Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

How to judge a painter

with 3 comments

Maurice Grosser

Most artisans treat their tools with respect. And, just as a good artisan can be known by his clean, sharp tools, neatly kept in proper order, there is a similar way for judging a painter. But it is not quite the same. Here I am disclosing a valuable trade secret, the infallible method of telling a good painter without ever seeing one of his pictures, from the simple inspection of the implements he uses—the pea for testing the princess. Examine his canvas. Look at his palette. If his canvas is the best and most beautiful that money can buy and if his palette is filthy, he is a good painter. The canvas the good painter works on will always be costly and beautiful. For therein lies ease of work and the sensual pleasure of painting. Not as much can be said for his other tools. He may paint with porch paint from the five-and-ten, his solitary brush may resemble a pen picked up in a post office, and he may still be a good painter. When his palette gets overloaded with geological accretions of paint, he will perhaps clean it; when his paint box gets too full of leaves and dirt to close, he may chuck it away and get another. But the painter who wastes his sense of order and arrangement on his palette and paint box will not have enough left over for his pictures. He is in love with his tools, not their use. His painting will be dry, thin, and economical, and he will come to no good end.

Maurice Grosser, Painting in Public

Written by nevalalee

October 8, 2016 at 7:30 am

3 Responses

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  1. Nice quote. Mind you, Toulose-Lautrec painted on cardboard.


    October 8, 2016 at 10:39 am

  2. @Martin: Good point!


    October 11, 2016 at 9:02 pm

  3. Also, I feel like dedicated artists would wear simple clothes or ride simple vehicles but as he said above,uses the most beautiful clothes or places to paint :)
    -Anthony, Human And Their Stories

    human and their stories

    January 6, 2017 at 8:01 am

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