more of these.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Few Figure Drawings

A few figure drawings from our Tuesday night sketch group, each one completed in about an hour or so.
Figure #1-Lindsay, Charcoal on Paper,  12" X 9", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Figure #2 Nikki, Charcoal on Paper,  12" X 9", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Figure #3 Lindsay, Charcoal on Paper,  12" X 9", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Super Portrait Model, Very Angry Portrait Model

I had a few small oval frames I have been wanting to use for portraits of toys. My family is very hard pressed to throw anything away, so I have most of my childhood toys which are not in a big box in my basement. We took pretty good care of our toys, though a few occasionally become dog chew toys and still wear the scars to prove it. While it is may be seen as a bit weird for a guy in his 40's to get out some toys and start playing, painting them is a very grown up way to have almost as much fun and much less likely to result in odd looks- maybe. It is interesting to stare at toys during the painting process that were so much a part of my childhood. Odd and forgotten memories resurface.

I started my first set painting portraits of G.I. Joe and Tonto.

The next two portraits are also of toys from my childhood. I am not 100% sure how it came about, but I am guessing the  Superman doll looked a bit wimpy, or maybe the tag just fell off, so I apparently used a ball point pen to write "SB" for Superboy.

Super Portrait, oil on linen, 2.5" X 1.5", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
 The next portrait is of one of my favorite super heroes as a child- The Incredible Hulk.  I had the toy. I had a subscription to the comic book. I religiously watched the T.V. show with Lou Ferringno. The Hulk was a guy I could identify with. He got angry and smashed stuff. Sometimes that is the best solution. I try to not do that so much these days, as it usually results in me having to fix something or buy a new one of what ever was smashed- like my plein air umbrella that accidentally hit a tree about 30 times on a bad day out painting. It is immature. I am now all growed up, and don't behave that way anymore.
Angry Portrait,  oil on linen, 2.5" X 1.5", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Here are the figures in poseable action.
The entire set of action figure portraits is on now on view at Gallery 42 in Mason, Ohio. Contact them about portrait prices.
I am also taking commissions for portraits of your childhood toys.

I still have the 6 million dollar man, and Evel Knievel, and some Planet of the Apes action figure to paint. 

American Heroes, oil on linen, each 2.5" X 1.5", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saturday Art Opening and a Little Secret

I wanted to let you know about a few Art Events I will be involved in this November.
If you come to at least one, I will think you are totally cool.
If you attend both, you will receive Gold Status in my contact list. *
Behind The Dryer, 24" x 18", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
This week:
Art Opening at Gallery 42 in Mason.
I will be the featured artist for November.
Open House, Saturday November 10th, 5 -9 pm.
Live music, Wine and hors d' oeuvers and me.

117 West Main St., Mason, OH 45040
Contact:   513.234.7874
The show will feature my new Basement Series and other various still life and landscape.

Next Week:
Also, Once again I will be participating in the Secret ArtWorks fund raiser. 

Basement Bulb, 7 x 5, oil on linen. © copyright Richard Luschek 2011
 Secret ArtWorks:
November 16, 2012
120 East Fourth Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

This is a fund raiser for ArtWorks so you have to buy a ticket to get in to the event. You get to purchase a Secret art work with your ticket price. There will be 100's of 5" x 7" works of art for sale. I have one card in the show. Tickets for the event can be purchased here. Tickets.
Shown above is my entry for last years event, a painting that kick started the basement series which will be on view this Saturday at Gallery 42.  

* Gold Status members are not subjected to any special treatment or discounts. It is little more than silly name I came up with. Though you may use this as a resume filler.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Paint Portrait Kemosabe?

American Hero #2, oil on linen, 2.5" X 1.5", ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
This painting is the next in a series of toy portraits I recently began. I have a nice set of little oval frames I have been wanting to fill. The first portrait was of  G. I. Joe. This one is a large Tonto action figure I played with as a child. I also had the Lone Ranger, but I think he was a casualty of our dog Sherman.
The Tonto survived unharmed. There are two more of these portraits almost done that I will be posting sometime soon.

Kind of fun to work on a scale where you can have the whole painting laid in after five minutes.
You can see the plight of the American Indian in his plastic eyes.
American Hero # 2, with subject posing in the background.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Opening at Gallery 42

I will have some paintings on view at Gallery 42 in Mason, Ohio starting tomorrow. The gallery will be showing a few paintings from my basement still life series.
Here is the latest of the series- it is still a bit wet.
Basement Still Life- Storage Closet #1, Oil on linen, 16 x 20, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

There is an opening tomorrow for the photography of Anna Ogier-Bloomer as part of the Cincinnati Photo Focus thing that many of the local galleries are doing.
Saturday, October 6th, 5 to 9PM
Wine and hors d’oeuvres

Exhibition continues through October 27th

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just a few Figure Drawings

Just sharing a few quick drawings from our Tuesday night sketch group. The woman in the drawings  is a fantastic model. She takes great poses and has a wonderful work ethic. Tonight she even brought pumpkin bread- a beautiful model that shows up with snacks makes for some inspired drawing sessions.
Now, I know each of these drawings have some issues- yes I see the problems, but I thought I would post them anyway.
I find drawing to be a very fluid thing. It is basically a process of visual learning. Each of these drawings, completed in about an hour, could have benefited from more time to test and adjust problem areas- checking proportion, value and shape, while maintaining the gesture of the pose. Most of what happens in the studio while studying nature is a battle of wills. You have to be able to put down a mark, have it be wildly wrong and rather than begin the process of tying a noose with which to hang yourself, one has to be willing to laugh and say, "Wow, that is crazy wrong. Now, how do I fix that?" Thus starts the conversation with nature.

Both of these drawings could have benefited from a longer conversation.
Lindsay, 12x9, charcoal.  ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Lindsay , 12x9, charcoal.  ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Unisex Art Club and Art Club for Women.

I have a small piece in a show that opens tonight at the Cincinnati Art Club.  

Unbolted, 3 1/2" x 5", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Signature Member Show Opening Reception
Friday, September 14, 6-9 p.m.
Exhibit open Sat., Sun., Sept. 15, 16, 22, 23

1021 Parkside Place, Cincinnati, Oh 45202

Yesterday I was honored to be asked to judge an art show for the Cincinnati Women's Art Club. The show is the Annual Members Exhibit, and will open this Sunday, September 15 through October 7th.

I had to chose 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Out of an entire room packed with paintings that is a challenge. I thought I would talk a bit about my method for choosing the works I did. I do enjoy judging art shows, as it is a solid lesson in what makes a painting successful. 
My first method is to do a cursory stroll through the gallery to quickly look at everything. I then stand in the middle of the room and slowly spin around to see what attracts my eye. I grabbed some cards they had stacked by the door as advertising for the show- I grabbed a handful and dropped cards in front of pieces I thought should be considered for the top prizes. I quickly narrowed it down to about 10. The only issue with this is that twice, club members strolled through while I was judging and tidied up the space, picking up my cards.
Then I made sure to slowly walk around and look at every piece. I found it interesting how many pieces I had not seen at all in the first two go arounds. Now that I was forcing myself to look at each one I was finally looking at some of them. Interestingly, this did not change my initial decisions at all. The paintings "invisible" to my initial look, were not helped by careful study.

