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Old 01-06-2009, 09:53 AM   #11
Mara Schasteen Mara Schasteen is offline
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I spent my Christmas break wandering about bookstores looking for anything I could get my hands on related to Sargeant's methods. I came up empty handed, and then I get home and, woo hoo! This post is on the forum. Thank you, everyone who has contributed to this post and please, if you have any reccomendations for books to buy online directly related to Sargeant's methods, I would be grateful should you list them here.

Happy New Year!
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:24 AM   #12
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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Mara -- I fear you will look in vain for more info on Sargent. Unless someone knows of a long lost,, and just found repository of info on his methods, about all we can do is work from the little knowledge that is already available. I have a pdf file I downloaded a year or so ago about Sargent. It is a compilation of reports, mostly from various sitters, who talk about some of the things he said and did, but that's about it. Clayton Beck (see above) has fairly well summarized what is known about Sargent's working methods.

Also, if you will check this site (http://jssgallery.org/) you may find more information, as well a ton of reproductions of his work.

I find myself wondering about his teacher, Carlos Durand (sp) who taught Sargent the very effective method of starting with the middles, and working out from there. I have done a few googles, but find little info on Durand.
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:33 PM   #13
Clayton J. Beck III Clayton J. Beck III is offline
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Richard--I have seen a few of Carolus Duran works over the years and I agree with Sargent's assessment that he taught it well but didn't practice it with the great of abilities. On the other hand many of his time consider him the most popular portraitist on the continent in the 1860's-70s.

If one wishes to understand Duran's teaching, there is a half finished work (accepted as a Sargent student work) in the Des Moines Art Center which has been a delight to study when I am passing that way. It is a study of an old man, nude, half-length, leaning on a staff and life size. It is completely finished at the head a shoulders and gets progressively simpler as one moves down until at the last six to twelve inches of the work we are able to see the first two value block in. That is the separation of light and shadow.

The best Sargents to study are the small figures in his landscapes. They show an abbreviated but complete version of his portrait method in a very decipherable way. If you know how to study brushwork, then these are the best way to study his method.

I agree, alas, there will probably be no more insight into his working method from written sources than we already have. It's a shame. I still dream of a long lost film of the great master. Maybe someday.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:24 AM   #14
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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I used to visit an art web site (www.studioprocucts.com) (I believe this is corrrect) where the guy who runs the place promoted the following method for painting a portrait . . .

He positioned a slide projector behind a transluscent sheet on which he projected the image he wanted to paint. He set up a canvas immediately to the right of his rear projected image. He purposely threw out of focus the image he was projecting so that about all you could make out were masses. In a sight-size sort of way, he copied these very blurry masses onto his canvas. When finished with this stage, he would sharpen the image a bit, and start over, laying in some of the detail that now showed through the soft focus. He repeated this procudure until the image was sharp, and so were the detail he was adding.

I believe he had a video of this somewhere on the web site.

I mention this since it is, in a way, similar to mapping out the masses first, a la Sargent, and then working toward the specific.

I doubt that you'll be able to see this on that site nowadays since, for some weird reason, he suddenly decided (a couple of years ago) to make it a pay-site and, to my knowledge, most of his following found other sites to go to.
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:24 PM   #15
Clayton J. Beck III Clayton J. Beck III is offline
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I think I will never understand the lengths to which people who wish to learn to paint what they see will remove themselves from what they are seeing with technology. All one needs to do is squint. It costs nothing and does the job so much better. I have investigated all of the devices I can find and have found them all to be quite inferior to just seeing and painting. I'm not selling anything so I have nothing to gain by writing this. Beware of those who are selling some device to get between you and your subject(i.e. colored gels, photography, projectors, magical pieces of glass). See, analyze, paint. Nothing more is necessary.
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:38 PM   #16
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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Sorry if it sounded like I was promoting this guy. I mentioned it because it is his way of seeing and putting down the masses as abstract shapes, albeit abstracted mechanically. I agree . . . squinting works, and it's free.
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Old 01-07-2009, 02:19 PM   #17
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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I agree also: there is no greater JOY than painting something from life. I can remember when I was a little kid, realizing that the secret to drawing was to be able to move back and forth in your mind between seeing things as abstract shapes and seeing things as actual things (to check if you were on the right track). It was very exciting! I thought it was sad that some people didn't seem able to do it. I wished they could see things the way I did. I still feel his excitement when I'm painting or drawing.

It's interesting to have Sargent's methods analyzed. never gave it a lot of conscious thought, yet I've been painting that way for years and, by some strange coincidence, Sargent was one of the artists who had an early and constant influence on me.
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:14 AM   #18
Joe England Joe England is offline
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I really enjoy Sargent's watercolors. You can learn a lot about what he was seeing by looking at those quick doodles in water color.

Sargent was very inventive, and didn't like to be restricted by little details, he was more concerned with composition and capturing something more powerful. I've seen a few of his paintings up-close and they have effects and textures that are poetic and relate to the overall image.

I think something also interesting about Sargent is his way of making dark paintings seem cheerful or something other then dark and shadowy.

here's some good vids I watched the other day on Sargent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3krxe_QkXDk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPWEy78BURs
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