G

so very readily by chalking the thread, and rapping it against the picture, precisely as a carpenter uses his chalk-line. Vanishing-points which may fall out of the limits of the picture may be managed in (he same manner.

It is frequently desirable, in the progress of a work, to recover certain perspective lines and points which may have become obliterated, or worked out of place; and, to this end, a thread will be generally found most serviceable, as it can be applied even over moist oil-colors, without injury. Where we merely require the guidance of a horizontal line, a fine thread, stretched in its place, obviates all necessity for erasures, and can at any time be renewed. For this purpose, the points on the edge of the picture, where such line falls, should always be preserved. If a necessity for the recovery of a vanishing-point is likely to be of frequent recurrence—as, for instance, in a landscape with buildings, or in architectural subjects—the picture, if on canvas, may be even pierced at such point with a fine needle, and a thread passed through, for the purpose, without injury — a touch of color, when it is no longer required, being sufficient to obliterate every trace of it.

In making out perspective drawings, on paper stretched on a board or table, much time may be saved, and accuracy insured, by fixing fine needles at the points of sight, principal vanishing-points, distance, etc.

These few, of many other expedients which might be suggested, have been given in the hope that they may tend to do away with the dread, which too many have, of encountering "the worry of perspective"—without which they may rest assured that no one ever yet went far successfully in art, and that no one ever will.

43. There are many cases in which it may be required that the sketcher should employ a sort of short-hand method of securing memoranda, which may be afterward elaborated quite as well, if not better, under more convenient, circumstances. Thus, in sketching buildings, it may be enough to indicate the general forms and proportions, and, instead of laboring over details, which may be often repeated in the same subject, to elaborate such details in bits here and there — or perhaps on a larger scale, at the foot of the sketch, or on another piece of paper. Instead of drawing in with equal care and precision all the windows, doors, cornices, etc., of a building, it may be sufficient to mark their position and number, and to finish carefully one of each.

44. In sketching views, it very frequently occurs that we are obliged to get in the geneiar effect and composition on a scale so small that, when we come to its details, it is almost impossible to express them with the distinctness which may be desirable. In such cases, it is always better to secure a. generalized indication of the whole, and then to make separate memoranda of the most marked individual parts which we may desire as assistants in afterward making out a more complete work.

Human Head Sketches

45. It is advisable that all sketches, studies, or memoranda, made in the presence of our model, However unfinished they may be, should be as little as possible worked over afterward—as much

45. There are many expedients to which the sketcher is compelled to have recourse in order to secure the greatest amount of material or memoranda, which to a certain extent may be even allowable in a study. Thus in the following, which we give as nearly as possible in fac-simile from a working study and sketch by a practical artist. It is certainly in parts something more than a mere sketch; it is far from being perfect as a study; neither can it be considered a picture. In answer to the question of its character, we can not give a better explanation than in the words of the artist: "I had not time to make a study of the whole. If it had been at my disposal, there were other objects at hand upon which I could have bestowed it to more profit. I wanted a study of the overhanging tree, and some bits here and there. For the rest, a sketch served my purposes.'3

45. It is advisable that all sketches, studies, or memoranda, made in the presence of our model, However unfinished they may be, should be as little as possible worked over afterward—as much that is valuable and suggestive in them may be thus lost. They should be considered as materials for the production of pictures—not in themselves pictures.

47. Sketches and studies are more or less intrinsically valuable, apart from the profit derived from their production, as they are more or less reliable records and available material by which more complete works may be suggested, combined, and perfected. Hence, the more faithful they are, the better; not only in the preservation of the general characteristics of their subject, but also, as far as possible, of their individual peculiarities. The student should be diffident of premature assumption of capacity to correct Nature. It is no beginner's prerogative. The first essays of his strength in this particular should not be ventured upon too confidently. There will be found much to learn before he can form for himself a standard of ideal beauty and perfection. He must

"learn to correct Nature by herself—her imperfect by her more perfect." By knowledge thus gained of what is general and what is individual — what are accidental differences, and what are prevailing characteristics—his mind will gradually expand to a just comprehension of the attributes of beauty. He will then know how to discriminate—how to separate that which is particular and uncommon, deviations from the prevailing perfection of Nature which constitute deformity — and how to combine his conclusions to a safe standard.

