Changing Art Changing Times

Pablo Picasso: A Woman in White
Pablo Picasso: A Woman in White

When you toss a coin, it will not always land on heads. Not all paintings will be a masterpiece~Lynn Burton

Many artist change in time, from the time they begin their life of art to the time they pass. They do so by their life experiences, the people with which they associate, influencing world changes, studies, and experimentation.

If you study some of the early works of the masters, you will see they are quite different from their later works. In many of them, you can see a great transition as they progressed through their art life. Much of this was done because they habitually experimented with new ideas.

The world of art was such an experimenting phenomena from the late 19th century to the early to mid 20th century it was defined by schools~id est, Soup Can School of Art (1960s).

Andy Warhol: Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot)
Andy Warhol: Small Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot)

Although there are hundreds of artists one can select to represent these great experimenters of different styles of art, I have selected the artist, Pablo Picasso, as a perfect example of the phenomena of change. His artwork defines him. His work is known in periods. In 1890, he was a realist and naturalist, and after this he was the Picasso we all know.

L Vie
La Vie: Pablo Picasso (Represents the “Blue Period”
  • The Blue  Period (1901-1904)
  • The Rose Period (1904-1906)
  • African Art (1907-1909)
  • Analytic Cubism (1909-1912)
  • Synthetic Cubism(1912-1919)
Picasso - Cubism
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: Pablo Picasso, 1907 (African art Influence)

Again, the reason for using Picasso for an example of “growing” in his different styles of artwork which he not only experimented with, but also perfected and helped change the world of art as we knew it before his time, was to explain that most all artists experiment until they are satisfied with their work. In many cases, this takes a lifetime, and is a lifetime adventure.

Talking about experimenting with art, often a phone call comes from my brother, Texas artist Lynn Burton. The phone call usually starts with some excitement of a new technique he’s experimenting with, or a different medium, or a new material he is using as a substrate, and in some instances a substrate he personally has created. It could be some form of cement, plastic, wood, metal, or anything he can imagine. If it holds paint, then it’s something in which he is interested.

If you are interested in Lynn’s paintings, you can see his work by clicking on the picture below.

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Artist Lynn Burton posing with oil painting
Artist Lynn Burton posing with oil painting


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Capturing the Pose to Sketch, Draw, and Paint

Graphite study for watercolor painting: Pappy’s Break

Beware ye that visit me! Ye may become immortalized in my drawings, sketches, and paintings-R.D.Burton

I have a camera, and I am often my own model-R.D. Burton

photo of artist
Photo of artist, Richard D. Burton, posing for watercolor painting: Pappy’s Break”

In a former blog, I mentioned that I was the model for the man reading the newspaper in my painting, “Pappy’s Break”.


I’d just come back from vacationing in Florida, which included the city of Miami. One morning I got up early and went for a walk, and I came across a street scene with all types of booths with different vendors selling all types of foods, fruits, plants, and products. It inspired me to create the painting.

Pappy's Break: Watercolor-R.D.Burton
Pappy’s Break: Watercolor-R.D.Burton
Segment of "Pappy's Break"
Segment of “Pappy’s Break”

My wife often models for me, and  when she does all I’m interested in is a certain stance and body language.

Most poses are not like the one in “Pappy’s Break,” depicting the way she looks. For example, recently she posed for a couple of graphite drawings for the graphic novel on which I’m working.

My timing is usually off when I ask her to model for me. She isn’t prepared to do it, because it usually surprises her with no heads up. Not to long ago, she tried to refuse when I asked her to pose. I insisted…and insisted, and she finally agreed, but not without a threat, promising very bad things could happen to me if I showed her picture to anyone.  The posing I had in mind was perfect for me because she had just finished showering, had a towel wrapped around her head, and was dressed only in a robe…no make up, yet. Perfect! All I wanted was the pose and stance.

“They were the best of friends, playing together, laughing, cuttin’ up ever so…I thinks they fell in love when little bitties.” -Granny Weena

She modeled for the drawing of the maid who had brought her little son with her to play with the plantation owners daughter. I took several different snap shots before settling with this pose. Wearing the robe, and with the towel wrapped around her head, she was exactly what I needed.

model posing
Wife posing for drawing…holding up a large flashlight

On the right is a portion of a picture of her holding up a large flashlight representing an old kerosene lantern. Again, I cannot show all of the picture short of losing some portion of myself. She would not stand for it, and I can’t afford to lose my second favorite model for my drawings, sketches, and paintings. She would never pose again.

