This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
DO not let your work look as though you had been afraid of the subject you chose. Control your work so that you know when it's finished. The "last touches" have been the ruination of many a good picture. When going through a gallery I often wish that I could have seen many of the pictures half an hour before the last strokes were placed.
1 can often admire the strength of a man's work when 1 cannot admire the production. To really enjoy what another has done I must be able to feel that he enjoyed working upon it. All the pleasure is taken out of the contemplation of a picture when one feels that the artist plodded over it, without getting any "fun" out of his work.
A few strokes suffice when the form underneath is well understood.
Do resist the temptation of messing and changing things alter they have once been placed on the canvas, Otherwise you can only produce muddy results.
Do not hurriedly select an object that a master would hesitate at. Do not begin with trees. They are Complicated all airs, and call for lots of good drawing. Much better select a few simple fence posts.
Paint with as much colour as you can possibly manage.
Above all, make your studies hold together. Do not let them look blotted and disconnected.
A few true notes of colour carefully considered and carefully placed may make a study which it may be well for you to keep.
If you find that you are falling into bad habits with your work, try to forget that you have ever seen paint or canvas before; try to forget that you know anything about nature, and begin all over again. Begin with the subjects which surround you, and let them influence you.
Do not try to get everything on your canvas. Let your picture appear to continue outside it.
Paint on foggy and grey days. It simplifies the values.
Do not try to finish a study; rather let the study finish itself. Let the last stroke be put on in the same spirit as the first, and do not go " finishing things up."
Many a good student is spoiled by a bad instructor. I like to have a pupil come to me who knows nothing about paint.
Accept nature as you find it. You cannot improve upon it. Do not be afraid of getting your greens and reds too vivid. If you see them so in nature, put them on your canvas.
The advantages of charcoal to a student are its giving a distinct black mark, either a line or a mass of shade as required; its giving, by merely varying the pressure, a considerable, though restricted, number of shades or tones; the readiness with which it may be made to express a great many different textures, by charging the paper more or less with it - using, in the lighter parts, a stump, or a bit of bread or rubber; then its allowing lights to be taken out with the finger, or the rubber or stump; and last, but not least, the freedom with which it permits corrections to be made at almost any stage in the progress of the work. It may be added, that charcoal drawing offers the best possible preparation for painting in oil, while it has advantages over that method in the firmness of the charcoal point when compared with the brush, and in its dryness, which permits the student to work for as long at a time as he pleases.
In sketching and drawing charcoal is equally available, for figures or landscapes, where a quick, rough impression merely is desired, or for work to be carried on so as to produce the most finished effect. The only materials necessary are simply a box of the best French charcoal, either the Conte or the Rouget, which is sold in short, firm sticks; some sheets of charcoal paper, a few assorted paper stumps, a pointed rubber or leather stump, and a piece of soft and rather stale bread.
There is much disputing, both among teachers and students, as to the kind of paper which it is best to use. Common French charcoal paper, which is strongly ribbed, is the best sort for quick sketching. It is also the best for the beginner, because it gives him the full value of the first rough and transparent tones from which all others must be obtained by some process of gradation, and because it makes it impossible for him in to waste his time in attempting too much finish. Hut, as he advances, he will find it better to change to a liner and more evenly grained paper which allows of subtle gradations and of line drawing of detail. Coloured paper is prohibited by most competent instructors as tending to encourage a habit of making careless and inaccurate generalisations as to tones and values; but common brown packing paper is often used for very large drawings - life-size drawings of the entire figure or of groups - because the dark middle tint saves a lot of mechanical labour, and also because it is cheap. The latter consideration had better not count when one is buying a supply of charcoal, however: the cheaper sorts are likely to be the dearer in the long run, because of their cutting so much to waste. It is also very exasperating to find it impossible to get a good point when it is needed, and to find a stick work now softly and freely, and again so harshly as to scratch the paper. It is best to buy the paper ready mounted on a frame or stretcher. Several sheets of paper should be carefully fastened with thumb-tacks to the drawing board, one over the other, so as to prevent any inequalities of the board from making an impression on the surface of the paper when the stump is used for rubbing. The block of charcoal paper forming a sort of tablet which can be held conveniently on the lap is very convenient. When one sketch is made, that leaf is carefully loosened from the top, leaving a clean sheet underneath for the next drawing.
There are two principal methods of drawing in charcoal: one when the stump is used throughout, and again when the shadows are put in simply by broad hatching, and the stump is not used at all. In this case, a slight tone is often rubbed in all over the surface of the shadow with the finger, and the hatching is put on afterwards with the charcoal sharpened to a point. In landscapes the finger is used to run in the charcoal, instead of the stump, by many artists, as it gives a different and looser effect, though the hatching is omitted. The point is, of course, used also. For instance, in beginning a landscape, just sketch in lightly principal forms, dividing the whole as far as possible into two large masses of light and shade. With a stick of sharpened charcoal fill in the shadow with strong parallel lines rather close together. Then, with the first linger, gently rub these lines together until the whole is one flat tone. If the tone is too dark, rub a clean rag softly over the surface of the paper, removing the superfluous charcoal, and then go over it again with the point. The same process may be repeated until the desired depth of tone is gained. The deeper accents may then be put in with the charcoal point, and any necessary details drawn.