48. Sir Joshua Reynolds, alluding to the error too commonly prevalent among students, of not drawing exactly from the living models which they have before them, and of endeavoring "to make a drawing rather of what they think the figure ought to be, than of what it appears," justly remarks: "I have thought this the obstacle that has stopped the progress of many young men of real genius; and I very much doubt whether a habit of drawing correctly what we see will not give a proportionable power of drawing correctly what we imagine. He who endeavors to copy nicely the figure before him, not only acquires a habit of exactness and precision, but is continually advancing in his knowledge of the human figure; and though lie seems, to superficial observers, to make a slower progress, he will be found at last capable of adding (without running into capricious wildness) that grace and beauty which is necessary to be given to his more finished works, and which can not be got by the moderns, as it was not acquired by the ancients, but by an attentive and well-com parcel study of the human form." These remarks apply with equal force to every object of study in Nature, as well as to that of the human figure.

49. It can scarcely be expected of us to supply the many and various progressive requirements of the art-student, in branches of knowledge of which he may feel the necessity, or the subject of Anatomy, especially that of the human figure, would have been earlier presented to consideration.

However important, indeed absolutely necessary, a certain amount of anatomical knowledge may be to the artist, there can be no question that its acquirement may be more profitably secured by progressive study, based upon that of the living model, than by reliance upon books. Even the advantages of dissection may be very questionable, unless practised at a period of advancement by which we are qualified to seek with definite purpose, fully conscious of the nature of our requirements, and capable of rightly appropriating such advantages.

50. There arc few, even among most indifferent observers, who can not detect imperfection in a limb or figure in Nature, and as few comparatively who know that a man's skull is not all in one piece, and that his great-toe has one bone less than the others. If, therefore, those who make it no special business to observe or investigate, so readily reach conclusions, why may not the artist venture upon the delineation of the human, or any other living form, without the profound knowledge of the surgeon or naturalist ? A smattering of anatomical knowledge prematurely acquired may even lead to injurious tendencies, as we have often had occasion to remark by the vain attempts of young aspirants to build a figure instead of drawing it. The reproof of Fuseli to a youth whom he detected in trying to make out the beautiful and delicate markings on the side of the Apollo, by counting the ribs, is worth remembering: "You need not count them, young man: they donH cost anything."

Let none imagine that proficiency in anatomical science, as required by the artist, is to be gained by learning by rote its technicalities. It may sound very learned to talk like a surgeon, but it helps very little to capacity in drawing the figure, unless based upon a knowledge of the effect of its internal structure upon its outward form, which can only be acquired by the stud} of living nature.

All that we could possibly say on the subject of Anatomy, or present in illustration, may be so readily obtained from other works, in many amplified to an extent meeting the utmost requirement, which books are capable of affording, that we consider it scarely necessary to engross the pages to which we are limited by matter which may be found elsewhere quite as well if not better supplied.

We would desire, however, earnestly to impress upon the student the importance of a familiarity and knowledge of the structure, proportions, and action, of the skeleton (23), not only in its general characteristics, but as well in all its details. Comparatively few, to meet whose requirements of practical direction in the elementary principles of art our work is intended, may require to extend their anatomical studies to the degree necessary to the more aspiring artist; yet all, to be able to draw the figure with any degree of truth and readiness, must make themselves familiar with the skeleton, and learn to recognise and understand its influence on exterior forms.

51. Where access can be obtained to a well-arranged natural skeleton carefully put together by means of artificial hinges, springs, etc., thus uniting all the parts in their proper places, and allowing each its just movement, great advantages may be derived from its study. No school where drawing is properly taught should be without one, as well as approved plaster casts of complete anatomical figures and detailed parts in various actions.

