If one plans to work by artificial light it will be advisable to arrange it to take the place so far as is possible of the natural daylight. The lamp near the window in Figure 1 is an adjustable one of telescopic nature which is excellent for the purpose as it may be shifted instantly to any desired position. Some artists prefer kerosene to electricity, claiming it gives a softer light. The kind of lamp is perhaps of less importance than its placement, however, as great care is necessary to avoid unpleasant glare or reflection. The light should be secured against so swaying or moving as to change the shade and shadow.
And last but not least a wastebasket proves a desirable adjunct to the studio.
When this equipment has all been assembled and arranged we can select our first subject and start to draw. But there are various kinds of drawings of objects which may be made and it seems advisable to consider these for a moment for they are all useful, and one's training in still-life is incomplete until he has done drawings illustrating each of these different types.
First come the drawings in outline only, in which special attention is given to correct proportion and perspective; next we have studies in full value, in which all the tones are worked out with the utmost care so that each drawing gives as truthful a representation of the objects as it is possible to get with pencil. Then we have drawings in which some tone is added to outline, - a sort of combination of these other two methods, and others in which tone is built up by successions of fine lines or broad lines or both. All of these types are careful studies but there are still others in which speed is a leading consideration, a time limit being set before the drawing is commenced. These are frequently called time sketches. Aside from all these studies and sketches in which truth is sought, drawings are sometimes made in which the objects simply serve as a motive for a somewhat original composition for which a rather decorative treatment usually seems appropriate.
Of all these various classes of drawings we will discuss in the next chapters the first two quite fully, - the drawings in outline and the studies in full values. Much that we say concerning these will relate also to the others, which will, therefore, be more briefly described.
So let us select our subject and be at it.
We have already mentioned that there is nothing better for the beginner who is just ready to start his first practice than some simple object with which he is already quite familiar, something small enough so that it can be seen easily at a glance and yet large enough so that little effort is required to see it. And it should have a certain amount of individuality or distinctive character rather than mere prettiness, for one of the first things that we should learn is how to so analyze the subject as to discover its leading characteristics, and record them on paper with a few deft strokes. It should he of a simple color scheme, too, for the beginner has enough to occupy his attention if the colors are few and these few not too brilliant and distracting. To meet these requirements common, everyday objects are often the best that we can have. Geometric forms have been previously mentioned as desirable but as the representation of these will be especially considered in Chapter V (Free-Hand Perspective) we will turn to objects having less regularity or symmetry of form, such as old shoes or dishes. Bear in mind, however, when Chapter V is read that much which is given here relates as well to the representation of the geometric forms.
So let us take as our first subject an old shoe, quite the worse for wear, for this will give us variety of shape in abundance as well as individuality (for no two old shoes look just the same).
Now that our equipment is arranged and our subject is selected, we are nearly ready to begin, but must first place the shoe on the object stand in a natural position with the light falling upon it in an interesting way (though the lighting is less important for outline work than for the later shaded studies). Thumbtack a sheet of paper about 11"xl5" or larger to your drawing board (see Chapter II (The Essential Equipment) in regard to the selection of paper) remembering that if several additional sheets are placed beneath the drawing, the surface will be better. Whittle a medium soft pencil such as an HB to a fairly sharp point, and place your chair and easel in a position which will permit of comfort and a clear view of the object and good light on the paper. Then when seated there are certain things to be decided before touching pencil to the paper. We must determine what sort of a drawing we are about to make. Is it to be in outline or in black and white? Is it to be a rough sketch or a carefully finished study? Are we to attempt to accurately represent the subject as we see it, every spot and line, every infinitesimal detail that we are able to discover on close search, or are we to work more for the general impression that one gets on looking at such an object in the usual way? As a rule it seems best for the beginner to confine his early attempts to outline, getting the main proportions as accurate as he can, seeking to bring out in his sketch the individual characteristics of the object. If the drawing is to be of a shoe, let it represent that particular shoe and not some other. Perhaps it may be well if the writer here digresses for a moment to relate his own experiences when making his first drawing under instruction. It was in the studio of Mr. Albert E. Moore at Portland, Maine - to whom this volume is dedicated, and whose influence is felt in every page. The drawing materials had been prepared and the author was eagerly waiting to see what the subject was to be. And then it was brought out, - an old, ragged felt hat. And a block of wood a few inches long, and two or three inches high. And that was all. And the hat was raised at one side on the block and arranged to form an interesting composition. Then the work was started, the directions being to make an outline drawing of that hat, expressing its individuality, getting right at the essentials, considering the whole thing in a big way. A half hour later the drawing was finished, - perfect, according to the personal opinion of its youthful author, - an improvement on the original in every way. And then came Mr. Moore! In the light of later understanding his patience seems truly remarkable. For he pointed out how the drawing was wrong here and wrong there, was, in fact, (though commendable for a first attempt) wrong in all its larger proportions, but especially how it failed to express the character of that particular hat. So the sheet was wiped clean and a new drawing made, and again, until the end of the morning found a somewhat discouraged youth whose pride in his newly acquired materials had received quite a setback. Finally after three or four half-days' time the drawing was finished (and what a feeling of satisfaction this accomplishment gave), the first of many similar studies, each of which brought added emphasis to the need of truthfully expressing the leading characteristics of the subject drawn.