How I Paint: Secrets of a Sunday Painter

How I Paint: Secrets of a Sunday Painter

How I Paint: Secrets of a Sunday Painter

How I Paint: Secrets of a Sunday Painter


In this look at the complex, often mysterious painting process, painter/museum director Buechner combines clear, how-to instructions with striking insights to help readers look at pictures in a wholly new way. 129 illustrations, 98 in full color.


Last year, my son Matthew asked me what I would like to do with whatever time I have left (I am seventy-three). Painting a really good picture remains my moving target, but tidying up my thoughts on painting also seems a sensible thing to do. As a museum person, I have worked and talked with large numbers of people who don't paint, and, as a painter, student, and teacher, I know many people who do. This book is for both groups.

My purpose here is to describe how my paintings are made so that painting in general can be better understood and enjoyed. Although the text and pictures in this book are mine, the ideas they represent are from all over the place and should be applicable to pictures in general. My emphasis is on technique, because there seems to be so little of it around and because, when understood, it gives original artwork new presence. Have you ever noticed how little is said on museum labels or on conducted tours that requires the original work itself? Almost everything could be just as well illustrated by a photograph or a reproduction. One purpose of this book is to make looking at pictures, at the surface of the original work, a source of insight and pleasure.

This is also a how-to book for people who like to paint. I started teaching in the 1950s and have taught ever since. For the last twenty-five years I have given a weekly painting class here in Corning and, for the last twelve years, courses in Frauenau, Germany, during the summer. This book is an attempt to summarize what I have learned from teaching. The title, How, I Paint, came fromToni Callahan, a brilliant linguist who translated my lesson plans into German and saw in them a potential book. I like the title because it says this book is about what I do and not what you should do.

The other basis for the book is a talk I have been giving since the early 1980s called "Sources of Aesthetic Conviction," which is about nine events in my life and the impact each has had on my work. For example, being in the Navy in World War II showed me how . . .

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