Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Puttin’ on Daubs

One day Edgar Payne was painting outdoors, far from any sign of habitation. He was surprised to find a man behind him, watching.

Then the man said, “ Why that’s nuthin but puttin’ on daubs!”

A little later the man shook his head and said, “But you sure gotta know where to put them daubs!” and walked away.
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Recollection by Evelyn Payne Hatcher in an addendum to Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar A. Payne.

19 comments:

Johan Derycke said...

LOL
but so true

Daroo said...

That's the whole trick.

Jesse said...

I laughed when I read that story. It seems like no matter how far you go in the middle of nowhere, you will find an audience.

ricardo said...

You sure gotta know where you put your daubs.

Daniel Xiao said...

:)

clyde semler said...

A story has it that Paul Cezanne was feverishly applying his customary daubs of pure color to his canvas one day while painting en plein air. A passerby approached, ceremoniously informing Cezanne that he had been a pupil of the great Corot. "But, painting is all about tones, tones, tones", he pronounced. With this, the irritated and irascible Cezanne is said to have taken his knife, scraped down the entire canvas, emitted an audible emission of gas, and said, "There! That's better!"

I, myself, when out working in public places, prefer when casual observers watch in silence. At times, you may be trying to solve a difficult patch of the picture, and even an innocent "Ah hum" can distract, even wound. But, then maybe I'm too sensitive?

At least Payne's observer managed to extricate himself from an initially hasty comment by finishing with a very insightful commentary on the painting process itself. "It's all about daubs, daubs, daubs!"

jeff jordan said...

A painter friend was giving a photographer mutual friend a hard time, awhile back, saying photographers just click the shutter.

Having just returned from San Francisco, where I was able to see the Robert Frank show with EVERY print from his classic book The Americans, there's sure something to be said for knowing WHEN to click the shutter, and nobody knew when was a better time than Robert Frank! A wonderful show!

Belated Happy Birthday, Jim!
And MANY MORE!

Gregory Becker said...

That's great.

Andrew Wales said...

Really cool story. Insightful in a homespun way.

Clyde, do you know where that story is documented? It is hilarious.

Jose said...

Too true! I love Paynes book... I should read more often...

Jesus Estevez said...

I didn't know Edgar Paines, now I do great painter. Thanks james for the introduction, I love the story too.
when I just to paint outdoors I always had funny comments from the people passing by , it didn't bother me , painting is such a lonely craft that some time to have a comment or two makes the day go faster.

r8r said...

The last thing I need when painting outside is an audience. I'm hard enough on myself.

Steve said...

I really like the muted colors in Payne's background, contrasting with the brighter foreground. It reminds me of the guidelines for creating the illusion of distance given in the James Perry Wilson posts from January.

On the subject of daubs, my wife and I recently had the privilege of contemplating the Monet paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago. After years of seeing reproductions of his pond series and haystack series, it was a revelation to get arm's length from the actual canvas. Up close, just a lot of daubs. A few steps back, the daubs lock together into something miraculous. Maybe rather than "lock together," it's just the opposite: tumblers clicking into place and a door swinging open.

S. Weasel said...

Shoot. I was hoping that was going to be the Payne of Payne's Gray, but apparently that's William.

That there's a fine piece of daubing, anyhow.

tanaudel said...

Funny and true and a very effective post! I learn with writing and illustrating every day, that there are only two rules: 1 - put words (or daubs) down. 2 - know where to put them.

James Gurney said...

Tanaudel, you remind me of the quote by J. S. Bach to a student who marveled at his virtuosity:

"It’s easy to play any musical instrument," he said. "All you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself."

Frank P. Ordaz said...

James,

Great story! I am going up that way next month to paint those Buttes that Payne immortalized. I just LOVE his oil paintings and his book on composition is a must read....

Stephen James. said...

Tis true, tis true.

David said...

Oh! Payne's work is so good and so under-rated.