by Armand Cabrera
Adolphe William Bouguereau became the epitamy of what was wrong with academic art in the late 19 and early 20th centuries. Villified by the more progressive movements in art, his work has been trivialized for 100 years now. These atitudes are slowly changing and Bouguereau seems to have had the last laugh. His work has continually risen in popularity. He was a successful artist and an important and influential teacher in Paris in the 19th century. With a resurgence in respect for quality in drawing, painting and beauty, Bouguereau’s impact on art and his work has a chance to be placed in correct perpective within art history.
For me a work of art must be an elevated interpretation of nature. The search for the ideal has been the purpose of my life. In landscape or seascape, I love above all the poetic motif.
Paint as you see and be accurate in your drawing: the whole secret of your art is there.
If you want to draw and model effectively you have to see all of the details as well as the whole at the same time.
One of the tricks for getting the overall feeling of a painting is to blink your eyes while looking at the model.
One is born an artist. The artist is a man endowed with a special nature, with a particular feeling for seeing form and color spontaneously, as a whole, in perfect harmony. If one lacks that feeling, one is not an artist and will never become an artist; and it is a waste of time to entertain the possibility.
The craft is acquired through study, observation and practice; it can improve by ceaseless work but the instinct for art is innate.
First one has to love nature with all ones heart and soul, and be able to study and admire it for hours on end. Everything is in nature. A plant, a leaf, a blade of grass, should be the subjects of infinite and fruitful meditations; for the artist, a cloud floating in the sky has form, and the form affords him joy, helps him think.
Before starting work, steep yourself in your subject; if you don’t fully understand it, seek further or turn to something else. Remember that everything must be thought out beforehand, everything, down to the last details.
As soon as a painting is completed, I know that in this or that portfolio I’ll find such and such a sketch, and straight away I go to a new canvas. I never ask myself, “Let’s see, what can I do now?” I have my work all cut out for me. Not to mention the many works that will go unfinished for want of the ideal model.
Think about the drawing, the color the composition- when you work you must consider all these things equally.
You leave unpainted what you cannot see; it is ignorance that makes you blind; it is inattention that makes you ignorant; inattention is imbecile.
I understood that the subtlety of accents, in contrast with large planes, is what makes drawing great. This truth, which I have yearned all my life to express and which still drives me on, is the secret of art. It applies to composition as well as to drawing proper. It is the principle that must guide both the young beginner and the fully developed artist.