Grisaille

Home / Education / ARChives / Foundational Discussions

Grisaille

From Graydon Parrish

Published before 2005


I understand what you mean about the method getting in the way of the painting. But aren't artists that let this happen rather muddleheaded to begin with? I try to understand the why rather than the how. Then, I can execute a passage au premier coup or with intricate veils, start with detail or work sight-size.

But I agree that much of the best work today is being done by direct painters. For me, I love the atmosphere and delicacy of Bouguereau and Leighton, Correggio and Leonardo. This just doesn't happen without preparation. Boy, when I started painting I longed to be Sargent and attack the canvas. I am envious of Gerhartz and Schmid.... such fun... going at it with gusto and with success! But the cerebral always takes over and I want to correct the painterly hand and mold it into calm planes of changing colors from ruddy knuckles to viridian crevices. I long for control and to know profoundly what I am doing. Luckily, there are so many styles that one can carve out a niche for himself. Cabanel is a good example, and he fits the bill at times for me as a model artist. He is able to balance the painterly with the polish. The draperies are his excuse for going brio; the face and hands instead, languid and caressed.

One more thing.... I fine it interesting to study the epistemology of painting techniques.... where and when did a certain approach originate. There is a store in NYC that sells student works from various ateliers around the city. I have gotten an eye for where various studies come from... Nelson Shank's school, the Atelier, the Florence Academy, Jacob Collins: all different approaches, none nineteenth century, and very easy to pick out one from another. I posit that the direct painting approach was Chase's creation, at least in how Americans practice it. Maybe not. But it is interesting how one man's ideas and experiments become rules for schools of painting later on.