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Look around and select a subject that you can see painted. That will paint itself. Do the obvious thing before you do the superhuman thing.

Never try to repeat a success.

It may have been accidental, but you knew enough to let this alone. The good painter is always making use of accidents.

Swing a bigger brush — you don’t know what fun you are missing.

     — Charles Hawthorne


For 31 years, Charles Hawthorne (1872-1930) spoke in this manner to students of his famous Cape Cod School of Art. The essence of that instruction was collected from students’ notes and captured in this book, retaining the personal feeling and the sense of on-the-spot inspiration of the original classroom.

The handy book is divided into sections on the outdoor model, still life, landscape, the indoor model, and watercolor. Each section begins with a concise essay and continues with comments on basic elements: general character, color, form, seeing, posture, etc. It is in the matter of color that students will especially feel themselves in the presence of a master guide and critic.

Hawthorne’s ability to see color and, more important, to make a student see color, is a lesson which will aid student painters everywhere.


Collected by Marion Campbell Hawthorne
Introduction by Edwin Dickinson
Essays by Hans Hofmann, Joseph Hawthorn