Red Carpets for Drawing

A recent viewing "The Sound of Music" (one of the high water marks in American cinema) reminded me of the dramatic difference that had occurred in thinking about how to approach painting from life. During the song "Farewell, Goodnight" the youngest child asks why she always had to be last. Maria, the governess, made Gretel smile when she said: "Because you're the most important." As I've pointed out, there was a time when it was said of painting that "well drawn is well enough colored." Before Monet woke us up, truth in color was frequently treated as an afterthought - or primarily a product of formula, but not part of one's first considerations either in the work or the training. In fact, I agree regarding the importance of drawing. And that is precisely why I put color first. For a direct painting, drawing is so important that color must be well in hand in order that drawing possesses the materials to confidently work its magic. And if color is important enough to lead the way, perhaps more of us might consider an honest inclusion of the incredibly important lessons of Monet when we teach this new generation. Mastery of the color of nature is as critical and basic a skill as any other for a complete representational skill-set.

 Claude Monet, Haystacks, (Sunset)  1890-1891.

Claude Monet, Haystacks, (Sunset)  1890-1891.

 Martin Johnson Heade, Haystacks, ca. 1871-1875

Martin Johnson Heade, Haystacks, ca. 1871-1875