Eleven years old Willa Mae now understood the adults told little white lies. What the animals were doing was not playing, they were making life.


To the left is the drawing using my wife as model posing holding up a flashlight (lantern).

graphite drawing
She shot him in the left butt cheek with thirteen gauge buck-shot!

Guess who posed for the character running away from his daughter who is pointing the shotgun at him. (right)

If you guessed it is me, then you got it correct. Often, I am my own model, and I believe many artists are the same. We are our own best models. Sometimes we’re not so interested in depicting the character to look like us as much as having some reference to catch the accuracy, especially the fore shortening. I have modeled many times for myself as different genders and different races.

Artist posing for graphic drawing
Posing for old man Pearson running away from his drawing.

Often as not, I’m wearing pajamas when I am posing. The reason is because I wake up with the drawing I’ve planned on my mind. I generally grab the camera, my wife, and we go to a place we can get the best stance to match the picture I need. To the right, I’m leaning over the couch (unseen) to give me the off balance look for the drawing above.

One of the main characters in the graphic story on which I’m working (narrated slide show movie-The Curse of St. Croix {The Prologue}) is Granny Weena; and yes, I sometimes pose for granny Weena, a little black person. Here’s a couple of examples:

posing for Granny Weena
posing for Granny Weena
Artist posing for drawing
Artist posing for drawing


Keep in mind, all I am after here is the hands. Fortunately, I got more. I was concentrating on the passionate prose of the story when the camera picked up some of the expression. I liked it.


Granny Weena: Graphite


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Necessary Reference Books For Drawing The Human Figures

Richard D. Burton

Over the years when I drew or painted the human figure, I referred to books I had on the shelf. I still do this. It was especially necessary when I recently took on the assignment of drawing panels to be used in a narrated slideshow graphic story which is filled with different characters from the young to the old and of different origins.

Graphite drawing panel for Graphic Novel
They all came with their appetites intact to celebrate Granny Weena’s good fortune, but mostly to eat her wonderfully baked roast beef.

I somehow settled on reference books that I use more than any other. Two of them I have had for more than forty years. I refer to them most of all.

  • atlas of human anatomy for the artist– Stephen Rogers Peck
  • FIGURE DRAWING-For All It’s Worth- Andrew Loomis

One will get a great lesson in drawing the human figure in every possible position with these two books

For a quick find to draw human figures in different stances, I recommend you join the above on the shelf with this book:

  • Human Anatomy Made Amazingly Easy- Christopher Hart
    Reference Books

    I would feel guilty if I didn’t mention the great watercolor artist, Mary Whyte, who has been a great reference to me with her book:

Painting Portraits and Figures In Watercolor



Representational portion of larger painting
Pappy’s Break: Richard D. Burton




Stan Lee’s book has taught me much when it comes to creating the drawings for the slide show graphic novel.

Although, my work is a touch more realistic and less of the comic strip exaggeration and distortion of the figures as I find in Lee’s book, the information is extremely helpful and encouraging. In other words, I don’t draw humans nine heads tall. However, I understand the purpose of doing so if you have a hero that needs to be bigger than life in the story.

However, after studying different body foreshortening, different turns, twists, different facial expressions, different anything that bodies can do in an illustrated panel, nothing means nothing (double negatives intended) if there is not understanding of perspectives-the world around the figures.

graphite drawing: Richard D.Burton
Old man Pearson just dropped his daughter, Mary Lee, and her luggage off at the Howloon Asylum for the mentally ill, while leaving her in attendance with two nurses. He never even said goodbye!

