Learn How to Draw & Paint Trees, Landscape Art Book
TREES THEIR STRUCTURE & TREATMENT IN PAINTING
By Rex Vicat Cole
ILLUSTRATED BY 50 EXAMPLES OF PICTURES FROM THE TIME OF THE EARLY ITALIAN ARTISTS TO THE PRESENT DAY & 165 DRAWINGS BY THE AUTHOR, SUPPLEMENTED BY 300 DIAGRAMS IN THE TEXT
Painting is jealous, and requires the whole man to herself. - MICHAEL, ANGELO.
IN teaching, as I understand it, one must assume that the student knows nothing. When one has overcome the disagreeable feeling that this assumption implies, that of being set up on one's own little pedestal, one is able to be of more use than if one attempted to dovetail bits of knowledge into those that have already been acquired. This is more particularly the case when compiling a book that has to meet the needs of students in various stages of proficiency. My standpoint, then, for which I must apologise, is that the reader knows but little of draughtsmanship, and nothing of the construction of trees.
PENCIL STUDY BY THE AUTHOR
"Trees hanging over a bank would often appear unbalanced, if it were not for the projecting roots that grip the bank surface and reach down its face."
I cannot understand the position of some who assert that an object can "be painted in a convincing manner without its mechanism being understood. Would they come through the test of having to draw a yacht or a locomotive, or would they shuffle out of the difficulties by saying they only wished to give the " feeling " that impressed them ? I doubt whether the feeling alone would please the yachtsman, mechanic, or artist. At this stage I shall be accused of saying that correctness is the chief aim of the artist, when it is but a little part. Most of the greatest artists, if judged by the photographic standard, have drawn incorrectly. This is a fact I delight in, since--loving their work and yet confessing to a certain pleasure in accuracy--I find I am sufficient artist myself to recognise those finer qualities that can dispense with exactness without loss of merit. Sailors tell me that Turner's " Fighting Temeraire " could not have fought because she could not have sailed. To me she is the grandest ship ever painted, and I cannot listen to the carping of her critics. But Turner could and did draw correctly as well as grandly when he wished to do so. A love for the " Fighting Temeraire " still leaves room for delight in the exquisite drawings of craft in detail that E. W. Cooke has left us. A great artist can express his ideas without insisting on facts, a competent craftsman is unhampered by them ; but to the young student the mere imitation of form by itself presents enormous difficulties, and to him a knowledge of all he wishes to paint is indispensable. There are times when it is an encouragement to refer to the lives of the great painters and to assure oneself again that even they could not dispense with toil but steadfastly accumulated knowledge throughout their lives. It is well to think of our Etty, with his genius already developed, plodding at the life school ; and Turner poring over the mathematical laws of perspective. The notebooks of others bear witness to their desire to understand with full appreciation all they saw before they allowed themselves the licence of selection. Perhaps it will suffice to take the practical side, and wonder how anyone can spend a generous portion of his life in looking at objects with that uninquisitive intelligence which does not pry into the mysteries of construction. The knowledge of how a thing is built induces an intimate sympathy, giving us constant pleasure ; and the landscape painter must have as true a knowledge of the branch anatomy of a tree as a figure painter has of the anatomy of the human form. The young student, not knowing how a tree is constructed, is unable to express its essential forms ; he loses their vitality, and makes his tree look nondescript and lifeless.
The serious training of an art school devoted mainly to one object, the human figure, is difficult to apply out of doors to various and changing forms. It is for the student to supplement his teaching by a thorough grasp of the construction of forms, and to profit by the experience gained by others during years of observation.
This is not a book choked with dry botanical details or one giving receipts for the production of pretty sketches. It is a book for the serious student, whether amateur or professional, planned to give him facts--to help him to appreciate some of the aims of a landscape painter when dealing with trees, to save him time in his studies, and to guide him as to how to observe, so that with a sure knowledge of what lies behind appearances he can presently work out his individuality.
It has been my aim to give help of the same kind as Pollock has done in dealing with the forms of water in his charming book Light and Water.
Someone--I do not remember who--has said : "It is not the addition of individual circumstances, but the omission of general truth, that makes the little, the deformed, and the short-lived in art."
IT is with considerable diffidence that I undertake the task of attempting a description of Trees from the artist's point of view. A loving acquaintance with them each year brings home to MC my shortcomings in rendering them as they should be rendered in the branch of art I follow -- Painting. To this is added a new terror in having to use words ; and the temptation is to relinquish the effort and say instead that only those who can feel the beauty of Trees may attempt to paint them, and that to others their significance must for ever remain a closed door. If my statements appear dogmatic or dictatorial it is not because I think I can draw trees really well ; but only because I know that a large number of people draw them worse.
I AM much indebted to Miss B. Fairbridge for overlooking the text. By her help many errors of grammar and punctuation were detected, and some uncouth and ill-expressed sentences reconstructed to a more palatable form.
The bibliography has been compiled for me by my friend L. Bellin Carter, F.R. S. A.
The tedious business of indexing the book has been undertaken by my wife.
By the kindly cooperation of artists and owners of pictures I have been able to reproduce the work of living painters. My thanks in this respect are especially due to David Murray, George Clausen, R.A., Sir Ernest Waterlow, R.A., Edward Stott, A.R.A., Mark Fisher, A.R.A.,
Adrian Stokes, A.R.A., H. Hughes-Stanton, A.R.A., J. W . North,
A.R.A., Oliver Hall, R.E., and to Lady East, Sir J. Herbert Roberts,