Advice From Charles Hawthorne

Do studies, not pictures. Know when you are licked — start another. Do not belabor defeat.

Be alive, stop when your interest is lost. When your brain leaves the room you are done.

Put off finish — make a lot of starts. The Art is in the start.

It is so hard and so long before a student comes to a realization that these few large simple spots in right relations are the most important things in the study of painting. They are the fundamentals of all painting. Locate the big simple planes and their relationship to the whole.

Starting with a note of truth in a picture is the important thing — the first color you put down influences you right straight through. Determine the most important plane of color its hue, intensity and value.

Do not put things down approximately — you will take a wrong thing and unconsciously key everything to it, making it all false. Ask yourself what Vermeer would do?

Never mind if your whole canvas is not successful. If one spot is successful, it is enough. If your focal points are successful the rest of the painting is successful by association,

Do a bit of truth. When you meet a spot of real truth in a painting you forgive — oh! so much. Get the keys elements right and the rest of the painting goes along of the ride.

We walk past miles of canvases, able to find no technical fault with any, until suddenly we are halted by one, perhaps ugly in its choice of subject, but which is immortalized by its expression of truth.

Get into the habit of doing what you see, not what you know. Know what you see and paint it.

Spend a lifetime in hard work with a humble mind. The true painter is humbled with every brush stroke.

One can not begin too early, for this is not a thing of a month or a day. When a painter is sixty or seventy, she may be able to do a thing and the whole world rejoices.  One lifetime is not nearly enough.

Anything under the sun is beautiful if one has the vision – it is the seeing of the thing that makes it so.

A sketch has charm because of its truth — not because it is unfinished.

You must feel the beauty of the thing before you start.

If you are not going to get a thrill, how can you give someone else one? 

Information strikes only if it fines one working.

Be humble about it. Paint the color tones as they come against each other, and make them sing, vibrate.

Put off finish as it takes a lifetime — wait until later to try to finish things — make a lot of starts. The concept of finish is a dangerous drug.

Have as much fun as you can and don’t feel that the edge of your canvas confines you – let your vision go right on.

Realize the value of putting down your first impression quickly. Do not overthink your drink.

Swing a bigger brush — you don’t know what you’re missing. Use a far bigger brush than you think you need.

The ring, the call, the surprise, the shock that you have out-of-doors — be always looking for the unexpected in nature, do not settle to a formula. Look to nature for the particulars she possesses

To see things simply is the hardest thing in the world. The successful painter is continually painting still life. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify,

Painting is just like making an after-dinner speech. If you want to be remembered, say one thing, and stop.

Leave a Reply