In the drawings I am working on at this time, there are so many that require the human figure in a surrounding scene, it is necessary that I know the proper perspective. The absolutely best book I have found for this, is:

  • DRAWING PERSPECTIVE-How To See And How To Apply It-Mathew Brehm

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“They were the best of friends, playing together, laughing, cuttin’ up ever so…I thinks they fell in love when little bitties.” -Granny Weena








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The Soup Can School of Art: A Brief History

"Masterpiece: Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein: Masterpiece-54″X54″ sold in 2017 for $165 million

In the spring of 1961, art dealers in New York City began promoting the Soup Can school of art (POP ART) as being different from Abstract Expressionism. The movement sharply returned to recognizable subject matter, veering away from Abstract Art. The subject matter were common everyday, every person items: such as, comic strips, street signs, license plates, coke bottles, light bulbs, movie stars, and soup cans. Thus, the beginning of a new school of art.

Andy Warhol: Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot) sold for $11.8m
Andy Warhol: Small Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot) sold for $11.8m

I remember, in the ’60s, I was enamored, but at the same time confused, by the popularity of the art. I mean, who couldn’t paint a soup can, or a large cartoon? I certainly could, but I didn’t do it, and I didn’t come up with the concept, nor did I start a movement. The movement made several artists famous; such as: Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Larry Rivers, Allan D’Arcangelo, and the great Jasper Johns, just to name a few.

Much of the art was represented in exaggerated detail. In many cases, the canvases were huge and seemed  proudly to depict the banalities of American life. I would consider this to be the definition of the Soup Can school of thought.

Robert Rauschenberg: Black Market
Robert Rauschenberg bridged Abstract Expressionism and the newer Pop movement by fastening to his canvases such objects as rusting signs and license plates.

To add a three dimensional impact to their art, some artists followed in the style of graphic artist, Robert Rauschenberg, who tacked on objects as appendages to the painting.

In the early 60s, the whole attitude of Pop Art (the Soup Can school) had similarities in the nation’s changing life style. Everything was bright and shining colors. This included everything from kitchen appliances to automobiles. The music was changing beginning with the explosive style of the Beatles impacting not only music but a flippant playful approach to a very serious world.

The Soup Can school of artists often plucked on nostalgia for childhood hours spent reading Marvel and DC comics, but when one comic book panel turns into a 54″X54″ giant exaggerated memory it is art! It is when those who “know” say it is worth millions of dollars.


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Drawing Comics and Graphic Novels-Exaggerate! Exaggerate! Exaggerate!

photo of artist
Photo of artist, Richard D. Burton, posing for watercolor painting: Pappy’s Break”

It is important to remember when making drawings for a graphic novel or story is that if it is natural and normal, it will appear dull and uninteresting. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate it, and it will seem normal.

Graphite study for watercolor painting: Pappy’s Break

Let your characters over react. Make them bigger than life. Have you ever gotten heated with a friend, or “not so much” a friend? What was your body language. How close were you? Have you ever been face to face with someone with a little temper flying? Were your faces almost touching? Were you nose to nose? Were your hands clinched? What was the expression on your faces? Imagine this and use it when drawing comics or graphic novels. Exaggerate! Exaggerate! Exaggerate!

Willie Mae knew her relatives were telling little white lies when they said all the animals were doing was playing. They weren’t playing…they were making life!

Also, keep this in mind: Remember, you are the director, so set the stage properly–the surroundings of your characters. Treat it like you’re making a movie. Let it flow, but let it flow with action! If your drawing has two people walking together, let them be talking with their hands, their body language, and the expression on their faces.

Sometimes, you have to do much planning and loose sketching before you can get the drawing that you want. I’m terrible at this. I sketch and sketch and sketch. I experiment by changing their sizes with the printer and place them next to each other to get the proper relationship with them. When I finally have it right, I trace over them and start the drawing. As far as I’m concerned, it often isn’t perfect, but it works.

Artist planning drawing

One thing I try to remember when trying to create my story with passionate prose is to relate to the characters as people. In the words of the greatest of all, Stan Lee: “If you can’t relate to the characters as people, you don’t have anyone to empathize with, to cheer for, or to sneer and jeer at.”

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Posted in art, drawing, Drawing, Graphic Story, Graphite Drawing, Graphite Pencil, painting, Richard D. Burton, Stan Lee | Leave a comment

Graphic Novel

Step 3: Copy drawing onto substrate

If you are illustrating a graphic story, you don’t want your characters just standing around stiff…you want to depict them in as much action as the situation requires. This is visual story telling. Illustrating a graphic story requires an artist to follow good passionate writing, and have the characters to act out the scene. If the prose is passionate, an artist’s greatest challenge is to bring the character to life on the page. If possible, the characters should always be doing something. It is not so much as having them act as it is having them to over act.


