Friday, August 27, 2010

More translation from Joshua Reynolds

Here is a painting I just dropped off at Bayview gallery in Camden, Maine. I placed about a half a dozen there. If you are in that area and you want to see some of my paintings there is now a collection there.

Routinely readers whine about the difficulty of reading the white text on a black background. I like the way it looks, so I ain't changin it. However, if you don't like it, you can read the blog in plain text (black on white). My browser is Mozilla but your browser probably has a similar feature. Go to "view", click on "page style" and select "no style". That should change it over to black text on white.

Here is another passage from Joshua Reynolds, written just before the American Revolution and delivered as one of a series of speeches in London.

The first endeavours of a young Painter, as I have remarked in a former discourse, must be employed in the attainment of mechanical dexterity, and confined to the mere imitation of the object before him. Those who have advanced beyond the rudiments, may, perhaps, find advantage in reflecting on the advice which I have likewise given them, when I recommended the diligent study of the works of our great predecessors ; but I at the same time endeavoured to guard them against an implicit submission to the authority of any one master however excellent: or by a strict imitation of his manner, precluding themselves from the abundance and variety of Nature. I will now add, that Nature herself is not to be too closely copied. There are excellences in the Art of painting beyond what is commonly called the imitation of Nature; and these excellences I wish to point out. The Students who, having passed through the initiatory exercises, are more advanced in the Art, and who, sure of their hand, have leisure to exert their understanding, must now be told, that a mere copier of Nature can never produce any thing great; can never raise and enlarge the conceptions or warm the heart of the spectator.

This is an interesting passage. Many people today suppose that the artists of our history served as human camera surrogates and that the coming of photography made that art obsolete. But here we have the president of the Royal Academy in 1769 arguing against rote representation and for a far more artistic presentation. Below is my translation into Stapletonian quasi English.

The earliest efforts of a young painter must be to develop his mechanical dexterity and learn to represent nature faithfully. Those students who have understood the basics might find it worthwhile to take my advice and study the great historical painters. But I have cautioned them against being too influenced or too imitative of any one historical painter no matter how good they were, because that will lead them away from the study of the great variety and diversity found in nature. However nature is not to be slavishly copied either. There are great qualities in painting that are not achieved by copying nature. A student who has successfully learned the beginning lessons about painting and are more advanced in their art have the time and ability to learn the next principle.They need to be told that a mere copier of nature will never do anything great. They can never enlarge the perceptions of their viewers or effect those viewers emotionally.

Gee, that was hard! See you tomorrow. Below is another notice of my upcoming workshop in Acadia.

I will be holding a three day workshop at the Bass Harbor Campground in Bass Harbor, Maine. the 25-26-27th of September. That's Saturday-Monday. We will paint outside and I will teach beginners to experts the art of outdoor landscape painting. The class size is limited to ten.
There are restaurants and other amenities close by, including a motel if you don't want to rough it. There are tenting sites and simple cabins available and it will be very inexpensive. I know the cost of the workshop plus lodging as kept some of you from taking my workshops and I have been asked whether camping was available. So if you want to take a workshop as affordably as possible, this is your chance.
Part of the workshop experience is always the social scene, this should be particularly fun as we can build a campfire at night. Camping with the artists should be a lot of fun. Acadia should be starting to color up with autumn and the days should be warm and the nights chilly, but easy camping weather. The park will be fabulous that time of year. If we do get a rainy day I will teach seascape and coach the students on ways to improve their paintings in the studio.
The cost of the workshop is $300. I require a $150 dollar deposit which is non refundable, the balance to be paid at the event. Here is a link to where you can sign up
Reservations at the Bass Harbor campground can be made here.

10 comments: said...

Here is my idea for the morning; like higher mathematics in where there are proofs and truths so goes the arts . When all great art is analyzed it comes down to those truths. This would even apply to great abstract art, I might add.

Reynolds has done a brilliant job discerning these truths and you Stapleton , have done a brilliant job in reading his work and translating it all for painters like me who just can't wade through it.

I've tried reading Ruskin too. (hint , hint)

Philip Koch said...

Something terrible is happening to my brain- I'm starting to like reading the passages from Reynolds.

Ptolemy said...

BTW, another solution to the text problem is to subscribe to the RSS feed in your email—the deliveries come as black text on white background, like any email.

billspaintingmn said...

I'm not quite sure which rung of that ladder I stand. I do know that
I try to stand surely, so I can step up to another level.
However I might add that one does not alway need to go to the top, but more at a level to reach the work at hand.

Anonymous said...

Nice painting. I love the subtle color variation in the foreground and the overall color palette. Wish that I could do the workshop. Any plans on one in October or sometime this winter in New England?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I will apply to the Wycliffe people for a job.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Philip; They take some reading but they are elegantly put.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hi there! That works too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Both the former and the ladder are true.

Stapleton Kearns said...

pennpaint; I am glad somebody liked it. I will probably do snowcamp up in the White Mountains again this winter.