Repulsive as it may be to be thus brought into familiar contact with the evidences of "what we are, and must be," we can not be made the worse for it. Indeed, it is a subject worthy of serious consideration if a certain amount of knowledge of the structure of the human frame should not constitute a part of popular education. He who at least understands the general principles upon which the watch he carries is constructed, knows how to guard it better from accident or injury; and many a broken bone, or dislocated joint, might be avoided, as well as the precious gift of health and vigor preserved, if men were more familiar with the machinery of their own wonderful structure.

52. To attempt to analyze the means and exemplify the process by which ideal creations become as it were tangible to the imitative privileges of the artist, would lead to a more extended discussion than we can spare from more important practical matter. Were it at our disposal, it could be shown that the linear delineation of a subject, or idea, impressed upon the imagination, differs far less than is generally supposed from that suggested by a material model. As far back as the first chapter it has been said that " he who can draw nothing but what he has before him loses the best, half of the art." Before the learner had been presumed to have exceeded a very moderate proficiency in drawing the most simple straight lines, and objects formed thereby, the cultivation of capacity to this end was in view. However it may even offend the pride of the aspirant to the high privilege of testing his genius in the ideal to tell him that he must learn to draw' — first a straight line by memory, and then a curved one — a block — a box — a tabic—and such like—he will find it to be true. If he can do so already, lie has secured a safe beginning; if he can not—if his memory and hand will not sustain him in such simple requirement—how little can they be relied upon to meet with promptness the endless demands for more complicated forms which invention in design requires?

The mind must be indeed barren that does not follow a narration of an event or the expression of an idea with a pictured conception. The artist at least identifies his very presence with it, feels that he is there, if not a participator in its action. To give expression, by means of design, to such impressions, may be called invention, but it is in truth little more than the producing of new combinations, available in the degree to which memory may supply from the material world means and power of giving expression to the ideal.

Rarely, if ever, does the imagination act without impulse or suggestion—"nothing can come of nothing"—and we hail as genius the ability of seizing at once upon such suggestions, expanding them to perfection, and giving them intelligible expression. Thus may the germ be often lost in the matured fruit, but without it it would have no existence. Equally stamped with the peculiarities of its own nature, marked with what we recognise as originality, may be the productions of genius; but that originality consists more in the peculiar action or direction of already-acquired ideas in new combinations, than in any spontaneous exercise of a mysterious and peculiar gift.

53. That from such resources, and by such means, as we have endeavored to point out, the most successful artists, whose career we can trace, achieved their excellence, there can be little doubt. They used no dead language to express their ideas. They sought its very alphabet in the book of Nature ; the living, breathing Nature with which they were surrounded ; the Nature that those to whom they addressed themselves could understand. The art of others they tried by her standard, and appropriated, so far as they considered it consistent therewith. Hence have originated the national characteristics of schools of art. Hence their success at home—their failure as exotics, when forced against national sympathies. Hence may we look with hope for the establishment and success of an American school of art — a school harmonizing with the Nature whence it must derive suggestion and material, as well as one that will meet the national sympathy and requirement to which it equally gives impulse.

Human Head Drawing

HE value of all verbal direction, in the manual operations of art, must be, necessarily, very limited, and can only be available to those already, in some degree at least, familiar with them. Any one who desires to make a beginning in any style of painting can learn more to the purpose by half an hour's observation of an artist at work than by toiling through a dozen volumes. The knowledge thus gained, however, can assist only to a beginning, by placing the means and materials in hand, a trial of which, once made, however unsuccessful, the work is commenced — a step is taken 5 the next must lead to progress, and then books and verbal instruction may become of real service. The main reliance, in seeking the development of the power, capacity, and nature of the materials, as well as in maturing the hand and judgment in their proper application, must nevertheless be placed in the lessons to be derived from practical experience. In this respect, the advice which has been given, in reference to linear operations, is equally applicable to painting, as to all the processes, means, and

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How To Become A Professional Pencil Drawing Artist

How To Become A Professional Pencil Drawing Artist

Realize Your Dream of Becoming a Professional Pencil Drawing Artist. Learn The Art of Pencil Drawing From The Experts. A Complete Guide On The Qualities of A Pencil Drawing Artist.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment