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Friday, December 21, 2007

John Singer Sargent - How to Paint Like a Capricorn

John Singer Sargent was one the great portrait artists of all time. He is sometimes left out of history books because they tend to only include innovators and Sargent didn't really bend the art world into any new directions. His style was modern to his times but mostly he was basically a society painter. He simply did what he did better than other people. Sargeant's perceptions (Capricorn keyword) of color were very keen. He could say more with a single line than most artists can say with a whole picture and his insights into human personality especially with regards to how a person would want to be seen by others was brilliant (Capricorn concept). Capricorns generally live to conform to high standards of society. Madame X is one of the most famous Sargent portraits.

As a way of celebrating the Sun-Jupiter Conjunction on the 1st degree of Capricorn I'm going to list 5 techniques which are said to have been most important to Sargent. It's fascinating how closely linked to Capricornian nature they are. These 5 lessons come from a 1927 biography of him, written by his friend Evan Charteris (I haven't read the book, was told by a teacher that these were Sargent's techniques). As Capricorn is the sign of Career and Capricorns tend to be workaholics I suggest that you get out your paints and brushes and improve your powers of observation while Sun, Jupiter and Pluto travel through Capricorn this next year. And don't swig the Turpentine, that's a fire sign thing.

1. Directness. Painting style is A la prima, paint applied directly to canvas.

2. Economy of Means - Say what you want to say with the fewest strokes. Use the sharpest self-control in your expression.

3. Accuracy of Value - Develop good judgment of Darks and Lights.

4. Attention to Transition - Pay attention to treatment of edges (boundaries) between color, shape and form to bring out spatial relationships.

5. Everything is based on direct observation (perception). Teach yourself to see with accuracy.



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