1 Freehand Drawing

eye, nature, object, detail, color, true, photograph and training

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Nature, then, and the photograph from nature, is a bewilder ing mass of detail. The artist is the man of trained perceptions who, by eliminating superfluous detail and grasping and present ing only the essential characteristics, produces a drawing in which we see the object in a simplified but nevertheless beautiful form.

III looking at the drawing we become conscious of the subject and its principal attributes; we comprehend and realize these with far less effort of the mind and eye than we should expend in taking in and comprehending the real object or a photograph of it. Com pared to nature it is more restful and more easily understood, and the ease with which it is comprehended constitutes, the psycholo gists say, a large part of the pleasure we take in art; it certainly explains why we enjoy a drawing of an object when we may take no pleasure in the object itself, or a photograph of it.

4. Restraint in Drawing. The practical application of the preceding broad definition is neither difficult nor abstruse. The beginner in drawing usually finds his work swamped in a mass of detail, because his desire is to be absolutely truthful and accurate, and the more he has read Ruskin* and writers of his school the more does he feel that art and nature are one, and that the best drawing is that which most successfully reproduces nature with photographic fidelity. It maybe taken for granted that a drawing must be true; true to nature. But truth is at best a relative term, and while it may be said that every normal eye sees prac tically the same, yet, after all, the eye sees only what it is trained to see. It is the purpose of all teaching of drawing to train the eye to see and the hand to put down the biggest and most impor tant truths and to sacrifice small and unimportant details for the sake of giving greater emphasis or accent to the statement of the larger ones. "Art lives by sacrifices" is the expression of the French, the most artistic nation of modern times. The experience of the beginner is very practical testimony to the truth of the expression, for he very. soon realizes that he has not the ability, even if it were best, to draw all he sees, and he has to face the question of what to leave out, what to sacrifice. Sense will tell him that•e must at all costs retain those elements which have the meaning or significance, or else his drawing will not be in telligible. So he is gradually taught to select the vital facts and make Eur-, of them at least. It is true that the more accomplished

• the draughtsman becomes the greater will be his ability to suc cessfully represent the lesser truths, the smaller details he sees, because having trained his perception to the importance of grasping the big truths be has also attained the knowledge and ability to express the smaller facts without obscuring the greater ones. Nevertheless the question of what to sacrifice remains one of the Most important in all forties of representation. One of the com monest criticisms pronounced by artists on the work of their col leagues is that "he has not known when to stop"; the picture is overloaded and obscured with distracting detail.

5. Learning to See. It is very important that the student of drawing shall understand in the beginning that a very large part of his education consists in learning to see correctly. The power to see correctly and the manual skill to put down with accuracy what he sees—these he must acquire simultaneously. It is usually difficult at first to convince people that they do not naturally and without training see correctly. • It is true that there is formed in every normal eye the same image of an object if it is seen from the same position, but as minds differ in capacity and training, so will they perceive differently whatever is thrown upon the retina or mirror of the eye.

It is a matter of common observation that no two people agree in their description of an object, and where events are taking place rapidly in front of the eyes, as in a football game, one person with what we call quick perceptions, will see much more than another whose mind works more slowly; yet the same images were formed in the eyes of each. The person who understands the game sees infinitely more of its workings than one who does not, because he knows what to look for; and to draw with skill one must also know what to look for. Many people who have not studied draw ing say they see the top of a circular table as a perfect circle in whatever position the eye may be in regard to the table. Others see a white water lily as pure white in color, whether it is in the subdued light of an interior or in full sunlight out of doors. In questions of color it is a matter of much study, even with persons of artistic gifts and training, to see that objects of.one color appear under certain conditions to be quite a different color.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7