beauty. Though perhaps no one can give a com plete definition of what beauty is, we do come to understand that there are certain elements which combine to make beauty, whenever or wherever we find it. To recognize these elements and learn how they can serve us will greatly increase our prospects of achieving success as painters.
The elements of beauty are so well integrated that it is often very difficult to separate them lor purposes of analysis. In discussing one principle or element it may be necessary to embrace another or even several others at the same time. Nevertheless, the attempt should be made to bring each one, separately, under our scrutiny. These are the basic twelve:
1. Unity. The "oneness" which brings all the pictorial qualities together into a single or whole expression; the organization of design, color, line, values, textures, and subject into a combined and total expression.
2. Simplicity, or Clarity. The subordination of all material and detail that is irrelevant to the main thought; the reduction of the subject into the fundamentals of design, form, and pattern.
3. Design. The over-all relationship of areas, form, and color. Design makes the picture.
4. Proportion. Harmonious relation of each subject and each part of the picture. Distortion is the opposite of proportion, though some distortion may be legitimate, where an idea or an emotion might need greater emphasis.
5. Color. This is one of the strongest elements of beauty, and in using it the artist cannot simply be guided by tastes, likes or dislikes. The relationship of color to values must be understood, as well as the basic principles of mixing and producing colors for realistic and harmonious effects.
6. Rhythm. Though this is often underestimated or misunderstood, it is a quality that contributes greatly to the beauty of a painting. There is rhythm in all animate and inanimate life, from the smallest forms to the cycles of the universe. Without it, form is static and lifeless. The repetition of similar colors or of lines or shapes of increasing or diminishing size will create rhythm in a painting just as it does in nature. For instance there is rhythm in the repeating lines of trees with their branches and leaves, or in the lines of a zebra's back, or in the petals or markings of a flower.
7. Form. The structure of form in relation to the whole is a fundamental art principle. Everything is either form or space (solid or void) and neither can exist without the other. A painting is said to have "form" when the shapes of the objects contained in it are well outlined, well composed, and properly contrasted with the open areas—such as a tree against the sky.
8. Texture. The rendering of surface. There is characteristic surface to all form, and this is as important as its structure. We cannot achieve true beauty by painting all form with the same type of surface, as if all things were made of the same material, which is precisely what happens too often in otherwise good painting.
9. Values. Values and color are inseparably dependent upon each other. Neither can be true or beautiful alone. The proper relationship of values creates the effects of light and contributes to the unity of the picture. Incorrect relationships can do more than anything else to destroy beauty.
10. Quality of Light. An element of prime importance. The quality of the light in a painting blends with the actual light fa II-
ing upon the picture and becomes part of it. There are many kinds of light— indoor, outdoor sunlight, diffused light, reflected light. The source of light must be related to the modeling of form, to the kind and brilliancy of color, and to texture. Without a true understanding of light a picture can become mere planes of paint and canvas.
11. Choice of Subject. This offers the artist his greatest chance to exercise individual taste. The limitless sources of life and nature are his to tap and from them he can select, design, and produce a concentrated example of his own appreciation of beauty.
12. Technique. The means of expression rather than the expression itself. Technique includes understanding of surface and texture, knowledge of medium and its many methods of application. It is the personal rendering by which all the other elements are brought together.
This preview of the contents of the book should help to put us on common ground. It is certainly not my intention here to try to set myself or my work up as a shining example of the solution to the problems of the artist. But I do want to stress how important it is that every artist, be he professional or amateur, should recognize what his job is all about. 1 say again that there is no single form of art, or single formula for producing it. But when we find the elements that combine to create beauty in life, we can try to analyze and apply them to create beauty in our paintings. Beauty is not the special property of the artist. Beauty is perhaps just as evident to others, who may lack the knowledge and ability to re-create it. The rhythm and grace of an animal must be just as apparent to the lover of animals as to the artist. The difference is that we try to find out what makes the rhythm and grace in terms ol'
line and proportion, so that our renderings are true and convincing.
The artist will do well to direct his efforts toward pleasing the viewer rather than the critics, for the viewer is the ultimate purchaser, and 1 assume that most artists are interested in selling their work. While art dealers have done a great deal of exploitation, and monetary values of paintings have often been pushed to astronomical figures, in most cases the artists themselves have never lived to receive these benefits. Today good art can find a good market, in commercial fields as well as in the field of "fine art." Paintings of the easel type, for hanging on the wall, will seldom bring the financial rewards that come from illustration, advertising, and other commercial work. But we have, fortunately, reached a stage where the finest art is often used for commercial purposes. Industry is now providing a new outlet for fine art, and the artist bend upon perfecting his craft to the utmost is no longer considered too good for such a market, as was once believed.
While the strictly commercial artist may still have to work within limitations set by the purchasing agency or the ultimate user, such limits are being greatly broadened, and the work of easel painters has been used in many advertising campaigns.
This development has come about gradually, aided by the introduction of color photography into commercial fields. When exact detail is important to the sale of the advertised product, the advertiser naturally turns to photography and is likely to do so for some time. Where no tangible product can be pictured, as in advertising insurance, services, industrial prestige, and in institutional advertising in general, a market for fine art has developed. Magazine illustration continues to provide a market for the artist, partly because the use of paintings helps differentiate fiction from factual articles. For the latter, photographs are ordinarily used to substantiate the text.
It is foolish for the artist to try to compete with the camera in achieving fidelity of detail. Better that he use his creative and imaginative powers and direct his efforts toward design. Even if he uses a camera for working material, the artist can still concentrate upon the things that a camera cannot do: he can subordinate and eliminate, design and rearrange, simplify and take other liberties to project his idea more forcefully.
The professional artist should prepare for his profession by as thorough training as possible, in art schools and classes, or from any sources he can find available. It is a fallacy that 110 training is necessary in order to make a living at drawing or painting. The fact that we may ol'tcn see pictures in exhibitions that show no apparent talent, knowledge, or ability, and which we feel certain that we could equal or better, has nothing to do with the case. Much of the art exhibited today would not buy a sack of potatoes.
Progress and development in art must always be the progress and development of the individual. One artist can help others to a degree only. He can call attention to facts that, over a period of effort, he has found to be true. He can point out relationships that he has found to exist. He can show that colors will mix with definite result, that values will unify and organize a subject. This is what I hope to do in this book. If 1 can show the beginner a few "hows" and "whys," T will have accomplished my purpose.
The Bull Fight by Francisco Goya, metropolitan museum of art, new york city. A lightly sketched-in figure can often look more alive and real than one that has been painted in great detail
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