Friday, June 18, 2010

Advice from John S. Sargent

"Cultivate an ever-continuous power of observation. Wherever you are, be always ready to make slight notes of postures, groups and incidents.

"Store up in the mind without ceasing a continuous stream of observations from which to make selections later.

"Above all things get abroad, see the sunlight, and everything that is to be seen, the power of selection will follow.

Be continually making mental notes, make them again and again, test what you remember by sketches until you have got them fixed.

"Do not be backward at using every device and making every experiment that ingenuity can devise, in order to attain that sense of completeness which nature so beautifully provides, always bearing in mind the limitations of the materials in which you work."

Quoted from Sargent notes at
"Sargent in the Studio," an article about a 1999 exhibit at Harvard, with examples of Sargent's studies
More about the Boston Fine Art Museum murals at Brian Yoder's Good Art Gallery.


Unknown said...

Sargent was a genius, plain and simple. Wish you had included some of his watercolor pieces though. They are some of my favorites. :)

Chris Whetzel said...

Hi James,

Is there any way to see a larger version of he hand sketches? They look amazing.

My Pen Name said...

Rebecca: the Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums (NYC) both have extensive JSS watercolor collections - I think you can make appointments to view them - they are rarely put on display

Eric Braddock said...

Beautiful. I love these quotes, thanks for sharing them :) I agree with Chris, any larger version of that? It's fantastic.

My Pen Name said...

test what you remember by sketches until you have got them fixed.
What do you think he means here? Draw from memory??

C B Sorge said...

@ My Pen Name
Yeah, I gathered he meant draw from memory what you've seen, and check to see if you got it right, and fix where needed, and draw it again.

I'm always happy to see some gorgeous Sargent work :)

Don Cox said...

There is a big Sargent web site here.

Scale said...

Very wise words, especially for our age of information overload.

James Gurney said...

Sorry I don't have a larger version of the hand drawings.

Thanks for the mention of the Met and Brooklyn collections.

Information overload. YES. How to be an artist and cultivate the imagination in the middle of an avalanche of images. That's a fascinating topic for a future post/discussion.

Roberto said...

I see from my Current "Artist's" mag there is an exhibition of Sargent's portraits of women at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York (thru Dec. 31). A really nice museum with a wide collection of traditional, native, and modern exhibitions. If you are in Cooperstown stop in and say hello to my dear friend Rick at: Riverwood (giftstore)
88 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326-1366

Davinder said...

If anyone's still looking, I found a larger version of the hand studies here.

अर्जुन said...

Dav, thanks!

Notes from the North said...

Excellent advice.