Dear Artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Redhead is one of my favourites. Probably from 1889, this smallish painting shows a partially dressed young woman seen from the back, sitting on the floor of what is probably not a brothel but the artist’s studio. Lautrec was an admirer of the older Edgar Degas, and had undoubtedly seen his pastels at the Impressionist Exhibition in Paris 1886. The influence is clear. It’s easy to mistake the painting for a Degas.

“Redhead, Bathing”
(Rousse, La toilette) 1889
oil on card 67 x 54 cm
by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Lots of ink has been dumped speculating whether the girl was a friend, a professional model or a prostitute. For me at least, this is a non-topic. An oil trying to be a pastel, Redhead is painted on fairly absorbent cardboard. Lots of turpentine in the paint gives it a sketchy, dry look. The painting has a searching, found quality with a few unresolved and amorphous areas. The back and thigh are particularly focal and sensitively rendered — you can read Lautrec’s mind. The unseen face ensures anonymity and allows the viewer to know the girl as one might wish — a newly popular device at the time. The painting is also an example of FTAS (Fingers and Toes Avoidance Syndrome). As everyone knows, the rendering of hands and feet can be a tough order, particularly where foreshortening is required. Here we see no giveaway amateurishness — even her one exposed foot is covered with a convenient black stocking. Support oxidation, absorption and yellowing have lent a delicious grayish patina to the tones. Together with Lautrec’s appreciative eye, sophistication and compositional integrity are the result. Derivative, you might say, and you’d be right. But perhaps without influence there might be little growth. Like natural selection in the evolution of species, artistic influence is a semi-voluntary device that ensures art never stands still. Further, in a state of flux, if not progress, derivation from others can lead to derivation from the self. Best regards, Robert PS: “Redhead reveals the artist’s debt to Degas, but instead of the ungainly figures found in Degas’ pastels, Toulouse-Lautrec has created a beautiful, slender figure.” (Jane Kinsman) Esoterica: I’m laptopping you from an unusually quiet spot in The National Museum of Art in Tokyo. According to the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper, the four most attended blockbuster art shows in the world’s public galleries last year (2009) all took place in Japan. Sociologists claim it’s currently “cool” for young Japanese to go to art museums. Thousands a day jam into this place, some on audio devices, others just thoughtfully wandering. The pressing throng moves slowly by my Redhead. She’s part of a current exhibition borrowed from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The incredibly polite and restrained Japanese show only slight annoyance when a tall, overly-enthusiastic foreigner worms his way toward the front.   What the Japanese do by Doris Olsen, Sonora, CA, USA  

“Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco”
watercolour painting
by Doris Olsen

What can we learn from the Japanese? So it is cool for their young to visit museums. How have they educated this group? Here in the U.S., there is very little time for art in our schools and very little money as well. How can we (as artists) contribute to cultural education in our schools on a national basis? What does Japan do? (RG note) Thanks, Doris. According to an article I read, the influx of young Japanese into art museums is due to widespread and effective advertising campaigns. This may, in some degree, be true. There is also the natural tendency to be part of something greater. Japan, while insular and in some ways xenophobic, is a country that is curious about the rest of the world. Also, attitudes of gentility, politeness and appreciation for nature are bred in the bone. Well educated, well mannered young people are sensitized to culture by their superior schooling. Important artists are honoured with the title “National Treasure” and actively interact with the school system. Further, in Japan, quiet craftsmanship and skilled mastery are highly valued. There are 2 comments for What the Japanese do by Doris Olsen
From: Dana — Jul 06, 2010

There is currently an amazing exhibit of Meiji era woodcuts of people “especially actors” with tattoos at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. What a time it must have been to have so much art in so many places!

From: Jan Ross — Jul 06, 2010

I really enjoyed seeing your painting, Doris! As I’ll be traveling to San Francisco later this year, I’ll be sure to look up the ‘Palace of Fine Arts’, which appears lovely in your watercolor!