So, the lesson learned- a painting has to have a powerful abstraction of lights and darks. When I say light and dark, I do not mean white and black, but some arrangement of values that catches the eye. Paintings can be monochromatic, but they should never be monovalumatic- is that a word? Well, it is now, it means having a single value. Paintings are going to be more successful with clearly stated value patterns with a pleasing arrangement.
I also considered good used of color and edges to control the space and atmosphere in a picture. There were a few paintings that had deep space, with good drawing, but the artists had not adjusted the color or edges at all to control space.

I want to stress how little subject matter influenced what I chose. A painting of road kill could have won if it was done well enough and had some beauty. A judge does of course have specific tastes. I tend towards realism, so any paintings that were merely abstract were probably not going to get much consideration. Sorry, life is not fair.  

I think most people see me as a still life painter. While a few still lifes were in my top 10, I did not pick a single still life for an award. Again, I may have been harder on still life, but again, I tried to make it a visual game.
I will be at the Fund Raising Event on September 21st, so anyone with paintings in the show that has questions about my thoughts on their work can of course talk to me. Be prepared, I may be a bit tipsy and opinionated, but my wife will be there to make sure I am well behaved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9-11 Remembered

Thought I would just repost what I wrote last year on the ten year anniversary:

Of course we are all reflecting on this terrible day in American history. I thought I would post some of my experiences from that memorable week.

Avenue in the Rain by Childe Hassam (1917)

It was going to be a memorable day for me no matter the events that occurred that morning in Manhattan. I happened to packing my car getting ready to drive 900 plus miles to New Hampshire. I had only been married 3 years to my wife when I got the idea in my head that I needed some serious training if I wanted to be a painter. Laura was very supportive in this decision and traveled with me to Italy to look at a few Ateliers. Oddly, I chose The Paul Ingbretson School of Drawing and Painting in Manchester, New Hampshire without having visited it. It came highly recommended by Carl Samson.
I would like to stress, that I am not much of a traveler. I am also not a very good driver (I was in an accident just a week before- having driven into the side of a huge tour bus). So the idea of leaving my new wife in Cincinnati, while I drive 900 miles to a place I had never been, not knowing a soul, with no arrangements for a place to live, for an undetermined period of time was pretty daunting already. The plan was to leave early on September 11. As Laura and I where busy packing the car, I decided to check my email and received one from a  friend in Sweden asking "What the hell is going on in NY?"
I had no idea.
We turned on the news and so ended the preparations for the trip. We were glued to the TV the rest of the day.
I won't go on about that day, as we all had similar feelings of shock and fear. I did not leave that day. I think it was a few days later before I finally decided the world was not ending and  it was relatively safe to leave. One thing that sticks in my mind about the drive, was to listening to the radio discussing the events and heroic rescue attempts at the site. A few times it was too much and I worked to find any station that was just playing music. It seemed most of the time I was able to find a 70's rock station that was not playing too much news. The nonstop coverage on the stations was just too intense. It is hard to drive if you are crying.

I finally made it to New Hampshire, my new home away from home, arriving at the studio the next day. I was of course very anxious in a new place but it only got worse when I was meet at the studio door by a student. I was lucky enough to meet the only student, in Paul's 20 years of teaching, to have been kicked out of the school. He was actually voted out by the other students. He was there packing up his stuff to leave and was not happy about it. There was no one else in the studio.He was very excited to learn that I was also from Ohio and then  went on a tirade about how everyone in the studio was of "noble blood", unlike us Ohioans. He said they were all going to look down on me as being a "lowly Midwesterner".  I began to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake.
He took me on a tour of the area and then out for a beer. He spent the evening telling how he was going to be the next Michelangelo and that he was kicked out of the studio because everyone including Paul was intimidated by him. He also went on and on about how the events of 9/11 were the beginning of a holy war started by Louis Farrakhan and that we should both go sign up with the military to fight the fight. He kept asking me if I loved my wife. If I did, I should go home to her.
This was not what I was expecting to find when I got to the studio. Now, I am a pretty good judge of character and had figured out that this fellow had some issues. Turns out he had a lot of issues. He was very sick and troubled and left offensive and threatening messages on the studio voice mail for years- some mentioning UFO's, black helicopters and Gandalf.
After he finally left for the evening, I was alone in the studio to sleep on the studio couch  as it stormed outside.  It really was a surreal evening.

Well, once that "introduction" was over, the next morning I finally meet Paul and his students. As soon as Paul began to speak I knew I was in the right place. The students were all there for the same reason, to study the art and craft of painting. We were all there to learn how to see the beauty in the world and represent that beauty on the canvas.
As I reflect on the events of ten years ago and the days following, I have mixed feelings. Of course that day changed things for all of us, but for me it was also the beginning of a life long struggle for Truth and Beauty.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fall Landscape Class Starts Next Week

Pack your trunk and don't forget to sign up for my landscape painting class!

This student did not listen to my instruction and eventually sold his painting for peanuts.

Fall Landscape Painting Class
Saturdays, September 15th thru November 3, from 10 am to 1 pm.
Come enjoy the cooler weather and the fall colors.  With "Cincinnati's most charming painting teacher", we will meet at various  scenic parks around Cincinnati to learn to sketch and to paint with oils. Drawing on the ideas of impressionism, you will practice the techniques needed to complete painted sketches, including basic composition, value, pattern, color spotting, and covering the canvas. Then, building on those skills, you will complete a larger fully realized landscape painting that will capture the impression of light and color of the Cincinnati landscape. In case of rain, we will arrange in parks with overhead cover. Details and directions to the various locations will be given in class. No experience necessary- student must be a human. $199; supplies are the student’s responsibility. A list will be sent with your enrollment confirmation or see
Location: First class will meet in my studio in Eden Park; then at various parks thereafter 
To register go to the following link and sign up now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Go Joe!

Finished a small portrait of a war veteran today. You can see the small painting on the easel with the model posing in the background.

Veteran, 3"x 1 1/2", Oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
This is the G.I. Joe doll I played with as a kid. He did have a beard but it came off while he was submerged in the bathtub wearing his scuba gear. He has a few bald spots too. I should probably complain to the company and ask for a refund- though it has been about 38 years. Probably too late. He is missing an arm too, but when you go to war being lead by a 5 year old, there is going to be some damage. I had nothing to do with the scar on his face; he came that way.

Monday, July 30, 2012

44th ViewPoint show at the Cincinnati Art Galleries

One of my basement paintings was selected to be in this years ViewPoint. A show normally at the Cincinnati Art Club space in Mt. Adams. This year they have decided to have the show at the Cincinnati Art Galleries downtown. It is a great space for a show. I hope to see you at the opening this Friday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

X's and O's

My third post on my most recent painting- sorry but I have more to say.

