Advice from a master : Alfred Sisley

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Antonin2 wrote
on 18 Aug 2010 3:08 PM

The recollection about painting of the famous impressionist painter Alfred Sisley are really rare and practically never published. Here is one of the best text of him about his view on painting.

Here is in french :

« L’intérêt dans une toile, vous le savez, est multiple. Le sujet, le motif, doit toujours être rendu d’une façon simple, compréhensible, saisissante pour le spectateur.
Celui-ci doit être amené – par l’élimination des détails superflus – à suivre le chemin que le peintre lui indique et voir tout d’abord ce qui a empoigné l’exécutant.
[…] Après le sujet, une des qualités les plus intéressantes du paysage est le mouvement, la vie.
C’est aussi une des plus difficiles à réaliser. […] C’est l’émotion de l’exécutant qui donne la vie et c’est cette émotion qui éveille celle du spectateur. […]
Il faut que les objets soient rendus avec leur texture propre, il faut encore et surtout qu’ils soient enveloppés de lumière, comme ils le sont dans la nature. Voilà le progrès à faire. C’est le ciel qui doit être le moyen (le ciel ne peut pas n’être qu’un fond). Il contribue au contraire non seulement à donner de la profondeur pas ses plans (car le ciel a des plans comme les terrains), il donne aussi le mouvement par sa forme, par son arrangement en rapport avec l’effet ou la composition du tableau.
En est-il de plus magnifique et de plus mouvementé que celui qui se reproduit fréquemment en été, je veux parler du ciel bleu avec les beaux nuages blancs baladeurs. Quel mouvement, quelle allure, n’est-ce pas ?
Il fait l’effet de la vague quand on est en mer ; il exalte, il entraîne. Un autre ciel : celui-là plus tard, le soir. Ses nuages s’allongent, prennent souvent la forme de sillages, de remous qui semblent immobilisés au milieu de l’atmosphère, et peu à peu disparaissent, absorbés par le soleil couchant. Celui-là est plus tendre, plus mélancolique ; il a le charme des choses qui s’en vont – et je l’aime particulièrement. – mais je ne veux pas vous raconter tous les ciels chers aux peintres, je ne vous parle ici que de ceux que je préfère entre tous.
J’appuie sur cette partie du paysage, parce que je voudrais vous faire bien comprendre l’importance que j’y attache. Comme indication : je commence toujours une toile par le ciel.
[…] Quels sont les peintres que j’aime ? Pour ne parler que des contemporains : Delacroix, Corot, Millet, Rousseau, Courbet, nos maîtres. Tous ceux enfin qui ont aimé la nature et qui ont senti fortement. » (1892, propos rapportés par Adolphe Tavernier, L’Atelier de Sisley, Paris, 1907)

 

Here is my translation to English so not perfect :

"The interest into a painting is multiple, you know. The subject, the matter must always be render in a simple way, comprehensible, and able to grab your viewer's attention.

This one must be brought - by elimination of superfluous details - to follow the way the painting indicates him and first understand what stroked the painter.

Then the subject, one of the most interesting qualities of a landscape are the movement and life.  It is also the thing the most difficult to do. That is the emotion of the painter that brings life and it is that emotion that grab the viewer's attention.

the objects must be render into their own environment, it must also and absolutely be wrapped in light, just the way they are in nature. Here is the progress to accomplish. The sky is the thing that able you to accomplish it (The sky is not just a background). in contrary, it contributes to give depth to his plans (because the sky also has plans like the ground). It gives also the movement by his design according to the effect and the composition of the painting.

Is there more beautiful and full of movement sky than the summer sky, I want to talk about the blue sky with the nice walker small clouds. What movement, what style, is it not  ? It give the effect of a wave in the sea, it exalts, it involves. Other sky : this one later, the evening. Its clouds stretches like small ways, the movement seems immobile in the atmosphere, and little by little they disappear into the setting sun. This one is more tender, more melancholic. It has the charm that things that goes away. I love it particularly. But I do not want to tell you all the skies dear to painters, I want to tell you the ones I like the most. I stress on this area of the landscape to make you understand how important it is to me. Just to let you know : I always start my paintings by the sky. 

What are the painters that I like ? Just to talk about our contemporary :  Delacroix, Corot, Millet, Rousseau, Courbet, our masters. All of those who loved nature and who felt strongly.  

(1892,reported remarks by Adolphe Tavernier, Sisley's Studio, Paris, 1907)

http://www.alfredsisley.org/

http://antonin-paintingthemoment.blogspot.com/

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KatPaints wrote
on 18 Aug 2010 4:11 PM

merci!

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j.b2 wrote
on 19 Aug 2010 7:16 AM

Yes.

I have a small pocket size book of Sisley's paintings that was given to me. I will alway treasure it..

Thanks for posting!!!

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Antonin2 wrote
on 19 Aug 2010 8:50 AM

Thank guys !

JB if you want the ultimate book of Sisley in English I would recommend Sisley by Richard Shone publish by the amazing Phaidon. The quality of the plates are outstanding. I saw couples of famous Sisley's paintings 2 weeks ago in the musee d'Orsay in Paris. What a treat it was ! I also went to see his house in Moret sur Loing and went to check out couple spots he painted. I have some pictures I should post them...

http://antonin-paintingthemoment.blogspot.com/

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j.b2 wrote
on 20 Aug 2010 2:26 PM

Thanks Antonin, I will check out this book.

I have never been to Europe but hope to in the future..

And post away!!!

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