Sunday, April 17, 2011
A shorthand of vision
The painting above, Trouville, le Chemin la Corderie from http://www.eugeneboudin.org/
is by Eugene Boudin. Boudin was a 19th century French painter and also the teacher of Monet. Boudin was also a major influence on one of my favorite landscape painters, Edward Seago.
I am showing you this because I want to point out something. Boudin hints at things rather than carefully delineating them. Below is an example,
Look at the nervous little strokes that he uses for the branches and the few dots for leaves. He gives just enough information to convey what we are looking at and no more. The tree behind the branch is just random marks and colored rice.
I was talking last night about not needing more information in an unfinished painting but more art. Here are examples of that. There is really very little information given, but plenty of artifice. Artifice means deception, trickery. You are tricked into believing that you are seeing a branch, but when you look more closely, it's just paint. Boudin was perfectly capable of pushing the painting to a salon finish, but he knew he could convey more by saying less.
Boudin was an early exponent of outside painting and he probably made this at least partly outside. But it is not a literal transcription. Boudin has translated it from vision into his own visual language. Like a skilled translator who thinks"I know how to say that in my own language" Boudin saw nature and then could say it in his own language. He was not literally copying the thing in front of him. The illusion is not gained by velocity of execution, it was probably done very deliberately. The illusion comes from an installed simplicity. Boudin has at his command a vocabulary of forms, abbreviations and generalizations from which he chooses.
THE FIRST PRINCIPAL OF DESIGN IS SIMPLIFICATION