  Playing with Red by Pepper Hume, Spring, TX, USA  

Pepper’s sketch (left)
Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting (right)

I love the drawing in Redhead even more than the painting. The way she is enclosed by furniture and the lilting lines that define that leg, even unto the top edge of the stocking. Bare toes would have cost us the delicious shape of that stocking. I have always been enchanted by the dance of curves in the human body, especially the zigzagging path of thrust down a leg. During a summer drawing class I glanced down and discovered my own right leg. Had to draw the thing. I didn’t connect that experience with this painting until now. I had surely seen it, I’m a big fan of Toulouse-Lautrec, but didn’t realize I was duplicating his drawing. That’s influence! And my toes show why her foot is stockinged.

By the way, that enclosing curve of the tub framing her face has great subjective power. It literally turns her vision inward. Just for fun, I roughly Photoshopped the tub out of the picture. Her focus stretched to something offscreen. Then I discovered THREE returning loops of curves behind her head. Now, Henri could not possibly have placed the tub and the fold of cloth on purpose to make her introspective, but his subconscious did. That’s genius.   Picasso and Degas by Dorothy Englander, Albany, NY, USA  

“Radiolaria 3”
acrylic painting
by Dorothy Englander

Your letter was very timely, as an exhibit entitled “Picasso Looks at Degas” is currently at the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA, not too far from where I live on NY. I saw the exhibit, going with some skepticism, but was surprised to see that indeed, there seems to be a connection. For one, it appears that Picasso used the compositions and subject matter and even colors of Degas in a some cases. In addition, Picasso actually depicted Degas, as an onlooker or participant, in many etchings, most in, shall I say, a situation with a group of women. Whether this was fantasy or based on life, who knows? In any case, there are some surprising and great works, many from private collections that would otherwise never be seen.   There is 1 comment for Picasso and Degas by Dorothy Englander
From: Karen R. Phinney — Jul 06, 2010

Picasso after Degas? Sure, why not? Virtually every artist stands on the shoulders of someone else. Consciously or unconsciously, we are influenced and even mimic others’ styles, use of colour, subject matter, whatever. And we make it our own. Thus has art grown over millenia….

  Arms and legs by Michael Fenton, New Jersey, USA  

“Girl in Top Hat”
oil painting
by Michael Fenton

I had two thoughts as I read your latest. First, the origin of the expression, “that costs an arm and a leg.” The difficulty and time to paint hands and feet, arms and legs, added costs to portraits. A simple bust was one, lower, price. If you wanted the rest of the body, arms and legs, you had to pay more. My understanding is that during Gilbert Stewart’s time, the expression “arm and a leg…” became popular as he was a big proponent of this pricing method. But, the question at hand about leaving out hands and feet… sometime less is more. We often leave out all the wrinkles and folds in cloth because we want the imagination of the viewer to fill in the gaps. Unless the hands or feet are needed to communicate the message or story of a piece, they may not be needed and why expend that extra energy to no real purpose? In Lautrec’s paintings of dancers the extremities are required to complete the message and he doesn’t shy away… but he does just enough to make the point.   Difficult greens by Karen R. Phinney, Halifax, NS, Canada  

original painting
by Karen R. Phinney

After reading about the palettes and mixing I want to know: Is it me or are greens very difficult colours to use properly? I have a friend who virtually never uses them. She prefers the warm colours, yellows and reds, and blacks and says that a lot of people buying art don’t like greens. If you are doing landscapes you pretty much have to use them. There’s the debate- to mix from primaries or to use ready-mades. And then there are all those shades to use for distance and atmospheric effects. Is green a difficult colour to use successfully? It can be for me and sometimes I wonder if it is for others, too.     There are 8 comments for Difficult greens by Karen R. Phinney
From: Doug Mays — Jul 06, 2010

Hi Karen, When instructing in watercolour I resist using greens whenever and wherever possible as they can easily take over and dominate a composition. I find that Viridian and Hookers are beasts unless they are allowed to mix with earth tones or yellows. I purposely don’t have greens in my palette, preferring in stead to create subtle suggestions of green.

From: Marie Pinschmidt — Jul 06, 2010

In regard to difficult greens: Avoid using green directly from the tube – mix with other colors to dilute the strength. Contrary to the belief that black should never be on a palette, I find that using black and the yellows make beautiful landscape greens. Try experimenting on scrap canvas; you’ll be surprised.

