Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Painting the Visual Impression" by Richard Whitney

While searching online for Mr. Whitney's out of print book, I found an article he wrote at the following web address, including several other interesting related articles:


 This series of articles is a summary of the fundamental ideas used by artists to help them paint the look of nature and the effects of light and shadow. I have listed them in order of importance with the essential ideas in bold type to help the working painter logically solve problems. I have written these concepts in a concise manner so that they can be memorized. Learning to paint involves learning to see and guidance from a master craftsman is necessary. This series should be used as a supplement to studio instruction.

The Seamstress
By Robert Hale Ives Gammell, 1893-1981
This overview was inspired by the teachings of R. H. Ives Gammell who studied with some of the most skillful painters at the turn of the century. The ideas presented here are therefore not mine, nor even his, but rather have been passed down from master to student for many generations. While studying with Mr. Gammell I wrote down much that he told me about these principles. I later organized my notes and added to them from extensive reading to produce this summary.

The first articles on composition and drawing list many concepts and helpful hints that can be used by artists of all stylistic persuasions. The main portion of the series emphasizes the impressionistic approach to painting. I do not mean to imply that this is the only way, or the best way to paint. Nothing in this series is meant to be taken as absolute law since some advances in the field of painting have come from breaking the rules after training is completed. My hope is that these articles will be a useful reference you can use in finding your way when you feel lost.

These ideas are most useful in helping artists paint the visual world. The impressionist paints what he sees, not what he knows. He looks at the whole subject at once and paints this visual impression in a broad manner with only a suggestion of detail. I list the ways in which the impressionist uses light and shadow, values, color vibration, edges and paint texture to achieve an atmospheric appearance. I also discuss methods of training the visual memory so that artists can successfully capture the fleeting effects of nature.

I have included a section on helpful advice to students followed by a listing of some of the artists of the past that I recommend for study. I have decided not to include living painters for fear of unintentionally offending those that I might omit. I have instead decided to illustrate this booklet with some examples of my work to show how these ideas have influenced one contemporary painter. I have also included an extensive reading list for further research.

It has been the dream of Mr. Gammell and others who have survived the onslaught of Modernism that future generations will restore the craft of painting. I hope my articles will contribute to this end.
Richard Whitney
Stoddard, New Hampshire

To Read a book preview online of Mr. Whitney's book, "Painting the Visual Impression, click here. or cut and paste:

To read more of this series of articles, please refer to the website:  <>.

1 comment:

  1. How can I order a copy of the book "Painting the Visual Impression"?