More Dean Cornwell Quotes


Armand Cabrera

More quotes from the Dean of Illustration.These are from a 1926 lecture and were originally written by Horace Gilmore. I am leaving the misspelling and grammatical errors intact. I want to thank Kev Ferrara for hunting these down and sharing them.
 All images are Dean Cornwell.

Suggestion for designing canvas/composition – it is well not to have commonplace placement that is equal parts of foreground, middle distance, and distance. Better to have ample spacing of one or other.

When you use light and shade use it for all there is in it. If making a line drawing, then make it entirely a line drawing.

Have variety of space and shapes. When a canvas is designed it’s impossible to sign it without spoiling it.

Said picture looked as if a camera had just clicked without any thought, (happened to get it that way).

Suggested gasoline to clean canvas.

Picture looked as if it were made from other pictures instead of nature. Go to nature for everything. Natural edge of vignette, tree, edge of leaves.

Illustration perspective is free-hand perspective.

Study still life in different lights, outdoors, in doors, sunlight, etc. Have simple still lifes. Just one or two objects. Observe nature, relative values, and different lights, as moon and sunlight, night etc.

Regarding model in studio, always have picture practically finished before seeking models. Sometimes has model low for working on head, higher for working on body, and still higher for feet to get it as picture is laid in.

Light – (unreadable word – might be “Cornwell”) does part with artificial light, some with sky, related greys, etc.

Ideas that can be told in words are story ideas and not pictorial ideas. Pictorial ideas require consideration of nice design, sweet lovely tones, and color values and light, etc.

Don’t “do” everything. Sort of accent (bring out spots), nice large quick areas, and spots of detail carrying through.

Get the spirit of the picture. Different people have different kind of homes, do/live differently, etc.

Use light sweet high keyed tones for lovely girls, and low tones for men.

Dean Cornwell Notes part 1

Dean Cornwell Notes Part 2

Theodore Kautzky 1896-1953


Armand Cabrera

Theodore Kautzky was born in Budapest Hungary in 1896. He attended the Royal University of Hungary studying to become an architect. He Graduated in 1921.

Kautzky married and immigrated to the United States in 1923 and became a full citizen in 1929. He was hired as an architect working for the New York City parks Department. It wasn’t long before he established himself as a talented and hardworking artist of the highest caliber. Kautzky began teaching art classes in the 1930’s at Pratt Institute in New York, The University of Pennsylvania, New York University and the University of Toronto.

 He was a well-respected teacher and after the end of World War II he wrote one of the most successful books on watercolor ever published in America. Ways with Watercolor was published in 1949 and is still in print today as a Dover book. He followed that book with Painting Trees and Landscapes in Watercolor which is also still in print as a Dover edition.

Kautzky was also an avid draughtsman and published two books on pencil technique that are also influential and a great addition to any serious artist’s library. The first was Pencil Pictures a Guide to Their Pleasing Arrangement followed later by Pencil Broadsides: A Manuel of Broad Stroke Technique.A combined edition of the two volumes called the Ted Kautzky Pencil Book was published after his death in 1979.

Another Watercolor book Ted Kautzky Master of Pencil andWatercolor was published in 1959 posthumously and is also still available as a print on demand title.

Kautzky was a member of the National Academy of Design, The Rockport Art Association, The North Shore Arts Association and The American Watercolor Society. He won many awards for his work including the Birch Burdette Long Prize for Architectural Illustration, The medal of Honor from the American Watercolor Society in 1941, top prize from the Salmagundi Club Annual Members Exhibition in 1948 for Watercolor and the top prize for oil painting that same year, The Gold Medal from The Allied Artists of America, The Oberg Prize from The National Academy of Design and another top award from the Salmagundi Club 1952.

Theodore Kautzky died unexpectedly after a month long illness at the age of 56 in 1953.


Ways With Watercolor

Ted Kautzky

1949 Reinhold Publishing

The Pencil Book The Combined Edition

Ted Kautzky

1979 Reinhold Publishing

Ted Kautzky Master of  Pencil and Watercolor 

Charles R. Kinghan

1959 Reinhold Publishing

Artists of Cape Ann: A 150 Year History

Kristen Davies


Twin Lights Publishers


There are certain principles of proportion, balance, rhythm, contrast, etc., that are followed either consciously or instinctively by all artists.These principles can be learned and applied by anyone who is in earnest about wanting to make pictures.Upon how intelligently they are applied depends the excellence of the results.

~ Ted Kautzky

Learning to See Part 1

Armand Cabrera

We shall never cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to come back to the place we started and know that place for the first time.

TS Elliott

Much of an artist’s struggle is spent learning to see.  What does learning to see mean and how does one go about learning to see as an artist does? I hope to give some understanding into the process by offering some insights, defining some terminology and suggesting some ways to practice to improve an artist’s ability to see.

