LECTURE TO ART STUDENTS
1. LECTURE TO ART STUDENTS (continued)
Do not wait for life to be picturesque, but try and see life under
picturesque conditions. These conditions you can create for
yourself in your studio, for they are merely conditions of light.
In nature, you must wait for them, watch for them, choose them;
and, if you wait and watch, come they will.
In Gower Street at night you may see a letter-box that is
picturesque: on the Thames Embankment you may see picturesque
policemen. Even Venice is not always beautiful, nor France.
To paint what you see is a good rule in art, but to see what is
worth painting is better. See life under pictorial conditions. It
is better to live in a city of changeable weather than in a city of
Now, having seen what makes the artist, and what the artist makes,
who is the artist? There is a man living amongst us who unites in
himself all the qualities of the noblest art, whose work is a joy
for all time, who is, himself, a master of all time. That man is
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But, you will say, modern dress, that is bad. If you cannot paint
black cloth you could not have painted silken doublet. Ugly dress
is better for art - facts of vision, not of the object.
What is a picture? Primarily, a picture is a beautifully coloured
surface, merely, with no more spiritual message or meaning for you
than an exquisite fragment of Venetian glass or a blue tile from
the wall of Damascus. It is, primarily, a purely decorative thing,
a delight to look at.
All archaeological pictures that make you say 'How curious!' all
sentimental pictures that make you say, 'How sad!' all historical
pictures that make you say 'How interesting!' all pictures that do
not immediately give you such artistic joy as to make you say 'How
beautiful!' are bad pictures.
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