Pencil Sketch By Otto F. Lancmann. A Bit Of Old New York.
We should not go on without some mention of the man who earnestly desires to draw but whose efforts bring him little reward. Such a person should try over and over again. Then if after repeated attempts improvement seems as far away as ever, failure may be quite properly attributed to lack of natural ability, in which case it is doubtless better to give up the hope of ever becoming more than mediocre, seeking perhaps to win greater success in some other direction, for even the man of real ability has no easy task to gain recognition. But do not let discouragement deter you from repeated trial, for many who show little promise in their early work persevere until their results show amazing improvement.
The reader can readily understand that in consideration of these many types of men who are studying these chapters, men at various stages of progress and development, too, ranging all the way from beginners with their first problems to men professionally engaged in some form of art work, it is impractical to lay down definite courses of study here. Disappointment has perhaps been felt by some that more actual problems have not been given, but it has seemed best, under the conditions, to offer, instead, general suggestions, hoping to make the student see what things it is essential for him to know, and to point out the way for acquiring such knowledge.
And so in Part I we have discussed among other things the preliminary preparations, the drawing of objects in outline and light and shade, the principles of free-hand perspective, methods of doing cast drawing and life drawing, and the sketching of animals; and we have tried to make the reader see that whether he is interested in art or architecture all such training is of benefit to him.
We have touched here in Part II on the preparation of drawing materials, the choice of subjects to draw and how to begin. We have written on such matters as individual style and method and on different ways of obtaining results in outline and light-and-shade and flat and graded tones, and have devoted considerable space to the important subject of composition with attention to unity and balance. We have discussed working from the object, from the photograph and from nature, and have covered in special chapters the representation of buildings both small and large, including exteriors, interiors and street scenes, while the treatment of their details and accessories has been broad, too, offering suggestions for the handling of furniture and draperies, doors, windows, chimneys and all these smaller parts. Neither have clouds and trees and water and the like been neglected, nor have people and animals as used in connection with building representation. Then to round out the subject we have opened a large field for exploration in the recent chapters on decorative drawing and on uses of tinted papers, colored pencils, pencils used in connection with other media, etc., - a field in which the student may wander far, constantly finding new pleasure and delight.
So with all this as a background we must leave the reader to map out for himself the course which it seems best for him to pursue, and this, as we have explained, depends wholly on his present stage of progress and his individual requirements. Let each man study himself and his needs. If he lacks the ability to sketch objects in correct proportion, let him spend considerable time in drawing directly from objects themselves, as described in Part I, thus giving special attention to this common weakness, in fact, too much emphasis cannot be given to the importance of such work, especially for the architectural student who so often lays out his proportions instrumentally and to scale, that to do so by the eye in a free-hand manner proves especially difficult. Yet architectural students are sometimes inclined to scoff at object drawing, being of the erroneous opinion that cubes and cylinders and books and dishes have little to do with architecture.
In fact, too often students fail to see that it is fully as important to learn to do other kinds of freehand drawing as it is to do the kind directly applicable to their own work. It is especially valuable for the architectural man who spends much of his time at instrumental drawing to vary his sketching practice by frequently choosing such subjects as will get him entirely away from the mechanical, - a dilapidated barn or vine-covered ruin, for instance, or anything of this sort which will serve as an aid to "loosening up" from the "tight" type of drawing which is of necessity a part of his day's work. He should try such subjects as the bridge by Mr. Watson on page 86, or the old houses by Mr. Langmann, page 167, or even less ambitious things where the subject is small and few straight lines are found. In such work try to seek and record that which is really vital in a free and easy way, with little attention to the technique itself.
But whether one draws from the geometric forms or still life or cast or figure or some architectural subject, truth is the thing to be sought, for a knowledge of truth is the foundation for all the rest.
So in closing let us repeat, then, that each man should study his needs and straightway commence to correct his faults and overcome his weaknesses, seeking instruction, inviting criticism, comparing results with drawings by others and so striving constantly for greater perfection, remembering that one never reaches the point where it is not possible for him to advance still further, - and let it be remembered, too, that even though one fails to acquire exceptional skill, whatever of dexterity is gained will always prove a source of pleasure and satisfaction.