WE HAVE mentioned in previous chapters that all pencil drawings are somewhat conventional in treatment, the objects being rendered more according to rule or precedent than by attempting to duplicate nature or fact. Nature shows us color, for instance, which in black-and-white drawings can he suggested only in a somewhat meager manner, and she makes no use of outline, so firmly established by convention in pencil representation. She gives us also such extreme brilliancy of sunlight that it is obviously impossible to adequately portray it on paper, so here too we resort to convention for its suggestion. There are certain conventions, then, that are forced upon us because of our inability to successfully picture some of nature's complexities, but there are many others which are entirely a matter of choice. It is within the power of the skilled artist to approximate, if he desires, the forms and the values (with the exception of the more brilliant ones) of objects in nature, but, mainly because it has been found that such drawings as most closely approach perfection in this direction are usually too photographic in effect to prove pleasing from an aesthetic standpoint, there has always been an attempt to obtain a somewhat individual interpretation rather than mere excellence of depiction. In striving for such expression, artists have developed conventional methods of their own, or have copied from their predecessors and contemporaries such ideas as have strongly appealed to them, with the result that the student now finds unlimited suggestions from which he may select those that he desires, modifying them to suit his problems and his personal tastes. Most draftsmen have a leaning towards some definite type of work; - some like the naturalistic, for instance, while there are others who take greater pleasure in employing a style which is more highly conventionalized, adding a certain decorative quality, perhaps, to all that they do; - who so compose their masses and arrange their lines that regardless of the objects represented this quality is conspicuous. Now the average architectural subject fails to lend itself readily to such treatment, as the more photographic type of work better expresses, from the client's standpoint, the character of buildings, but there are, nevertheless, some classes of drawings in which prchitecture is prominently shown, but where composition and technique of a decorative nature seem more essential than does a truthful delineation of the architecture itself and its surroundings, and it is this type with which we are especially concerned just now.
Rendering of this sort is used for so great a variety of purposes and is handled in so many different ways that we can hardly do more here than attempt to show its importance, pointing out to the draftsman that his knowledge of sketching and rendering will not be well rounded out until he has given this decorative style his careful consideration. (In this connection we urge him to collect and study many examples by different artists, copying such drawings or portions of drawings as make a strong appeal.)
Among the uses of such drawings may be mentioned the illustration of types of advertising matter in which drawings of buildings, or parts of buildings, are required or the making of magazine covers, the designing of title pages, or the illustration of certain classes of books and articles, such as those pertaining to the purchase or furnishing of the home (and others of similar nature) - or, again, the drawing of decorative headings, marginal sketches and tailpieces.
It should not be supposed from what is said above, that architectural perspectives of proposed buildings for submission to the client cannot be done satisfactorily in a decorative manner, for if the style is not forced the results may be very pleasing without detraction from the subject, and oven the more naturalistic type of drawing can be made somewhat decorative in effect, if it seems desirable to do so, by the addition of an ornamental border or lettered inscription or something of that sort. There are many drawings, however, where the architecture is simply a part of the decoration, being sometimes entirely imaginary or perhaps distorted into forms which would be impossible to build or undesirable if built, yet which add nicely to the decorative appearance. In such work the drawing is not a means to an end (as is the average architectural rendering) but is an end in itself, and as its main purpose is frequently to catch and hold the attention, as in advertising work, prominence is therefore often given to such architectural features as are considered quaint and picturesque. Thatched and tiled roofs are popular, for example; as are huge chimneys, windows with shutters of unusual design, flower boxes, lattices, garden gateways, etc., - birdhouses, weathervanes and sundials, rainwater leaders and leader-heads, door knockers, ornamental hinges, and so on.
It is not only in the selection of these details, however, but it is in their arrangement as well that the picturesque is sought, for the spacing of the windows and doors, - in fact all those parts. - often depends more on what looks interesting and attractive than on what would be practical. The search for the picturesque is not confined to the architecture, for trees and shrubs of all sorts are utilized, distorted into any shape and arranged in any way that pleases the fancy of the artist. Flowers of unheard-of species grow in curiously fashioned pots or are grouped in beds of fanciful design while clouds are piled in the sky in a manner wholly without precedent in nature. The technique is as varied, too, as the selection, all sorts and kinds of lines being used in every possible way. One should not gain the impression from all this, however, that these things are jumbled together in a haphazard manner, for quite the opposite is true, - the greatest pains being usually taken that the completed whole shall be a beautiful and interesting design, rendered in an attractive manner, and although in much of this work the imagination is given free play, it is by no means permitted to run riot.