This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
One ought to be able in a few minutes with a few lines and shadows to grasp the essential characteristics of any object before him - to express in a simple and decided way the effect and sum of the whole. This is sketching. But one too often notices among sketch class-students those who, instead of trying to seize the broad features of the whole pose, will commence by studiously outlining, shading, and elaborating the head, paying careful attention to the gradations and bloom, for example, of a girl's cheek - very attractive details, no doubt, but nowise concerning us in our present effort - thus failing in the given time to grasp a well-proportioned impression of the whole, which it should be the object of the sketch to convey. This is not sketching. This is working in a method which may be applicable at its proper stage to a drawing from the cast or a study from life. But in sketching the limited time does not admit of all this studious elaboration of detail; all we have time for is a hasty expression of the principal facts before us in the model. Thus in making a sketch, the student's ability to pick out quickly and decisively those proportions and relations of outline and shadow that go to make up the effect of the whole is brought into play - a quality very necessary to every artist who aims at representing the active life around him, where quickness and accuracy of observation are essential to success. Therefore reserve these efforts at finish and elaboration for your studies from the cast or from life.
Begin by "blocking in" the whole figure, indicating the place and. shape of the most marked shadows. Then go over this, correcting your outline and seizing hold at once of the leading lines and prominent characteristics of form and posture. Next proceed to put in boldly the masses of shadow and darks, gradually working up from the most strongly marked to those of lesser importance. In sketching the face note its size and shape as compared with the rest of the head, and in putting in the features look for those marked points which give individuality; notice the angle between eyes and mouth and be careful about shaping the shadows under eyes, nose and lips. Notice the slants or directions of the various lines. In drawing feet, note the prospective slant of the plane upon which the figure stands, placing the foot accordingly, so that firmness and stability be suggested. Aim at simplicity; try and suggest what you see with as few lines as possible.
A word as to material and medium. It is all very well for advanced students to sketch in pen-and-ink or water-colour, but those who have not yet gained a certain mastery over form, as well as over the technical difficulties of these two processes, would do better by keeping to the lead-pencil; otherwise the difficulties of working in these mediums and the fact that they cannot be readily erased may serve rather to hinder than to help. Beginners who do so may gain a little proficiency in the pen-line or the wash, but it will be at the expense of accuracy of drawing and truthful rendering. It is a good plan to practise in these two mediums from your pencil sketches when at home; the free use of the lead-pencil itself is an excellent preparation for both.
One sometimes meets students who seem to look upon sketching as a trivial recreation and beneath the dignity of a well-fledged art student. They are mistaken. It certainly can become trivial and useless if not undertaken seriously and pursued in the right way. But all who have learned what proper sketching means know that it is but the rapid exercise of our powers of drawing stimulating by its activity such ability as we possess.
(See page 276.)
Old Italian Chair, drawn by Herbert Cescinsky.
It is good practice occasionally to limit the time for making a sketch to five or ten minutes; selecting only those essential features that contribute to a general first impression of the whole. Such sketches often possess a good deal of charm and character by their simplicity and directness; certainly much more than an elaborated study of any detached portion would be likely to afford.
Studies Of Chrysanthemums,
G. May Shepherd.
Craft Work in the Geneva Schools.
Geneva has long been noted for its culture and learning. As far back as the sixteenth century it had a reputation in Europe for its earnestness in public instruction in all branches of moral culture. This reputation is in nowise lacking at the present day, for the modern Republic gives out of a budget of 8,000,000 francs, 2,350,000 francs for public instruction, no other State in Europe being so generous in educational matters. This generosity is extended to all comers, too, foreigners as well as Swiss; all may benefit alike by the facilities offered. In consequence, one finds students from all countries receiving a course of instruction which would be difficult to get in any other place. And what is the result of having such splendid opportunities of acquiring knowledge and skill ? A happy and prosperous nation. I believe the prosperity of Swiss commerce is mainly due to the facilities offered by the Republic to her citizens; her high-class workmanship in the crafts comes through the sound training obtainable in her schools of art, which, at the same time, creates an appreciative public. Thus, bare utility in buildings and streets is not sufficient for the cultured Genevois; it must be united with beauty to be satisfying.
