1. Painting is an interpretation of tone. Colour drawn with a brush.
2. Keep the planes free and simple, drawing a full brush down the whole contour of a cheek.
3. Always paint one thing into another and not side by side until they touch.
4. The thicker your paint—the more your color flows.
5. Simplify, omit all but the most essential elements—values, especially the values. You must clarify the values.
6. The secret of painting is in the half tone of each plane, in economizing the accents and in the handling of the lights.
7. You begin with the middle tones and work up from it . . . so that you deal last with your lightest lights and darkest darks, you avoid false accents.
8. Paint in all the half tones and the generalized passages quite thick.
9. It is impossible for a painter to try to repaint a head where the understructure was wrong.
PALETTE: Silver White, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Ochre dew (English Red), Red Ochre, Vermillion, Ivory or Coal Black, and Prussian Blue.
These notes, attributed to American painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), are courtesy George Pratt. Mr. Pratt is a painting instructor at Ringling College of Art and Design. He told me he found these nuggests in the library when he was a student at Pratt Institute. Thanks, George!
These notes are just the tip of the iceberg. Two of Sargent’s students, Miss Heyneman and Mr. Henry Haley, also recorded extensive first hand observations of Sargent’s painting methods. If you’re interested in this kind of material, let me know, and I’d be happy to share it with you on future posts.