Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Robert Henri - Plein Air Pochade Box Painting

Robert Henri (1865 - 1929) was an accomplished American painter as well as an influential teacher. He adopted the academic technique of making rapid oil sketches, or pochades, either as preparatory studies for larger works or as informal outdoor studies. Below is a quote from his book, The Art Spirit (p. 13, Lippincott 1923), about these pochades.

“The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes – no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests. He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook, a box of oils with a few small panels, the fit of his pocket, or his drawing pad. Like any hunter he hits or misses. He is looking for what he loves, he tries to capture it. It’s found anywhere, everywhere. Those who are not hunters do not see these things. The hunter is learning to see and to understand – to enjoy.

There are memories of days of this sort, of wonderful drifting in and out of the crowd, of seeing and thinking. Where are the sketches that were made? Some of them are in dusty piles, some turned out to be so good they got frames, some became motives for big pictures, which were either better or worse than the sketches, but they, or rather the states of being and understandings we had at the time of doing them all, are sifting through and leaving their impress on our whole work and life.”

– Robert Henri

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