Harvey Dunn was not only a successful illustrator but also a great teacher. He didn’t teach fundamentals, what he taught was art philosophy and the higher ideas concerning picture making. Most of his students were working professionals who gladly gave up their evenings to attend his night class.
These quotes come from a variety of sources handed down to me from some of my teachers who studied with Dunn students. Some of them appear with different wording in ‘An Evening in the Classroom’ or the Robert Karolevitz book ‘Where the Heart is,’ some are from the student stories of Charles Andres, Ernest Watson, Kenneth Riley, Harold Von Schmidt and John Clymer.
When you have put down a few tones that go well together, paint your picture in those tones. Get along with as few as possible.
You will remember a picture for one or two authentic details.
A false note in your picture is like a stone in your shoe. It may be a comfortable shoe but the little pebble destroys all the comfort.
In design you weave the simple tones of your palette through the whole pattern. You do not have to be afraid of breaking up the mass.
Pyle never understood color. He realized this and it embittered his whole life. But he arrived at this fundamental truth about color; the shadows carry the drawing and the light carries the color.
All I ever did for Dean Cornwell was to teach him to work in a given value range, and in all his work since he has never departed from this rule. He said that Brangwyn did the same thing.
The darkest light in the picture is diffused, use the darkest dark as absolute shadow and accent the shadows to produce the effect of light.
Use highlights sparingly to bring out the most important details. Where one will do, do not use more.
Take the simple tones and colors of your central figure and paint the rest of your picture with these colors and tones.
When in trouble with a bit of drawing, design it.
In painting a dark room you should suggest mystery. Pyle and Abbey knew how to suggest the character of a figure in the dark by just lighting the top of the head. By forcing the light all around the head you not only destroy the character, but you rob the whole picture of its mystery.
Where a few details will serve to convey the idea, don’t use many.