If the study is at all promising, leave it intact, and take it up, if you can keep it wet, the next day ; if not, let it dry thoroughly, and then take it up again. Many roads lead to Rome, so on another occasion try a different method. Take up the same group from the same view. Having done it as a whole, you will have learnt something of the relative value of the parts. Make your drawing, and on the bare white canvas complete absolutely each object separately, bearing in mind, while painting it, its relative value to the whole. This is excellent practice, and will best enable you to finish. Experience gained in this way is invaluable: you will see when the study is done whether you have over- or under-stated the value of the tone of any particular part. I should advise you to begin with the object strongest in light and shade, so as to set the key for the whole, and paint it up to full strength, or you will find most likely, when the surroundings and background are painted, that it may look weak.<< Previous page
It is quite possible to complete a picture bit by bit in this way. Many of the students in the École des Beaux Arts in my time began their studies from the nude at the head and worked down to the feet without retouching ; and such studies, when completed, were often perfect in the relative value of the parts to the whole.
In this way freshness is preserved and completeness attained ; and for the student who is beginning, it is far less distracting than what I might call the driving of a whole team. With a simple theme, it is better to keep the whole going together, but with a more complicated one, when the colour, tone, and drawing, and many subtleties demand consideration, it is wiser for the beginner to divide up his work in the way here suggested.
When the weather is favourable, go out into the open and paint some simple landscape studies. I shall leave it to others more capable to give you detailed instruction in landscape painting ; but such work will be a pleasant change for you, and I more particularly want you to make value relation in landscape your main objective at this period of your studentship. A few studies of skies also will teach you the importance of a clean method, and will give you greater freedom of handling.
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