"Ok boys, get out there and design the hell out of them!"
I will offer some thoughts on composition and how it affected the design of my latest picture. Composition is by far the toughest part of picture making. I think that is why you see so many paintings today that are very well painted technically but have not even give composition a thought. I think the art world is just now coming out of the "dark ages" caused by the lawlessness of modernism were there were no rules. While the realists have started to wade through the technical part of painting and rendering, composition still seems to be a mystery to many "classical painters". I will say, I see an good effort by illustrators, for whom picture making seems to more than just realism.
Just so you know, taking a still life object and placing it on a table is not composing- even if you look at it through a viewfinder- or better yet if you look at through that double L thing you can do with your hands. I mean it looks cool, but composing takes more work than that. There have been times were it seems as if I have spent more time setting up a still life than painting the picture.
One of the great benefits of studying with Paul Ingbretson was his insistence on studied composition.  Composing with Paul was not like what you find in books on the subject with with all the tiny lines drawn in to show you how the "picture moves".  It looks like a chalk board analysis of a football coach. Paul talked about bigger things and in a way it about understanding the "game"- the Main Line or general movement of a painting. That with the big abstraction of lights and darks
Interestingly, the act of composing a still life or any picture for that matter still terrifies and mystifies me. Though the more I do it the less excruciating it is, though it still seems mysterious to me. 

Now I will act as if I have some idea as to what I am talking about.
What do I see as the main line of the painting?
Main Line
Basically a big visual movement though the picture like this (big red arrow).
Once that is observed you have to make sure any lines work with the main line in a pleasant way. That there is some variety and interest in those lines. It is a game and once you know the system you have to play.
As I stated before I found some lines that were fighting it or interacting in an unpleasant way.

Making corrections
 I had some lines that repeated over and over to monotony. They also were all pointing in exactly the same direction, so I moved the spoon. The table was in an awkward spot so I moved it up as well.

Repeating lines.
So with the main line I made sure the lines in the painting worked with the main line. Many of the lines radiate out from the scone. By moving the spoon over, it worked with the system while not repeating it exactly. So when I faked the steam from the spout I made sure it worked with that system. With you main line and all repeating lines, there are of course counter lines- the movement from the cup through the spout for instance. Those counter-lines should work with, or even refer to the center of interest.

Of course now that I have written this I am breaking out in a sweat thinking about what Paul will say about my compositional ramblings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Premature Exclamation

I have to apologize for posting about a painting as if it were done, before it was.
I was checking out the painting on the computer and noticed a few issues I will talk about now.
When I finish work quickly, I try to leave the still life up for a few days just in case I find any major problems. I like to have a few days away from the work, so I can look at it fresh. If I am satisfied with the work, I disassemble the set up and frame the painting.
Painting with no no's.

I knew I had an issue at the handle of the coffee cup. A bunch of lines all coming together at a point. I had tried to fix this by controlling the values- making them very similar so it was not an issue.
It was still an issue, I decided to raise that line of the table up so it was higher on the cup.

Next I had a series of spaces that were all the same size. The handle of the coffee pot, the spoon and the space between them were all the same size, evenly spaced and the same angle. Another no no. I could not stop looking at it.

So, I stood in front of the painting, used my maul stick to flagellate myself on the back to teach myself a lesson and then got to work.
While I was at it, I fixed a few other thing, tweaking the color in the coffee pot, darkening the left side of it, and sharpening some edges on the wax paper. 
Here is the final picture, framed and in the Gallery.
Off To The Races, 12"X 9", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Now I am satisfied with it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Totally Sconed

Off To The Races, 12"X 9", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

For my latest still life I decided to add a pastry to my typical coffee still life. I am not sure the percentage of still life paintings I have painted that include coffee but it is pretty high. It is probably pretty close to the same percentage of foods I consume- which is mostly coffee.
I was looking for some biscotti to add since I needed some 'yellow' to the picture but ended up getting a scone. I think this apricot, but I am not really sure. While it looked delicious, after a few days in the hot studio and evenings in the fridge I was not willing to eat it. Not sure about the title, I just chose that because the big nosed cartoon Italian on the coffee maker looks to be firing a gun to start a horse race.

3 hour lay-in, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

I am sure I have mentioned it on this blog before, but the lay-in is my favorite part of the painting process. Working fast to get  the "big" look is when I have the most fun. Even though I am making all the decisions that will result in a picture that will hopefully have the big impression, it almost seems like magic. While I enjoy the process from start to finish, everything after that first day feels like work.

Painting on the left, the still life set up is on the right.

Day 2, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

The second day, the picture is made to look more like nature, slowly coming into focus. I made up some coffee in cup. I had picked up some coffee to put in the cup, but I drank it all.

Day 3, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012    

This time I managed to save some coffee to put in the cup. I was doing my best to finish the painting on the third day. I didn't, but I got it close.
On the forth day I decided I needed to improve the design, correct some of the values and make sure the wax paper looked a bit more transparent- which means I had to repaint it. I strengthened the light effect and worked some of the leading edges. I added some steam to get a bit of life into the painting.

Day 4- Off To The Races, 12"X 9", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Paxton on Painting

The Nude,24x33, by William MacGregor Paxton, Collection of Boston Museum of Fine Arts
"Let the surfaces flow into one another in a supple envelope of light and paint"
"Find a new motive"
"Make the picture look as if it were painted in one sitting"
"Paint as large a piece as possible at once" 
"Never paint on one piece too long at a time"
"Do Something somewhere else, to rest your eyes"
"Paint neither too thickly nor thinly"
"The quickest way is the best"
"Compose by masses of light and dark or dark and light"
"Chiaroscuro is what makes pictures rich"
"Seek a noble and ample design"
"Make the objects swim in the air"
"Paint all things in relation to the focus"

William MacGregor Paxton, 1901
The Letter, 30x25, by William MacGregor Paxton

Monday, July 2, 2012

Digital Plein Air

View from Bellevue, 1 3/4" x 2 1/2", Digital painting, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
During my Saturday Landscape Class this weekend, most of the students has bailed due to the heat or because they had lost power from the Friday storms that hit the area pretty hard. The few that did show were blessed with a lovely day in which to paint. It was approaching the nineties by the time we left at 1:00, but it was comfortable in the shade and there was a great breeze by the river. My wife made sure we had lots of ice water and spray bottles that we would use to mist ourselves cool.

With only 3 students to deal assist, I had time to do some work of my own. Unfortunately I had not packed my easel. I did however have my little Nintendo DS with me and thought I would try some plein air digital painting.

 Using the stylus on the little screen which is about 1 3/4" high by 2 1/2 wide, I laid in the above river scene. I imagine I spent about an hour on this. It is not easy to do this outside due to the glare on the screen. The glare is what resulted in the overly saturated colors. I also should have ignored that brick wall at the bottom but I added it to try to show a student something about the color and shape in their painting- it adds nothing to my picture.
I am intrigued to do this on an iPad. The increased size and much more advanced software could make for a very fun, clean and fast way to study nature. Or maybe I should just bring my easel next time.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

From my tool box

Bolt, Nut, Washer and Wrench, 3.5" x 5", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

Finished this manly little still life today. I posted the lay-in the other day, and with a few hours more I got the picture finished up. As you can see from the lay-in shown below (probably about 3 hours work) I am trying to get the general look of the set up. I try to hit the general key and color- basically I work from the middle. What I mean by that is I am not usually indicating the darkest darks or lightest lights- just the general tonality. I work fast and loose on the first day pushing around shapes until I like the abstraction. I did a very rough drawing, with just enough info to make sure the image will fit on the canvas. I try to do as little drawing as possible, and them paint with big brushes so I can only paint broadly.
I let the painting dry and then start in on a second coat trying to get it more like nature. The image starts to come into focus. I never accept that the drawing is done, constantly moving things to improve the image. I use more oil at this point to get my darks to flow thinly. I either use a medium (1/3 stand oil, 1/3 damar and 1/3 turpentine) or poppy oil, which I have been enjoying lately. I paint with thick paint in the light areas. The highlights are placed in almost in piles and carved into shape with a small sable brush.

