This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
A Set of problems different from those of roses and similar double flowers is presented here. The guelder rose is, perhaps, the best of its class of clustered small blossoms to study first, because it is the easiest, the form of the mass of clusters being globular, and the individual blossoms simple and flat.
Let us arrange a bunch of the blossoms and leaves in a vase, say. of red earthenware, of some elegant shape. The balls of flowers are so fat and round that one hardly fancies them in a round vessel, and they are of such a chill and greenish white that one would prefer this red vase to clear glass, or even warm brown ware, although neither of the latter would be bad. But do not let the vessel, whatever it is, be one with much minute decoration which you might feel called upon to notice in your painting. Our model requires treatment too broad and simple for that.
Place the flowers so that the balls will hang about as they do upon the bush. Mass a few of them near together; do not have two or more masses of equal size and equal illumination, or three masses equally distant from each other. And do not be impatient if a few leaves obscure from your view a portion of one of the clusters of blossoms. There are painters of flowers, of no mean skill with the brush, who will never allow that very graceful and usual chance in a real bunch of flowers to appear in their pictures; but will, with childish naivete, struggle to show the whole of every flower, letting no leaf interpose between the spectator and any one of them.
In posing our models, our aim must be to emphasise their freshness and abundance, and avoid any appearance of studied arrangement.
The leaves are of all shades of cool greens, tender and light - almost as light as the blossom at the ends of the newest shoots; the full-grown leaves are almost a black green. Draw the mass of the clusters of the blossoms, the general outline of each leaf, and the lines of direction of the stems, and, after painting the background and the general colour of the vase and the leaves, block in the colour of the shadow of the bloom. This shadow, you will perceive, has much variety in it, but is in the main inclined to be greenish, although in places there is yellow ochre or raw sienna very plainly to be seen, and in others a pinkish grey. Where the light shines through an overhanging leaf upon one of the white balls, it turns it decidedly green. The lighted portions of the flowers are creamy white. And you will notice that the white is not all solid nor the shadow all unbroken, as it would be if the ball were a solid mass. There will be little hollows in the white lighted side calling for shadows that reach down to the centre of the cluster, or a crumpled petal stands shadowed among those that are broadly illuminated. Or, in the shadow, a blossom or a petal may be lighter than the main shadow, from catching a reflected light. Also, the line of demarcation between the light and shadow is irregular and broken with the shapes of the petals, that seem to have to choose with great decision just here which side they belong to, the light or the dark.
But, in painting these details, be careful not to elaborate too much. We will suppose that you are placed at a sufficient distance from your model to take in the whole bunch at one glance. Then do not paint any more details than are quite clearly seen from where you are viewing the actual flowers, and compare, with half-shut eves, the relative darkness or lightness of this small shadow or this little light, with which you are defining the separate blossoms with the whole mass of light or shadow of the ball of blossoms in which this deviation of shade appears.
In painting the leaves, show their character, their deep creases where the veins are, and paint the green and brown stems. The admirable pen drawing of guelder roses, by Victor Dangon (given as an extra supplement this month) may be studied with advantage in connection with the model in nature. P. T.