MENTAL NOTE #146: ROBERT HENRI TAUGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBSTRUCTURE OF THE ARTWORK.
“Ability to copy lines, shapes, tones, amounts to little. Ability to correlate lines, shapes, tones, is the rare and necessary quality of the artist. All good art is composition. A portrait that is not a composition is not a portrait. The painter deals with areas. He should know areas. A line is not good because it is like a line. A line is good because of its power related to other lines, which are powers. Every line, area, tone, value, texture, in fact every effect produced in any way, including even the pressure of the brush, should be considered as a compositional or constructive element.
The substructure must be understood.”
~ ROBERT HENRI ~ Henri, Robert, and Margery A. Ryerson. The Art Spirit: Notes, Articles, Fragments of Letters and Talks to Students … Westview Press, 1984.
MENTAL NOTE #142: SIMPLIFY YOUR COMPOSITIONS — SOMETIMES TOO MUCH IS TOO MUCH!
“All good drawing or painting is compositional. Better see what you can do on your canvas with these simple notes and for the time being let all details go. It is useless to keep on adding things to a canvas. Some painters put thousands of big and little features into a face, colors and more colors. All day long they keep adding more and more. They are like whales in a sea with their mouths wide open swallowing everything that comes along. Much can be done with little.” ~ ROBERT HENRI ~ Henri, Robert, and Margery A. Ryerson. The Art Spirit: Notes, Articles, Fragments of Letters and Talks to Students … Westview Press, 1984.
This is Great advice from Sage-Master Painter, ROBERT HENRI. I WISH I could say that I follow his advice all of the time, but I fail, often. I have quoted Robert Henri, more than any other artist. His advice for Art, and Life, is profound. If I could go back in time and apprentice, or study with any artist in history, I think I would travel back in time and study with Robert Henri — VERY CLOSE ALTERNATIVE CHOICES would be Whistler, Klimt, or Kandinsky.
The advice from Henri also works for PHOTOGRAPHY! Don’t clutter your photographs up with unnecessary items. Compose on your main topic of focus, and crop in-frame. Leave unnecessary items out or the frame that add nothing to your photo-story.
MENTAL NOTE #125: FREEDOM — “Every thought should be uttered freely, fearlessly…”
I have been very troubled with the current and horrendous change in my country’s political environment, where a complete silence of Free Speech is in the process — that is — Free Speech will be silenced for ALL PEOPLE who oppose tyranny, and oppose the destruction of their country, to a new leader who loves his ‘Great New Reset’. T r u m p did nothing to stop this from happening; but under a Beiijing-Biiden admin, it is going to be worse, and you will see that unfold for yourself, very, very, soon.
Once again, I must turn our attention to the Sage, and the Great Master Painter, Robert Henri:
“It is better that every thought should be uttered freely, fearlessly, than that any great thought should be denied utterance for fear of evil. It is only through complete independence that all goodness can be spoken, that all purity can be found. Even indecency is bred of restriction not of freedom, for how can the spirit which controls the ethical side of life be trusted except through the poise that is gained by exercise? When we think honestly, we never desire individuals bound hand and foot, and the ethical side of man’s nature we cannot picture as overwhelmed and smothered with regulations if we are to have a permanent human goodness; for restrictions hide vice, and freedom alone bears morality.”
Henri, R., & Ryerson, M. (1958). The art spirit, by Robert Henri: notes, articles, fragments of letters and talks to students, bearing on the concept and technique of picture making, the study of art generally, and on appreciation, compiled by Margery Ryerson. J.B. Lippincott.
“Many an artist has fussed all day with a face, changing and changing and never getting it right because the fault should have been found in the background which he has neglected….The background is the support of the head.”
HENRI, ROBERT. THE ART SPIRIT. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1984.
I may be an Abstract Artist, but whenever I need authentic, useable, functional, sage advice, I always go to Master Painter, Robert Henri, to contemplate the words he used to teach and encourage his students. I usually find something in almost everything he said, to apply to my own work as an Abstract Artist.
MENTAL NOTE #110, MY 800TH BLOG POST AT NAWFALNUR.WORDPRESS.COM/ !
I was trying to remember what year I started my NawfalNur.WordPress.com/ blog: This is my second oldest blog, and my recently ‘retired’ blog, Smokephotographist.WordPress.com/ , is my oldest blog — I started exhibiting my Fine Art Photography, and writing and publishing on the subjects of PHOTOGRAPHY, Art, and related information, at Smokephotographist.WordPress.com/ , in 2005. Thus, my guess, without purposefully looking it up, is that NawfalNur.WordPress.com/ was founded in 2007. Therefore, I think this blog is about 13, or thereabouts, years old.
BY THE WAY, WORDPRESS was founded in May 2003, so I’ve been blogging (since April 2005) for ALMOST as long as WORDPRESS has been around. I’m an ‘OldTimer’!