Bolt, Nut, Washer and Wrench (first day lay in), 3 1/2 x 5", Oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Extra Credit

 I recently taught a Beginning Painting class at Chatfield College in St. Martin, Ohio. I had a great time working with the students, most of whom had no experience with drawing or painting. It was very much a beginner course. There were a few students that needed to do some extra credit to make up for a missed class. I would generally just have them come in during the week to work on their paintings to make up the day. One student asked if she could write an essay about the class. I said, "Sure if I can post it on my blog." 

I offered a few suggestions for the essay, but just asked that she write about the class and its affect on her life. I think she did a great job on the essay- especially all the nice things she said about me.

I am finally just getting around to posting the essay now. I did a bit of editing and correcting on the essay- corrections are in italics.
The big change I did was to correct to spelling of my name- a grand mistake that I thought should have kept her from getting her diploma, but I decided to be nice and allow it.
Plus, as I said, she wrote a lot of nice things about me in this essay.

Crystal's still life painting in process.

Beginning to Paint

by Crystal Komala

Signing up for beginning painting with Richard Luschek started out as just a class to mark off my degree transcript. Contemplating between that and Art History, I decided hands on experience would be better than any sort of ‘history lesson’. Besides, I thought, it’s not like this guy is actually going to expect me to “paint”.
A couple weeks into the class  Luschek expressed his passionate dislike toward using photographs as a means to painting.  Telling us that there is no way a flat photograph can look as real as a painting. ‘This guy has lost his marbles’ I thought to myself, ‘I have been to an Art museum and I’ve never seen a piece that could even begin to put a camera shot to shame.’  Luschek informed us that we would be painting a still life scene, and we would be working on it for, what happened to be about 10 weeks. I thought this was totally unnecessary, I am excellent at coloring, in fact I can even shade with crayons – I thought for sure I would be done with this assignment early to be left twiddling my thumbs.
To my astonishment I was only given a few colors, expected to ‘mix’ the other shades I needed. Still confident in my coloring abilities I headed toward my setup, and began to stare at the blank canvas. None of the colors I needed were on my pallet, not even close. And apparently sketching out the scene on the white canvas was a ‘no-no’ so I continued to stare at the whiteness of the canvas. “Don’t be afraid, just try something” said Luschek to the class, who in unison were staring at their canvas just like I was. The next instructions were “In a big squint, draw what you see.”
After a long time of squinting and certain I had encouraged the start of my crows feet, I began to understand what he was trying to get across. I needed to see the whole picture, not to concentrate on the text on the box I was painting, or the flowers on the vase. I thought I was beginning to really get somewhere when Luschek came over to my painting and painted through the vase, and the table (which were roughly the same shade, a beige color). Mid-panic, He insisted that I wasn’t drawing what I was seeing.  I knew for certain he was wrong, so I interjected “No, I’m drawing a vase, sitting on a table.” He chuckled and spoke louder, as if to inform the rest of the class of this common error. I learned not to draw what my brain thinks that I see, but what my eyes tell me I see. No shade difference in the vase and the table would mean that my eyes would not be able to differentiate between the two.  To say that I fully exercised this ‘technique’ would be false, but I began to paint differently,drawing shapes and not objects.
About this time, when I’m really feeling confident in my abilities  Luschek brings in a painting he ‘threw together’. Amazed I looked at the painting from all different angels. It looked so lifelike! The dimensions, the shadowing, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Forget the Picasso garbage I saw in the Cincinnati Art Museum; I couldn’t decide if that man was an un-learned child or a crazy adult. Paintings like Luschek's…this was art.
I developed a sense of respect for the many paintings I had seen throughout my life. Along with the one I was painting myself; class after class new things would appear to be wrong to me, demanding my undivided attention. Brushstroke by brushstroke I managed to mold the picture into a similar scene of my still life sitting on the table. Each class I would need a little something different from  Luschek- help with a shade,  painting an angle, creating a shape, etc. You would think all the talent bottled up inside one man would cause him to be arrogant and judgmental of students like myself who didn’t know a Monet from a Rembrandt. Although,  Luschek always offered a different way to view the problem you were trying to paint. Never offering false hope, or comments on a rough-looking painting just to build your spirits, he just encouraged that this was our first time painting and “you don’t make music the first day”.
Not only was I developing a new way of viewing the very life around me, but I caught myself glancing at a flower, a sunset or a building and thinking “that would be so great to paint” sometimes going as far as guessing what colors I would need to mix to make the magic happen.
Has the art class changed my life? Absolutely. I will never take another piece of art for granted, whether it be a still life painting, a self-portrait, or a depiction of nature it all requires talent, patience and perseverance.
Thank you Richard for taking the time to teach us what is just the beginning of this unexplored world of art. I wish you the best; you have an immense amount of talent.    

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hot Days work

I had a fun hot day working in the studio. With the summer sun so high it pours in through my skylight a bit more than I would like. One of these days I would like to raise the angle of the sky light windows from the current  45 degrees or so, to something closer to 60 degrees, which would keep the direct sunlight out.

The issue today was that the sun had turned my studio into a hot box at 92 degrees. The AC got it close to comfortable by the time the model showed up at 6 for our sketch group.
In spite of the heat, I thought some good painting happened tonight. This painting has some drawing issues; the feet look too big and I probably should have put in the pole she had her hand on, but I was happy with gesture and the color.
Nude sketch, 14x11, oil on canvas, about 2 hours. ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

During the day, I set up a little tiny still life for a frame that requires something manly. It is a manly frame. I set up some tools that I thought would work and did a rough lay in that I hope to finish next time.

Early on as I was rearranging the items the sun had been shinning on them all morning and had made them surprisingly hot. 

Bolt, Nut, Washer and Wrench (first day lay in), 3 1/2 x 5", Oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
I hope to finish this in the next session and bring it into focus. I will post the finished painting soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Landscape Class for Humans

 A class so informative, a monkey could get something out of it- but that monkey should have some prior experience with oil paint.
I will be teaching a Summer Landscape class that will try to push some of the things learned in the beginner classes. We will do studies for a larger piece, and work on it for the rest of the class. Let me know if you have any questions about this class. The description of the class and the link to sign up is listed below.

Click here to Register.
Plein-Air Painting: Beyond the Basics

Designed for both those with previous oil painting experience and those who have taken the beginning
plein-air class, this class will take you beyond the basics. Continuing the studies of impressionistic
painting techniques, we will meet in a scenic park to work on a large painting. By scouting out a desired
spot, we will do the sketches and color studies to prepare and finish a larger painting that captures the
impression of light and color of the Cincinnati landscape.

Sat., 9:30 am-1 pm (bring a brown bag lunch or snack if you wish); June 23rd- July 14th; 4 wks; $110
(no discounts), supplies are the student’s responsibility. A list will be sent with your enrollment confirmation
or see; #3505-01
Location: First class meets at artist’s studio in Eden Park; then at an awesome part of my choice for the rest of the class

This is a great class for humans too.!