From: Jackie Knott — Jul 06, 2010
From: Dana — Jul 06, 2010

Can you tell by the other responses? It is definitely not “just you!!” I agree with Jackie: Muting them with compliments is helpful… or practicing mixing your own with various blues and golds/yellows is better. I had a workshop instructor just about jump down my throat when I’d used unadulterated viridian qouache on a calligraphy piece! Took me years to become sophisticated enough to understand his rant. But now I do. Best wishes.

From: Becky McMahon — Jul 07, 2010

In Oriental Painting the only traditional green is a stone green that is jade coloured. All other greens start off with yellow and indigo which give a great range of greens that can be warmed with red or earth tones or cooled with blue or add black (Chinese ink) to make darker. The only green I use out of the tube is Green Gold by Daniel Smith and it is already a mixture.

From: Margaret — Jul 07, 2010

Perhaps it goes beyond being difficult to use. My son teaches perception and had reference to studies done globally about how people perceive and react to colors. The least liked color was orange. Next in line was green

From: tatjana — Jul 07, 2010

I once had a client who raved how happy he was that I didn’t use color orange in the piece he purchased, because he “hates orange”, and “everybody uses it these days”. I pointed out to him a few orange areas in the painting and he said something like “well not THAT orange”. I still don’t know what he was trying to say…I think it is the person’s preconceived perception that influences their mind. I use all colors equally, including green, and I get into trouble with any of them at times. As I am getting older, I notice that I often suffer from blues.

From: Anonymous — Jul 07, 2010

I’ve been painting with a lot of greens lately and find that mixing them, rather than using them directly from the tube works best. In watercolors, a tint of transparent viridian or a tint of transparent yellow green creates a feeling of luminosity when placed beside a heavier grey pigment.

  Oils emulating pastels by Angela A’Court, New York, NY, USA  

pastel painting
by Angela A’Court

Your comment about Henri T-L’s oil painting trying to emulate pastels interests me. I’m just back from a show in London of soft pastels…. the private view was on Wednesday and throughout the evening there were two questions that were asked: “What is the medium?” and “Are they oil?” Quite often when I approach a new gallery to show pastel work, they ask me, “Do you paint in oil? This is usually a hint that the work would be easier to sell as oil rather than pastel. The point is that I love working in soft pastel — something to do with applying raw pigment directly onto paper — but ‘pushing stick’ as opposed to ‘pushing brush’ seems to need more persuasion. It’s not that I don’t like or work in other mediums, but flying the soft pastel flag is becoming a bit of a crusade for me. There are 2 comments for Oils emulating pastels by Angela A’Court
From: Diane — Jul 06, 2010

Yes! Pastel is such an education to give to the viewer. It’s better cleaner brighter, AND archival if on rag or museum quality paper. They are the same pigments as in water color and oil and what you see is what you get. No ‘greying’ here. Degas paper has changed because or quality issues but the color is still there.

From: louis — Jul 06, 2010

Lady keep flying that flag. That is a wonderful painting.

  Toulouse-Lautrec just along for the ride? by Margaret Ferraro, Kinburn, Ontario, Canada  

“Venice Reunion”
pastel 22 x 32 inches
by Margaret Ferraro

Toulouse-Lautrec never conquered the hands or feet. Always out of proportion and poorly drafted, a tell tale sign of the limit to growth this artist experienced. Going to the museum of Lautrec’s work in Albi, France tells other things too. For example, although he never mastered the hand or foot, he was capable of rendering the face quite sensitively. I consider him a master of gesture, and not too bad at composing really interesting perspectives. Mostly, his work had life, vitality, unusual and compelling colour, personality. I figure if he could draw the head and face as well as he did, he could have got the hands and feet, just not inspired to do so. This is a great example of an artist becoming famous because of his place in time and history, when many exciting things were happening in the art world. He was just along for the ride. There is 1 comment for Toulouse-Lautrec just along for the ride? by Margaret Ferraro
From: Liz Reday — Jul 06, 2010

Toulouse Lautrec’s painting Equestrienne depicting a circus ring with a lady on a horse at the Art Institute of Chicago really blew me away a few years ago. Maybe hands and feet were not the focus, but the movement of the horse circling around the master of ceremonies, with his amazing face and stature, combined with the wild lady rider – surreal force and eloquence – he was in a class by himself.

