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The practice and science of drawing

  4. 4. THEPRACTICE 8f SCIENCEOFDRAWINGBYHAROLD SPEEDAssocie de la Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris ;Member ofthe Royal Society of Portrait Painters, &>c.With 93 Illustrations 5* DiagramsSecond EditionLONDONSEELEY, SERVICE & CO. LIMITED38 GREAT RUSSELL STREET
  5. 5. "The admirable New Art Library." Connoisseur.THE NEW ART LIBRARYEdited by M. H. Spielmann, F.S.A., and P. G. KonodyVol. IThe Practice of Oil PaintingBy Solomon J. Solomon, R.A. With 80 Illustrations from his Draw-ings, and from Paintings. Sq. ex. cm. 8vo. 6s. net."The work of an accomplished painter and experienced teacher."Scotsman."If students were to follow his instructions, and still more, to heed hiswarnings, their painting1would soon show a great increase in efficiency."Manchester Guardian.Vol. IIHuman Anatomy for Art StudentsBy Sir Alfred Downing Fripp, K.C.V.O., C.B., Surgeon-in-Ordinaryto H.M. King Edward VII; Lecturer upon Anatomy at Guys ;and Ralph Thompson, Senior Demonstrator of Anatomy, Guys.With many Drawings by Innes Fripp, A.R.C.A., Master of LifeClass, City Guilds Art School. 151 Illustrations. Sq. ex. cm.8vo. 7-r. 6d. net."The characteristic of this book all through is clearness, both in theletterpress and the illustrations. The latter are admirable." Spectator."Just such a work as the art student needs, and is probably all that hewill need. It is very fully illustrated, there are 9 plates showing differentviews of the skeleton and the muscular system, 23 reproductions of photo-graphs from life, and over 130 figures and drawings." Glasgow Herald."A welcome addition to the literature on the subject. Illustrated byexcellent photographs from the living model." Scotsman.Vol. IllModelling & SculptureBy Albert Toft, Hon. Associate of the Royal College of Art ; Memberof the Society of British Sculptors. With 118 Illustrations andDiagrams. Sq. ex. crn. 8vo. 6s. net." Mr. Tofts reputation as a sculptor of marked power and versatilityguarantees that the instruction he gives is thoroughly reliable." Connoisseur." Will be exceedingly useful and even indispensable to all who wish to learnthe art of sculpture in its many branches. The book will also appeal to thosewho have no intention of learning the art, but wish to know something aboutit Mr. Toft writes very clearly." Field.Vol. IVThe Practice & Science of DrawingBy Harold Speed, Associe" de la Societc Nationale des Beaux-Arts,Paris ; Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, &c.With 93 Illustrations. Sq. ex. crn. 8vo. 6s. net."This book is of such importance that everyone interested in the subjectmust read it." WALTER SICKBRT in the Daily News."Mr. Speeds handbook cannot be sufficiently recommended to the student."Pall Mall Gazette."Altogether this is one of the best volumes in the admirable series towhich it oelongs." Literary World.Ready in September 1914The Anatomy of TreesBy Rex Vicat Cole, R.B.A. With between 300 and 400 Illustrations.Crn. 8vo. "js. 6d. net.SEELEY, SERVICE 6- CO. LIMITED
  6. 6. Library730PREFACEPERMIT me in the first place to anticipate the dis-appointment of any student who opens this bookwith the idea of finding" wrinkles"on how todraw faces, trees, clouds, or what not, short cutsto excellence in drawing, or any of the tricks sopopular with the drawing masters of our grand-mothers and still dearly loved by a large numberof people. No good can come of such methods, forthere are no short cuts to excellence. But help ofa very practical kind it is the aim of the followingpages to give ; although it may be necessary tomake a greater call upon the intelligence of thestudent than these Victorian methods attempted.It was not until some time after having passedthrough the course of training in two of our chiefschools of art, that the author got any idea of whatdrawing really meant. What was taught was thefaithful copying of a series of objects, beginningwith the simplest forms, such as cubes, cones, cylin-ders, &c. (an excellent system to begin with atpresent in danger of some neglect), after whichmore complicated objects in plaster of Paris wereattempted, and finally copies of the human headand figure posed in suspended animation and sup-ported by blocks, &c. In so far as this was accuratelydone, all this mechanical training of eye and handwas excellent; but it was not enough. And whenwith an eye trained to the closest mechanicalV
  7. 7. PREFACEaccuracy the author visited the galleries of theContinent and studied the drawings of the oldmasters, it soon became apparent that either his ortheir ideas of drawing were all wrong. Very fewdrawings could be found sufficiently "like themodel" to obtain the prize at either of the greatschools he had attended. Luckily there was justenough modesty left for him to realise that possiblythey were in some mysterious way right and hisown training in some way lacking. And so he setto work to try and climb the long uphill road thatseparates mechanically accurate drawing fromartistically accurate drawing.Now this journey should have been commencedmuch earlier, and perhaps it was due to his ownstupidity that it was not; but it was with a vagueidea of saving some students from such wrong-headedness, and possibly straightening out someof the path, that he accepted the invitation to writethis book.In writing upon any matter of experience, suchas art, the possibilities of misunderstanding areenormous, and one shudders to think of the thingsthat may be put down to ones credit, owing tosuch misunderstandings. It is like writing aboutthe taste of sugar, you are only likely to beunderstood by those who have already experiencedthe flavour ; by those who have not, the wildestinterpretation will be put upon your words. Thewritten word is necessarily confined to the thingsof the understanding because only the understand-ing has written language ; whereas art deals withideas of a different mental texture, which wordscan only vaguely suggest. However, there are alarge number of people who, although they cannotvi
  8. 8. PREFACEbe said to have experienced in a full sense anyworks of art, have undoubtedly the impelling desirewhich a little direction may lead on to a fullerappreciation. And it is to such that books onart are useful. So that although this book isprimarily addressed to working students, it ishoped that it may be of interest to that increasingnumber of people who, tired with the rush andstruggle of modern existence, seek refreshment inartistic things. To many such in this countrymodern art is still a closed book ;its point ofview is so different from that of the art theyhave been brought up with, that they refuse tohave anything to do with it. Whereas, if theyonly took the trouble to find out something ofthe point of view of the modern artist, they woulddiscover new beauties they little suspected.If anybody looks at a picture by Claude Monetfrom the point of view of a Raphael, he will seenothing but a meaningless jargon of wild paint-strokes. And if anybody looks at a Raphael fromthe point of view of a Claude Monet, he will, nodoubt, only see hard, tinny figures in a settingdevoid of any of the lovely atmosphere that alwaysenvelops form seen in nature. So wide apart aresome of the points of view in painting. In thetreatment of form these differences in point ofview make for enormous variety in the work.So that no apology need be made for the largeamount of space occupied in the following pagesby what is usually dismissed as mere theory; butwhat is in reality the first essential of any goodpractice in drawing. To have a clear idea of whatit is you wish to do, is the first necessity of anysuccessful performance. But our exhibitions arevii
  9. 9. PREFACEfull of works that show how seldom this is thecase in art. Works showing much ingenuity andability, but no artistic brains ; pictures that arelittle more than school studies, exercises in therepresentation of carefully or carelessly arrangedobjects, but cold to any artistic intention.At this time particularly some principles, and aclear intellectual understanding of what it is youare trying to do, are needed. We have no set tra-ditions to guide us. The times when the studentaccepted the style and traditions of his master andblindly followed them until he found himself, aregone. Such conditions belonged to an age whenintercommunication was difficult, and when theartistic horizon was restricted to a single town orprovince. Science has altered all that, and we mayregret the loss of local colour and singleness ofaim this growth of art in separate compartmentsproduced ; but it is unlikely that such conditionswill occur again. Quick means of transit and cheapmethods of reproduction have brought the art ofthe whole world to our doors. Where formerly theartistic food at the disposal of the student wasrestricted to the few pictures in his vicinity andsome prints of others, now there is scarcely a pictureof note in the world that is not known to theaverage student, either from personal inspection atour museums and loan exhibitions, or from excellentphotographic reproductions. Not only European art,but the art of the East, China and Japan, is partof the formative influence by which he is sur-rounded ; not to mention the modern science oflight and colour that has had such an influence ontechnique. It is no wonder that a period of artisticindigestion is upon us. Hence the student has needviii
  10. 10. PREFACEof sound principles and a clear understanding ofthe science of his art, if he would select from thismass of material those things which answer to hisown inner need for artistic expression.The position of art to-day is like that of a riverwhere many tributaries meeting at one point, sud-denly turn the steady flow to turbulence, the manystreams jostling each other and the different cur-rents pulling hither and thither. After a timethese newly-met forces will adjust themselves to thealtered condition, and a larger, finer stream be theresult. Something analogous to this would seem tobe happening in art at the present time, when allnations and all schools are acting and reacting uponeach other, and art is losing its national character-istics. The hope of the future is that a larger anddeeper art, answering to the altered conditions ofhumanity, will result.There are those who would leave this scene ofstruggling influences and away up on some bareprimitive mountain-top start a new stream, beginall over again. But however necessary it may beto give the primitive mountain waters that werethe start of all the streams a more prominent placein the new flow onwards, it is unlikely that muchcan come of any attempt to leave the turbulentwaters, go backwards, and start again ; they canonly flow onwards. To speak more plainly, thecomplexity of modern art influences may make itnecessary to call attention to the primitive principlesof expression that should never be lost sight of inany work, but hardly justifies the attitude of thoseanarchists in art who would flout the heritageof culture we possess and attempt a new start.Such attempts however when sincere are interest-ix
  11. 11. PREFACEing and may be productive of some new vitality,adding to the weight of the main stream. But itmust be along the main stream, along lines in har-mony with tradition that the chief advance mustbe looked for.Although it has been felt necessary to devotemuch space to an attempt to find principles thatmay be said to be at the basis of the art of allnations, the executive side of the question has notbeen neglected. And it is hoped that the logicalmethod for tlje study of drawing from the twoopposite points of view of line and mass here advo-cated may be useful, and help students to avoidsome of the confusion that results from attemptingsimultaneously the study of these different qualitiesof form expression.
