Books of instruction in the practice of painting have rarely been successful. Chiefly because they have been too narrow in their point of view, and have dealt more with recipes than with principles. It is not possible to give any one manner of painting that shall be right for all men and all subjects. To say "do thus and so" will not teach any one to paint. But there are certain principles which underlie all painting, and all schools of painting; and to state clearly the most important of these will surely be helpful, and may accomplish something.
It is the purpose of this book to deal practically with the problems which are the study of the painter, and to make clear, as far as may be, the principles which are involved in them. I believe that this is the only way in which written instruction on painting can be of any use.
It is impossible to understand principles without some statement of theory; and a book in order to be practical must therefore be to some extent theoretical. I have been as concise and brief in the theoretical parts as clearness would permit of, and I trust they are not out of proportion to the practical parts. Either to paint well, or to judge well of a painting, requires an understanding of the same things: namely, the theoretical standpoint of the painter; the technical problems of color, composition, etc.; and the practical means, processes, and materials through which and with which these are worked out.
It is obvious that one cannot become a good painter without the ability to know what is good painting, and to prefer it to bad painting. Therefore, I have taken space to cover, in some sort, the whole ground, as the best way to help the student towards becoming a good painter. If, also, the student of pictures should find in this book what will help him to appreciate more truly and more critically, I shall be gratified.
D. B. P.
December 4, 1897