"Why do we not get more of this spirit of art into our own English towns ? If people could be made to realise what a vast amount of pleasure and happiness it would bring into their lives, our surroundings might be completely changed; many places, now dreary and commonplace, could be made into a 'joy for ever, often, too, at a very small cost."
There is a grim earnestness about the way a Swiss craftsman is trained. He must have passed through the primary and professional schools before entering the School of Industrial Arts, and must be over sixteen years of age. He has thus had a good general education, and has had some training in elementary drawing, architecture, and manual occupations; but when he has selected a craft to work in, he must study several subjects which bear upon it from an artistic point of view. For instance, if a student wishes to become an enameller, which is a prominent craft in Geneva, he takes a five years' course of instruction, which includes, besides enamelling, drawing of architecture and ornament, historic ornament, flower painting, and drawing from life. The mornings are devoted to these latter subjects, and the afternoons to purely craft work. In order to get in all these classes, he has to begin work at six o'clock in the morning and go on until six o'clock in the evening, Saturdays included, with half-an-hour off for break-fast, and two hours for lunch. These hours show that there is to be no playing with the subject. It is for none but earnest and enthusiastic students who are entirely devoted to their work. Each of these subjects is taught by a highly qualified professor, so that the training is very complete. One can well imagine that at the end of the course the student is something more than an enameller; he is an artist as well, and he has no difficulty whatever in finding employment, often as manager or foreman; or, he may commence business for himself, the training being looked upon by employers as infinitely better than apprenticeship in a workshop. Other craftsmen have to go through similar courses; a stone or wood carver or a metalworker having to take up modelling in clay and wax, first from ornament, then from plants, and afterwards from the life.
In all branches of art craftsmanship the Swiss can hold his own with the art craftsman of any country. Many of the students exhibit at the Paris Salon and other Continental exhibitions, and often do important decorative work in the city, under the direction of the professors. The whole of the decoration of the new post-office, I believe, has been carried out by pupils of this school.
I would recommend a visit to this centre of applied art to all who can make it. They would receive a cordial welcome at the hands of the authorities; they would be delighted with their experience, and probably surprised at the quality of the work seen, for much of it is carried far beyond anything we do in this country.
T. C. Butterfield, A.R.C.A. (Lond.) Head Master of the Keighley School of Art.
Ax Artist writes: "After various experiments I have found a small and inexpensive 'kit' that can always be carried in the pocket without conspicuous bulginess or inconvenient bulk. The water-colour box is the Winsor & Newton locket-box, which contains, as sold, six colours - light red, yellow ochre, Prussian blue, crimson lake, gamboge and Vandyck brown. In my own box I have replaced these by light red, vermilion, crimson lake, cobalt, gamboge, Chinese white and ivory black, dividing one compartment between two reds. The water-bottle is a medicine bottle with a screw top, in which a slice from a rubber cork is inserted to make it water-tight. The brush is a good red sable taken from its stick and set upon one end of a reversible rubber penholder. With sketch-book and pencil, the outfit is complete. In use, the box rests upon the left thumb, and the bottle and sketch-book, or pad, can be held also in the left hand, leaving the right to wield the brush. Of course the outfit is not meant for elaborate work, but it serves to make colour memoranda on a small scale. The box is only two inches long, an inch wide, and half an inch thick."
Hamertox says: "Of all water-colour sketches, I do not know a more useful class than little blots of colour about the size of a visiting card. . . . Such studies ought never to take a long time. It is enough if they occupy from ten minutes to half an hour; but they should be executed with the most conscientious care, not at all for detail, but simply for relations of colour. . . . An extensive collection of such studies would give a landscape painter the diapason by which he might keep his larger works in tune."
Object Drawing for Craftsmen.
By Edward Renard, A.R.C.A. (Lond.).
(Continued front page 254.)