  18. 18. THE PRACTICE AND SCIENCEOF DRAWINGIINTRODUCTIONTHE best things in an artists work are so much amatter of intuition, that there is much to be saidfor the point of view that would altogether dis-courage intellectual inquiry into artistic phenomenaon the part of the artist. Intuitions are shy thingsand apt to disappear if looked into too closely. Andthere is undoubtedly a danger that too much know-ledge and training may supplant the natural intuitivefeeling of a student, leaving only a cold knowledge ofthe means of expression in its place. For the artist,if he has the right stuff in him, has a consciousness,in doing his best work, of something, as Ruskin hassaid, "not in him but through him." He has been,as it were, but the agent through which it has foundexpression.Talent can be described as "that which we have,"and Genius as "that which has us." Now, althoughwe may have little control over this power that "hasus," and although it may be as well to abandononeself unreservedly to its influence, there can belittle doubt as to its being the business of the artistto see to it that his talent be so developed, that he17 B
  19. 19. INTRODUCTIONmay prove a fit instrument for the expression ofwhatever it may be given him to express ;whileit must be left to his individual temperament todecide how far it is advisable to pursue any intel-lectual analysis of the elusive things that are thetrue matter of art.Provided the student realises this, and that arttraining can only deal with the perfecting of a meansof expression and that the real matter of art liesabove this and is beyond the scope of teaching, hecannot have too much of it. For although he mustever be a child before the influences that move him,if it is not with the knowledge of the grown manthat he takes off his coat and approaches the craft ofpainting or drawing, he will be poorly equipped tomake them a means of conveying to others in ade-quate form the things he may wish to express.Great things are only done in art when the creativeinstinct of the artist has a well-organised executivefaculty at its disposal.Of the two divisions into which the technicalstudy of painting can be divided, namely Formand Colour, we are concerned in this book withForm alone. But before proceeding to our immediatesubject, something should be said as to the natureof art generally, not with the ambition of arrivingat any final result in a short chapter, but merelyin order to give an idea of the point of view fromwhich the following pages are written, so that mis-understandings may be avoided.The variety of definitions that exist justifies someinquiry. The following are a few that come tomind:" Art is nature expressed through a personality."18
  20. 20. But what of architecture ? Or music ? Then there isMorriss" Art is the expression of pleasure in work."But this does not apply to music and poetry. AndrewLangs"Everything which we distinguish from nature"seems too broad to catch hold of, while Tolstoys" An action by means of which one man, having experienceda feeling, intentionally transmits it to others"is nearer the truth, and covers all the arts, but seems,from its omitting any mention of rhythm, very in-adequate.Now the facts of life are conveyed by our sensesto the consciousness within us, and stimulate theworld of thought and feeling that constitutes ourreal life. Thought and feeling are very intimatelyconnected, few of our mental perceptions, particularlywhen they first dawn upon us, being unaccompaniedby some feeling. But there is this general divisionto be made, on one extreme of which is what wecall pure intellect, and on the other pure feeling oremotion. The arts, I take it, are a means of givingexpression to the emotional side of this mentalactivity, intimately related as it often is to the morepurely intellectual side. The more sensual side ofthis feeling is perhaps its lowest, while the feelingsassociated with the intelligence, the little sensitive-nesses of perception that escape pure intellect, arepossibly its noblest experiences.Pure intellect seeks to construct from the factsbrought to our consciousness by the senses, an accu-19
  21. 21. INTRODUCTIONrately measured world of phenomena, uncoloured bythe human equation in each of us. It seeks to createa point of view outside the human standpoint, onemore stable and accurate, unaffected by the ever-changing current of human life. It therefore inventsmechanical instruments to do the measuring of oursense perceptions, as their records are more accuratethan human observation unaided.But while in science observation is made muchmore effective by the use of mechanical instrumentsin registering facts, the facts with which art deals,being those of feeling, can only be recorded by thefeeling instrument man, and are entirely missedby any mechanically devised substitutes.The artistic intelligence is not interested inthings from this standpoint of mechanical accuracy,but in the effect of observation on the living con-sciousness the sentient individual in each of us.The same fact accurately portrayed by a numberof artistic intelligences should be different in eachcase, whereas the same fact accurately expressed bya number of scientific intelligences should be thesame.But besides the feelings connected with a widerange of experience, each art has certain emotions be-longing to the particular sense perceptions connectedwith it. That is to say, there are some that onlymusic can convey : those connected with sound ; othersthat only painting, sculpture, or architecture canconvey : those connected with the form and colourthat they severally deal with.In abstract form and colour that is, form andcolour unconnected with natural appearances thereis an emotional power, such as there is in music,the sounds of which have no direct connection with20
  22. 22. INTRODUCTIONanything in nature, but only with that mysterioussense we have, the sense of Harmony, Beauty, orRhythm (all three but different aspects of the samething).This inner sense is a very remarkable fact, andwill be found to some extent in all, certainly allcivilised, races. And when the art of a remote peoplelike the Chinese and Japanese is understood, oursenses of harmony are found to be wonderfully inagreement. Despite the fact that their art has de-veloped on lines widely different from our own,none the less, when the surprise at its newnesshas worn off and we begin to understand it, wefind it conforms to very much the same sense ofharmony.But apart from the feelings connected directlywith the means of expression, there appears to bemuch in common between all the arts in their mostprofound expression ;there seems to be a commoncentre in our inner life that they all appeal to.Possibly at this centre are the great primitiveemotions common to all men. The religious group,the deep awe and reverence men feel when con-templating the great mystery of the Universeand their own littleness in the face of its vastnessthe desire to correspond and develop relationshipwith the something outside themselves that isfelt to be behind and through all things. Thenthere are those connected with the joy of life, thethrobbing of the great life spirit, the gladness ofbeing, the desire of the sexes ; and also those con-nected with the sadness and mystery of death anddecay, &c.The technical side of an art is, however, notconcerned with these deeper motives but with the21
  23. 23. INTRODUCTIONthings of sense through which they find expression ;in the case of painting, the visible universe.The artist is capable of being stimulated toartistic expression by all things seen, no matterwhat ;to him nothing comes amiss. Great pictureshave been made of beautiful people in beautifulclothes and of squalid people in ugly clothes, ofbeautiful architectural buildings and the ugly hovelsof the poor. And the same painter who painted theAlps painted the Great Western Railway.The visible world is to the artist, as it were, awonderful garment, at times revealing to him theBeyond, the Inner Truth there is in all things. Hehas a consciousness of some correspondence withsomething the other side of visible things and dimlyfelt through them, a "still, small voice"which he isimpelled to interpret to man. It is the expression ofthis all-pervading inner significance that I think werecognise as beauty, and that prompted Keats tosay:"Beauty is truth, truth beauty."And hence it is that the love of truth and thelove of beauty can exist together in the work of theartist. The search for this inner truth is the searchfor beauty. People whose vision does not penetratebeyond the narrow limits of the commonplace, andto whom a cabbage is but a vulgar vegetable, are sur-prised if they see a beautiful picture painted of one,and say that the artist has idealised it, meaning thathe has consciously altered its appearance on someidealistic formula; whereas he has probably onlyhonestly given expression to a truer, deeper visionthan they had been aware of. The commonplace isnot the true, but only the shallow, view of things.22
  25. 25. INTRODUCTIONFromentins" Art is the expression of the invisible by means of the visible"expresses the same idea, and it is this that givesto art its high place among the works of man.Beautiful things seem to put us in correspondencewith a world the harmonies of which are moreperfect, and bring a deeper peace than this imperfectlife seems capable of yielding of itself. Our momentsof peace are, I think, always associated with someform of beauty, of this spark of harmony withincorresponding with some infinite source without.Like a mariners compass, we are restless until wefind repose in this one direction. In moments ofbeauty (for beauty is, strictly speaking, a state ofmind rather than an attribute of certain objects,although certain things have the power of inducingit more than others) we seem to get a glimpse ofthis deeper truth behind the things of sense. Andwho can say but that this sense, dull enough in mostof us, is not an echo of a greater harmony existingsomewhere the other side of things, that we dimlyfeel through them, evasive though it is.But we must tread lightly in these rarefiedregions and get on to more practical concerns. Byfinding and emphasising in his work those elementsin visual appearances that express these profounderthings, the painter is enabled to stimulate the per-ception of them in others.In the representation of a fine mountain, forinstance, there are, besides all its rhythmic beautyof form and colour, associations touching deeperchords in our natures associations connected withits size, age, and permanence, &c. ;at any rate wehave more feelings than form and colour of them-23