  Degas and Lautrec by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA  

“Rail Road Bridge”
pastel painting
by Paul deMarrais

Influence is very valuable in art. No matter how one emulates and imitates another artist’s style, a personal view emerges. Lautrec’s attitude towards women couldn’t have been more different than Degas. To Degas, the woman was more of a fascinating object with curves and colors that fired his interest in design. He had little interest in women on a personal level. His colder, critical personality informed his life and work. He was a loner. Lautrec hung out at brothels and partied heavily with actresses and prostitutes, dancers etc. He liked and was interested in women and I get a sense of that in Redhead. His paintings of women are always ‘personal’ and have a feeling that he knew and admired each sitter. Many were his friends. It is interesting that Lautrec imitated Degas pastel style. Lautrec was a graphic artist and put drawing first in much of his work. Degas’ oils are much more painterly and polished than his pastels. The freedom of Degas’ late pastels was somewhat related to his failing eyesight. He was working from memory in many instances and drawing on his vast experience in figure drawing. Later on the early Picasso paintings are clearly derivative of Lautrec but Picasso moved on. That is what is so cool about influence; you learn and move on.   Brilliant copying by Susan-Rose Slatkoff, Victoria, BC, Canada  

“Cat in the sun”
original painting
by Susan-Rose Slatkoff

I have heard people decry, “Derivative,” in tones dripping with uncensored scorn. Frankly, I’m sick of it. Anyone who has lived, viewed, or studied has seen the works of others. We are all affected by what we have already seen, and trying to pretend we are not is absurd. There is a story about Brahms. He premiered a new symphony (alas, I am not well versed in the musical arts so I cannot provide details), and one reviewer challenged him, saying, “One of your themes was very similar to one of Beethoven’s!” Brahms replied, “Of course it is. Everyone steals — the important thing is to do it brilliantly.” I say, let “derivative” rest in peace. There is 1 comment for Brilliant copying by Susan-Rose Slatkoff
From: Anonymous — Jul 05, 2010

We are ALL somebody’s son or daughter!!

  Inspiration by copying the masters by Rick Rotante, Tujunga, CA, USA  

“Securing the Sail”
oil painting
by Rick Rotante

Ah! Where would we be without the influences of the masters? I’ve been copying the masters forever and can’t relay here the knowledge I’ve acquired in doing so. I’ve even started putting the results onto my website in hopes of influencing others to take a stab at it. What is also important here is they can also be for sale — as copies — and people love them. I usually do them when exhibiting in public. People can relate to my work when they can see the ‘original’ (print) I’m using. I’ve even received a commission from the process. The public also believes that if you can copy, you can paint. Which isn’t always true of course but they believe it so. Whenever I feel stale of at a crossroads, I always go back to my books on the great masters for inspiration.   The value of instruction by Angela Treat Lyon, Kailua, Hawaii, USA  

“Bird’s nest”
pastel painting
by Angela Treat Lyon

Many years ago, I attended one of Richard Nelson’s tri-color workshops on Kauai. No matter what medium I have worked with since, his ideas have influenced me and the way I lay on color. I have made many good pieces using that technique, and a lot of “How do you get that rich opal-ly look?” questions. Recently, I’ve been experimenting in acrylics so I could go down to the beach and paint, because oils and the beach = nightmare. My basic application of paint had depended on layers of color, as per Richard Nelson. But after getting nowhere but many layers of hideous color, I finally threw up my hands in disgust. It came to me that I ought to Genn-ify my technique — lay on the colors as I see them, the way I see you doing. So I went back and watched your videos again and paid closer attention. Then I tried a new painting where I simply laid on the color as it appeared. To my surprise, it worked! I Genn-ified my technique! I’m stoked. Not that it is a particularly fantastic painting, but it sure was easier and it sure looks a whole lot better than its predecessors! The colors are as bright as the scene I worked from — and it was so much simpler. Thanks, Robert, for all your videos! There are 3 comments for The value of instruction by Angela Treat Lyon
From: Win Dinn, Painted Turtle Gallery — Jul 06, 2010

Gorgeous painting, wonderful colour, Angela!

From: Helena Tiainen — Jul 06, 2010

What a beautiful painting!Rich and luminous.

