LINE DRAWING: PRACTICAL

Draughtsmen vary very much in their treatment of hair, and different qualities of hair require different treatment. The particular beauty of it that belongs to point drawing is the swing and flow of its lines. These are especially apparent in the lights. In the shadows the flow of line often stops, to be replaced by a mystery of shadow. So that a play of swinging lines alternating with shadow passages, drawn like all the other shadows with parallel lines not following the form, is often effective, and suggests the quality of hair in nature. The swinging lines should vary in thickness along their course, getting darker as they pass certain parts, and gradating into lighter lines at other parts according to the effect desired. (See illustration, page 102 [Transcribers Note: Plate XXI].)

Plate XXI. STUDY IN RED CHALK Illustrating a treatment of hair in line-work.

Plate XXI.

STUDY IN RED CHALK

Illustrating a treatment of hair in line-work.

To sum up, in the method of line drawing we are trying to explain (the method employed for most of the drawings by the author in this book) the lines of shading are made parallel in a direction that comes easy to the hand, unless some quality in the form suggests their following other directions. So that when you are in doubt as to what direction they should follow, draw them on the parallel principle. This preserves a unity in your work, and allows the lines drawn in other directions for special reasons to tell expressively.

As has already been explained, it is not sufficient in drawing to concentrate the attention on copying accurately the visual appearance of anything, important as the faculty of accurate observation is. Form to be expressed must first be appreciated. And here the science of teaching fails. "You can take a horse to the fountain, but you cannot make him drink," and in art you can take the student to the point of view from which things are to be appreciated, but you cannot make him see. How, then, is this appreciation of form to be developed? Simply by feeding. Familiarise yourself with all the best examples of drawing you can find, trying to see in nature the same qualities. Study the splendid drawing by Puvis de Chavannes reproduced on page 104 [Transcribers Note: Plate XXII]. Note the way the contours have been searched for expressive qualities. Look how 104the expressive line of the back of the seated figure has been "felt," the powerful expression of the upraised arm with its right angle (see later page 155 [Transcribers Note: Diagram XII], chapter on line rhythm). And then observe the different types of the two standing figures; the practical vigour of the one and the soft grace of the other, and how their contours have been studied to express this feeling, &c. There is a mine of knowledge to be unearthed in this drawing.

There never was an age when such an amount of artistic food was at the disposal of students. Cheap means of reproduction have brought the treasures of the world's galleries and collections to our very doors in convenient forms for a few pence. The danger is not from starvation, but indigestion. Students are so surfeited with good things that they often fail to digest any of them; but rush on from one example to another, taking but snapshot views of what is offered, until their natural powers of appreciation are in a perfect whirlwind of confused ideas. What then is to be done? You cannot avoid the good things that are hurled at you in these days, but when you come across anything that strikes you as being a particularly fine thing, feed deeply on it. Hang it up where you will see it constantly; in your bedroom, for instance, where it will entertain your sleepless hours, if you are unfortunate enough to have any. You will probably like very indifferent drawings at first, the pretty, the picturesque and the tricky will possibly attract before the sublimity of finer things. But be quite honest and feed on the best that you genuinely like, and when you have thoroughly digested and comprehended that, you will weary of it and long for something better, and so, gradually, be led on to appreciate the best you are capable of appreciating.

Plate XXII. STUDY FOR DECORATION AT AMIENS "REPOSE" BY PEUVIS DE CHAVANNES Note how the contours are searched for expressive forms, the power given to the seated figure by the right angle of the raised arm, and the contrast between the upright vigour of the right-hand figure with the softer lines of the middle one. Photo Neurdein

Plate XXII.

STUDY FOR DECORATION AT AMIENS "REPOSE" BY PEUVIS DE CHAVANNES

Note how the contours are searched for expressive forms, the power given to the seated figure by the right angle of the raised arm, and the contrast between the upright vigour of the right-hand figure with the softer lines of the middle one.

Photo Neurdein

Before closing this chapter there are one or two points connected with the drawing of a head that might be mentioned, as students are not always sufficiently on the look out for them.