  26. 26. INTRODUCTIONselves are capable of arousing. And these thingsmust be felt by the painter, and his picture paintedunder the influence of these feelings, if he is instinc-tively to select those elements of form and colourthat convey them. Such deeper feelings are fartoo intimately associated even with the finer beautiesof mere form and colour for the painter to be ableto neglect them ;no amount of technical knowledgewill take the place of feeling, or direct the painterso surely in his selection of what is fine.There are those who would say," This is all verywell, but the painters concern is with form andcolour and paint, and nothing else. If he paints themountain faithfully from that point of view, it willsuggest all these other associations to those whowant them." And others who would say that theform and colour of appearances are only to be usedas a language to give expression to the feelingscommon to all men. " Art for arts sake"and " Artfor subjects sake." There are these two extremepositions to consider, and it will depend on the indi-vidual on which side his work lies. His interest willbe more on the aesthetic side, in the feelings directlyconcerned with form and colour ;or on the side of themental associations connected with appearances, ac-cording to his temperament. But neither positioncan neglect the other without fatal loss. The pictureof form and colour will never be able to escape theassociations connected with visual things, neitherwill the picture all for subject be able to get awayfrom its form and colour. And it is wrong to say" If he paints the mountain faithfully from the formand colour point of view it will suggest all thoseother associations to those who want them," unless,as is possible with a simple-minded painter, he24
  27. 27. INTRODUCTIONbe unconsciously moved by deeper feelings, andimpelled to select the significant things while onlyconscious of his paint. But the chances are thathis picture will convey the things he was thinkingabout, and, in consequence, instead of impressingus with the grandeur of the mountain, will saysomething very like "See what a clever painter Iam !"Unless the artist has painted his pictureunder the influence of the deeper feelings the scenewas capable of producing, it is not likely anybodywill be so impressed when they look at his work.And the painter deeply moved with high idealsas to subject matter, who neglects the form andcolour through which he is expressing them, willfind that his work has failed to be convincing. Theimmaterial can only be expressed through thematerial in art, and the painted symbols of thepicture must be very perfect if subtle and elusivemeanings are to be conveyed. If he cannot paintthe commonplace aspect of our mountain, how canhe expect to paint any expression of the deeperthings in it? The fact is, both positions are in-complete. In all good art the matter expressedand the manner of its expression are so intimateas to have become one. The deeper associationsconnected with the mountain are only matters forart in so far as they affect its appearance and takeshape as form and colour in the mind of the artist,informing the whole process of the painting, evento the brush strokes. As in a good poem, it isimpossible to consider the poetic idea apart fromthe words that express it :they are fired togetherat its creation.Now an expression by means of one of our dif-ferent sense perceptions does not constitute art, or25
  28. 28. INTRODUCTIONthe boy shouting at the top of his voice, giving ex-pression to his delight in life but making a horriblenoise, would be an artist. If his expression is to beadequate to convey his feeling to others, there mustbe some arrangement. The expression must beordered, rhythmic, or whatever word most fitlyconveys the idea of those powers, conscious or un-conscious, that select and arrange the sensuousmaterial of art, so as to make the most telling impres-sion, by bringing it into relation with our innatesense of harmony. If we can find a rough definitionthat will include all the arts, it will help us to seein what direction lie those things in painting thatmake it an art. The not uncommon idea, thatpainting is "the production by means of coloursof more or less perfect representations of naturalobjects"will not do. And it is devoutly to be hopedthat science will perfect a method of colour photo-graphy finally to dispel this illusion.What, then, will serve as a working definition ?There must be something about feeling, the expres-sion of that individuality the secret of which every-one carries in himself; the expression of that egothat perceives and is moved by the phenomena oflife around us. And, on the other hand, somethingabout the ordering of its expression.But who knows of words that can convey a justidea of such subtle matter? If one says "Art isthe rhythmic expression of Life, or emotional con-sciousness, or feeling," all are inadequate. Perhapsthe "rhythmic expression of life"would be the moreperfect definition. But the word " life"is so muchmore associated with eating and drinking in thepopular mind, than with the spirit or force or what-ever you care to call it, that exists behind conscious-26
  29. 29. Plate IIISTUDY FOR "APRIL"In red chalk on toned paper.
  30. 30. INTRODUCTIONness and is the animating factor of our whole being,that it will hardly serve a useful purpose. So that,perhaps, for a rough, practical definition that willat least point away from the mechanical perfor-mances that so often pass for art,"the Rhythmic ex-pression of Feeling"will do : for by Rhythm is meantthat ordering of the materials of art (form andcolour, in the case of painting) so as to bring theminto relationship with our innate sense of harmonywhich gives them their expressive power. Withoutthis relationship we have no direct means of makingthe sensuous material of art awaken an answeringecho in others. The boy shouting at the top of hisvoice, making a horrible noise, was not an artist be-cause his expression was inadequate was not relatedto the underlying sense of harmony that would havegiven it expressive power.Let us test this definition with some simple cases.Here is a savage, shouting and flinging his arms andlegs about in wild delight; he is not an artist, al-though he may be moved by life and feeling. Butlet this shouting be done on some ordered plan, to arhythm expressive of joy and delight, and his legand arm movements governed by it also, and he hasbecome an artist, and singing and dancing (possiblythe oldest of the arts) will result.Or take the case of one who has been deeplymoved by something he has seen, say a man killedby a wild beast, which he wishes to tell his friends.If he just explains the facts as he saw them, makingno effort to order his words so as to make the mosttelling impression upon his hearers and convey tothem something of the feelings that are stirring inhim, if he merely does this, he is not an artist, al-though the recital of such a terrible incident may be27
  31. 31. INTRODUCTIONmoving. But the moment he arranges his words soas to convey in a telling manner not only the plainfacts, but the horrible feelings he experienced at thesight, he has become an artist. And if he furtherorders his words to a rhythmic beat, a beat in sym-pathy with his subject, he has become still moreartistic, and a primitive form of poetry will result.Or in building a hut, so long as a man is inter-ested solely in the utilitarian side of the matter,as are so many builders to-day, and just puts upwalls as he needs protection from wild beasts, and aroof to keep out the rain, he is not yet an artist.But the moment he begins to consider his work withsome feeling, and arranges the relative sizes of hiswalls and roof so that they answer to some sensehe has for beautiful proportion, he has become anartist, and his hut has some architectural preten-sions. Now if his hut is of wood, and he paints itto protect it from the elements, nothing necessarilyartistic has been done. But if he selects colours thatgive him pleasure in their arrangement, and if theforms his colour masses assume are designed withsome personal feeling, he has invented a primitiveform of decoration.And likewise the savage who, wishing to illustratehis description of a strange animal he has seen, takesa piece of burnt wood and draws on the wall hisidea of what it looked like, a sort of catalogue of itsappearance, he is not necessarily an artist. It isonly when he draws under the influence of somefeeling, of some pleasure he felt in the appearanceof the animal, that he becomes an artist.Of course in each case it is assumed that themen have the power to be moved by these things,and whether they are good or poor artists will28
  33. 33. INTRODUCTIONdepend on the quality of their feeling and the fitnessof its expression.The purest form of this "rhythmic expressionof feeling"is music. And as Walter Pater shows usin his essay on " The School of Giorgione," "music isthe type of art." The others are more artistic asthey approach its conditions. Poetry, the mostmusical form of literature, is its most artistic form.And in the greatest pictures form, colour, and ideaare united to thrill us with harmonies analogousto music.The painter expresses his feelings through therepresentation of the visible world of Nature, andthrough the representation of those combinations ofform and colour inspired in his imagination, thatwere all originally derived from visible nature. If hefails from lack of skill to make his representation con-vincing to reasonable people, no matter how sublimehas been his artistic intention, he will probal^lyhave landed in the ridiculous. And yet, so great isthe power of direction exercised by the emotions onthe artist that it is seldom his work fails to conveysomething, when genuine feeling has been the motive.On the other hand, the painter with no artisticimpulse who makes a laboriously commonplacepicture of some ordinary or pretentious subject,has equally failed as an artist, however much theskilfulness of his representations may gain him re-putation with the unthinking.The study, therefore, of the representation of visiblenature and of the powers of expression possessed byform and colour is the object of the painters training.And a command over this power of representationand expression is absolutely necessary if he is tobe capable of doing anything worthy of his art.29
