Figure 38. A Sketchy Handling Appropriate to the Informality of the Subject.
As a rule it is best for the beginner not to draw every little change of tone that is seen, but he should, instead, simplify the whole, working for the general effect in a broad, direct manner, for when one enters a room he is not conscious of all this detail, - therefore it should not be forced on the attention in the drawing. There is another point worth remembering and this is that because much of the illumination of interiors is indirect and the light rays therefore diffused, the general effect is usually softer than is the case where we have an exterior in direct light, - the tones blending or merging into one another and the division between the light and shade being less clearly defined. This indefinite effect, though often desirable in certain types of drawing, can be easily carried to extremes, and the artist who strives for it sometimes obtains a result which, even though satisfying in one sense, may be displeasing in another, for such a rendering is often so gray and lacking in contrast as to prove hardly suitable for architectural purposes, where a drawing with clean-cut edges and sharp definition of tone is preferred as a rule to a soft and vague interpretation. The artist who is working for a crisp result will find a certain fact to his advantage, and this is that many objects found in interiors, being well polished and smooth, offer strong reflections and highlights which, if judiciously used, serve as a pleasing break in the gray-ness of the general effect. Out-of-doors we seldom find such shiny surfaces as we do inside, with the exception of a few like those of smooth water and glass. The building materials used outside are usually rather dull in finish, and even if polished when first put in place soon lose their gloss because of the action of the weather. Materials found in interiors, on the other hand, often exhibit the contrary characteristics. Floors are of highly polished wood or marble; the trim is frequently varnished or given some enamel finish, and glazed tiles or similar objects are sometimes introduced, particularly around mantels, but it is especially in the furniture and in such accessories as the lighting fixtures, vases, etc., that we find many surfaces of high reflective value. Table tops, for example, frequently act almost like mirrors, while the glass in the framed pictures on the walls has similar characteristics. Chair arms, door knobs, clocks, dishes, etc., all add little highlights, often of extreme brilliancy in relation to the surroundings, and the student is wise who learns to employ these sharply contrasting accents to give life to his work, especially in drawings of an architectural nature. Many otherwise "dead" drawings receive most of their character from just such accents as these.
So much of a general nature by way of comparing exteriors and interiors. The main points to be remembered are that interiors are usually more difficult to lay out, - that it is not, as a rule, so easy to arrange the accessories to assist the composition, - that the values are more complex, with the shadows made difficult because of light from various sources, and, last of all, that the general effect is sometimes rather vague and soft, but that highlights, and accents are frequently to be found on the polished surfaces, which, if properly interpreted by the artist, will give a clean-cut character to his work.
Now, as we proceed to our discussion of methods of representing various objects and materials common to interiors, it is necessary to repeat the statement which we have already made a number of times, and this is that few definite rules exist to tell us how to do such work. Each student must learn to see and to interpret the things that he sees in his own way, and books and instructors can merely offer a few suggestions by way of assistance. Learning to draw is, in fact, so much a matter of learning to see, that it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of cultivating the ability to observe things intelligently. In order to draw draperies, for example, or upholstery materials, it is necessary to first of all carefully observe the various fabrics employed for such purposes, studying each one with care, looking at it close at hand and in the distance, in bright and in subdued light, laid out smoothly and draped in folds, searching always for its special characteristics under all such conditions, and endeavoring also to retain mental impressions of these peculiarities for future use. Then compare one fabric with another, or drape several in such a way that they can be easily seen at one time. It is surprising what differences can be discovered by an inspection and analysis of this sort. A piece of satin and a piece of cotton cloth of similar color and tone will vary greatly in appearance, and even a light piece of cotton and a dark piece of the same material will show marked dissimilarity of effect in addition to the contrast in color. It is impossible to describe such differences in a single chapter, but there are one or two suggestions worth offering: first of all, light colored cloth usually shows more contrast in its values than does darker material of a similar kind, as the dark color seems to absorb many of the lighter values of shade and shadow. A smooth material with a sheen will not look at all like some dull fabric of similar tone, as it will have many highlights and reflections, and certain fabrics such as velours will sometimes appear dark where we expect them to be light, and light where other materials would be dark, and by rubbing the nap the effect can be changed from light to dark or from dark to light instantly. Many materials of a shiny nature grow dull and soft with age, but there are exceptions, for some others, - leather, for example,- often become smooth and glossy with wear. The smoother the material, the more complicated and changeable are its values, as a rule, and the stronger its highlights. Now when it comes to draping fabrics there is great variety in the way they hang, for some are stiff and inflexible and others soft and yielding. Heavy materials usually hang quite straight and show fewer small folds and creases than do those which are light in weight. Heavy materials, too, are generally opaque and for this reason are sometimes less difficult to represent than are thin nets and scrims and similar fabrics which are so translucent or even transparent as to show light, or occasionally objects, through them.