Sunday, December 13, 2009

Practical Hints for Art Students by Charles A. Lasar, first published in 1910

Charles Lasar, Practical Hints for Art Students, (Duffield & Company, New York, 1923), pp. 183-187.

A vertical line gives dignity to a figure.

Never lose the symmetric form but forget a part here and there.

Life is the ornament to a scene.

The emotion of the movement of the principal figure or interest must be felt all through the scene.

The emotional frame consists in reproducing the movement in the masses.

Design is the composition of the emotion, which may be in the color or the form, depending upon the subject.

The stronger the tone line in a portrait the more dignified the pose.

To make a figure stand more firmly introduce horizontal lines, vertical lines give stiffness to a pose.

Now and then planes may be influenced by reflection. If a feature is ugly, like the chin for instance, one can reflect light onto it and take out some of its force.

Action is generally expressed by an oblique, dignity by vertical, and solidity by horizontal conditions.

The action of a figure may be effectively enhanced by the disposition of the hands in characteristic attitudes according to the emotion of the scene.

If you wish a figure or object to come forward let it influence an object behind it, and be itself influenced by an object in front of it.

The principal interest should be like lightning in the sky, that seen above everything else.

Sudden variety causes interest.

When a figure is bending over, the side that inclines the most should catch your eye first in value, color, and form.

The spots of a general color scheme may be taken from a suggestive part of the scene. For instance a man smoking may have his clothes the color of smoke, his cap fire red and the background or furniture a tobacco brown.

Never paint a portrait as though the person were posing. A natural position can only be kept for a few seconds, it is like a flash of lightning. You must just put down a few large marks for the chosen position of head, hands, feet, etc., and keep fitting the sitter into them.

Portraits and other figure subjects need light from above as well as at the side. Some persons require a warm and others a cold light, to bring out their best characteristics, both in form and color.

In portraits some persons will show to most advantage in color, while others are more striking in form considered as line.

A figure may be elegant but not graceful. Proportion gives elegance, movement grace, color charm.

In painting a portrait when making your tone put a little more rose into it than you really see.

Sometimes it is the character and sometimes the emotion that makes a portrait tell.

If the color is too brilliant in the face a portrait will lack refinement.

If a picture is not showy enough it is the fault of values; if it lacks in charm the color is wrong; if it is not solid local conditions are to blame.

In painting a portrait keep the lines of the body contrary to the lines of the profile.

Accessory forms are not eyes, nose, and mouth.

The direct condition of the flesh is peach bloom, surroundings cruder, lips to look like fruit.

Look out for a few hairs on the top surfaces, they give depth to a beard.

Be careful not to get the ear purple or it will look frozen.

If a picture lacks charm make it blush a little, but avoid fever.

A portrait does not depend upon the little things, but upon the big relations and differences. Look out for cheek bones, the direction of the mouth whether oblique or horizontal, how the eyes slant in the face, these are the things that count and not a little pretty drawing here and there. Some people have long faces, others short; some have sloping shoulders, others square, etc.

Clumsiness may be a quality.

Form, value, and tone are three chances for making a thing good.

A portrait may be dramatic in color, but not in form or values, or vice versâ.

Keep a portrait full of life and action, never put down the tired conditions of a pose.

Where beauty is lacking expression and color may charm.

It is good practise when about to paint a head to mix first the flesh tint general, then hair, background, eyes, and lips; understanding that lips are the accent to flesh as eyes and eyebrows are to hair.

The color of eyes and lips show off the clearness of skin.

If you wish to keep flesh color clear leave out as many half tones as possible.

Accenting eyes and mouth in value and color will also clear the complexion.

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