  34. 34. INTRODUCTIONThis is all in art that one can attempt to teach.The emotional side is beyond the scope of teaching.You cannot teach people how to feel. All you cando is to surround them with the conditions calculatedto stimulate any natural feeling they may possess.And this is done by familiarising students with thebest works of art and nature.It is surprising how few art students have anyidea of what it is that constitutes art. They areimpelled, it is to be assumed, by a natural desireto express themselves by painting, and, if theirintuitive ability is strong enough, it perhaps matterslittle whether they know or not. But to the largernumber who are not so violently impelled, it ishighly essential that they have some better idea ofart than that it consists in setting down your canvasbefore nature and copying it.Inadequate as this imperfect treatment of a pro-foundly interesting subject is, it may serve to givesome idea of the point of view from which thefollowing pages are written, and if it also serves todisturb the "copying theory"in the minds of anystudents and encourages them to make furtherinquiry, it will have served a useful purpose.80
  35. 35. IIDRAWINGBY drawing is here meant the expression of formupon a plane surface.Art probably owes more to form for its rangeof expression than to colour. Many of the noblestthings it is capable of conveying are expressed byform more directly than by anything else. And itis interesting to notice how some of the worldsgreatest artists have been very restricted in theiruse of colour, preferring to depend on form for theirchief appeal. It is reported that Apelles only usedthree colours, black, red, and yellow, and Rembrandtused little else. Drawing, although the first, is alsothe last, thing the painter usually studies. Thereis more in it that can be taught and that repaysconstant application and effort. Colour would seemto depend much more on a natural sense and to beless amenable to teaching. A well-trained eye forthe appreciation of form is what every studentshould set himself to acquire with all the might ofwhich he is capable.It is not enough in artistic drawing to portrayaccurately and in cold blood the appearance ofobjects. To express form one must first be movedby it. There is in the appearance of all objects,animate and inanimate, what has been called anemotional significance, a hidden rhythm that is not31
  36. 36. DRAWINGcaught by the accurate, painstaking, but cold artist.The form significance of which we speak is neverfound in a mechanical reproduction like a photo-graph. You are never moved to say when lookingat one," What fine form."It is difficult to say in what this quality consists.The emphasis and selection that is unconsciouslygiven in a drawing done directly under the guidanceof strong feeling, are too subtle to be tabulated ; theyescape analysis. But it is this selection of the sig-nificant and suppression of the non-essential thatoften gives to a few lines drawn quickly, and havinga somewhat remote relation to the complex appear-ance of the real object, more vitality and truth thanare to be found in a highly-wrought and painstakingdrawing, during the process of which the essentialand vital things have been lost sight of in thelabour of the work ;and the non-essential, which isusually more obvious, has been allowed to creep inand obscure the original impression. Of course, hadthe finished drawing been done with the mind centredupon the particular form significance aimed at, andevery touch and detail added in tune to this idea,the comparison might have been different. But itis rarely that good drawings are done this way.Fine things seem only to be seen in flashes, and thenature that can carry over the impression of one ofthese moments during the labour of a highly-wroughtdrawing is very rare, and belongs to the few greatones of the craft alone.It is difficult to know why one should be movedby the expression of form; but it appears to havesome physical influence over us. In looking at afine drawing, say of a strong man, we seem to identifyourselves with it and feel a thrill of its strength in32
  37. 37. DRAWINGour own bodies, prompting us to set our teeth, stiffenour frame, and exclaim "Thats fine." Or, whenlooking at the drawing of a beautiful woman, weare softened by its charm and feel in ourselvessomething of its sweetness as we exclaim," Howbeautiful." The measure of the feeling in either casewill be the extent to which the artist has identifiedhimself with the subject when making the drawing,and has been impelled to select the expressive elementsin the forms.Art thus enables us to experience life at secondhand. The small man may enjoy somewhat of thewider experience of the bigger man, and be edu-cated to appreciate in time a wider experience forhimself. This is the true justification for public picturegalleries. Not so much for the moral influence theyexert, of which we have heard so much, but thatpeople may be led through the vision of the artistto enlarge their experience of life. This enlargingof the experience is true education, and a verydifferent thing from the memorising of facts thatso often passes as such. In a way this may be saidto be a moral influence, as a larger mind is lesslikely to harbour small meannesses. But this is notthe kind of moral influence usually looked for bythe many, who rather demand a moral story told bythe picture; a thing not always suitable to artisticexpression.One is always profoundly impressed by theexpression of a sense of bulk, vastness, or mass inform. There is a feeling of being lifted out of onespuny self to something bigger and more stable. Itis this splendid feeling of bigness in Michael Angelosfigures that is so satisfying. One cannot come awayfrom the contemplation of that wonderful ceiling of33 C
  38. 38. DRAWINGhis in the Vatican without the sense of havingexperienced something of a larger life than one hadknown before. Never has the dignity of manreached so high an expression in paint, a heightthat has been the despair of all who have sincetried to follow that lonely master. In landscapealso this expression of largeness is fine : one likes tofeel the weight and mass of the ground, the vastnessof the sky and sea, the bulk of a mountain.On the other hand one is charmed also by theexpression of lightness. This may be noted in muchof the work of Botticelli and the Italians of thefifteenth century. Botticellis figures seldom haveany weight; they drift about as if walking on air,giving a delightful feeling of otherworldliness. Thehands of the Madonna that hold the Child might beholding flowers for any sense of support they ex-press. It is, I think, on this sense of lightness thata great deal of the exquisite charm of Botticellisdrawing depends.The feathery lightness of clouds and of draperiesblown by the wind is always pleasing, and Botticellinearly always has a light wind passing through hisdraperies to give them this sense.As will be explained later, in connection withacademic drawing, it is eminently necessary for thestudent to train his eye accurately to observe theforms of things by the most painstaking of drawings.In these school studies feeling need not be considered,but only a cold accuracy. In the same way a singertrains himself to sing scales, giving every noteexactly the same weight and preserving a mostmechanical time throughout, so that every note of hisvoice may be accurately under his control and beequal to the subtlest variations he may afterwards34
  39. 39. Plate VFROM A STUDY BY BOTTICELLIIn the Print Room at the British Museum.
  40. 40. DRAWINGwant to infuse into it at the dictates of feeling. Forhow can the draughtsman, who does not know howto draw accurately the cold, commonplace view ofan object, hope to give expression to the subtledifferences presented by the same thing seen underthe excitement of strong feeling ?These academic drawings, too, should be ashighly finished as hard application can make them,so that the habit of minute visual expression may beacquired. It will be needed later, when drawing ofa finer kind is attempted, and when in the heat of anemotional stimulus the artist has no time to considerthe smaller subtleties of drawing, which by thenshould have become almost instinctive with him,leaving his mind free to dwell on the biggerqualities.Drawing, then, to be worthy of the name, mustbe more than what is called accurate. It mustpresent the form of things in a more vivid mannerthan we ordinarily see them in nature. Every newdraughtsman in the history of art has discovered anew significance in the form of common things, andgiven the world a new experience. He has repre-sented these qualities under the stimulus of thefeeling they inspired in him, hot and underlined,as it were, adding to the great book of sight theworld possesses in its art, a book by no meanscompleted yet.So that to say of a drawing, as is so often said,that it is not true because it does not present thecommonplace appearance of an object accurately,may be foolish. Its accuracy depends on the com-pleteness with which it conveys the particularemotional significance that is the object of thedrawing. What this significance is will vary35
