painting and photographic works

Book Review: “Landscape Painting” by Birge Harrison

I am intrigued by this book by American landscape painter Birge Harrison. This book was originally published 100 years ago – in 1910 (and re-published as a reproduction by BiblioLife in 2009) . In saying it is a reproduction I believe it looks exactly like the original (except perhaps the cover), as if it has been photocopied page for page- original typeface, original language, original illustrations. Unlike a modern landscape instruction book you will not find colorful illustrations. Except for a few small black and white reproduction of paintings, text is the sole means of conveying the author’s message.
I find it so interesting to hear what direction was given to landscape painters at that time. I expect some timeless, unchanging advice and perhaps some really dated tidbits. I’ll share a bit of what I discovered.

Among the first things of interest was the reference to the French Impressionists as “luminarists”. (not a common term to me). There is an interesting discussion of light – the physics of it and the physiology of human interpretation of light and color.
What do you think about this statement:
“There would seem to be only two rules that can not be broken: first the undertone must be warmer than the overtone, and second it must never be brown…out-of-door nature abhors brown, and never uses it” (p. 42)

Overall, this is a good book and I would recommend it too landscape painters looking to understand a bit of the historical perspective of their subject.


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