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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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on Painting                    137

and to study from that instead of studying from the thing
itself. Indeed, the man who never has a model but studies
the faces of people as they sit opposite him in an omnibus,
and goes straight home and puts down what little he can of
what he has seen, dragging it out piecemeal from his memory,
and going into another omnibus to look again for what he
has forgotten as near as he can find it—that man is studying
from nature as much as he who has a model four or five hours
daily—and probably more. For you may be painting from
nature as much without nature actually before you as with;
and you may have nature before you all the while you are
painting and yet not be painting from her.

Sketching from Nature

Is very like trying to put a pinch of salt on her tail. And
yet many manage to do it very nicely.

Great Art and Sham Art

Art has no end in view save the emphasising and recording
in the most effective way some strongly felt interest or affec-
tion. Where there is neither interest nor desire to record
with good effect, there is but sham art, or none at all: where
both these are fully present, no matter how rudely and in-
articulately, there is great art. Art is at best a dress, im-
portant, yet still nothing in comparison with the wearer, and,
as a general rule, the less it attracts attention the better.

Inarticulate Touches

An artist's touches are sometimes no more articulate than
the barking of a dog who would call attention to something
without exactly knowing what. This is as it should be, and
he is a great artist who can be depended on not to bark at


One reason why it is as well not to give very much detail
is that, no matter how much is given, the eye will always want
more ; it will know very well that it is not being paid in full.