This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Daffodils: A Spring Study.
Here is a handful of daffodils that we may arrange for our painting lesson to-day," said the Teacher. " Their stems, you see, are of different lengths. We will place them in this earthenware vase, which is unobtrusive in colour and rather short and round in shape. A tall-necked jug, such as the Stork in the fable used when he entertained the Fox, would be more suited to their slender uprightness; but we do not want our sketch to be too tall and narrow, and so we will use this vase, which, you see, allows the blossoms to spread and sprawl a little."
Some of the flowers were long-stemmed and hung over or rested diagonally against the sides; some with short stems, were massed at the mouth of the vase, to form the largest, lightest place of the composition; and others were shadowed by those in the full light, the whole being well set off by a liberal allowance of the bluish-green leaves. The vase had purples and browns shading into each other; for a background there were the brown and yellowish tones of a portiere, the table upon which the vase was placed was covered with a cloth of a light but dull greenish hue.
"Let us look in the mirror at the arrangement we have made, so as to see if it seems natural and unstudied, yet at the same time shows the flowers to advantage," said the Teacher, regarding the composition with a critical eye, and changing the position of a flower here and there as seemed necessary. "We must not have our composition spotty and unconnected, nor must we make it monotonous by showing too many blossoms in the same position. And yet we must avoid a diversity too evidently studied, such as each flower going off from the centre at regular angles," she continued. " In conjunction with their surroundings our flowers will be a study of yellows, greens, and browns; the purplish vase, with its glistening high light and deep shadow, will help the harmony with its small note of contrast. You see the free outer petals of the flower are a lighter yellow than the intensely yellow cups, and that the shadows of these flowers, with such surroundings as olive, green, and brown, will have green and brown tints in them, and the blue-green of the leaves will have a warmer hue than it otherwise would."
Absent-mindedly, the Teacher gazed out of the open window and across the sunny street.
"It would be charming, would it not," she said, after a pause, "to paint a whole batch of daffodils, in the open, with their leaves and buds and blossoms all seen against, say, a warm gray background - their natural spring-like surroundings? I am thinking of some which must be in their prime just now in a garden border I know, and of others growing in the newly springing grass in a field just beyond. The brown leaves still linger here and there, and violets bloom near - purple spots of colour among the green. If we were to take a lowly seat on a level with the flowers, we would see them against a tangle of brown-stemmed
Daffodils • Pen Drawing By E- M- Hallowell bushes, and the distant landscape, that is blue and purple with the air, or filmed with the green of young leaves. We might either paint a slight suggestion of this or the general varying tint of the
Daffodils • Pen Drawing By E.M. Hallowell distance. Of course, we would not paint the distant landscape strong enough to interfere with the important part of the picture - the flowers. Nothing in the background landscape should be made so bright as the flowers, and nothing so dark as their green leaves, where they are in shadow. It would be even better if I could show you where some of the daffodils grow on the edge of a pool in the grassy meadow I mentioned and are reflected in the water. No need for ' arrangement' there - the blossoms, the buds, the green sheaf of leaves are very happy in their natural attitudes. I remember the flowers by the pond are double ones with cream-white petals, and at the base there are short yellow and orange petals. We could select for our study the late morning hours of a quiet sunny day, when the light seems to last longest in somewhat the same position, and - "
The Pupil murmured something to the effect that she rather feared that their own light was beginning to change. The sound of her voice brought back the elder lady from the realm of memory into which she had strayed. With profuse apologies she turned from the window, slightly readjusted the position of the vase of flowers, and handed her companion the drawing-board, upon which a fair sheet of "Whatman" was stretched all ready for the sketch.
Nature is the foundation of all art. All form , no matter how bizarre, owe their origin to her. The geometrical designs of the Turks even have their prototypes in the configurations of geological specimens. The more you study nature, therefore, the more competent will you become to do what others have done - adapt her and vary her suggestions to the production of original designs. The best school, the best instruction, is that of Nature herself. All other teaching should be regarded as of a preliminary character, simply calculated to show you how to teach yourself.
The pencil sketch should be made as light as possible, so that it may not be necessary to tub out false lines. In the distance and in the sky of a landscape especially it is better to allow false lines to stand than to rub them out, for the roughened paper will show even worse than they will. Still, it is sometimes necessary to make a line disappear, or, at any rate, to make it less evident. For this purpose one should never use the gritty vulcanized rubbers so much affected by some because of their apparent efficiency. Only the strongest Whatman papers will withstand their action, and these not for long. Soft rubber, to be pressed, not rubbed on the paper, is a good deal better. It must be kept very clean, and it is best to trim off the soiled edge and corners every now and then with a sharp penknife or scissors. Bread crumb is more effective when it is neither too stale nor too fresh; in the former case it will crumble, in the latter it will smear.
With Practical Suggestions for Drawing and Painting Them.
(Continued from Vol. /., page [85.)
The flowers so far illustrated and described under this heading, with suggestions for their treatment in oil and water-colours, and, in some cases, for design, are: Pansies and Lilacs (No. 1) ; Hydrangeas (No. 2) ; Roses (Nos. 2 and 3); Guelder Roses (No. 3); Nasturtiums (No. 3) ; Asters (No. 4); Sweet Peas (No. 4); Chrysanthemums (No. 5).