  41. 41. DRAWINGenormously with the individual artist, but it isonly by this standard that the accuracy of thedrawing can be judged.It is this difference between scientific accuracyand artistic accuracy that puzzles so many people.Science demands that phenomena be observed withthe unemotional accuracy of a weighing machine,while artistic accuracy demands that things beobserved by a sentient individual recording thesensations produced in him by the phenomena oflife. And people with the scientific habit that isnow so common among us, seeing a picture ordrawing in which what are called facts have beenexpressed emotionally, are puzzled, if they aremodest, or laugh at what they consider a glaringmistake in drawing if they are not, when all thetime it may be their mistaken point of view thatis at fault.But while there is no absolute artistic standardby which accuracy of drawing can be judged, assuch standard must necessarily vary with the artisticintention of each individual artist, this fact mustnot be taken as an excuse for any obviously faultydrawing that incompetence may produce, as is oftendone by students, who when corrected, say that they" saw it so." For there undoubtedly exists a roughphysical standard of Tightness in drawing, anyviolent deviations from which, even at the dictatesof emotional expression, is productive of the gro-tesque. This physical standard of accuracy in hiswork it is the business of the student to acquire inhis academic training; and every aid that sciencecan give by such studies as Perspective, Anatomy,and, in the case of Landscape, even Geology andBotany, should be used to increase the accuracy of36
  42. 42. rPlate VISTUDY IN NATURAL RED CHALK BY ALFRED STEPHENSFrom the collection of Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon
  43. 43. DRAWINGhis representations. For the strength of appealin artistic work will depend much on the power theartist possesses of expressing himself through repre-sentations that arrest everyone by their truth andnaturalness. And although, when truth and natural-ness exist without any artistic expression, the resultis of little account as art, on the other hand, whentruly artistic expression is clothed in representationsthat offend our ideas of physical truth, it is onlythe few who can forgive the offence for the sakeof the genuine feeling they perceive behind it.How far the necessities of expression may beallowed to override the dictates of truth to physicalstructure in the appearance of objects, will alwaysbe a much debated point. In the best drawing thedepartures from mechanical accuracy are so subtlethat I have no doubt many will deny the existenceof such a thing altogether. Good artists of strongnatural inspiration, but simple minds, are often quiteunconscious of doing anything but being as mechani-cally accurate as possible, when painting.Yet however much it may be advisable to letyourself go in artistic work, during your academictraining let your aim be a searching accuracy.37
  44. 44. IllVISIONIT is necessary to say something about Vision in thefirst place, if we are to have any grasp of the ideaof form.An act of vision is not so simple a matter as thestudent who asked her master if she should "paintnature as she saw nature"would seem to havethought. And his answer,"Yes, madam, providedyou dont see nature as you paint nature," expressedthe first difficulty the student of painting has toface : the difficulty of learning to see.Let us roughly examine what we know of vision.Science tells us that all objects are made visible tous by means of light ;and that white light, by whichwe see things in what may be called their normalaspect, is composed of all the colours of the solarspectrum, as may be seen in a rainbow ;a phe-nomenon caused, as everybody knows, by the sunsrays being split up into their component parts.This light travels in straight lines and, strikingobjects before us, is reflected in all directions. Someof these rays passing through a point situated behindthe lenses of the eye, strike the retina. The multi-plication of these rays on the retina produces apicture of whatever is before the eye, such as canbe seen on the ground glass at the back of a88
  45. 45. VISIONphotographers camera, or on the table of a cameraobscura, both of which instruments are constructedroughly on the same principle as the human eye.These rays of light when reflected from an object,and again when passing through the atmosphere,undergo certain modifications. Should the object bea red one, the yellow, green, and blue rays, all, infact, except the red rays, are absorbed by the object,while the red is allowed to escape. These red raysstriking the retina produce certain effects whichconvey to our consciousness the sensation of red, andwe say "That is a red object." But there may beparticles of moisture or dust in the air that willmodify the red rays so that by the time they reachthe eye they may be somewhat different. This modi-fication is naturally most effective when a largeamount of atmosphere has to be passed through, andin things very distant the colour of the naturalobject is often entirely lost, to be replaced by atmos-pheric colours, as we see in distant mountains whenthe air is not perfectly clear. But we must not strayinto the fascinating province of colour.What chiefly concerns us here is the fact that thepictures on our retinas are flat, of two dimensions,the same as the canvas on which we paint. If youexamine these visual pictures without any prejudice,as one may with a camera obscura, you will see thatthey are composed of masses of colour in infinitevariety and complexity, of different shapes and grada-tions, and with many varieties of edges ; giving to theeye the illusion of nature with actual depths anddistances, although one knows all the time that itis a flat table on which one is looking.Seeing then that our eyes have only flat picturescontaining two -dimension infownation about the39
  46. 46. VISIONobjective world, from whence is this knowledge ofdistance and the solidity of things? How do wesee the third dimension, the depth and thickness, bymeans of flat pictures of two dimensions ?The power to judge distance is due principallyto our possessing two eyes situated in slightly differ-ent positions, from which we get two views ofobjects, and also to the power possessed by the eyesof focussing at different distances, others being outof focus for the time being. In a picture the eyescan only focus at one distance (the distance the eyeis from the plane of the picture when you arelooking at it), and this is one of the chief causesof the perennial difficulty in painting backgrounds.In nature they are out of focus when one is lookingat an object, but in a painting the background isnecessarily on the same focal plane as the object.Numerous are the devices resorted to by paintersto overcome this difficulty, but they do not concernus here.The fact that we have two flat pictures on ourtwo retinas to help us, and that we can focus atdifferent planes, would not suffice to account forour knowledge of the solidity and shape of theobjective world, were these senses not associatedwith another sense all important in ideas of form,the sense of touch.This sense is very highly developed in us, andthe earlier period of our existence is largely givenover to feeling for the objective world outside our-selves. Who has not watched the little baby handsfeeling for everything within reach, and without itsreach, for the matter of that ; for the infant has noknowledge yet of what is and what is not within itsreach. Who has not offered some bright object to a40
  47. 47. VISIONyoung child and watched its clumsy attempts to feelfor it, almost as clumsy at first as if it were blind,as it has not yet learned to focus distances. Andwhen he has at last got hold of it, how eagerly hefeels it all over, looking intently at it all the time ;thus learning early to associate the "feel of anobject" with its appearance. In this way by degreeshe acquires those ideas of roughness and smooth-ness, hardness and softness, solidity, &c., which lateron he will be able to distinguish by vision alone,and without touching the object.Our survival depends so much on this sense oftouch, that it is of the first importance to us. Wemust know whether the ground is hard enough forus to walk on, or whether there is a hole in frontof us ;and masses of colour rays striking the retina,which is what vision amounts to, will not of them-selves tell us. But associated with the knowledgeaccumulated in our early years, by connecting touchwith sight, we do know when certain combinationsof colour rays strike the eye that there is a roadfor us to walk on, and that when certain othercombinations occur there is a hole in front of us,or the edge of a precipice.And likewise with hardness and softness, the childwho strikes his head against the bed-post is forciblyreminded by nature that such things are to beavoided, and feeling that it is hard and that hard-ness has a certain look, it avoids that kind of thingin the future. And when it strikes its head againstthe pillow, it learns the nature of softness, andassociating this sensation with the appearance ofthe pillow, knows in future that when softnessis observed it need not be avoided as hardnessmust be.41
  48. 48. VISIONSight is therefore not a matter of the eye alone.A whole train of associations connected with theobjective world is set going in the mind when raysof light strike the retina refracted from objects.And these associations vary enormously in quantityand value with different individuals ;but the onewe are here chiefly concerned with is this universalone of touch. Everybody "sees" the shape of anobject, and "sees" whether it "looks" harder soft,&c. Sees, in other words, the " feel"of it.If you are asked to think of an object, say acone, it will not, I think, be the visual aspect thatwill occur to most people. They will think of acircular base from which a continuous side slopesup to a point situated above its centre, as onewould feel it. The fact that in almost every visualaspect the base line is that of an ellipse, not acircle, comes as a surprise to people unaccustomedto drawing.But above these cruder instances, what a wealthof associations crowd in upon the mind, when asight that moves one is observed. Put two menbefore a scene, one an ordinary person and theother a great poet, and ask them to describe whatthey see. Assuming them both to be possessed of areasonable power honestly to express themselves,what a difference would there be in the value oftheir descriptions. Or take two painters both equallygifted in the power of expressing their visual per-ceptions, and put them before the scene to paintit. And assuming one to be a commonplace manand the other a great artist, what a difference willthere be in their work. The commonplace painterwill paint a commonplace picture, while the formand colour will be the means of stirring deep associ-42
  49. 49. Plate VIISTUDY FOR THE FIGURE OF APOLLO IN THE PICTURE"APOLLO AND DAPHNE "In natural red chalk rubbed with finger ; the high lights are picked out with rubber.
