"To become a great artist, it is necessary to remain rough...not to know too many things" - John Singer Sargent
I came across this beautiful quote while looking through this awesome site: http://www.jssgallery.org/-- Here is the full quote: "Pour devenir un grand artiste il faut ètre, il faut rester fruste." Fruste de connaisances they meant, i.e . . . -- To become a great artist it is necessary to remain fruste. By fruste they meant, i.e. not to know too many things, not to know too much" (Site link for quote)
Fruste translates to "rough" so essentially the quote means that to become a great artist, you must remain "rough" and unknowing of some things. The more I study and teach art, the more I agree with this quote. It's definitely possible to become too technical, too refined and too influenced. I think the reason for this is because roughness relates to creativity and ingenuity/originality. Rough even equates to the paint quality that I myself am searching for. Everyone wants to over analyze the technical aspects of creating art, but true artists learn as they go after an initial period of study.
To remain rough doesn't mean to be lazy or sloppy about anything, but instead to work hard and remain uninfluenced. I'll be thinking about it more as I work myself.
I always prefer to work on a toned canvas instead of white and I wanted to share what I think is the easiest method for toning canvas. The way I do it now is that I take a small amount of ivory black on a cotton rag and add a touch of Gamsol and then I simple rub it gently with circular motions into the canvas. It's very simple and the best part is that it dries very quickly. I also like the texture that the rag makes on the surface to give it a little character so it's not a perfectly flat tone.
You can tone your canvas any color that you like, I prefer to use ivory black to make a cool gray, but you could also use burnt umber, raw umber and burnt sienna as some other options. I recommend using an earth tone because they're neutral, they dry fairly quickly and they're very stable pigments.
Next time you paint, test out some canvas tones!
I finished up this memorial portrait and I'm very excited to give it to my patron. The portrait progressed very smoothly and I really enjoyed working on it. I really tried my best to capture a feeling of life and spirit in this piece.
As a side note on technique, I had some thoughts about oiling out, which is the application of a thin layer of oil before you begin to paint to bring out sunken colors. I recently read that oiling out could provide some problems for the longevity of your painting; the problems could arise from the fact that oil yellows with age and there's no way of removing old oil, unlike an old varnish. I'm always concerned about the longevity of my paintings and thus, I will not be oiling out in the future. I used to think it was necessary in order to ease my paint strokes, but that isn't true anyway. Painting is an endless mystery.
Have a nice evening everyone--
I worked today for a while and I'm having moments where I'm really happy with it and then other moments where I don't like it; that happens a lot during the painting process. I didn't oil out today because it wasn't completely dry from last time, but I have to remember to oil out for next time to ease the painting process.
Have a great weekend everyone!