From: Anonymous — Jul 07, 2010

Richard Nelson’s theory and technique are wonderful tools, and learning them made me a better artist. It is perfectly applicable to transparent watercolor, but less to other mediums — either because of the application issues (i.e. fat on lean limitation for oils) or effects of the medium (whitish molecules of the acrylic fillers). The part where I learned to disagree with every teacher is when they state that their method is the only one to be used. Most teacher’s sadly fail their students this way. But, if we learn to just take the valuable part of the teaching and move on exploring the world of endless possibilities, we are then able to reap the benefits of every learning experience, and to keep warm memories of your teachers.

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Calle S. Antonio Abad

oil painting by Donna Dickson, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

    You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Kathryn Sorci who wrote, “I finished reading the book, Mistress of Montmartre: Life of Susan Valadon by June Ross. Suzanne Valadon was a model and artist of Toulouse-Lautrec and this book is a wonderful historical read that I recommend.” And also >Angela Jane McCumber of Peterborough, ON, Canada, who wrote, “Toulouse-Lautrec did many sketches and paintings of this redhead… and the intimacy in which she was depicted in all of them shows his pure understanding of the character of the girl. It was obvious he admired her and took care to render her every mood. Some paintings show her as youthful and pensive or flamboyant and streetwise and still others soft and feminine.” And also Michael Pendergrass, who wrote, “Imagine trying to paint similar subjects in a “brothel” today. With my luck I’d wind up on an episode of Cops! Me and my easel being loaded in the back of a police car.”    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Influence

From: Rick Rotante — Jul 02, 2010

Ah! Where would we be without the influences of the masters? I’ve been copying the masters forever and can’t relay here the knowledge I’ve acquired in doing so. I’ve even stated putting the results onto my website in hopes of influencing others to take a stab at it. What is also important here is they can also be for sale-as copies- and people love them. I usually do them when exhibiting in public. People can relate to my work when they can see the ‘original’ (print) I’m using. I’ve even received a commission from the process. The public also believes that if you can copy, you can paint. Which isn’t always true of course but they believe it so. Whenever I feel stale of at a crossroads, I always go back to my books on the great masters for inspiration

From: Leah Richmond — Jul 02, 2010

Viewing Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Redhead in your clickback, I feel compelled to wonder what he was thinking when he included the basin as an element as he did in the painting. To me, the basin protrudes from behind her head/face too much like an appendage. Wouldn’t such an element in a painting today receive a very negative critique? Or am I missing something in it’s intention? Just curious.

From: LL McAndrews — Jul 02, 2010

I could be wrong, but I believe I’ve read that Toulouse-Lautrec did, use prostitutes. I could interpret this positioning as being a prostitute, you really are a faceless (maybe armless and legless) recepticle, so to speak. Or, not wanting to show her face exposing her vulnerability, to which she has not choice in her profession.

From: marge drew — Jul 02, 2010

The Redhead feels much more like a Van Gogh as influence to me. My first and only reaction to this painting was the memory of the painting that Van Gogh painted of his room. I do not see any of Degas in this painting. I think that Picasso later borrowed the design for his blue back escapes me. Just because it is a painting of a woman would not make Degas the influence. The feeling of the painting ..and who influenced who would be difficult to know but more Van Gogh style is in this than my opinion ..and in what my immediate thought was when I opened this to see it.. a whoa Van Gogh …the bedroom ..not that there is a bed its more about the feeling of this Lautrec which brought me to this feeling.

From: Suzanne Frazier — Jul 02, 2010

And a fine example of “women as object”……. She could have been a pear or an apple….she is naked object. Demeaning…even if it is a good paint job.

From: Maryann Hendriks — Jul 02, 2010

I enjoy studying Art History, especially Modern Art, and I do scream it from the roof tops. Being a proud Canadian I study our own; although be it short; rich Canadian Art History diligently. Derivation is an action that I visit on occasion. It’s cool that Music, Fashion and Architecture can be retro, so why not Art? The indulgence of influence is really the sincerest form of flattery. If used honestly, influence can be like drinking a Red Bull – it gives you wings!

From: Mahsun Haji Taib — Jul 02, 2010

Thanks for highlighting Lautrec’s Redhead. I always find his paintings either in oil or pastel delicious. Thanks. PS. I have the same sentiment that it is a non-issue whether the girl is a prostitute, a professional model or a friend.

