IN THE last few chapters special attention has been given to the representation of minor portions of both exteriors and interiors of buildings, and it has been pointed out that these small details really are the draftsman's A B C's, which he should learn before attempting large or important compositions.
His alphabet will not be complete, however, until he has added to his knowledge of how to draw these elements of a building itself a fund of information concerning the indication of such accessories as clouds, water, automobiles and other vehicles, also animals, people and foliage.
Foliage is especially important as there are comparatively few drawings of architecture which fail to show more or less of it, while in many renderings it occupies a very large and prominent place. (We use a broad meaning of the word here, including under the one general term "foliage" not only masses of leaves but all such forms of plant life as trees, bushes, vines, grass and flowers.) It is, in truth, almost as essential to be able to draw the natural setting for a building, as it is to draw the building itself, and the student should constantly bear this in mind; neither should he lose sight of the fact that when sketching foliage, especially trees, he is acquiring, in addition to a knowledge of drawing, certain principles of design directly applicable to architectural work, for there is a very definite analogy in several ways between trees and buildings. As an example of one such similarity, suppose we liken a tree to a tall tower. Just as the tree starts at the ground with a strong and sturdy trunk, and gradually, as it rises in height, becomes more complex and delicate in its parts, so, the tower, springing likewise from a solid base, becomes lighter, also, and its smaller parts more numerous, until, finally, as it meets the sky it terminates in some crowning feature, graceful in proportion and fine in detail. Nor should it be forgotten, when studying foliage, that the student is assimilating a knowledge of plant form which may be of value when designing or drawing ornament, for much architectural ornament is either copied more or less literally from nature or thoroughly conventionalized like the lotus of the Egyptians and the acanthus and anthemion of the Greeks. Again, aside from all aesthetic considerations, the architectural student should not overlook the fact that he can acquire from the study of trees much valuable knowledge of various building and finishing woods.
It is because of these numerous advantages to be gained from a study of trees and their foliage, and because there is, too, so much pleasure to be derived from such a pursuit and especially from the outdoor sketching which is so frequently a part of it, that we are devoting an entire chapter to its consideration.
First of all, before discussing actual means of representing foliage, it may be well to point out that its frequent employment in drawing is natural, not only because we are accustomed to see buildings in an environment of green, but also because compositions which are otherwise ordinary can be made interesting by its use, even "bad" architecture becoming sometimes so improved in effect as to seem attractive, if the surrounding planting is well designed and rendered, while the beauty of "good" architecture is correspondingly enhanced by a proper setting. Then, too, foliage can probably be put to the greatest variety of uses of any of the accessories, and in the most ways. Trees, for instance, can be shown of any kind and age, thus permitting a wide diversity of shapes and sizes. Bushes and shrubs can be drawn in almost any place and of any reasonable proportion desired by the artist, while vines can be given an equally free treatment without any feeling of their being inappropriate or inharmonious. Of course in some instances it becomes impossible or undesirable to exercise such complete freedom, for if a site for a building has already been selected, having existing foliage worth retaining, it is usually advisable to show with considerable accuracy that part which falls within the range of vision, but even under these or similar conditions many liberties are possible. It is within the artist's province, for example, to decide whether the trees are to be shown with or without leaves. Then if he feels that an improvement in the composition can be obtained by slightly shifting the position of a tree or two, or by adding a few bushes or flowers, the privilege is his. He can vary his effect, also, by his choice of the values used in their representation, employing either light or dark tones as he wishes.
With these facts in mind, consider for a moment the common methods of indicating people and animals and automobiles and note the contrast that such a comparison shows, for though such accessories as these last are undeniably important, especially in renderings of city buildings, it is easy to see that the artist finds greater restrictions when drawing them. To begin with, they must be shown with considerable accuracy of form and size. Whereas trees may vary a number of feet in any dimension, or somewhat in contour, without attracting attention to such variations, let a single figure be too large or small or poorly drawn, or an automobile out of scale, and the fact is usually apparent. Foliage is, therefore, often rather less difficult to represent than are these other accessories, yet mainly because of its varied uses it is frequently of greater value to the student, especially as a means of obtaining satisfactory composition. Warning should be given, however, that in architectural renderings one should never make the foliage so conspicuous that it detracts from the architecture.