This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
IN drawing with the pen, the distance should be treated very simply. It is a fact of nature, and a principle of importance in every art that aims to represent nature, that the more distant an object is the less is usually to be seen of its detail. Even in a dry climate this is the case; and though there are days when one might count the trees on a distant mountain, yet they are not as strongly distinguished as the grass-blades in the foreground. We know that they are trees, and mentally give them an importance which they have not to the eye. But the attempt to give a factitious importance to the distance in a drawing or painting, which is the vice of pre-Raphaehtism and a common fault with beginners, results in making it no distance at all, because its due share of elaboration cannot be given to the foreground. There is also much less contrast of colour and of light and shade in the distance than in the foreground. The air comes between, and tones down the lights and softens and makes grey the shadows. An exceptional effect, as when the shadow of a cloud lies over the foreground, while the distance is in bright sunlight, may apparently reverse the rule for a moment, but even then it will be found that there are stronger contrasts in the foreground than in the remote distance. In pen drawing we have only black lines and dots with which to represent this capital distinction. The lines should therefore be kept finer, as well as fewer in the distance, and black spaces should be avoided, unless a merely ornamental effect is intended. It may seem hardly necessary to say that objects in the shade do not appear as solid nor show so much detail as those in the light; but the practical consequences of this commonly known fact are often ignored by young artists. "Model your subject in the light" has been a rule with all the great masters; but it is obviously a difficult rule to follow. You model with black ink, and the more you put on, the less white paper there is left. You must, consequently, be very careful to work intelligently and not to waste a stroke or a clot. Look again at the admirable drawing by Vierge, given in this magazine (page 65), and note with what economy of line the landscape, in full sunlight, is rendered.
Pure outline in landscape is at once very difficult to use well, and very fascinating when successful. It is nearly true, as often stated, that there is "no outline in nature," even in the sense that there is no distinct and unbroken contour. Trees are not bounded by firm lines, nor are most rocks, nor, indeed, most other objects in a landscape; and, consequently, the method of working by masses of tone and value is the easiest and most natural for the student; but by a well-drawn and suggestive outline one can render more of what is most interesting in a subject in a short time than by any other way. The student is therefore advised, after he has made a drawing in masses, to trace it, making only a strong, firm outline, and trying to give in that one bounding line the character of the tree or rock or other object most prominent in his sketch. He may then attempt the same subject from nature, trying to keep his outline as simple as possible, yet not to lose any really important detail. This practice will have a great effect upon his usual work, for it will lead him to observe more closely the contours of objects, and he will learn to terminate his masses in a more natural way, and to express much of natural form by their silhouette. As to drawing materials for out-of-doors sketching, Bristol-board, pinned to a very light drawing board, or secured to a light piece of bookbinder's board or pasteboard by two rubber bands, may be recommended. A good size is 12 by 14 inches. Liquid India ink and a rather fine but elastic pen are best; and for removing pencil marks, soft, burnt rubber, which does not smear nor abrade the surface of the paper.
(To be continued.)