I usually publish and exhibit my Fine Art Photography here. HOWEVER …
This year, I started an ongoing ‘Philosophical’ (sort of) series, titled “MENTAL NOTES”, and actually I have many more than 110 MENTAL NOTEs: For some odd, mental reason, I got MAJORLY STUCK at MENTAL NOTE #31! FOR SEVERAL WEEKS, I was publishing MENTAL NOTES at #31, so I had MENTAL NOTEs numbering, #31.1, 31.2 … MENTAL NOTE #31.9736482, LOL!, UNTIL I felt one of my new MENTAL NOTEs seemed like a #32.
Therefore, I have no idea of the exact number of MENTAL NOTEs published so far, but I would guess somewhere between 125 to 145 … probably.
I could have dedicated a New Blog to my MENTAL NOTES Series; however, starting a new blog is not the best way to get a lot of people to see content you want them to see. It is a slow process to gain followers at a new blog!
After retiring Smokephotographist.WordPress.com/ , I asked people to Goto my Newest Art Photography Blog, http://TheSmokephotographist.WordPress.com/ and support me over there … it was a Simple click of the button / Link, to goto my new Blog and Hit Subscribe!
It may take a total of 20 Seconds to Support me at my new Art Photography Blog … BUT I WAS A BIT DISAPPOINTED that ONLY A HANDFUL of my current subscribers took the small amount of time, and small effort, to Subscribe and Support me at my New Blog, TheSmokephotographist.WordPress.com/ . I think you too, would be slightly disappointed, don’t you think, if you had such low results from a simple request for help.
Therefore, that showed me that even when I asked for help from present subscribers at my old blog, to support me at my NEW Blog, ( http://TheSmokephotographist.WordPress.com/ ) , it was like pulling teeth to get people to help me out with that small request. NEVERTHELESS, I was Very-VERY Happy with the people who took the effort to show their support for me.
If you start a new blog, please let me know, because I will show my support,
… as long as your new blog is not something on the EXTREME FRINGE of subject matter … or it is a blog focusing on a philosophy that I ethically and morally cannot support — but I don’t think anyone here who presently subscribes to my blogs is into EXTREMELY fringe and majorly controversial subjects that I am vehemently against.
Therefore, starting a new blog is not easy, even if you have a reasonable following at other blogs you publish.
If you want to start a new subject series, it is basically more efficient to work it into your present blog(s), in my opinion. That is what I did with my MENTAL NOTEs SERIES — I just made it a regular subject at my established blog. You may find that useful information for your own blog, if you want to start writing on a new topic, on a regular basis.
Anyway, that’s about all I want to write about in this Blog Post Number 800, and in contemplating life in the Blogosphere, in MENTAL NOTE #110.
“Oh No, What in the world is he going to come up with this time?!?” LOL!
MENTAL NOTE #61: THE NUDE and ART! Let’s have Robert Henri give his well-informed opinion on this subject.
“THERE is nothing in the world more beautiful or significant of the laws of the universe than the nude human body. In fact it is not only among the artists but among all people that a greater appreciation and respect for the human body should develop. When we respect the nude we will no longer have any shame about it.” (Source: Robert Henri, “THE ART SPIRIT.” HARPER & ROW, PUBLISHERS, New York, 1984, p. 47)
I agree….EXCEPT, maybe I would have written, “…some nude human bodies.” Because, honestly, not all nude human bodies were created with the same “nude-friendly” attributes.
HEY, IF, you don’t want to take my word for it, then listen to what the late, great comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, had to say on the subject of “Ugly”:
“My psychiatrist told me I’m going crazy. I told him, “If you don’t mind, I’d like a second opinion.” He said, “All right. You’re ugly too!””
“I was so ugly, my mother used to feed me with a slingshot!”
“When I was born the doctor took one look at my face, turned me over and said, “Look, twins!””
MENTAL NOTE #59: As an Art Photographer, it is often that I need to consider the dark tones in my art images, and I must deal with them properly to find a balance between DARK, and DARK WITH DETAILS.
I have been seeking advice from that Great Master Painter, Robert Henri, again, and he never fails to have some FANTASTIC ADVICE on a particular artistic subject.
“It is seldom that the appearance of night can be produced by a very black drawing. The beauty of night is not so much in what you cannot see as in what you can see. It is a fine thing, after the brilliant reds and blues and yellows of daylight, to see the close harmony of evening and night. Night can be painted so that it will be beautiful and true with a palette that does not drop into black but has instead a surprising richness of tone.” (Source: Robert Henri, “THE ART SPIRIT”, p.46, HARPER & ROW, PUBLISHERS, New York, 1984).
MENTAL NOTE #48: ROBERT HENRI SAID, WORK FAST BUT DON’T SIMPLY WORK FAST TO GET DONE UNTIL ALL THAT CAN BE SAID WITH THE LARGER FORMS — the LARGER GESTURES, HAS BEEN SAID.
