This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
IT is one thing to cover, another to adapt and invent; and the last is what everybody must do in some degree when he works directly from nature, especially when his subject is a landscape and his medium pen and ink; for the medium is essentially simple, and landscape is always complex. Nor can the sketcher expect much help from teachers; no universal rules can be laid down for so broad a subject; no one style of technique can be made to answer in all cases; and it may now be well to observe nature in the mass, as composed of tones and values, and, again, to pay attention to some share of her endless detail, in studying which it becomes necessary to use outline freely. In fact, most good "black-and-white men" have used both line and masses of colour in the same sketch and without following any definite plan, except that the line is oftenest used to advantage to express the character of various trees, or plants, or rocks; the mass of tint to express the general relations of the landscape.
But the student will progress faster if he force himself to be a little mechanical. He may, on starting out for his day's sketching, determine to confine himself for the day to the use of tints, and to try to express everything that interests him, by masses of parallel lines without any outline; or he may determine to use outline only; or he may consider in the face of each subject which method will best apply to it. Later, he may begin to use both line and mass freely in the same drawing, as occasion presents itself; and he will then find that the preliminary work which we counsel will be of the very greatest assistance to him.
Let us suppose that, either before or after noon, and when there are well-marked shadows, he sits down to sketch a level bit of sunny road with a high bank and some well-grown trees upon it, casting their shadows down the bank and across the road or the field, according to the position of the sun. He will observe that the fields are darker than the road, and than the sky, that the large masses of foliage are darker than the grass, and that the shadows are again strongly marked, whether they fall upon foliage, grass, or roadway. Here, then, is a scene which may be treated in masses of tint; but he should first carefully outline his subject in pencil, the shadows as well as the solid objects, perhaps filling in the shadows at the same time, the better to distinguish them. Then, the distribution of light and shade well observed, he will begin to distinguish mass from mass with the pen, using only parallel lines, and so that it will not be necessary to go over the work either with cross-hatching or with a pen outline. To distinguish the different values from one another, either one or two different methods may be followed. The sketcher may keep his lines at the same distance apart throughout his sketch, and gain a darker or a lighter tone by varying the pressure upon the pen; or he may make use of the same thickness of line throughout, and vary his work by making his lines farther apart or closer together, as required. Or both methods may be used; but, as before, it is best that the student should learn by practice all that can be done with each separately. A few-studies of the same subject - say, a white-walled house, the lines of its eaves well marked by a cast shadow, with a background of dark trees - done in various ways, with lines of varying or uniform thickness, with or without the use of pure outline, will prove very interesting, and will lead to mastery more surely than many irregular sketches.
After making a few of these simple sketches, the student may seek to remedy their obvious deficiencies by adding outlined detail and by cross-hatching where needed to represent gradations too delicate to be given by the parallel-lined tint alone. When working for reproduction, the artist will usually bring his work to a condition of greater completeness in this way than by any other; but for exercise it is more profitable to work, day in and day out, in the simpler and more severe manner indicated above. Some discrimination, however, must be shown. It would hardly be reasonable to expect to give an equally good account of a chalk quarry, with its sharp-cut masses of white, and a wet, dark, mossy, and worn rock on the sea-coast by the same means. The latter is a case in which many tones may be intensified in parts by cross-hatching, and the darker markings may be represented by blots of ink; while in the former case it will be well to rely on outline, masses of white, and pale gray tints. If the masses of shadow are put in before the outline, the student will be surprised to see how little outline is really needed. Pen technique, like that of painting, I may remark, has undergone a change of late years, owing to the influence of the Impressionist school. We now see everything in lighter key than we did. We require of the draughtsman to take account of reflected lights, where some years ago we would have been satisfied with a black blot; and the student in copying, for practice, old examples, must remember that he should aim to work in a higher key. Ernest Knaufft.
In drawing draped figures from memory always sketch the figure without drapery first. This gives you the true proportions of the body, and when you put the drapery over it your figure looks as if it had some substance to it. All of the figures of the great masters of decorative art were drawn first in the nude, and it is to this that no little of their substance and truth is to be ascribed.
Pyrogravure, or "Poker-work."
(Continued from Vol. I., page 297.)