Sunday, May 24, 2009
Edgar Payne, Compostiton of outdoor painting
I am continuing the theme of the last few days of writing short posts on a particular subject rather than a large theme. I will return to another series of related posts soon, after I recover from the massive "Every brushstroke" campaign.
The paintings on this page are by Edgar Payne, the author of a book I want to tell you about.
Some time ago I recommended John Carlsons Guide to landscape painting.Today I am recommending another book. Edgar Paynes composition of outdoor painting.
These two books are the best resources on landscape painting.The east coast artists seem to prefer Carlson and the west coast painters tend to prefer Payne. They are quite different. Carlson is a broad how-to book covering every aspect of landscape painting. The Payne book is largely concerned only with the design of landscape paintings.
He has been an enormous influence on plein air painters in the west and southwest. His work is broad and his color is unusual, You may have heard him referred to on this site in the comments. If you could only own two books on landscape painting these would be the two.
The heart of the Payne book is his explanation of design stems. These are stock compositional arrangements that artists use to assemble paintings,. As I write this is it sounds rather uncreative, but I don't believe you will find it so. They are sort of skeletal armatures that help you think about a paintings design, rather than a template you build a painting within.
Payne draws pages and pages of little thumbnails showing the major design stems that artists have repeatedly used in landscapes. After enumerating these stems, he shows how dozens of artists have used them to create paintings. He also shows a lot of little drawings explaining common design errors.
I have spoken before about what I think makes for a good book on painting. I think the best books are written by fine painters. I think no one can teach you anything about painting that they can't do themselves. Payne was a very good painter and knew why he did things the way he did them.
His prose is a little bit stilted and some passages have to be deciphered as much as read, but it is worth the trouble. You could read this book once a year and benefit by that greatly in your painting. I got my copy out to refer to to write this post and now I believe I will read it again myself.
Soon i will do some posts on design stems for landscape painting. Some of the ideas I will tell you about come from Payne and some from the Rockport school and some just from my own experience.
One of the reasons I am posting this today is that when I was on Amazon this afternoon and contemplating doing a post on the book, I noticed they had only a very few copies left. This book goes in and out of print. Sometimes you can get a copy, sometimes only used copies are available and they are expensive. So it might be a good idea to get one of these while you can. If you miss it though there will be more, hopefully soon.
I am going to do another critique soon. So email me images to crit. I will photoshop your signature off of the paintings and I will tell no one whose paintings I am critiquing. You can send the paintings to me at email@example.com