“Plainly you are to develop as a seer, as an appreciator as well as a craftsmen. You are to give the craftsman in you a motive, else he cannot develop.
All that I have said argues the predominant value of gesture. Gesture expresses through form and color the states of life.
There is no virtue in delaying. But do not pass from the work on mass to features until all that can be said with the larger forms has been said — no matter how long it may take, no matter if accomplishment of the picture may be delayed from one to many days. Hold to this principle that the greatest drawing, the greatest expression, the greatest completion, the sense of all contained, lies in what can be done through the larger masses and the larger gestures.”
Robert Henri, “THE ART SPIRIT”, p.p. 26-27.
Information about “Portrait of Fi” and Robert Henri, in the next sections of this post, are from my FAVOURITE ART GALLERY, the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska: Maybe I am a little biased, as I am from Nebraska. And this is a very curious and interesting note, Robert Henri grew up in Cozad, Nebraska; and in fact, his family founded the town of Cozad. “Portrait of Fi”, is one of two artworks by Henri, in the permanent collection at Joslyn Art Museum.
Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929), Portrait of Fi , 1907 oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 20 1/8 in.; 61.6 x 51.12 cm Museum purchase, Irving W. Benolken Memorial Fund, 1957.14
“Born Henry Robert Cozad in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1865, Henri spent a vagabond childhood in locations dependent on the colorful entrepreneurship of his father, John Cozad. He enjoyed a carefree youth in Cozad, Nebraska, a town founded by his father on prairie land acquired from railroad company sales. In 1882 John Cozad was involved in a fatal shooting that tarnished his respected position in the community. Although he was later cleared for wrongdoing, he moved his family away from Cozad and altered their names to avoid public ridicule. Henry Robert Cozad assumed a new identity as Robert Earl Henri. Proud of his American heritage, Henri insisted his name be pronounced “Hen-rye” rather than in the French manner. Prompted by his early interest in magazine illustrations which he copied in his diaries and scrapbooks, Henri entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1886 and later at the Académie Julian in Paris. Returning to Philadelphia in 1891, he embarked on a long career of painting, teaching, and lecturing that eventually led him to New York. Established there permanently after 1900, Henri continued to travel extensively in Europe and the United States.” (Joslyn Art Museum Biographical information about Robert Henri, from their Website).
“A gifted teacher, Henri advocated the painterly brushwork of Diego Velazquez and Frans Hals and the dark palette and unadulterated realism of Rembrandt and Edouard Manet, a combination that lent an American freshness to his work. Champion of the masses and struggling artists, Henri, “the great white knight of American art,” forged a group of painters into The Eight, influential pioneers of realism who clamored for reform not only in art but in the entire structure of the antiquated American academy system. The Eight frankly presented in their paintings the urban working class and their milieu. Their depictions, neither sentimental nor picturesque, of the back alleys and small shops of New York, often enveloped in soot and smoke, earned for these artists the derogatory nickname “the Ashcan School.”” (Joslyn Art Museum Biographical information about Robert Henri, from their Website).
“In his own art Henri, preferring the humanity of the city over its landscape, painted lively portraits of street urchins, immigrants, and “characters.” He particularly enjoyed painting children, their range and character taken from the breadth of his travels. Rapidly executed and capturing the spontaneity of youth, these small portraits account for a large part of his oeuvre. Portrait of Fi exemplifies Henri’s approach and composition in these pictures. Fi, a Dutch girl painted by Henri in Haarlem during the summer of 1907, is depicted without setting or props, staring frankly out at the viewer. The direct pose and loose, energetic brushwork are well suited for this open, unaffected portrayal that conveys the warmth and optimism Henri believed so essential to the human condition.” (Joslyn Art Museum Biographical information about Robert Henri, from their Website).
MENTAL NOTE #26: The 1st Life Lesson from the Artist Robert Henri and his Influence on the Art World
“His students followed Henri without complaint even when they suffered thereby great material hardships. They did not make the slightest compromise with the ideals which Henri held before them. I can still remember sitting on a bench in Union Square listening to some Henri students in a heated discussion of what Henri had said that evening to his Night School students. The discussion was so ardent that no one hearing it could have believed that these young men, who had worked all day at manual labor, and painted for hours at the Henri School, were about to sleep on a bench in a park because they could not afford to hire a room for the night.”
(Source: THE ART SPIRIT by Robert Henri, p.8, from the INTRODUCTION by Forbes Watson).
What this means to me:
Maximum Sacrifice for a chance to Learn from an Art Master.
Being FULLY Appreciative of ANY Opportunities, especially in the face of living with great suffering.
Willingness to Suffer in the Short Term with Hope of Bettering Oneself in the Long Term.
Joy of Companionship with Like-minded Artisans.
☆ There are Very important and valuable lessons for Artists in that single paragraph!