Contact me if you have any questions.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Frank Benson On Painting

Advice on Painting from F. W. B. (Frank W. Benson) taken after criticism by his daughter Eleanor Bedford (Scanned from an original)
Thanks to Mary Minifie and Paul Ingbretson for assembling and formatting the following text. I corrected some typos, laid it out and added the images collected from the web.


"The only fun in life is trying hard to do something you can't quite accomplish. There is no real fun in accomplishing some defi­nite fixed thing.

"It is not easy. It is never easy. There is no magic about it. It is just as much a science as the science of a doctor. It has to be studied and worked at, and even then you never really learn it. No one has any magic way of doing It. No one has anything to start with except an over-mastering desire to do it, and the more you have the desire, the more you will work at it and the more you will learn. I am still working at it and learning, and that is all I care about. I don't care about the pictures I have painted. I may become fond of one and say "that's a good one", but all I really care about is working at this thing, and it is still so far ahead of me that I shall never reach it, and have only just begun to know anything about it.


"There is no such thing as teaching a person anything. You may be helped toward learning by a hint someone has given you, but anything you really learn has got to be learned by experience and only by working and solving the problem your self can anything become a part of your real knowledge. Most people don't believe this, and want you to show them. Showing them is like giving candy to a child. It doesn't help them at all. They couldn't do it themselves and the next time they met the problem they would not even recognize it. Most people think painting is a God-given talent. It Isn't. It is a product of hard work and intense mental effort and only those can succeed who have the capacity for work and the necessary intelligence. (Said long before.)

“When I was working in the studio in Paris the French Maitre who previously had never been known to say anything to a student more complimentary than "Pas mal", and that very seldom, said to me one day: "Vous avez le metier dans le main; si vous jugerez mieux le caractere personelle de votre models, vous deviendrez tres fort." There it is — Le metier dans la main — your career is in your hand, to work out for yourself. No one else can help you. But people will not believe this.

There was dead silence in the room. It caused so much excite­ment that there were crowds of students around my drawing all the rest of the morning." (This was in the studio of M. Gustave Boulanger. The picture referred to was the study of the head of an old bearded man. This picture was given to Emerson Benson, cousin of F. W. B., and later Inherited by E. B. L. and later given to her son, Ralph Lawson).

Me: "Thanks for the lecture"
FWB.: "All right. It won't do you a bit of good. You've got go dig these things out for yourself."

"The only way to learn to paint is to paint, No matter how dissatisfied you are with what you have done, you learn something. No one can tell you things which you must learn from experience."

"My belief lies in this direction—that you should learn absolutely to see the thing truly as it exists, and then use that knowledge as you like. A man should use his knowledge of this and express himself according to his inclination, but beneath everything should be the solid foundation of reality.


"The important thing in painting is to keep everything as flat as possible. Your tendency is to model surfaces too much, because you are looking for effects of light and shade. Especially keep flat the less important parts of a picture. Don't blend and soften too much. Where an edge cuts sharply, make it sharp, with a flat value against the contrasting background."

"You can't paint reality by just describing things. You must pay attention to light and shade and values.

"Look continuously at the whole picture, not at parts, and roam from place to place making adjustments. That's what painting is — Making adjustments. Don't look at one part too long or you will paint it too much in detail. The unimportant parts of a picture should not be minutely described so that they will attract notice. Do the values and let it go. Everyon - all of us — tries to get an effect by carefully describing an object. That's not the way it's done. Go back again and again — I can't say it often enough — to the effect of things when you are looking at the whole picture. Anything is important which increases the effect of light and shade. That light streak on the tablecloth for instance emphasizes the shadow which the instrument casts across the table.

"Always keep in mind the direction from which the light is coming, and the fact that objects are casting their shadows across the table, even if barely perceptible. That will help you to select the things that are of significance.

"You are still thinking of things in terms of objects rather than in terms of areas of light."

"If you find a thing is going badly, go back and make more strongly the effects of light and shadow.

(Still-life)."Describe the lights and shadows of the drapery in masses. Pay special attention to the direction of folds in relation to the design. Invent if necessary. Draw carefully and don't make fuzzy places. Where the edge of the table disappears into shadow, don't make it plain. The light on the edge of the table is important because it describes the kind of material that covers the table. Yours might be a blanket."

Me: "Why do my watercolors lack a certain spontaneity and directness."

F.W.B.: Because you don't look at things with their large aspects of light and shade. As a design, not as objects. If you do this, you will get the objects afterwards. No one who was not born with the ability to do this can achieve it without a constant effort of will. If a landscape is not worth painting purely as a design in light and shade it is not work painting at all, unless by the addition of a wave or a rock or an interesting form of some sort. Those pretty colors mean nothing without good drawing and an interesting design.

"I simply follow the light, where it comes from, where it goes to. In the beginning make an artificially simple division of light and shade. Of course, light has very subtle variations - it wouldn't be interesting If it hadn't - but do not make them in the beginning. Get the large forms right by the simple light and simple shadows. Don't fuzz It up and soften the edges and lose the characteristic forms of ???, etc. In the clothes you aren't sure just what you see in the large forms, so you say, well, here is a wrinkle, anyway, I know where that is, and you put it in and spoil all the large effect of the mass of light as distinguished from the mass of shadow. You haven't made the shadows on the white collar a part of the whole shadow, you are too anxious to keep it looking white."

"You must be entirely absorbed by the light and shade. You must turn right away from what has been most important up to now - drawing -and put down merely what the eye can see. Look for the places where the outline is lost and paint those most carefully. Because that is very difficult to do, don't yield to the temptation to draw a line around things. That (Mother's silver pitcher - this was at 14 Chestnut) is very beautiful, lovely to paint. But it is beautiful because wherever you put it, - there are places you can't see, that lose themselves against the background. In arranging a still-life you are carried away by the beauty of the things themselves, instead of arranging them so that light is beautiful. Don't paint anything but the effect of light. DON'T PAINT THINGS."

"You still won't believe me when I tell you that the light on the whole figure is far more important than anything else you can do (any details) In giving the reality of the thing."

(Landscape). "Look at the shapes of the lights and shadows, put them down flat, make them exactly the shapes they are, without detail, and leave them. Don't puddle around with leaves and branches. Make the shadows right in relation to each other- near in value - and only when you have that done right, put in details. As much or as little a3 you like. That is not important.

(About a still-life with a vase of oak leaves). "I see very clearly the simplicity of the way the light falls, and yet the drawing is terribly complicated. As long as you try to make it better by improving the imitation of things, you will get into trouble; paint the light only. The drawing of the drapery gives the texture.


"There never was a great portrait which was not great because of its design, its arrangement or the whole figure and canvas, rather than just the face. The face is important too, but much less so than the whole. Few understand this, and because there is a face, think that is why they like a portrait. ----- paints only the face and so will never be successful in making a good portrait—paints the mask only and disregards the design. No one can be told what design means, but must feel the need of it and learn through experience. I never realized its importance until I was In my 30's— had an intuitive feel­ing for it before. When I realized it I enthusiastically organized a class in design at the school and tried to teach the students some­thing that I never had had taught to me. They didn’t know what I was talking about.

