I am illustrating tonights post with paintings by Fredrick Waugh. 1861 194o. Known almost entirely as a seascape painter and probably the best, Waugh was the son of a Philadelphia portrait painter. His later years were spent in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He was a prolific artist and quite successful. His paintings were made in the studio using sketches done outside and drawing on his long experience observing the sea.
In 191o Waughs thoughts on painting were published in a magazine called Palette and Bench. Here are a few of the things he said.
- simplify, simplify, simplify as much as possible without losing the essential of what is sought
- look for the big things, art doesn't begin and end in detail. It rather begins in breadth and ends in more breadth, in what you can do without.
- I have always held that with a few exceptions, no two spaces in a picture should be of the same area or shape.
- I find that my most striking pictures of the sea are those strong in contrasts, the shadows as dark as I can get them and everything in between of the proper value all the way up to the highest light I select to use. Walking back to judge the work at a distance preserves its carrying quality and force.I walk back all day long. The carrying quality is given by the accents one puts on the shadows, halftones and highlights. This means full rich painting in proper values.
- A sense of mystery is often conveyed by certain passages which lack obviousness because left unfinished.
Such things call attention to other passages which are of more import. Make these last your climaxes.
There is a fine Waugh called the Roaring Forties that is 48 x 6o and was in the study rooms of the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They have been remodeling that for years now. I believe they are beginning to reopen it. I hope they will soon return this Waugh to view as it is spectacular.
I want to touch on a quick handful of other items tonight. First, several readers were concerned that my statement that I saw no design in nature meant that I was disavowing the idea of God as creator. I had not meant to give that impression. It is often hard to write exactly what you mean, no more, and no less and I inadvertently gave an impression that I meant something I did not. What I meant was, that from our perspective as artists, nature is random, and we cannot observe design into a painting, but must install it ourselves. As I wrote that I thought about saying something about intelligent design because I was expecting a question in the comments on that, but I decided I would not take the blog into the province of religion.You can all put down your nautilus shells and relax. I am my self Christian and in no way meant to wade into a discussion on intelligent design. The purpose of this blog is to discuss painting. I have avoided religion and politics, and intend to continue with that. There are many fine blogs on both, written by people who are expert on those subjects. I am only expert on one subject, and that is landscape painting. Forgive me if I gave the wrong impression, which it seems obvious in retrospect I have. Mea culpa.
The sun finally came out today. I set up my big Gloucester easel in the middle of my mother in laws sprawling garden. So I had to stretch a 24 x 3o, one of my favorite sizes. I have become disenchanted with linen. Repeatedly I have returned to a gallery to pick up unsold paintings, and found a painting buckled and hanging loosely on its stretchers. No wonder it didnt sell! Incidentsally no dealer will restretch a painting for you, they will just show it loose or worse put it in a closet, I have closets at home!
I have never had that problem with cotton. I have tried a number of canvasses in the last few years. You will generally hear that pros should always work on linen as it is more archival, and that may be so. But I don't think all of that coming and going of the canvas can be good for a the paint either. Sources I researched seemed to indicate that a top quality cotton canvas was acceptable and I have myself handled many Rocport school paintings now nearly a hundred years old which are on cotton that seemed to be fine. Restores reline, that is, they put new canvas on the back of old paintings routinely. If a hundred years from now my paintings are worth relining, they can do it.
I have never found any cotton canvas that has the silky feel under the brush of Claussens type 12 but I have again returned to using what I think is a very good cotton canvas. It is made by Fredricks and is called Scarlett OHara. It is an OIL PRIMED COTTON, so far as I know it is the only one made. I like an oil priming much better than an acrylic. So after a lot of experimentation I believe that will be my standard canvas for now. the big mail order firms like Jerrys sell it.
I will soon start the next reader critique so if you have a painting for that please email it to me at email@example.com