This section is from the book "Ladies Manual Of Art or Profit and Pastime", by Editors of American Mutual Library Association. Also available from Amazon: Ladies Manual of Art or Profit and Pastime.

Before going into the field to make a sketch, it is essential you become familiar with the different lines used in drawing, the less difficulty you will have in sketching from nature. The first effort will be to get control of the hand and pencil, or pen, which is the leading essential in learning to write or draw. Secondly, a right understanding of the straight and curve lines used cannot be dispensed with. A neglect of these first principles, and the want of a thorough drilling by an experienced teacher, in our educational institutions, is the leading difficulty in the advancement of students in these branches, and has often been a subject of comment.

There are three leading lines in drawing, the straight horizontal line, thus: made by carrying the pencil from left to right, and vice versa, beginning and ending abruptly; then perpendicular ones, commencing at the top, draw the pencil down; then a straight oblique line, with 52 deg. slant, which is about the proper angle for writing.

The right and left curve is used as the beginning and ending of all the small letters.

Fig. 1.

The Line of Beauty, as it is called, is the two curves combined ; commencing at the top, making first the left and then the right line, equal in length, forming a compound curve, the basis of two-thirds of all the capital letters. A combination of curves lying horizontally, as in fig. 2, gives the line which is formed by the meeting of the lips, from these different lines our sketches from nature are made up.

Fig. 2.

A curved line changes its direction at every point.

A circle is a figure comprehended by a single curve line, called its circumference, every part of which is equally distant from a point called the center. From a to b will be found the left, or convex, and from c to d the right, or concave curve. The whole may be made by a quick movement of the hand, with crayon, on the black-board, thus: Turn your right side to the board, place the crayon at the bottom, c, and with the elbow as the radius, carry the crayon toward the left from c to a, and so on until you reach the starting point, c, again, moving the hand at as rapid a rare as is possible.

Fig. 3.

Now, if these lines can all be drawn correct, and with freedom, take the equilateral triangle and practice it without a ruler.

Fig. 4.

An angle is the space between two lines that start from the same point.

The perpendicular line, passing from the vanishing point a, to the base b. The whole of the fig. 4 forms what appears to us the gable of a house, a the point where the rafters meet, b the center of the plate. This gives the horizontal, vertical, and oblique lines.

I shall endeavor to make these lessons clear and concise for the beginner touching only on those points which are indispensable in learning to draw. Although many of these principles you may have acquired, the elements of linear perspective is the very first thing to which your attention should be directed.

Landscapes. All objects which present themselves to the eye, such as buildings, forests, fields, mountains, water, etc, whether viewed from a hill or on a level, we will call a landscape. Now as it is impossible to make an exact copy of the subject before us, by means of any transfer process, it can only be effected by a distinct apprehension of the real form of the objects themselves, and of those apparent forms under which they are presented to the eye, in their different positions in the landscape. All these objects have their outlines, composed either of straight or curve lines, which may be irregular in their relation to each other. Now if we were placed on a flat, horizontal plain, the water or ground which we would have in view before as, would appear to rise from the spot on which we stood, the limit of that rise being determined by a clear and well defined straight line, called the horizontal line. It will appear in the lake; between this and the sky no object intervenes. This horizontal or boundary line lies directly opposite to the range of the eye, and the one to which every other line is referred, and by which the accuracy of the drawing is secured. The point where it crosses the perpendicular line will be the center of our picture.

In Placing a Landscape on Paper, first arises the question as to how much of the landscape we will introduce into our picture. Let us suppose it to be taken from the point of view, then that position of the scene which the eye can easily take in, without moving the head, will constitute the picture. The space included between the point where we are standing and a point where our picture commences, establishes the required distance of the eye from the proposed picture. Now, if through this point a straight line be supposed drawn, perpendicular to the horizon, this line will pass through, and determine the foremost objects of the picture - touching all the leading objects directly in front of us.

Position of the Horizontal Line will depend upon whether or not we make the sketch from the ground, or from an elevation. If the view be made from the level with it, the horizontal line may be drawn at about one-fifth of the space of the paper we intend for our picture. If we take the sketch from an elevated point, a little above the level of the ground, then the horizontal line may be placed at about one-third the height, and so on. If the view is to be made from a high hill, or top of the house, place the horizontal line at one-half the height.

Now, in holding up the pencil or ruler horizontally with the eye, and on a level with it, you will see what objects will appear on that horizontal line. In making a photograph of a building it is always best to have the camera a little elevated, and at a considerable distance from the object, as a better picture can be secured. All horizontal planes seem to ascend if they lie below the horizontal line, and to descend if they lie above it, vanish or merge into it, as shown in figures 5 and 6.

In making a sketch from an elevation, the distant part of the view seems higher than the foreground. This occurs when the point from where the view is taken is too much elevated. A better, and much more natural perspective, can be obtained by lowering the point of view, which also changes the horizontal line.

After knowing the position of the horizon of your subject, point of sight for the point of distance, you have to extend the line of horizon from the point of sight to the limits of such distance.

For illustration, fasten a thread with a pin to the table, at a point corresponding to the line of the horizon of your picture; a thread thus adjusted will, when drawn out over the picture, fall exactly over all the lines seeking

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