  50. 50. VISIONations and feelings in the mind of the other, andwill move him to paint the scene so that the samesplendour of associations may be conveyed to thebeholder.But to return to our infant mind. While thedevelopment of the perception of things has beengoing on, the purely visual side of the question, theobservation of the picture on the retina for whatit is as form and colour, has been neglectedneglected to such an extent that when the childcomes to attempt drawing, sight is not the sense heconsults. The mental idea of the objective worldthat has grown up in his mind is now associatedmore directly with touch than with sight, with thefelt shape rather than the visual appearance. Sothat if he is asked to draw a head, he thinks of itfirst as an object having a continuous boundary inspace. This his mind instinctively conceives as aline. Then, hair he expresses by a row of littlelines coming out from the boundary, all round thetop. He thinks of eyes as two points or circles, oras points in circles, and the nose either as a triangleor an L-shaped line. If you feel the nose you willsee the reason of this. Down the front you havethe L line, and if you feel round it you will findthe two sides meeting at the top and a base joiningthem, suggesting the triangle. The mouth similarlyis an opening with a row of teeth, which are gener-ally shown although so seldom seen, but alwaysapparent if the mouth is felt (see diagram A). Thisis, I think, a fair type of the first drawing the ordi-nary child makes and judging by some ancientscribbling of the same order I remember noticingscratched on a wall at Pompeii, and by savage draw-ing generally, it appears to be a fairly universal43
  51. 51. VISIONtype. It is a very remarkable thing which, as faras I know, has not yet been pointed out, that inthese first attempts at drawing the vision shouldnot be consulted. A blind man would not drawdifferently, could he but see to draw. Were visionthe first sense consulted, and were the simplest visualDiagram IA, TYPE OF FIRST DRAWING MADE BY CHILDREN,SHOWING HOW VISION HAS NOT BEEN CONSULTEDB, TYPE OF WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN EXPECTED IFCRUDEST EXPRESSION OF VISUAL APPEARANCEHAD BEEN ATTEMPTEDappearance sought after, one might expect some-thing like diagram B, the shadows under eyes, nose,mouth, and chin, with the darker mass of the hail-being the simplest thing the visual appearance canbe reduced to. But despite this being quite as easyto do, it does not appeal to the ordinary child asthe other type does, because it does not satisfy the44
  52. 52. VISIONsense of touch that forms so large a part of theidea of an object in the mind. All architectural eleva-tions and geometrical projections generally appealto this mental idea of form. They consist of viewsof a building or object that could never possiblybe seen by anybody, assuming as they do that theeye of the spectator is exactly in front of everypart of the building at the same time, a physicalimpossibility. And yet so removed from the actualvisual appearance is our mental idea of objects thatsuch drawings do convey a very accurate idea ofa building or object. And of course they have greatadvantage as working drawings in that they can bescaled.If so early the sense of vision is neglected andrelegated to be the handmaiden of other senses, itis no wonder that in the average adult it is in sucha shocking state of neglect. I feel convinced thatwith the great majority of people vision is seldomif ever consulted for itself, but only to ministerto some other sense. They look at the sky to seeif it is going to be fine ;at the fields to see if theyare dry enough to walk on, or whether there willbe a good crop of hay ;at the stream not to observethe beauty of the reflections from the blue sky orgreen fields dancing upon its surface or the richcolouring of its shadowed depths, but to calculatehow deep it is or how much power it would supplyto work a mill, how many fish it contains, or someother association alien to its visual aspect. If onelooks up at a fine mass of cumulus clouds abovea London street, the ordinary passer-by who followsones gaze expects to see a balloon or a flying-machineat least, and when he sees it is only clouds he is aptto wonder what one is gazing at. The beautiful45
  53. 53. VISIONform and colour of the cloud seem to be unobserved.Clouds mean nothing to him but an accumulationof water dust that may bring rain. This accountsin some way for the number of good paintings thatare incomprehensible to the majority of people. Itis only those pictures that pursue the visual aspectof objects to a sufficient completion to contain thesuggestion of these other associations, that theyunderstand at all. Other pictures, they say, arenot finished enough. And it is so seldom that apicture can have this petty realisation and at thesame time be an expression of those larger emotionalqualities that constitute good painting.The early paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brother-hood appear to be a striking exception to this. Butin their work the excessive realisation of all detailswas part of the expression and gave emphasis tothe poetic idea at the basis of their pictures, andwas therefore part of the artistic intention. Inthese paintings the fiery intensity with which everylittle detail was painted made their picture a readymedium for the expression of poetic thought, asort of "painted poetry," every detail being selectedon account of some symbolic meaning it had, bear-ing on the poetic idea that was the object of thepicture.But to those painters who do not attempt"paintedpoetry," but seek in painting a poetry of its own,a visual poetry, this excessive finish (as it is called)is irksome, as it mars the expression of thosequalities in vision they wish to express. Finishin art has no connection with the amount of detailin a picture, but has reference only to the complete-ness with which the emotional idea the painter setout to express has been realised.46
  54. 54. Plate VIIISTUDY FOR A PICTUREIn red conte chalk and white pastel rubbed on toned paper.
  55. 55. VISIONThe visual blindness of the majority of peopleis greatly to be deplored, as nature is ever offeringthem on their retina, even in the meanest slum,a music of colour and form that is a constant sourceof pleasure to those who can see it. But so manyare content to use this wonderful faculty of visionfor utilitarian purposes only. It is the privilege ofthe artist to show how wonderful and beautiful isall this music of colour and form, so that people,having been moved by it in his work, may beencouraged to see the same beauty in the thingsaround them. This is the best argument in favourof making art a subject of general education : thatit should teach people to see. Everybody does notneed to draw and paint, but if everybody could getthe faculty of appreciating the form and colour ontheir retinas as form and colour, what a wealthwould always be at their disposal for enjoyment !The Japanese habit of looking at a landscape upsidedown between their legs is a way of seeing withoutthe deadening influence of touch associations. Thuslooking, one is surprised into seeing for once thecolour and form of things with the association oftouch for the moment forgotten, and is puzzled atthe beauty. The odd thing is that although thuswe see things upside down, the pictures on ourretinas are for once the right way up ;for ordinarilythe visual picture is inverted on the retina, like thaton the ground glass at the back of a photographiccamera.To sum up this somewhat rambling chapter, Ihave endeavoured to show that there are two as-pects from which the objective world can be ap-prehended. There is the purely mental perceptionfounded chiefly on knowledge derived from our sense47
  56. 56. VISIONof touch associated with vision, whose primitive in-stinct is to put an outline round objects as repre-senting their boundaries in space. And secondly,there is the visual perception, which is concernedwith the visual aspects of objects as they appear onthe retina ;an arrangement of colour shapes, a sortof mosaic of colour. And these two aspects give ustwo different points of view from which the repre-sentation of visible things can be approached.When the representation from either point ofview is carried far enough, the result is very similar.Work built up on outline drawing to which has beenadded light and shade, colour, aerial perspective, &c.,may eventually approximate to the perfect visualappearance. And inversely, representations ap-proached from the point of view of pure vision,the mosaic of colour on the retina, if pushed farenough, may satisfy the mental perception of formwith its touch associations. And of course the twopoints of view are intimately connected. Youcannot put an accurate outline round an objectwithout observing the shape it occupies in the fieldof vision. And it is difficult to consider the " mosaicof colour forms"without being very conscious of theobjective significance of the colour masses portrayed.But they present two entirely different and oppositepoints of view from which the representation ofobjects can be approached. In considering the sub-ject of drawing I think it necessary to make thisdivision of the subject, and both methods of formexpression should be studied by the student. Let uscall the first method Line Drawing and the secondMass Drawing. Most modern drawing is a mixtureof both these points of view, but they shouid bestudied separately if confusion is to be avoided. If48
  57. 57. VISIONthe student neglects line drawing, his work will lackthe expressive significance of form, that only a feel-ing for lines seems to have the secret of conveying ;while, if he neglects mass drawing, he will be poorlyequipped when he comes to express form with abrush full of paint to work with.49
  58. 58. MOST of the earliest forms of drawing known to usin history, like those of the child we were discussingin the last chapter, are largely in the nature of out-line drawings. This is a remarkable fact consider-ing the somewhat remote relation lines have to thecomplete phenomena of vision. Outlines can onlybe said to exist in appearances as the boundaries ofmasses. But even here a line seems a poor thingfrom the visual point of view ;as the boundaries arenot always clearly defined, but are continually merg-ing into the surrounding mass and losing themselvesto be caught up again later on and defined oncemore. Its relationship with visual appearances isnot sufficient to justify the instinct for line drawing.It comes, I think, as has already been said, fromthe sense of touch. When an object is felt there isno merging in the surrounding mass, but a firm de-finition of its boundary, which the mind instinctivelyconceives as a line.There is a more direct appeal to the imaginationin line drawing than in possibly anything else inpictorial art. The emotional stimulus given by finedesign is due largely to line work. The power a linepossesses of instinctively directing the eye along itscourse is of the utmost value also, enabling theartist to concentrate the attention of the beholder50
  59. 59. LINE DRAWINGwhere he wishes. Then there is a harmonic sense inlines and their relationships, a music of line thatis found at the basis of all good art. But thissubject will be treated later on when talking of linerhythm.Most artists whose work makes a large appealto the imagination are strong on the value of line.Blake, whose visual knowledge was such a negli-gible quantity, but whose mental perceptions wereso magnificent, was always insisting on its -value.And his designs are splendid examples of its powerfulappeal to the imagination.On this basis of line drawing the developmentof art proceeded. The early Egyptian wall paintingswere outlines tinted, and the earliest wall sculpturewas an incised outline. After these incised linessome man of genius thought of cutting away thesurface of the wall between the outlines andmodelling it in low relief. The appearance ofthis may have suggested to the man painting hisoutline on the wall the idea of shading betweenhis outlines.At any rate the next development was the intro-duction of a little shading to relieve the flatness ofthe line-work and suggest modelling. And this wasas far as things had gone in the direction of therepresentation of form, until well on in the ItalianRenaissance. Botticelli used nothing else than anoutline lightly shaded to indicate form. Light andshade were not seriously perceived until Leonardoda Vinci. And a wonderful discovery it was thoughtto be, and was, indeed, although it seems difficultto understand where mens eyes had been for so longwith the phenomena of light and shade before themall the time. But this is only another proof of51
  60. 60. LINE DRAWINGwhat cannot be too often insisted on, namely thatthe eye only sees what it is on the look-out for,and it may even be there are things just as wonder-ful yet to be discovered in vision.But it was still the touch association of an objectthat was the dominant one ; it was within the out-line demanded by this sense that the light and shadewere to be introduced as something as it were puton the object. It was the "solids in space" ideathat art was still appealing to." The first object of a painter is to make a simpleflat surface appear like a relievo, and some of itsparts detached from the ground ; he who excels allothers in that part of the art deserves the greatestpraise,"*wrote Leonardo da Vinci, and the insist-ence on this "standing out"quality, with its appealto the touch sense as something great in art, soundsvery strange in these days. But it must be re-membered that the means of creating this illusionwere new to all and greatly wondered at.And again, in paragraph 176 of his treatise,Leonardo writes :" The knowledge of the outline isof most consequence, and yet may be acquired to greatcertainty by dint of study; as the outlines of thehuman figure, particularly those which do not bend,are invariably the same. But the knowledge of thesituation, quality and quantity of shadows, beinginfinite, requires the most extensive study."The outlines of the human figure are "invariablythe same"? What does this mean ? From thevisual point of view we know that the space occupiedby figures in the field of our vision is by no means"invariably the same," but of great variety. So itcannot be the visual appearance he is speaking about.1Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on Painting, paragraph 178.52
  61. 61. i . >< .7Plate IXSTUDY BY WATTEAUFrom an original drawing; in the collection of Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon.