"A picture is merely an experiment in design. If the design is pleasing the picture is good, no matter whether composed of objects,still life, figures or birds. Few appreciate that what makes them admire a picture is the design made by the painter.

"The important part of a still-life is the design. Just so long as you are working on it to improve the design the picture is going ahead."

(Apropos of some photographs of places, I asked why it is that things dim; seen, in a mist for instance, seem much handsomer than those seen in detail.) "Simply because it allows you to see the design and does not distract your attention with unimportant small things."

"You will always get into trouble unless you design all the time you are painting. Stop designing and you are in trouble. You are so fascinated with painting, with making the things to look like reality that you forget to design. The things themselves should be made only at the very end —till then concentrate only on the values, and relations of color and space.

"You should look at a landscape — here's a way to get yourself into the right frame of mind — as if you were going to decorate a plate, to make a pattern that would successfully decorate that plate, and use the landscape before you to do it."

(I said I did not like the way my paint looked when it was on) "That has nothing whatever to do with it. Any more than what kind of ink I use in etching. The only way to achieve the kind of effect you are trying for is to get the right point of view toward the whole thing. Then you could put on paint with your finger and do better than you do now. You will never get what you are after until you arrive at the purpose that is behind it. You have a certain sense of design, but you don't use it when you sit down before a landscape. You try to paint what you have seen other people do and to make it look like rocks and trees instead of Using it as a design. The great value of simplification in design is something you don't yet understand.

"Design makes the picture. Good painting can never save the picture if the composition is bad. Good painting - representation of objects -is utterly useless unless there is a good design. That is the whole object of painting, and unless you can think in those terms, you will never be a good painter. That is why painting is bad for you, except as practice in representation. You will not learn to be a good painter by doing portraits. You are too much interested in an eye or a nose, in the likeness.

"People who write about painting rarely know what a painter is trying to do. It doesn't matter whether you use landscapes, or birds, or people. Try to fill your space with the best possible pattern. Only intuition will tell you what is right. Men have tried to do it by math­ematics. The Greeks had a feeling for it like no other people since.

"A picture is good or bad only as its composition is good or bad. You can't make a good still-life simply by grouping a lot of objects, handsome in themselves. You must make a handsome arrangement, no matter what the objects are. Remember the clipping of a still-life of a disorderly table desk with papers, a hat, etc."

(We were talking of how the same principles of composition seemed to apply in all the arts, and FWB told me of a conversation with his friend Charles Martin Loeffler, the composer.) "We were sitting in front of the fire and talking of pictures, which he enjoyed and appreciated very much. Loeffler asked me to describe to him what went on in my mind when I was In the process of composing a picture. I tried to tell him as best I could, and went on talking I suppose for half an hour. At the end of that time I said: "I don't know why I am going on like this, for it can't mean much to you." He leaned forward and put his hand on my knee and said, "My dear Frank, I am greatly moved by what you have told me. 3y changing a few nouns, that might be a des­cription of exactly what gees on in my mind when I am composing a symphony or an opera."

This was to emphasize, again, the fact that it is the composition, the design, the creation of the artist's mine, which is important, not the representation of objects with paint. "I grew up with a generation of art students who believed that it wa3 actually immoral to depart in any way from nature when you were painting. It was not till after I was thirty and had been working seriously for more than ten years that it came to me, the idea that the design was what mattered. It seemed like an inspiration from heaven. I gave up the stupid canvas I was working on and sent the model home. Some men never discover this. And it is to this that I lay the fact of such success as I have had. For people in general have a sense of beauty, and know when things are right. They don't know that they have but they recognize great painting. And design is the ONLY thing that matters."


"Paint in a tentative way - not as though you had to paint a picture of the fabric to sell it to someone. The reason for the effectiveness of such a way of painting is that you are painting a light, a value, in relation to the whole picture - not just by looking at that exact spot and painting what you see, which is what you do. That fold Is not interesting in itself. But it is interesting to paint because of what it does to the whole picture. You are still interested in too small things - an ear, an eye, a likeness, that Is the worst thing, a likeness. It takes your,, attention from the whole picture. But you have to have it, of course.

"Paint a shadow where it comes, don't fuzz it up. Then when it is dry, if necessary do the small things. Did it ever occur to you that you could make things look lighter, not by using more light paint, but by making a sharper edge where the shadow comes? Paint exact shapes." (He takes mixed paint on the brush, held loosely by the end, and drags it over an area that needs light or dark, leaving irregular edges, slowly and carefully - modifies it, if necessary by another brushful of darker color dragged over it. As different as possible from mixing a lot of the same' color and slapping it on. "Tentative." And the effect is miraculous. More like nature than the most meticulously painted area. And glowing with light and color. He says it is because he is putting down values in relation to the whole picture. That does not explain it. To me.)

"Look at the picture as a whole all the time you are painting it.

"Look at a head (or a landscape) always as a whole, as a head and not as a collection of features. If you look at one feature alone you will not make it in proper relation to the whole. Don't draw lines around things—make them by rendering the light and shadow.

(About a still-life.) "It is perfectly possible, with all those handsome things to paint to go on making each thing better and better and at the same time to have the picture grow worse and worse. The reason it looked well at the beginning was because in order to get the thing laid out quickly you had to make everything flat and simple. Don't paint each object for itself, separately, but as a part of the whole. Paint the Biosphere, in which all the objects are, and in which they have their relations to each other. Don't fuzz things up, and mess the paint around. If it isn't right, pushing it around and blending it in won't make it so. Scrape it off and put in something that is right, drawing the shapes carefully. But at all times observe minutely the delicate variations of value between one thing and another or between the light and shadow. Do not paint the figure, the rabbit, the Instrument — paint the light and shade and interrelating values of the whole thing."

"A picture is always a synthesis, never forget that. Made up, it is true, of analysis—it must be. But the synthesis is what is important. Choice is what matters. It may not be conscious choice, but what seems natural and inevitable to the painter. This makes a distinguished sketch, or picture. Distinction cannot be achieved by "spelling words" — by doing each half-inch meticulously and perfectly. Never do anything without regard to expressing the whole, the spirit. Your drawing must be better than pretty good. It must be distinctively done.

"Do not look at one spot and paint that exactly. Look at the whole thing. Look at the head, and see at the same time what value and color the landscape is, and upright of the screen.

"Paint in a tentative way - not as though you had to paint a picture of the fabric to sell it to someone. The reason for the effectiveness of such a way of painting is that you are painting a light, a value, in relation to the whole picture - not just by looking at that exact spot and painting what you see, which is what you do. That fold Is not interesting in itself. But it is interesting to paint because of what it does to the whole picture. You are still interested in too small things - an ear, an eye, a likeness, that Is the worst thing, a likeness. It takes your,, attention from the whole picture. But you have to have it, of course.

"Paint a shadow where it comes, don't fuzz it up. Then when it is dry, if necessary do the small things. Did it ever occur to you that you could make things look lighter, not by using more light paint, but by making a sharper edge where the shadow comes? Paint exact shapes." (He takes mixed paint on the brush, held loosely by the end, and drags it over an area that needs light or dark, leaving irregular edges, slowly and carefully - modifies it, if necessary by another brushful of darker color dragged over it. As different as possible from mixing a lot of the same' color and slapping it on. "Tentative." And the effect is miraculous. More like nature than the most meticulously painted area. And glowing with light and color. He says it is because he is putting down values in relation to the whole picture. That does not explain it. To me.)


