This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
IN the series of sketches of objects reflected in water which illustrate this article, it may be observed that nowhere is the reflection calm and unbroken as in a mirror. In fact, though we often use the term " mirror-like " in speaking of such reflections, that is only an example of the inexactness of language, with which we are contented from necessity. But if an artist were to paint or draw the reflection of a house and trees in "still" water, as if exactly reversed as they would be seen in a mirror, his picture would at once be seen to be untruthful. That is mainly for the reason that water in any large quantity never is absolutely still. There are always in it waves or currents which, however slight, disturb the reflections, and break the continuity of the picture which they present. And at the same time these variations of the surface, together with whatever colour the water itself may have, tend, as a rule, to lower the tone, and to make values less distinct than in the objects reflected. Thus it is safe always to look for a difference both in colour and in continuity of form between the reflected picture and the objects reflected.
Fig. 23. - Reflections and dark streaks upon water, rendered with horizontal and vertical lines.
Let us take, first, a very simple example (Fig. 23), a mass of reeds reflected in the slightly moving water of a creek. The movement here is a slight and perfectly smoothly swelling one, too low to offer many absolute breaks in the reflection; but the side of the swell turned toward the reeds reflects them far beyond the distance at which the reflection would cease if the water were absolutely calm. The reflections, therefore, appear very much lengthened. We see how these three facts are indicated in the pen drawing. The up and down lines suggest to the eye the practical continuity, while the horizontal strokes show in the dark masses the side of the swell that opposes and reflects fully the dark mass of reeds, while the lighter parts show where the other surface of the swell catches the light of the sky, and is consequentlv much paler.
In the next picture, of tree trunks, which (with the overhanging foliage) are reflected in a river, the movement is that of a varying current; the waves are sharper and less regular, and the reflections on that account much more broken. Long, perpendicular lines would be out of place, and, as we see, they have been avoided by the artist. Again, in another picture (Fig. 26), the reflections are much more scattered and irregular still, for here we have short, chopping waves, each of which acts like a facetted diamond or a heap of small mirrors placed at different angles. On one side each wave reflects the dark hulls of the vessels, on another the bright sky; and 111 some parts the sky near the horizon, in others the darker colour of the zenith. Thus the light of the sky is carried into the darkest shadow, and, on the other hand, the dark reflection of the vessels out into the light. Again, we should remark that there is a general movement passing through all these little waves, and the larger swell divides the picture into two unequal masses, one mostly dark, the other mostly light.
In the picture of the yacht at anchor, the condition of the water is that of an outflowing or inflowing tide, with small ripples which disturb the more regular flow. The straight lines of the yacht's mast, bowsprit, and rigging are, in the reflection, bent and broken in a very curious fashion, e11 observed by the artist. The water is, in fact, series of concave mirrors, whose surface is not quite smooth, as in the first example, but is full of little corrugations caused by the breeze. The same-effect is shown again in the shipping at a wharf (Fig. 27).
Fig. 24. - Reflections, drawn with horizontal lines only, broken by light grey masses of different values.
Fig. 25 - Straight lines reflected in undulating water.
In this picture straight lines would obviously be out of place; but they are as evidently in place in Fig. 29, which represents a house and trees with a boat reflected in comparatively still water. Here the effect is very nearly that of the actual scene turned upside down, for the reflections are broken only by occasional ripples. These are indicated by a few horizontal strokes and touches of white; but in pen-and-ink work nothing could render the mass of the reflections so well as the perpendicular lines, which show that they do not in this case follow the direction of the water's surface. A slightly different ease occurs in the sunset scene, where the young shoots growing out from the pollard willows in all directions, and the radiating lines of the sunset could hardly be represented otherwise than by a direct reversal; but the artist has crossed these reversed lines with short, wavy lines, and the effect, if a little conventional, is decidedly more satisfactory than either system alone would be.
Fig. 26. - Dark objects reflected in small waves. An effect of light masses upon dark, and dark masses upon light.
Finally, in the wharf scene, we have an example of the effect of subdued tone already mentioned. There are almost always in water waves crossing waxes, and smaller waves moving across these again, with the result, to the eve, of mixing light and dark, and making all the reflections greyer and less intense than the colours of the actual objects. Ordinarily, the reflection of a dark object is lighter and that of alight object darker than the reality. In other words, there is less of a contrast in the case of the reflections than there is in the real objects. Here we see that the reflection of the white canal-boat is darker than the boat itself, and that of the black hull of the brig, whose bowsprit projects over it, is correspondingly lighter. To put the matter in still another way, both the highest lights and the darkest shadows are to be found in the real scene, not in the reflection.
Fig. 27. - Representation of different values kept lighter than the objects which are reflected.
One other point it may be necessary to notice: it is that landlocked water, though never entirely level, is commonly so nearly so that all its surface forms tend to the horizontal, and to appear at a little distance as roughly parallel streaks. By those artists who paint water without reference to nature, this seems to be regarded as a general law; but it does not apply, as we see in at least one of our examples, when the surface is broken into real waves. At sea this favourite recipe is seldom applicable, except to the extreme distance. Reflections, too, in reality never follow the surface movement, but they are most often so broken up by it that it is best and most convenient as a rule to depict them by means of horizontal lines.
(To be continued.)