This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
In every case the drawing design or modelling should have a direct bearing on the practical work from the beginning of the student's attendance, and those responsible for the teaching of the former subject should co-operate with the practical teacher, so that each part of the student's works shall be co-related.
One difficulty in the art training of the artisan is that the standard of work done in the trade workshop is often so weak or bad in design, that it is impossible to allow any similar study in the class, although the students often join with that object. By placing before such students the best specimens, not only of old but also of modern work, they will be brought to an appreciation of such examples. For this reason it is advisable that younger students should at first copy good examples rather than attempt any so-called original work. This would not. however, be necessary if the preliminary art teaching in the elementary schools is brought more into relation with the crafts than has hitherto been the case.
Although it is well to have definite times set apart for the different subjects, it is unwise to restrict attendance to those evenings only. The class-rooms should be open each evening, so that any who wish for extra practice may attend whenever they can do so.
When the student has accepted the connection between the thawing or modelling classes and the practical work, he can then be directed to a wider range of study. A working drawing or model, which has taken only a few lessons to prepare, will be sufficient to occupy the student's time for several weeks in the practical class. In bookbinding, for example, a student in the design class can with his finishing tools work out on paper a large number of designs, whilst in the practical class he is engaged in forwarding and finishing one book, and he will gain freedom in working on paper as he will be in no fear of spoiling anything of value it the design is not satisfactory, but can go on with fresh combinations with the tools, all of which will help him considerably in his practical work.
Students should now be encouraged to study examples of work in different branches of art, and will learn to appreciate the particular qualities belonging to each, and how the design and craftsmanship have been influenced by the country and the age in which its worker lived and the conditions and limitations imposed upon him by the tools and materials he used. Thus the metal worker or chaser would find much to be learnt from studying such examples as may be found in carved work in ivory, wood, or stone, and this would apply equally to other crafts. Here again the necessity of having the class-rooms well supplied with as varied a collection as possible is evident.
The result of these studies should be seen in the designs and practical work produced by the students. In cases where they are competing for art exhibitions or scholarships it would be well if the practical works were always accompanied by the working drawings, models, or studies for the same, even though they may not be highly finished, but sufficiently to show the stages by which the student arrived at the result in the practical work.
In the study of natural objects the student will find a field which is quite inexhaustible, and the Art School should certainly be well supplied with specimens of birds, the smaller animals, fishes, insects, and shells, and these should be supplemented by photographs, casts, electrotypes, and copies of drawings illustrating not only the natural forms, but also their treatment by different artists and craftsmen.
Such objects as the casts of portions of the Parthenon frieze, Greek coins, or drawings by the mediaeval artists of flowers or animals, will have an interest to the artisan when placed in conjunction with the natural objects from which they are derived. Studying from these and also from plants should be encouraged not as a subject complete in itself, but with a view to application to design and practical work. There is a danger with the number of books and publications on flowers and plants that these are often used by students in place of the study of the plants themselves. They are useful so far as they recall to memory the form or details of plants already studied from nature; as a substitute for such study they fail, and the same remark applies to the drawings of birds, animals, and fishes. I have not included the drawing of any of these latter from the life, though this has been done in some of the Art Schools. It represents many difficulties to artisans who have for several years neglected the study of drawing; later on, when nature study in the elementary schools has made progress, it would be possible to go further.
Throughout, whether drawing from nature or from objects of craftsmanship, the importance of retaining in the memory as much as possible of such study should be impressed upon the students; otherwise progress will be slow, and the work done limited to gaining manual dexterity only.
The study of such subjects as geometry, model drawing, light and shade and perspective have not been dealt with, though they would of necessity enter into much of the work in the drawing classes. The student should have already had some grounding in these in the elementary schools, though unfortunately he has often forgotten most of it by the time he joins the technical classes.
I have suggested that our Art Schools should be arranged more or less as museums. Whatever may be the case elsewhere, the average artisan in London does not go to the museums at all, or else very rarely. One reason, perhaps, is that for many of them the museums are some distance away, and it would be well if in each district there could be a small museum especially representative of the Art industries carried on in its neighbourhood. Until this is possible the Art Schools should be arranged on this basis, and every encouragement given to the artisan to study the exhibits. In many of the schools, arrangements are made by which students are accompanied to the museums by the master, from time to time. In our school we have arranged a similar series of Saturday afternoon visits for the artisans, not limiting them to the museums, but including such places as the Abbey, and the new Cathedral at Westminster, St. Paul's, Kew, Greenwich, and some of the City churches and buildings. These visits doubtless have an effect on the work of the students, and broaden their outlook with respect to the crafts.