“Look at the whole scene constantly. You are too anxious to complete the thing instead of trying to see it right. You have got to give up what is easy and attractive (and natural, too) to do, and simply try to see the relations of values. A skilful man will seem to be making things at the same time, but really if he is good he will be only painting "the relations of things. You think you do, but you have got to do it entirely differently if you are to get a real effect. Careful drawing of shapes is not making things.


"You are always making things too complicated. Looking for small variations and little reflected lights. The trouble with most women is that they soften and prettify things and so lose punch. Don't make it look right near to — make it look right twenty feet away. Keep a flat tone over all that background, edge on to the light, with a solid figure in front of it.


"You are paying too much attention to getting different colors in the background. Colors don't matter much--values are what you must get right—they are the only things that give any effect of sun and shadow. Don't mess around with your color and pat it down and smooth it out. Put it on and leave it. And make it "strong." You can't exaggerate too much—in the house it will all tone down and look too feeble. If a thing looks pinkish to you, make it vermilion. Don't be afraid of making things too strong. Draw very carefully the fine shape of a handsome tree or object. Take plenty of time and draw it well. Not easy to do.

(Concerning a portrait). "Don't draw the hair with strokes of the brush or make ringlets. Make a flat mass of the correct value, and lay on the lights drawing carefully the exact shapes. The light on that black hair must be cool. And don't paint it with black paint even if it is black. Against that green background It must have a certain warmth. (The model was not present) ."The things that are important are the correct relations of one thing to another—the hair, the shadow, the reflection, the half-tones, etc. Until you have these values right it is absolutely no use going ahead with anything else.

(Sketch of Mother on the piazza). “Composition, Drawing, Values, Color, Hot local color, Edges. Above all, values. How the light falls. Keep comparing everything else with the darkest spot. With the lightest. Draw shapes carefully -that is not finishing. Don't paint objects. Paint only values.

"When you don't know what the values are, you make It fuzzy, try to fix something that's wrong by doing something more wrong. If you can't make sharp edges between the values, they are wrong ... By making a sharp edge between the light and shadow, here, the shadow does not need to be too dark.

"Scumble it with white or black if a thing goes wrong and start over.


" I am going to talk to you about something I have told you many times, and you don't know anything about. You over-represent things. You should be looking for the places in the picture where you can't quite see things, and paint those the way they are. Choose a subject with those places in it. Look at that face and then at the shoulder. Compared to the head you can hardly see it. You make it that way and the head will suddenly stand out. In your effort to get the features and likeness, you make everything alike, and immediately everything loses its force. I don't mean things are absolutely vague, but relatively vague. Try it. No one can understand it 'till it happens to them.

"If that head wasn't there, you'd have a darned hard time telling what that coat was. Well, make your coat just as hard to see. This is something people never get told in school. It shows in all your work, landscapes and everything.


"When we speak of color, we do not mean colors, such as the green of leaves or the pick of cheeks. We mean the effect of light on an object, and the effect which one color has on another nearby. No relation to what the ordinary person calls color.

(Still Life.) "You don't keep your lights flat enough. That is flat yellow light right up to the edge, not fading away pinkly at the bottom. And you will not get an effect of light unless there is more warmth In your shadows. I don't know whether I see the colors — I think I do — or merely have learned that things must be that color in order to have the necessary effect. I sometimes think I have no sense of color, as people mean it.

"When most people talk of color, they mean colors. What I mean is not the local color of any object but the relative value of light and shade. Warmth in the shadows. It doesn't matter whether a model has a colorless face — there is color in the contrasts of light and shade. Don't make your shadows so slatey. When painting the drapery don't make it in carefully modeled stripes. (Drapery at the top of the picture). Look at the center of the arrangement and then notice how much of the folds you see-practically nothing, just a vague light here and there. Paint it so.

"What gives charm to a picture is not the brilliant color—the strong contrasts, but the delicate bits, where one thing comes against another with no difference in value, and only a slight one in color. This is what is hard to do, and hard to see. Only a trained eye can see it. But the doing well of these bits is the most essential part of making an interesting picture. What makes the difference between a good picture and one where only the obvious differences are put down is how these delicate, intimate details are made." (This is as near as I can remember, and frequently repeated.)


"The difference between warmth and coolness gives the true colors. See in the shadow there, behind the figure (still-life) there are lots of rich colors. But look away from it and you will see that it is all very vague compared to the figure itself. But vagueness does not mean fussiness, it means a very narrow difference between the different values. Paint it crisply, but keep it well in the background.

"Put down things strongly that indicate the nature and character of an object. Look for the significant things. Don't paint and model each little detail, (of the drapery) but put down in proper value and warmth or coolness of color the salient and characteristic lines.

"When you notice that one color is cooler or grayer beside a warm shade it does no harm to intensify the color of that spot as you do with effects of sunlight.


"A real artist is constantly looking for, searching out, the places in a picture which are not brilliantly colored. The neutral colors—Tarbell calls them the dirty colors. Without them, the rest lose their effect. A picture all bright colors loses the effect it would have if there were in it these contrasting bits of dull color. They are not noticeable in the picture, but they are what makes for Its effectiveness—something that people not painters think is made in some magical way.


"Drawing is only learned by long hard practice. You can't learn it quickly, and you won't learn it quickly."

"Drawing can be learned — a sense of color must be born in a person").

"You are beginning at the wrong end; no one should begin to paint until he is able to draw well. Drawing is always hard. You always have to work at it, even after forty years(said in a discussion of Jacobleff's work).

“Get rid of all that purple molasses. You draw things light-heartedly and slap on paint. It would take anyone two hours to draw that branch properly.


"Lay the values in flat.

"You haven't painted long enough to know what "flatness" means. It Is the most valuable quality there is. You see a mere breath of difference in value, and you put In all sorts of changes and modulations."

''You don't know what flatness means. When that is dry, scratch on a few lines of paint over it to make that place lighter. Get It flat.


"The most important parts of a picture are where edges meet, or one thing comes against another. Anybody can paint the rest of it. Edges must be very carefully studied. If there is no defined edge, don't make one” Don’t make edges meet. Paint one over the other. A sky with variations of light and dark and especially a light or a dark line around the edge of objects simply spoils all effect of reality.

"Don't make a thing inconspicuous by making it fuzzy." (difficulties with the background). "Make it flat in tone, all over, and it will stay back. Never make fuzzy edges, unless it actually is fuzzy, like the back of the hair." (portrait)


(About outdoor painting.) "Don't fuss around with all the details until you have your masses in and your composition arranged. The important things are the edges. The contrast between the hard sharp outline of branches against sky with the soft edges of shrubbery and foliage.

"If you make things right in the order of their importance you will never get into trouble. This business of fussing around with the details before you have gotten the masses in correctly is what makes for a poor picture.

"Do not make the unimportant parts of the picture in detail, only do as much as you can see when you are looking at the main theme of your picture. Don't make so many different values and colors. Decide on what you want. Mix It. Try it. Mix it again if it is wrong. Then put it on flat and leave it. If you can only do a small part of the canvas, do It right and leave It that way."

