Mental Work

essentials. Wherever you are, at whatever moment, observe, mentally simplify the values before you, choose a compositional arrangement of them, act, in short, as if you were really going to paint a picture. Decide just how much lighter or darker that tone is than the other ; decide which slightly different tones you will group together in order to simplify the yalues to three or four. A little of this reasoned mental work is worth far more than the making of many thoughtless paintings. While talking to any one, at the same time observe the constructional facts of his hand lying on the table, mentally note any pictorial quality that may occur in his pose. Better is it to make thoughtful observations than to have an eternal sketch-book in hand. Better still, though, it is to make the thoughtful observations and, having made them, to note them down, perhaps as a sketch, now and again, as did Turner, in the guise of mere verbal memoranda of things which have struck you. Figure-drawing needs more continual exercise even than landscape. It is perhaps not enough only to observe the figure ; but little good will accrue from observation unaccompanied by execution, many thousands of drawings must actually be made from it. One can only hope to possess a fair knowledge of nude-draughtsmanship after some fifteen years of work, earlier success will always be bought at the price of avoiding difficulties instead of valorously conquering them. Even then nude-drawing is of such a highly difficult nature that to produce one's best work means daily exercise. A twenty-four hours5 interval is enough to blunt the keen edge of constructive observation. The first drawings that I make on sitting down to work each day during a period of regular sketch-class work, are never so good as those drawn after some little time- Then fatigue intervenes inevitably and the later drawings again show want of perfect concentration. What we learn in drawing-study is immediate, accurate, concentrated observa-

CONCENTRATION 217

don and creative noting of its results. As T said on p. 58, I now make in a. few minutes a fuller study than twenty years ago I should have made in a week of academic mornings. In other words, I concentrate more observation into those few minutes than I used to spread over days ; but the price1 is paid in the shape of rapid fatigue, and forced relaxation of perfect attention. I am convinced that most of the inadequate draughtsmanship with which we are overwhelmed is the simple outcome of want of taking sufficient pains with the subject. Voluminous production is not a proof of serious work. The trouble of thinking well and completely is the first trouble that people refuse to take. In the case of England —though naturally the English are not the only offenders, far from it—I cannot but agree with Mr. Douglas, when he says, in The South Wind, c The Englishman has principles but no convictions—cast-iron principles which save him the trouble of thinking anything out for himself.' Art without principles is chaos ; but this does not liberate us from the trouble of examining the credentials of a principle before adopting it, and thus separating the illustrator's trick from the basic necessity of great art. Such work every sincere artist must do for himself ; the difficulties which arise are of a nature that we cannot fix in words. But remember that the choice of great principles depends not only on intuition but on much study and thoughtful comparison. Mr. Douglas would no doubt tell us that it is more important to say this to an English audience than to any other ; and I believe Lord Tennyson was known to have remarked : c Poeta nascitur et fit.'

Recapitulation

. Value may be said to be the relation of one part of a picture to others in respect of lightness or darkness of tint. * Though we may also speak of the natural relative values of, say, â landscape without it being necessary to translate 3109 f f those values into a pictorial scheme. I have also defined the study of values as : The study of the relations of the various quantities of light with which the artist deals. We see objects by means of the light either emitted by them or reflected from them. Light and shade is but a comparatively recent artistic invention. It is useless to ask a beginner to execute a finished drawing. One may obtain a much better knowledge of his capacities from a rapid sketch. Way of understanding must always take precedence over way of executing in matters artistic It is better to 6 scribble' from the model, when one is as yet unfurnished with sufficient knowledge, than to attempt to do a 6 tidy' drawing based on insufficient knowledge. As knowledge increases the drawing will become more accurate. Do not fall back on careful execution of easy detail to hide your fundamental ignorance. It is a good rule (but not an inviolable rule) to keep a picture continually in such a state that it may be left off at any moment and yet will be aesthetically satisfactory. Solid representation and values often unite to form but one aesthetic problem. The palette of the painter is more restricted in extent of value scheme than is Nature. He is obliged to adopt what is approximately a proportional transcript of the natural series, though considerable divergence may be allowed from this theorem. The evil practice of compelling students to make what are supposed to be full value studies on a white paper background is to be condemned, satisfactory work on such lines demands complicated transposition. The student obtains a meretricious result by learning a trick for doing it. The value scheme of great masters is always very simple. The whole picture usually falls into three or four marked groups of values. Three values only enter into the Rembrandt drawing reproduced Rembrandt centres on light. This is not always so, Mi Fu (Fig. 4) centres on dark accents. The charm of reticence of expression is exemplified in the Chinese school of monochrome painting. The variability of Mou-hsi's technique is commented on, and the doctrine of the Zen mentioned. Attention is drawn to the perfect welding in this school of both line and value technique. The union of the two methods is much more complete there than in European pen and brush drawings. Chinese and Japanese consider all forms of imitation as inferior art. The causes of error in value estimation are reviewed, and methods of avoiding error are discussed. Value relation is one of the weakest parts of British painting. The Impressionists attached importance to observation ; the method of painting was indifferent to them. To be careless of method is in itself a-method. To the Chinese the aim of art is to render the intangible permeating spirit of Nature, and not her transient appearances ; though these transient appearances may be used as means of rendering the permanent essence. This position is totally different from that of the Anglo-Saxon. A language is a gigantic work of art at which a whole people works, and it is the best expression of the ideals of that people. English, French, Chinese, and Japanese poetry are compared. The aesthetic conditioning of Far Eastern art is discussed. It consists first in a concise juxtaposition of elements, each beautiful in itself. Behind this is a background of harmonious philosophical doctrine to which reference is made by recognized symbolism. Immense general significance is aimed at by means of strictly parsimonious expression. In Europe there is little or no relation between art and philosophical systems. The commercial ideal is, specially in England, hopelessly prejudicial to art. The artists and dealers are in England greater enemies of art than is a certain section of the intelligent public. As the title suggests, art must always take precedence over craft. The modernity of Claude and Pollaiuolo. Copying is not recommended ; imitation of a master's technique while working from Nature ourselves is a better method of understanding his way of work. Van Gogh has often 4 re-edited 5 Jean-Français Millet, changing entirely the intention of the original. Rembrandt has done the same for Mantegna. The pictorial use of values may be studied in a collection of pictures by making rough scribbles of the value areas from the pictures, reducing the values employed to four at most. Composition is studied at the same time Corot noted the values in hurried sketches, using figures from 1 to 4. Values should be incessantly studied, not only when one is painting or drawing. One result of study is the power of concentrating into rapid compound observation the several acts of observation that we were obliged to execute one after the other at the beginning of our studies.

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