“Let gravity take part! Swing for the fences! Let the hair fly. Let the hero roar. Let the bad guy feel the burn! See the difference the little details make?” -Stan Lee

“His mama was the maid for old man Pearson, and she’d take Willie Joe with her to work.” -Granny Weena

My most recent works is creating a narrated slide show graphic story set historically in 1897 in South Carolina where two young people (seventeen years old) fall in love, and the girl becomes pregnant. They had been friends from childhood. She is from a wealthy white family. He is from a sharecropping black family. I do not need to say a lot more.

“They were the best of friends, playing together, laughing, cuttin’ up ever so…I thinks they fell in love when little bitties.” -Granny Weena




This story was originally intended to be a short prologue introducing a mystery story set in 1957 where a famous detective was brought to South Carolina to solve a crime where a young white man was found hanged. The locals in the small town were not concerned. To them it was normal. Hangings of male members from four particular families had been happening in the small town of Delia about every twenty years for the past sixty years. They said it was just the curse of a young black who was hanged in 1897.


However, the short prologue became a 25 page short story with a lot of action. This is what I am attempting to illustrate.

Three years later, when she was almost eighteen, she came back. Sure ‘nough, they was right back down to the old Pearson bridge picnicking.
One minute she was eating a sandwich fully dressed…”
“As young teens, they were slipping off to the old Pearson bridge, and having innocent picnics. Old man Pearson began suspecting something, and sent Mary Lee off to finishing school”











“Willy Joe, he ain’t sittin’ still for that…uh uh…next thing you know, they be down at the water skinny dipping. Shame!
“…and the next minute she was standing in front of Willie Joe butt naked, and tempting him to go skinny dipping! She taunted him, saying, Last one in the water is a MULES PATOOT!!!”


“Lawd…lawd…It’s a sinnin’ shame what they did, but now with all this horrible tragedy, I don’t know who got the worst end of the stick…Willie Joe or Mary Lee. They both be so sweet. They only did what come natural. They was in love!


“Yeah, they be skinny dippin’ alright, but that not be all the dippin’ Willie Joe be doing that day…uh uh…he know’d better’n what he be doin’.”

















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The above is a fictional story set in the 1890s. The morays and PC correctness was different than our present time. They are depicted in the frame of mind as assumed by the author based on historic understanding.

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Georgia O’Keeffe, Roderick Mead, Lynn Burton and Southwest Art

Lynn Burton: Chief and Skull (oil on Canvas)
Lynn Burton: Chief and Skull (oil on Canvas) {click, and type Lynn Burton in the Search}

My brother, Lynn Burton, paints anything and everything. However, I appreciate his southwest art motif more than others. I especially like paintings of his Native American Indians, and although we no longer live in the state of New Mexico, we were raised there. So, the tale of Native Americans were a part of our lives.

When people ask me where I came from, I tell them: “I’m from the badlands of New Mexico, barely northeast of Sitting Bull Falls where the great Indian Chief used the butte of the mountain to send smoke signals to his warriors. I was raised one hundred and thirty miles southeast of Lincoln, New Mexico where the murdering, lying, cheating, stealing, and to some at the time, avenging angel, William H. Bonney (alias: Billy the Kid) lived. I am from the state that has the “beep…beep” Road Runner as a state bird, and Yucca as a state flower. I am from the Land of Enchantment. As a young person, I lived eighty-eight miles from where the world famous artist, Georgia O’Keeffe lived.”

"Ram's Head White Hollyhock and Little Hills", 1935
Georgia O’Keeffe: “Ram’s Head White Hollyhock and Little Hills”, 1935

My father took lessons from the well-known artist Roderick Mead. Mr. Mead was a friend of Georgia O’Keefe. One Sunday afternoon at one of my father’s art lessons, he was surprised by a visit to Mr. Mead’s class by Ms O’Keefe. He had the opportunity to meet the famous artist, ask her questions, and listen to her freely talk about her art.

Roderick Mead: Bird of Prey-wood engraving

So, the experience of being raised in New Mexico embedded an artistic desire to paint and draw images of cowboys, cattle, ranches, mountains, plants, animal skulls, and many other items that represent the atmosphere and life of the old west.

My brother is an experimenting person. He likes to try things few seldom does, especially in different materials and forms of substrates. He is constantly looking for different materials that give him different surfaces.

Acrylic Underpainting
Acrylic Under Painting : Unfinished: Lynn Burton

He also experiments with different mediums, constantly trying to come up with some new method of reaching a certain outcome he envisions. It doesn’t seem to bother him if it doesn’t turn out the way he visualizes. “Sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would, but often it’s different, even better,” he said, when we discussed it the other day.

The painting to the right is a painting in acrylic that will be painted over in oil. He often under paints his oils with acrylic.

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Lynn Burton: Dancing in the Moonlight (oil on canvas)
Lynn Burton: Dancing in the Moonlight (oil on canvas)





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Al Capp, Chester Gould, Stan Lee: A Great Inspiration to Many Cartoonists

Graphite Drawings
Graphite drawings for Graphic Novel slide show

I recall as a young teenager that I was fascinated by the comics. I don’t know if it was the shapely women in the Al Capp’s cartoon strip, Li’l Abner, that inspired me, or the great and more serious intriguing sleuth, Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, or any of the Marvel and DC Comics that I tried copying with a #2H pencil. What a great inspiration Stan Lee was to us all.

I wanted to be a cartoonist. It is a path I might have enjoyed following, but as I matured, I forgot my young passion for this particular art. My Dad kept telling me there was no money in art, that most artists starve. He didn’t mention that in the late 1950s Al Capp was making over a hundred thousand dollars a year with his cartoon strip. Imagine what that is today! That wasn’t starving! I’m not even going to mention PEANUTS!

graphite drawing
Graphite drawing

So, now, here I am, fifty-seven years later, working on a graphic novel style realistic (almost) cartoon narrated slide show film. It brings me back to yesteryear when I dreamed of being a cartoonist, and it feels comfortable. However, it is not as simple as I thought it would be when I was offered the opportunity. I need to draw more than three times the amount of graphite drawings than I anticipated, which will take more than three times the amount of time I planned to put into it; plus, many of the drawings are rejects…not following the narrator’s story close enough or timely enough to fit in. Whew! Okay, I’ll trudge on.

Graphite Drawing
Graphite Drawing

First off, the story is not PC correct in the very sensitive world of today; but, keep in mind,  it is a fictional story taking place in 1897 in South Carolina. If I tell more than this, I’ll end up telling the story, so I will not talk more about it. Just understand the racial sensitivities, the morays, and the moral codes of the deep south thirty-two years after the Civil War were not what they are today.

I enjoy the art of it all, and consider it a challenge. After reviewing several books that have helped me understand the challenge of doing realistic drawings in a cartoon scenario, I have especially learned to appreciate the great Stan Lee. What a world he helped to create. Any cartoonist, or graphic artist, must pay homage to the man.

graphite drawing
She shot him in the left butt cheek with thirteen gauge buck-shot!


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Review of Five of Most Popular Posts

Wassily Kandinsky: "Composition Vll" (1913)
Wassily Kandinsky: “Composition Vll” (1913)

Who and What Inspired Wassily Kandinsky? Wassily Kandinsky was a brilliant, well educated student of life. In 1896, at the age of 30, he was pursuing a promising career as a law and economics instructor. Fortunately for the world of art and all future artist he made a passionate and major career change at this time of his life. He decided to seek a life of art. Who and what inspired him to make such a drastic change of life? (To review this, click on the picture to the right)


El Greco: "Christ Driving the Traders From the Temple"
El Greco: “Christ Driving the Traders From the Temple”


El Greco Famous Artist Techniques: El Greco’s works are painted on a fine canvas and covered with a warm reddish-brown ground. This was common in the second half of the sixteenth century. He used thick oil with the consistency of honey to temper his pigments, applying it with broken strokes using a course hog’s hair brush.

(click on picture to the left to read this very informative article)


R. D. Burton: "The Old Woodie" (Acrylic on Board~2012)
R. D. Burton: “The Old Woodie” (Acrylic on Board~2012)

It was not Edward Hopper’s “GAS” that inspired me: The images that Hopper painted often evoked uncertainty, which was somewhat mystifying. A sense of loneliness tended to prevail while he depicted deserted small towns, desolate images of urban and suburban areas, railroad tracks leading in or out of an industrial area. If the scene was not totally deserted there was a solitary figure or couple in a cafe, empty office, or hotel room. I have Hopper’s famous painting, Nighthawks, as my computer screen savor. (Great article. Click on picture to read.)



graphite drawings for Curse of St. Croix (Prologue)
Illustrated graphic novel graphite drawings for Curse of St. Croix (Prologue)

Artist Richard Burton Illustrating a Short Graphic Story: Sometimes an artist decides to step out of their comfort zone to a much more uncomfortable zone.  In my case, from fine art drawing and painting to illustration work.

I have finished twenty-three drawings that covers only five pages of a 20 page story, with approximately seventy-five to go. I am in the process of doing graphite drawing works for a narrated short slide graphic story soon to be published. (Click pic)

Graphite Drawing
Graphite Drawing for narrated slide-show: Curse of St. Croix (Prologue)

What Are The Main Parts of a Good Composition: Why do some paintings and drawings seem to work while others do not? It depends on how much an artist puts into the planning stages. When it comes to composition, some artists seem to do things instinctively, almost as if it comes natural. These are usually artists that have spent a good deal of time with palette and brush in hand. When painting or drawing, they naturally think of the main elements of composition: AREA; DEPTH; LINE; and VALUE.

(Click on drawing to the left to read article)

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Posted in art, art review, Composition, Drawing, Edward Hopper, El Greco, R. D. Burton, Richard D. Burton, Wassily Kandinsky | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manet: The Hesitant Revolutionary

“There is only one true thing: Instantly paint what you see. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. When you haven’t, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.” – Edouard Manet

Edgar Degas sketches of Manet

“We didn’t know that he was this great,” commented Edouard Manet’s friend, Edgar Degas, shortly after Manet’s death. This was understandable since Manet the man had carefully hidden Manet the artist. The passing of Manet the man suddenly exposed Manet the artist with utmost transparency.

Manet’s friend, the esoteric poet at the time, Stephen Mallarme, described him as “the only man who tried to open up a new path for himself and for all painting.”

Edouard Manet: Before the Mirror Oil on canvas, 1876

Few artists are kind to their colleagues, and although Paul Cezanne never cared for Manet’s personality, he declared that with Edouard Manet began “a new state of painting.”

Gauguin often was quoted as flatly stating: “Painting begins with Manet.”

No one at the time doubted that Manet deserved the epithet revolutionary. Often modified, but never basically questioned was the state of painting since the 14th century. this is what Manet overthrew, creating a new state of painting – modern painting.

Manet’s painting, Before the Mirror, defines what his revolution was about. The painting depicts a woman (probably of easy virtue), partially dressed with her back toward the viewer. She seems to be gazing at herself in the mirror.

Mirrors were not new for artists. They were often used by all artists as symbols of their profession, reflecting not only the model portrayed, but also the art of painting.

However, Manet changed the concept of art, thus the revolution. For centuries, the clarity of the images in mirrors painted by artists was the success or failure of the artist. In his painting, Before the Mirror, Manet never even tried to paint the image in the mirror. He did something strange. Instead of seeing the young woman’s likeness in the mirror, their is a plethora of loose brush strokes, rough, and thick. All we see is paint!

The confused art world went crazy, but in 1890, more than a decade after Manet painted Before the Mirror, artist Maurice Denis explained Manet’s relationship between the subject depicted and the act of depicting in this manner: “Remember that a picture – before being a war horse, a nude woman, or an anecdote – is essentially a plane surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order.” Manet brought about an art revolution in the 19th century that has lasted to this day. Be free artist. Their are no rules.

It was not Before the Mirror that was Manet’s only clash with the art world. Many of his paintings confused, and changed the way art was conceived. However, as all great people do, they just do.

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