WHEN one studies drawing he usually does so because of his personal inclination, - hence when the necessary materials have been selected and prepared he is anxious for his first instruction, and if his early problems prove interesting he is quite sure to become so enthusiastic as to make rapid progress. But this is an age of rush and hurry; perseverance and thoroughness seem to have been almost superseded by impatience and superficiality. Therefore progress, however rapid in reality, often seems painfully slow to the beginner, who is all too frequently so blinded by his desire to hasten on to the sort of thing which is way beyond him that it is hard for him to realize the importance of thorough mastery of the elements. If he is given problems which he considers beneath him he becomes resentful but if he is allowed to attempt difficult subjects of his own choosing and then fails to get the results hoped for he is apt to give up the whole matter in disgust, - blaming the instructor oftimes for his lack of success. Is it not, then, part of the duty of the teacher to point out the reasons why it is necessary for one to advance slowly enough to permit thorough mastery of each fundamental as he goes along? For if the student can be made to see the need for first learning to draw simple things well, - if he can be brought to realize that his progress will be all the more rapid in the end for having done so, problems which might otherwise prove irksome will be approached, if not with enthusiasm, at least with patience born of understanding.
Even cubes and cylinders and pyramids are interesting to draw if one takes the proper attitude towards them, and there is often no better starting point for the beginner than just this class of subjects. If we select a wooden cube, for instance, stripped bare of everything which might detract attention from its simple geometric form, and study it from various angles and make many sketches of it (as will be explained more at length later on) its appearance will be fixed forever in the memory so that one can recall it at any time and represent it on paper. "But," the student may ask, "what is the advantage of spending so long on a simple block of wood? I want to draw ships and street scenes and buildings and not blocks such as children use for toys." The advantage is clear if we pause to consider that most large objects like buildings and trolley cars and chairs and tables are based, so far as their general form is concerned, on just such elementary shapes as cubes, prisms, cones and pyramids. Once skill is acquired in drawing these, a big step has been taken towards learning to do larger and more complex subjects. If one starts with a cylinder and masters that and then tries pails, barrels, logs, tree trunks, smoke stacks, reservoirs and the like, as well as such architectural features as round buildings, circular towers, columns and archways, he will be surprised at the ease with which all these last may be proportioned, for these things differ little in basic form from the simple cylinder. If one can draw in addition triangular and hexagonal prisms and pyramids and cones, he can do all sorts of roofs and dormers and things of that kind, as well as innumerable small objects.
It is often advisable, then, for the beginner to start with such simple objects, drawing each one over and over again, attempting as has been pointed out above to memorize its shape so that it may be sketched at any time without reference to the object itself.
One will be helped greatly if he studies along with his practice in object drawing the principles of perspective as applied to freehand work, so the reader is referred to Chapter V (Free-Hand Perspective), which deals directly with this phase of our subject, and which should, therefore, be read in conjunction with this.
When one has become thoroughly acquainted with the appearance and with the methods of representation of such objects (and has gained familiarity with, the perspective principles involved) the next step is to apply this knowledge to the drawing of objects showing greater variety of form and surface and color, - such everyday things as books, dishes, fruit, or old shoes. Here the architectural student may ask why it is essential for him to know how to draw books, for "what have books to do with the sketching of architecture?" But indirectly they and kindred objects have much to offer, for aside from the skill in form representation and the perspective knowledge gained from their study (directly applicable to larger problems such as buildings), one learns also in the quickest way from these small things which are easily seen as complete units by the eye, how to express all sorts of textures of materials. When one has learned to show the leather of shoes and the glass or porcelain of dishes and the cloth or metal or wood of other objects it is not difficult for him to represent brick and stone and shingles and slate. Columns and balusters and all like architectural forms have much the same play of light and shade and gradation of tone, too, as is found on dishes and similar objects and it is much easier to draw from these little things which are near at hand than from features like columns which are usually so large that a confusing amount of detail is visible to prove troublesome to the beginner. Let him feel confident, then, that when spending his time as we have suggested, it will not be wasted.