One of the most inspiring stories of a mid-career revival came from the mid-20th century illustrator Austin Briggs (1908-1973), who told how he rediscovered painting from nature:
"But my own work had no individuality. Every few months as I became aware of a new illustrator's work, my style changed and not one of my pictures looked as though it was painted by me — especially the backgrounds and the landscapes. What had happened was that my ability to observe and learn from nature was dying from disuse."
"Finally it dawned on me that I should get away from the influence of other artists and work directly from nature to develop my own personal reaction to the visual world. Having decided this, I took an immediate vacation and went to the Gaspé Peninsula in Canada for four months. There I sketched any and everything — from nature."
"During my vacation on the Gaspé Peninsula, I did this painting of sailboats. While painting many pictures like this, I began to experience a very personal reaction to forms and the play of light on them. In fact, I became so interested in landscapes that they became, and still are, an integral part of my work, almost a trade mark you might say."
"Here is another landscape done after returning from the Gaspé Peninsula. By now I knew that the points of view borrowed from other artists were not suited to my temperament. Indeed they were damaging and antagonistic."
Tomorrow: What happened next.
Quoted from Famous Artists Course (1954 Edition) Lesson 16.
Austin Briggs Flickr set by Leif Peng
Briggs Flickr collection by Matt Dicke