  62. 62. LINE DRAWINGIt can only refer to the mental idea of the shapeof the members of the human figure. The remark"particularly those that do not bend"shows this also,for when the body is bent up even the mental ideaof its form must be altered. There is no hint yetof vision being exploited for itself, but only in sofar as it yielded material to stimulate this mentalidea of the exterior world.All through the work of the men who used thislight and shade (or chiaroscuro, as it was called)the outline basis remained. Leonardo, Raphael,Michael Angelo, Titian, and the Venetians were allfaithful to it as the means of holding their picturestogether ; although the Venetians, by fusing the edgesof their outline masses, got very near the visualmethod to be introduced later by Velazquez.In this way, little by little, starting from a basisof simple outline forms, art grew up, each new detailof visual appearance discovered adding, as it were,another instrument to the orchestra at the disposalof the artist, enabling him to add to the somewhatcrude directness and simplicity of the early workthe graces and refinements of the more complexwork, making the problem of composition moredifficult but increasing the range of its expression.But these additions to the visual formula usedby artists was not all gain ; the simplicity of themeans at the disposal of a Botticelli gives an innocenceand imaginative appeal to his work that it is difficultto think of preserving with the more completevisual realisation of later schools. When the realisa-tion of actual appearance is most complete, the mindis liable to be led away by side issues connectedwith the things represented, instead of seeing theemotional intentions of the artist expressed through53
  63. 63. LINE DRAWINGthem. The mind is apt to leave the picture andlooking, as it were, not at it but through it, topursue a train of thought associated with the objectsrepresented as real objects, but alien to the artisticintention of the picture. There is nothing in theseearly formulae to disturb the contemplation of theemotional appeal of pure form and colour. To thosewho approach a picture with the idea that the re-presentation of nature, the "making it look likethe real thing," is the sole object of painting, howstrange must be the appearance of such pictures asBotticellis.The accumulation of the details of visual observa-tion in art is liable eventually to obscure the mainidea and disturb the large sense of design on whichso much of the imaginative appeal of a work of artdepends. The large amount of new visual know-ledge that the naturalistic movements of the nine-teenth century brought to light is particularly liableat this time to obscure the simpler and more primitivequalities on which all good art is built. At theheight of that movement line drawing went outof fashion, and charcoal, and an awful thing calleda stump, took the place of the point in the schools.Charcoal is a beautiful medium in a dexterous hand,but is more adaptable to mass than to line drawing.The less said about the stump the better, althoughI believe it still lingers on in some schools.Line drawing is happily reviving, and nothing isso calculated to put new life and strength into thevagaries of naturalistic painting and get back intoart a fine sense of design.This obscuring of the direct appeal of art by theaccumulation of too much naturalistic detail, andthe loss of power it entails, is the cause of artists54
  64. 64. LINE DRAWINGhaving occasionally gone back to a more primitiveconvention. There was the Archaistic movementin Greece, and men like Rossetti and Burne-Jonesfound a better means of expressing the things thatmoved them in the technique of the fourteenthcentury. And it was no doubt a feeling of theweakening influence on art, as an expressive force,of the elaborate realisations of the modern school,that prompted Puvis de Chavannes to invent forhimself his large primitive manner. It will benoticed that in these instances it is chiefly the in-sistence upon outline that distinguishes these artistsfrom their contemporaries.Art, like life, is apt to languish if it gets too faraway from primitive conditions. But, like life also,it is a poor thing and a very uncouth affair if it hasnothing but primitive conditions to recommend it.Because there is a decadent art about, one need notmake a hero of the pavement artist. But withoutgoing to the extreme of flouting the centuries ofculture that art inherits, as it is now fashionablein many places to do, students will do well to studyat first the early rather than the late work of thedifferent schools, so as to get in touch with thesimple conditions of design on which good workis built. It is easier to study these essential qualitieswhen they are not overlaid by so much knowledgeof visual realisation. The skeleton of the picture ismore apparent in the earlier than the later workof any school.The finest example of the union of the primitivewith the most refined and cultured art the worldhas ever seen is probably the Parthenon at Athens,a building that has been the wonder of the artisticworld for over two thousand years. Not only are55
  65. 65. LINE DRAWINGthe fragments of its sculptures in the British Museumamazing, but the beauty and proportions of its archi-tecture are of a refinement that is, I think, nevereven attempted in these days. What architect nowthinks of correcting the poorness of hard, straightlines by very slightly curving them ? Or of slightlysloping inwards the columns of his facade to addto the strength of its appearance? The amountof these variations is of the very slightest and bearswitness to the pitch of refinement attempted. Andyet, with it all, how simple ! There is somethingof the primitive strength of Stonehenge in thatsolemn row of columns rising firmly from the stepswithout any base. With all its magnificence, it stillretains the simplicity of the hut from which itwas evolved.Something of the same combination of primitivegrandeur and strength with exquisite refinement ofvisualisation is seen in the art of Michael Angelo.His followers adopted the big, muscular type of theirmaster, but lost the primitive strength he expressed ;and when this primitive force was lost sight of, whata decadence set in !This is the point at which art reaches its highestmark : when to the primitive strength and simplicityof early art are added the infinite refinements andgraces of culture without destroying or weakeningthe sublimity of the expression.In painting, the refinement and graces of culturetake the form of an increasing truth to naturalappearances, added bit by bit to the primitive bald-ness of early work ; until the point is reached, asit was in the nineteenth century, when apparentlythe whole facts of visual nature are incorporated.From this wealth of visual material, to which must56
  66. 66. LINE DRAWINGbe added the knowledge we now have of the artsof the East, of China, Japan, and India, the modernartist has to select those things that appeal to him ;has to select those elements that answer to hisinmost need of expressing himself as an artist. Nowonder a period of artistic dyspepsia is upon us,no wonder our exhibitions, particularly those onthe Continent, are full of strange, weird things.The problem before the artist was never so complex,but also never so interesting. New forms, newcombinations, new simplifications are to be found.But the steadying influence and discipline of linework were never more necessary to the student.The primitive force we are in danger of losingdepends much on line, and no work that aims at asublime impression can dispense with the basis ofa carefully wrought and simple line scheme.The study, therefore, of pure line drawing is ofgreat importance to the painter, and the numerousdrawings that exist by the great masters in thismethod show how much they understood its value.And the revival of line drawing, and the desirethere is to find a simpler convention founded onthis basis, are among the most hopeful signs in theart of the moment.57
  67. 67. VMASS DRAWINGIN the preceding chapter it has, I hope, been shownthat outline drawing is an instinct with Westernartists and has been so from the earliest times ;thatthis instinct is due to the fact that the first mentalidea of an object is the sense of its form as a feltthing, not a thing seen ; and that an outline drawingsatisfies and appeals directly to this mental idea ofobjects.But there is another basis of expression directlyrelated to visual appearances that in the fulness oftime was evolved, and has had a very great influenceon modern art. This form of drawing is based onthe consideration of the flat appearances on theretina, with the knowledge of the felt shapes ofobjects for the time being forgotten. In oppositionto line drawing, we may call this Mass Drawing.The scientific truth of this point of view isobvious. If only the accurate copying of the appear-ances of nature were the sole object of art (anidea to be met with among students) the problemof painting would be simpler than it is, and wouldbe likely ere long to be solved by the photographiccamera.This form of drawing is the natural means ofexpression when a brush full of paint is in yourhands. The reducing of a complicated appearance58
  68. 68. Plate XEXAMPLE OF FIFTEENTH-CENTURY CHINESE WORKBY Lui LIANG (BRITISH MUSEUM)Show ing how early Chinese masters had developed the mass-drawing point of view.