"The reason you got into a mess with that picture is that you get fascinated with details and forget the main things. You had to have because you had gotten into a state that you couldn't have gotten out of alone. Now you have gone ahead in the right way." (The help consisted mostly in blotting out and blurring what I had done, leaving the plan and the drawing but obliterating the details, giving me a chance to start fresh and repaint the lower part of the canvas.)


People who paint cheap things do it by modeling the pieces. People who paint good things seem to do it without modeling. If you put on a pure value there, right up to the edge of the shadow, it will seem to model. Don't paint square inches, paint large masses.


"We used to talk about "loose" and "tight" methods of painting
when we were young. There are only a few people - Lucas Van Leaden,
Holbien, for instance - who can paint as tight as a drum and still have
it good; and that is because they look at it in the same way I am teaching you. And they are able to paint in that manner and still not lose
the effect."
(In answer to my question as to the explanation of the effective­ness of "loose" painting.) "Because it admits the varying qualities of the unseen. Literal description inpainting will never make a picture. In order to be good it must have some touch of that magic which gives the effect of light and shade, leaving undescribed the places that are dim and cloudy, and painting sharply the silhouetted values."


''Do carefully and well what you do. If you haven't time to finish a sketch, make what you do count. Don't hastily rub it in just to cover the canvas and say to yourself you will go back and do it better later—that's lazy, and besides it never looks the same.


"A head which is to look right when finished, in the early stages of blocking in the lights and darks, ought not to look right; it ought to look raw, crude, almost violent. Then all the qualify­ing tones will not spoil its strong effect of light and shade when it is finished.


"Never leave white spaces around the edges of things. That absolutely ruins any effect of reality whatever. Beginners always make that mistake. Don't paint two things up to each other, paint one on top of the other. Sargent always said to paint the background of a head half an inch inside the outline of the head, and then paint the head on top.

"Where trees look thin, don't put a thin wash of color on over the sky. Decide what the value is and they lay it on with plenty of paint.


Don't paint with soup, paint with paint. You will never get any effect of color without using lots of paint and very little medium.

"One of the most interesting times in my painting life was when Tarbell and I saw some pictures in Boston by a European artist— I've forgotten his name — who evidently got his effects by using a very "full" brush. We decided from that time on to use only a very full brush in all our work. The effect is produced because you carry your color, or value all across and it does*not thin out at the edges, but keeps it full effect everywhere." (This still does not explain to me why this method of dragging a full brush loosely across an area, leaving a more or less broken surface of color, is so effective.I said it gave a certain effect of texture, but he said no.)


"Sergeant was said to "dash" his paint on to his canvas. It is good practice (apropos of working from a model) to make a sketch by mixing your paints carefully, studying your model carefully and then lay the paint on where it should go and don't touch it again. Never puddle around and go dab, dab, dab. Scrape it off if-it is wrong and lay on some more. But don't pat it and blur it and try to remedy it by blending it with something else.


"Its no use trying to paint under unfavorable conditions. It’s hard enough to paint with everything just right.


(When I said that my finished portrait looked "soft") "It is very difficult to make the right adjustment between strength and delicacy. Both are important and one must not be allowed to spoil the other.


"Colored moving pictures do not attract me because although the local color is there, the subtle variations of light and reflections are missing. Those are what make any scene In nature attractive to the eye, although the casual observes does not realize it. When one has analyzed it with the eye of an artist and tried to paint these very subtle variations he appreciates them, they are what makes the picture
good, what gives it an atmosphere, and must be painted very delicately and with nice attention to the minuteness of the differences. Although not at all obvious in themselves, if well done they make the success of the picture.


"There is a saying that there is nothing more to be found in a picture by the beholder than has been put into it by the painter. The more a painter knows about his subject, the more he studies and understands it, the more the true nature of it is perceived by whoever looks at it, even though It is extremely subtle and not easy to see or understand. A painter must search deeply into the aspects of a subject, must know and understand it thoroughly before he can represent it well. The bald, obvious aspect of a picture are not the interesting ones. That is why the public will never understand painting. They admire it, yes, and like it, but will never understand it because they cannot understand what goes into the making of It. They ascribe all sorts of motives and ideas to the painter—none of which he ever has—because they can't understand how he thinks."


"Those things which you do when you are freshly inspired and excited by the beauty of what you are seeing before you are important things. If you go back to them later and think you will improve them by making them carefully, slicking them up, you will lose that important thing and there is no method of getting it back. It is gone for good. Let things look rough, rather than try and smooth them out. There Is a certain inspiration which comes when you work quickly and surely and enthusiastic about the beauty of the light. You should leave this work and go back to it later to realize how good it is, and that it must not be painted over. Get the force of the light.


"A picture or drawing is like a poem, when the poet starts, he has no more and no different words to work with then you have. A work of art is made by his choice — selection and combination of ordinary material. Each man sees a subject differently and selects different things in it to emphasize. See any roomful of student's drawings."


( When I asked how to get the effect of a mass of bare tree branches against the sky)
"The general mass effect is darker than the sky, even than the pieces of sky seen through them. So don't draw a faint tracery of branches against the light value of the sky—you'll get no effect that way. Put on a flat tone just faintly darker than the sky and then indicate a few darker lines against that.


"The trouble with you is that like most beginners you try to embrace too wide a scene. You are looking for the sort of scenery that a photographer would look for with lots of sky and distant hills. Be broad-minded and don't go out with a pre-determined notion of what you want to find to„ paint. Intimate studies of light and shadow in a small area are most Interesting. A thing to be beautiful must be complicated. Don't paint something bad just because it is simple. It's just like a tailored suit—the thing must be subtle In order to be good. The fine distinctions of value where one object comes against another are what make a picture interesting. When Sergeant went up to visit Billy James at Chicora, they went out painting and Bill led him along without saying anything, and took him unobtrusively to the "town view", mountain reflected in lake, etc. Asked him if he thought he could find anything round there to paint. Sergeant said yes, he could find something anywhere, looked around him and sat down and painted an old gnarled root with, some leaves and branches on it. What interested him (and F. V. 3.) was the delicate play of light and shadows on the leaves and trunk.

"Whenever I find myself—as I do sometimes—painting a "scene" I am disgusted with myself. Take a small piece of something with a handsome shape—don't include too much. That tree trunk against the cedars veiled "by the thin underbrush in front. Don't take in the branches against the sky, that gives a second center of interest."

"In looking for a subject don't look for a grand panorama but a near thing with interesting lines and values. DON'T PAINT A SCENE.


"A good picture has a certain austerity, a distinction, whether of the thing itself, the lighting, the color, or the arrangement. Mere craftsmanship, representing nature, does not make a picture.


(Speaking of modernists)" That is what the most honest of the modernists are trying for. The plain fact does not interest them. They say "I will not say D-O-G spells dog, because that is stupid and literal. So they make something else, liberate themselves to say the same thing in another, more interesting way. But the others, less honest, merely look at the fact of liberation, do not understand what they were liberated for, and merely think they can make anything and call it Art. They are not happy about it, don't enjoy what they do, so says J.P.B (John Benson).

"The modernists think they are Inventing something new every day. Men's minds don't work that way. Every invention is based on completeness. You might say I invented something. I merely noticed and painted an aspect of nature that had escaped other men's observation. Now there are hundreds of men who do the same thing, more or less well, according to their real knowledge."