From: Pat Lawhorn, Bedford, Virginia — Jul 03, 2010

I’ve seen a lot of paintings of the artist Robert Henri, after a while I began to notice no hands or what looks like quickly painted hands. Do you think that he suffered from FTAS?

From: Moses Unger — Jul 03, 2010

Artists who have trouble with hands, and most of us do, start tucking them behind clothing or some other easier painted artifice after a while, as they get lazier.

From: Edward Lindsay — Jul 03, 2010

My experience in Japan was that the Japanese are often better informed about the art of say the Impressionists than the average American. They simply have better schooling in the arts. The only advantage Americans have over there in museums is that we tend to be a bit taller.

From: Edwin Dyck — Jul 03, 2010

You have to remember that about 5000 foreign teachers are hired to come to Japan every year to teach in the school system — and not just English.

From: Jamie Lavin — Jul 03, 2010

As so many will not cross the threshold, author/dealers such as Paul Dorrel & other gospel writers like him, you Robert, have often spent more than a passing sentence at what needs to be heard by many of us. My Pa likes to say; “you’re not collectible until someone says you are; with their wallet!” I give him the props since he says whatever he is thinking when it comes to my progress as an artist. Doesn’t mean I quit trying, more like picking the right “fight” to be in, that just fighting. He is correct to a fault. The other “thing” that never gets said enough is something similar to “…it takes a village”… It takes a lot, I mean; A LOT of one-on-one sales work to get just one to bite, then get to hang it (some people get home and just set things aside, instead of mounting them on the wall, or a great display on a hearth or over the fireplace) and then get people to talk about you! You have to mingle more than a politician trying to get elected! I can bear witness to the fact that Stan Herd has shaken hands with a many folks as former President Clinton, & President Clinton! Robert, when you talk about a movement, you well know that means thousands of folks. Sometimes someone will say that they spoke to someone else about the latest piece I finished; it might be the next (regionally) big thing. My head used to swell, I’d go get some more Old Holland, paint like I had a fever, act like I was something (just a little) and then return to reality when the bills were presented. My feeling is I’m only as good as the last painting, and only if I show enough people to sell it! Isn’t that the real bite? I mean, you need to have thousands see it, not 20 or 25 couples; you need to be in front of an Amy Amdur Chicago audience in order to get the notariety each piece needs, to help build your career. A piece may sell quickly- Oh Boy! It’s like it fell off the earth unless you somehow can continue to promote it. Drag every last ounce of publicity out of each an every work you do. This is the hardest gig I know of to make a real living at it! I’d have much better luck as a stand-up comedian! Like anyone else in this world, artists must give more than they charge; there must be value to their work, and they must sell that value- pure, simple and correct. Leave your ego at the door when you install- get in there and paint like it’s your last day with a brush in your hand, instead of a Rosary. Rear back and pitch (paint) like you’re inside of Nolan Ryan, throwing one of his last professional games. Appreciate everyone who comes in your booth or your show- shake hands & look’em in the eyes; smile & thank God you were allowed to be where you are. Don’t whine about stuff you can’t fix & fix everything else. Show some class without kissing any —. It does not hurt to seem to be something others perceive they cannot be; it helps to sell the “mystery”. Instead of correcting people that “I are” just a regular joe, I now let them hold their opinions in the wind and see if anyone else bites. Unlike Dorrel, I’m not sure I’m right, but just like he & you, Robert, & many others before, I have trudged through these murky waters for a long time. Dorrel can claim one miraculous thing, he has installed an artist’s “Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Bronze” on the National Mall. Very, very few will ever do that in the history of the USA. Kansas City, Mo

From: N F Fazal — Jul 04, 2010

Show me an artist who is not influenced and I will show you a very primitive artist indeed. Mumbai

From: Danielle Fernandes — Jul 04, 2010

Toulouse Lautrec, somewhat disabled and disfigured, and undoubtedly disadvantaged by low self esteem, showed his manliness by attending brothels and building a reputation as a lady’s man. Nevertheless, his appreciation for female beauty was profound, and in most cases, including “Redhead,” whoever she was, he respected his subject and achieved a sensitive and refined expression.

