Outdoor Sketching Four Talks Given before the Art Institute of Chicago
Francis Hopkinson Smith
My chief reason for confining these four talks to the outdoor sketch is because I have been an outdoor painter since I was sixteen years of age; have never in my whole life painted what is known as a studio picture evolved from memory or from my inner consciousness, or from any one of my outdoor sketches. My pictures are begun and finished often at one sitting, never more than three sittings; and a white umbrella and a three-legged stool are the sum of my studio appointments.
Another reason is that, outside of this ability to paint rapidly out-of-doors, I know so little of the many processes attendant upon the art of the painter that both my advice and my criticism would be worthless to even the youngest of the painters to-day. Again, I work only in two mediums, water-color and charcoal. Oil I have not touched for many years, and then only for a short time when a student under Swain Gifford (and this, of course, many, many years ago), who taught me the use and value of the opaque pigment, which helped me greatly in my own use of opaque water-color in connection with transparent color and which was my sole reason for seeking the help of his master hand.
A further venture is to kindle in your hearts a greater love for and appreciation of what a superbly felt and exactly rendered outdoor sketch stands for-a greater respect for its vitality, its life-spark; the way it breathes back at you, under a touch made unconsciously, because you saw it, recorded it, and then forgot it-best of all because you let it alone; my fervent wish being to transmit to you some of the enthusiasm that has kept me young all these years of my life; something of the joy of the close intimacy I have held with nature-the intimacy of two old friends who talk their secrets over each with the other; a joy unequalled by any other in my life's experience.
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