  69. 69. MASS DRAWINGto a few simple masses is the first necessity of thepainter. But this will be fully explained in a laterchapter treating more practically of the practice ofmass drawing.The art of China and Japan appears to havebeen more influenced by this view of naturalappearances than that of the West has been, untilquite lately. The Eastern mind does not seem tobe so obsessed by the objectivity of things as isthe Western mind. With us the practical senseof touch is all powerful." I know that is so,because I felt it with my hands" would be acharacteristic expression with us. Whereas I donot think it would be an expression the Easternmind would use. With them the spiritual essenceof the thing seen appears to be the more real,judging from their art. And who is to say theymay not be right? This is certainly the im-pression one gets from their beautiful painting,with its lightness of texture and avoidance ofsolidity. It is founded on nature regarded as aflat vision, instead of a collection of solids in space.Their use of line is also much more restrained thanwith us, and it is seldom used to accentuate thesolidity of things, but chiefly to support theboundaries of masses and suggest detail. Lightand shade, which suggest solidity, are never used,a wide light where there is no shadow pervadeseverything, their drawing being done with thebrush in masses.When, as in the time of Titian, the art of theWest had discovered light and shade, linear per-spective, aerial perspective, &c., and had begun byfusing the edges of the masses to suspect thenecessity of painting to a widely diffused focus,59
  70. 70. MASS DRAWINGthey had got very near considering appearancesas a visual whole. But it was not until Velazquezthat a picture was painted that was foundedentirely on visual appearances, in which a basis ofobjective outlines was discarded and replaced bya structure of tone masses.When he took his own painting room with thelittle Infanta and her maids as a subject, Velazquezseems to have considered it entirely as one flatvisual impression. The focal attention is centredon the Infanta, with the figures on either sidemore or less out of focus, those on the extremeright being quite blurred. The reproduction heregiven unfortunately does not show these subtleties,and flattens the general appearance very much.The focus is nowhere sharp, as this would disturbthe contemplation of the large visual impression.And there, I think, for the first time, the wholegamut of natural vision, tone, colour, form, lightand shade, atmosphere, focus, &c., considered asone impression, were put on canvas.All sense of design is lost. The picture has nosurface ; it is all atmosphere between the four edgesof the frame, and the objects are within. Placed asit is in the Prado, with the light coming from theright as in the picture, there is no break between thereal people before it and the figures within, exceptthe slight yellow veil due to age.But wonderful as this picture is, as a "tour deforce," like his Venus of the same period in theNational Gallery, it is a painters picture, and makesbut a cold impression on those not interested in thetechnique of painting. With the cutting away ofthe primitive support of fine outline design andthe absence of those accents conveying a fine formtiO
  71. 71. Plate XI Photo AndersonLos MENENAS. BY VELAZQUEZ (PBADO)Probably the first picture ever painted entirely from the vis lal or impressionist standpoint.
  72. 72. MASS DRAWINGstimulus to the mind, art has lost much of itsemotional significance.But art has gained a new point of view. Withthis subjective way of considering appearances this"impressionist vision," as it has been calledmany things that were too ugly, either from pression-shape or association, to yield material for the ^view*painter, were yet found, when viewed as partof a scheme of colour sensations on the retina whichthe artist considers emotionally and rhythmically, tolend themselves to new and beautiful harmonies and"ensembles" undreamt of by the earlier formulae.And further, many effects of light that were toohopelessly complicated for painting, considered onthe old light and shade principles (for instance,sunlight through trees in a wood), were found tobe quite paintable, considered as an impression ofvarious colour masses. The early formula couldnever free itself from the object as a solid thing,and had consequently to confine its attention tobeautiful ones. But from the new point of view,form consists of the shape and qualities of massesof colour on the retina ;and what objects happento be the outside cause of these shapes matterslittle to the impressionist. Nothing is ugly whenseen in a beautiful aspect of light, and aspect iswith them everything.This consideration of the visual appearance inthe first place necessitated ^an increased dependenceon the model. As he does not now draw from hismental perceptions the artist has nothing to selectthe material of his picture from until it has existedas a seen thing before him: until he has a visualimpression of it in his mind. With the older pointof view (the representation by a pictorial descrip-61
  73. 73. MASS DRAWINGtion, as it were, based on the mental idea of anobject), the model was not so necessary. In thecase of the Impressionist the mental perception isarrived at from the visual impression, and in theolder point of view the visual impression is the resultof the mental perception. Thus it happens that theImpressionist movement has produced chiefly picturesinspired by the actual world of visual phenomenaaround us, the older point of view producing mostof the pictures deriving their inspiration from theglories of the imagination, the mental world in themind of the artist. And although interesting at-tempts are being made to produce imaginative worksfounded on the impressionist point of view of lightand air, the loss of imaginative appeal consequentupon the destruction of contours by scintillation,atmosphere, &c., and the loss of line rhythm it en-tails, have so far prevented the production of anyvery satisfactory results. But undoubtedly there ismuch new material brought to light by this move-ment waiting to be used imaginatively ;and it offersa new field for the selection of expressive qualities.This point of view, although continuing to someextent in the Spanish school, did not come intogeneral recognition until the last century in France.The most extreme exponents of it are the body ofartists who grouped themselves round Claude Monet.This impressionist movement, as the critics havelabelled it, was the result of a fierce determinationto consider nature solely from the visual point ofview, making no concessions to any other associa-tions connected with sight. The result was an en-tirely new vision of nature, startling and repulsiveto eyes unaccustomed to observation from a purelyvisual point of view and used only to seeing the62
  74. 74. MASS DRAWING"feel of things," as it were. And the first resultswere naturally rather crude. But a great amount ofnew visual facts were brought to light, particularlythose connected with the painting of sunlight andhalf light effects. Indeed the whole painting ofstrong light has been permanently affected by thework of this group of painters. Emancipated fromthe objective world, they no longer dissected theobject to see what was inside it, but studied ratherthe anatomy of the light refracted from it to theireyes. Finding this to be composed of all the coloursof the rainbow as seen in the solar spectrum, andthat all the effects nature produced are done withdifferent proportions of these colours, they took them,or the nearest pigments they could get to them,for their palette, eliminating the earth colours andblack. And further, finding that natures colours(the rays of coloured light) when mixed produceddifferent results than their corresponding pigmentsmixed together, they determined to use their paintsas pure as possible, placing them one against theother to be mixed as they came to the eye, themixture being one of pure colour rays, not pigments,by this means.But we are here only concerned with the move-ment as it affected form, and must avoid the fascina-ting province of colour.Those who had been brought up in the old schoolof outline form said there was no drawing in theseimpressionist pictures, and from the point of viewof the mental idea of form discussed in the lastchapter, there was indeed little, although, had theimpression been realised to a sufficiently definitefocus, the sense of touch and solidity would probablyhave been satisfied. But the particular field of this63
  75. 75. MASS DRAWINGnew point of view, the beauty of tone and colourrelations considered as an impression apart fromobjectivity, did not tempt them to carry their workso far as this, or the insistence on these particularqualities would have been lost.But interesting and alluring as is the new worldof visual music opened up by this point of view,it is beginning to be realised that it has failed some-how to satisfy. In the first place, the implied assump-tion that one sees with the eye alone is wrong :" In every object there is inexhaustible meaning ;the eye seesin it what the eye brings means of seeing,"1and it is the mind behind the eye that supplies thismeans of perception: one sees with the mind. Theultimate effect of any picture, be it impressionist,post, anti, or otherwise is its power to stimulatethese mental perceptions within the mind.But even from the point of view of the true visualperception (if there is such a thing) that modern arthas heard so much talk of, the copying of the retinapicture is not so great a success. The impressioncarried away from a scene that has moved us isnot its complete visual aspect. Only those thingsthat are significant to the felt impression have beenretained by the mind ;and if the picture is to bea true representation of this, the significant factsmust be sorted out from the mass of irrelevant matterand presented in a lively manner. The impres-sionists habit of painting before nature entirelyis not calculated to do this. Going time after timeto the same place, even if similar weather conditionsare waited for, although well enough for studies,is against the production of a fine picture. Every1Goethe, quoted in C&ilyleaJrench Revolution, chap. L64
  76. 76. MASS DRAWINGtime the artist goes to the selected spot he receivesa different impression, so that he must either paintall over his picture each time, in which case hiswork must be confined to a small scale and will behurried in execution, or he must paint a bit of to-days impression alongside of yesterdays, in whichcase his work will be dull and lacking in onenessof conception.And further, in decomposing the colour raysthat come to the eye and painting in pure colour,while great addition was made to the power ofexpressing light, yet by destroying the definitionsand enveloping everything in a scintillating atmos-phere, the power to design in a large manner waslost with the wealth of significance that the musicof line can convey.But impressionism has opened up a view fromwhich much interesting matter for art is to begleaned. And everywhere painters are selectingfrom this, and grafting it on to some of the moretraditional schools of design.Our concern here is with the influence this pointof view has had upon draughtsmanship. The influ-ence has been considerable, particularly with thosedraughtsmen whose work deals with the renderingof modern life. It consists in drawing from the ob-servation of the silhouette occupied by objects in thefield of vision, observing the flat appearance ofthings as they are on the retina. This is, of course,the only accurate way in which to observe visualshapes. The difference between this and the olderpoint of view is its insistence on the observation ofthe flat visual impression to the exclusion of thetactile or touch sense that by the association ofideas we have come to expect in things seen. An65 E