From: reg roxx — Jul 05, 2010

The art museum in Tokyo is great! I have been there 3 or 4 times and never disappointed – It’s been a few years though – is the little blue tarp homeless area still there? I thought that was very interesting along with the giant ravens. There is a neat little market area across the street opposite the park by the Ueno subway station – check it out if you get a chance. Don’t forget Akihabara as well as the electronics district. Don’t bother with the Ginza – too pricey.

From: Vick Mitchell — Jul 05, 2010

Then there’s FAS. (Face Avoidance Syndrome) It’s actually a good ploy. A blurred or suggested rather than a defined face adds mystery and invites personalreplacementism. (PRI)

From: A Findlay — Jul 05, 2010

What about People Avoidance Syndrome (PAS)? Artists who can’t draw or paint ’em, leave ’em out.

From: Z Feng — Jul 05, 2010

Derivation from self! Yes. It is your own best efforts that lead to more and better efforts. DFSS

From: Rae Smith — Jul 06, 2010

I always point out Edgar Degas pastels to my students, I am 72 and always have painted in pastels , but I still get ” do you use Oils?” , I am in 3 galleries and in Nova Scotia ,people do not understand that pastels are paintings, any comments as to what to tell people when they question your work?

From: Karen — Jul 06, 2010

And, Rae Smith in Nova Scotia, your pastels are wonderful!!

From: Claudia Evens — Jul 06, 2010

Lautrec’s ‘Redhead’ is a great painting with or without the stocking. In my opinion, the stocking adds more interest and is much more flattering than a bare leg and foot. Does it matter if some artists cannot paint feet or hands? Does it make you any less an artist? There are thousands of artists that cannot paint a human figure but paint the most awesome landscapes and artist who can’t paint landscapes but paint the most awesome portraits. I enjoy a painting for what it is and not for what it is lacking.

From: Jonathan Wiltshire — Jul 06, 2010
From: Pat in New Mexicoq — Jul 06, 2010

For Rae: I use both oils and soft pastels… I am often asked which I like best… I simply answer, ‘The one I am using at the time!’ I think both have their merits. I also find that pastels are not as well accepted and that’s a shame. I love to do both but I think my pastels are more lively… Thanks for your comment. I have been asked… ‘Why didn’t you use oils for this one?’ Grrrr.

From: Liz Reday — Jul 06, 2010

What you leave in & what you leave out becomes part of your style, just like a distinctive brush mark or choice of media & support. Django Reinhardt had a distinctive sound because he was missing a few fingers from one hand, so it affected the way he played the guitar. One’s weaknesses can contribute to the way one renders a scene in the same way as one’s preferences for a certain subject. As an artist, we will develop a “voice” after the first 1,000 paintings. Mind you, creative exploration might bend that voice a little over a lifetime of painting, but it should all come full circle in that grand retrospective in the sky.

From: Esther J. Williams — Jul 06, 2010

I was interested in this article because of the title influence. Each artist, including myself bears the marks of the influence of several masters. If you study art history, you can go far back to see how art has been copied or borrowed from tribes to countries. When I studied French Impressionism, I learned that the French borrowed from the brilliant Japanese handling of color. So, I borrowed from the French in my early painting days, then later on, I borrowed from the early California impressionists and now from living masters in modern CA impressionism. I went from backwards to forward. What intrigues me lately is a workshop I read about where you can learn from a living master who was taught under the tutelage of a former master, who was taught by another dead master, like an ancestral line, just not related. Isn’t it amazing? We now live in a collective whole, from all of this influence, but there still is plenty to learn and discover.

From: Ricker — Jul 06, 2010

We are all part of the culture we come from. Without a lot of travel (I have been denied it) we cannot but be managed by our heritage.

From: Boa — Jul 08, 2010

Oh, I so strongly disagree! To be managed by heritage is to give up your own, unique soul!

From: Eleanor Gause — Jul 08, 2010

Re: FTAS on the Toulouse-Lautrec “redhead”……..I put my thumb over the black stocking and imagined a properly painted foot and calf. Maybe TL thought the black stocking was much more interesting than a plain vanilla leg and foot…and then a black stocking was just what the occupation required don’t you think? There’s a message here that was well intended by TL!!!


Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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