Let’s start by describing the process of seeing for an artist.
 Seeing is a way of organizing a visual idea so it can be recreated as an image that instantly conveys to a viewer the artist’s intent.

To see, for this purpose, an artist must participate in what I call active viewing. Active viewing is viewing something with the goal of using it to help in the creation of a creative work. 

It is consciously studying the inspiration for the idea and through selection and elimination deciding the elements of the image and their design and placement within the picture plane.

It is a heightened state of awareness that allows the artist to continue to feel the experience of the source of inspiration while also deconstructing it for the creation of a painting or drawing. It is observing one’s self while the self is experiencing something.

This process requires organization, placing a hierarchy to the elements in terms of visual importance for emotional impact.

 In drawing it is arranging the key of the of the image, the specific lights and darks of a range of values and the level of detail the elements will need to be effective. It also includes way the marks are placed on the paper and deciding on the relationship of the 2 dimensional shapes and their edges.

In painting you would include everything the drawing has but also include the color key of the piece and the relationship of all the colors of the individual elements as well. Besides the calligraphy of the marks and shape sand edges, the levels of thick and thin paint should also be considered.

To do this requires many things, first and foremost it requires the ability to draw and paint competently. This means an understanding of value and color as it relates to image making. It means being able to make the marks you want to make when you want to make them with as few errors in execution as possible.

Technically, active viewing is bending the constraints of the artists medium and the artists ability in service of the idea for the image. When done right the artist not only conveys the idea but creates a visual prosody for the viewer, actually allowing them to share in the same feelings the artist experienced at the time the artist was inspired. There is no more powerful form of communication when this is successful.

Next week part 2, Ways to Practice

Images in order of appearance from top to bottom Wilhelm kuhnert, Jack Lorimer Gray, Gunnar Widforss,
Juana Romani, James D. Harding, Hovsep Pushman, John Joseph Enniking, Edgar Payne, and Cecilia Beaux

Learning to See part 2

Armand Cabrera

In this second part of learning to see I thought I would go over some ways of looking at things as an artist. What separates a painting from real life or photography is a painting is designed by the artist. Its value, color scheme, the placement of elements and their simplification have all been decided upon in service of the idea for the painting. This happens either consciously or intuitively depending on the temperament of the artist but it must happen.  The three main things for learning to see as an artist are

Selection, Organization and Simplification.

Selection requires the artist to decide what should be included and what should be left out or altered if painting from life. When illustrating an Idea, an artist does the same thing from their imagination creating the elements as a set designer would.

Organization is a further refining of the elements; they are grouped or altered to conform to a plan of certain qualities of value or color or some other unifying idea to strengthen the design of the painting.

How this is done is completely up to the artist and actually constitutes the artists painting style over time.

Simplification is a continuation of the refining process, deciding on the qualities of the elements that are worth keeping in service of the idea for the painting.  Simplification is using the first two practices of selection and organization within the chosen elements.

Here the Step by step process for a painting using the Selection, Organization, Simplification process. This process is an organic one. What I mean by that is the steps overlap and merge depending on the type of scene I am painting. When I started out I needed something codified to help me break everything apart to see it as a painting. Now it is almost second nature and I see everything in those terms even when I’m not painting.
This is the scene unedited. There is lots of potential here for a painting but it is up to me to decide on what the painting is, not blindly copy what I see. I’m going to work right on my photo using my wacom tablet and Photoshop to show my thinking process. When I was making the painting I didn’t get process shots so these will have to do.

First I decide what I want to paint and pick the elements to include in my composition. This also is where I decide if I have any elements I want to exclude. Excluding or altering elements for clarity of concept is more important than just painting what is there.


I then begin to reorganize these elements into a more cohesive statement.This includes changing the shapes of things, grouping them using different edges, color and or value.


I further refine my elements and alter them to strengthen and clarify the statement I want to make. I adjust shape, edge, value and color towards that end. I remove any overlapping areas, distracting details or lighting situations that add confusion to what you are looking at.

And here is the actual painting. It contains all of the elements of the scene designed to make a statement. Nothing ambiguous is left, even though I don’t paint lots of details. 

Digital Sketches from Life

Armand Cabrera

Even though I continue to paint traditionally I like using digital painting tools like Adobe Photoshop, Corel Sketchpad, Artrage, Corel Painter, and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. All of them have their benefits and problems. These sketches are made with Photoshop  using a regular round brush shape. I set a time limit and draw everything freehand from life. Its a good way to practice observational skills as well as honing my tablet skills. I  use  a Wacom Intuos.

More and more I use digital for my preliminary work even for my landscape paintings because of ease of use and the ability to keep multiple versions and ideas until I decide to paint traditionally.  Digital software is just another tool to use as an artist and I think in its proper role can be quite beneficial to an artist and their creative output.

Most people I know who paint traditionally have abandoned traditional slides and print film and use digital cameras. They also use large monitors for photo ref instead of printing everything like the old days.
Paint software and hardware are no different.