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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

140               A Painter's Views

where it is right, we shall see this and shall not make it lighter.
We cannot see it both wrong and right at the same time.

Light and Shade

Tell the young artist that he wants a black piece here or
there, when he sees no such black piece in nature, and that
he must continue this or that shadow thus, and break this
light into this or that other, when in nature he sees none of
these things, and you will puzzle him very much. He is try-
ing to put down what he sees; he does not care two straws
about composition or light and shade; if he sees two tones
of such and such relative intensity in nature, he will give
them as near as he can the same relative intensity in his
picture, and to tell him that he is perhaps exactly to reverse
the natural order in deference to some canon of the academi-
cians, and that at the same time he is drawing from nature,
is what he cannot understand.

I am very doubtful how far people do not arrange their
light and shade too much with the result with which we are
familiar in drawing-masters* copies; it may be right or it
may not, I don't know—I am afraid I ought to know, but I
don't; but I do know that those pictures please me best
which were painted without the slightest regard to any of
these rules.

I suppose the justification of those who talk as above lies
in the fact that, as we cannot give all nature, we lie by sup-
pressio veri whether we like it or no, and that you sometimes
lie less by putting in something which does not exist at the
moment, but which easily might exist and which gives a lot
of facts which you otherwise could not give at all, than by
giving so much as you can alone give if you adhere rigidly to
the facts. If this is so the young painter would understand
the matter, if it were thus explained to him, better than he is
likely to do if he is merely given it as a canon.

At the same time, I admit it to be true that one never sees
light but it has got dark in it, nor vice versa, and that this
comes to saying that if you are to be true to nature you must
break your lights into your shadows and vice versa ; and so
usual is this that, if there happens here or there to be an ex-
ception, the painter had better say nothing about it, for it is