VARIETY IN LIGHT AND SHADE VARIETY IN COLOUR--SOME CAUSES OF THIS
A KNOWLEDGE of structure gives to our drawing an almost unconscious variety of light and shade that is independent of the accidents of shadows cast over a form or the difference of tones by which local colour is translated. If we were drawing a nude figure in full light, our experience of the appearances of constructional forms would bring about a constant variety of light and shade while we were engaged in presenting the form of the flat or rounded planes of tendons, muscles, flesh, or of those parts where the bones are near the surface. Each surface--according to whether it was turned towards or away from the light --would represent to our minds a definite tone reserved for it and for all other surfaces that were in a similar plane. From the scale of tones we had decided to employ, we should select one after another, until every surface had a tone to tally with it and explain its position in reference to the light. Variety in tone would ensue from .the difference of the angle at which one plane joined another ; a wide hollow, for instance, might require four tones to describe the gradually inclined plane,. when two tones only would give the steep sides of a sharp furrow ; so that the transition from light to dark in the former would be gradual, and in the latter abrupt. Additional changes in lighting would follow, by the reflection of light from one surface on to another ; and the intensity of this reflected light would explain the proximity of each surface. It is the besetting sin of students not to apply the same reasoning (such as we have just considered) when drawing masses of foliage or the limbs of a tree--it is the misfortune of the landscape painter that the multitude
ILLUS. 41. THE ROUNDNESS OF TWIGS-THORN TREE
Fig. 93 Fluted Shoots of Spanish Chestnut
of forms out of doors under an everchanging light confuse him in his observance of such facts.
The analogy of the limbs of a tree to those of the human figure is at times almost uncanny, at others just discernible. The muscular formations that make up the stems and large boughs of a Holly often bear a marked resemblance to those of a leg or an arm, and it is a common occurrence for the contours of a bough to alternate as do the muscles of the
forearm and 'those above the elbow. It is generally thought that twigs are cylindrical, and in practice they may be considered so, if not seen too near at hand ; and yet very few twigs will be found made like a gas pipe ; they are built
up of more or less flattened sides, a formation that cannot be missed in the young shoots of an Alder, Guelder Rose, Ash, Sweet Chestnut, Walnut and others (Illus. 42 and Fig. 93). Such young growths will not only be (in section) a hexagon or some other flat-sided figure, but will often be enriched with projecting keels that divide one plane from another. These observations would be too botanical to serve the purpose of an artist if it were not that they give one reason for the
variety in the lighting of the branches. Again, at the junction of a shoot with a branch there is an increased girth, and in some species the shoots are given out to right and left of the branch alternately. If the bough is then seen so that the shoots are in profile, it will often appear thicker than in-the position when the shoots are in front and behind it. This appearance is sometimes emphasized by a flattened space across the junction, that affords a large surface for the light to play upon instead of the line of light that runs down the length of a tube. This point is so obviously enforced
by a glance at a Walnut shoot that I illustrate it (Fig. 94), but I am really thinking of its application to those horizontal boughs that bear branches on either side, all being in the same plane. When we admire the roundness of an...
THE TWISTED LIMB OF AN OLD HOLLY. PENCIL DRAWING BY R. V. C.
Notice how muscular the limbs appear
ILLUS. 42. THE LEAF-STALK AND AXIS OF THE GUELDER ROSE-EX. OF FLATTENED SURFACES
Fig. 94. Walnut Twig, Notice the projecting keels
...arm or the precisely tubular form of some twigs, we acknowledge the occurrence as something outside the general rule, and accentuate it in our drawing. The flat spaces constructing other circular forms give to them just that strength and variety that prevents their relapsing into flaccidity. Under the simple light of a grey sky the foliage of a tree can be considered and studied as the planes that construct a great dome; a simple statement of each tone that represents each different plane will give fulness and solidity, and some variety. If we take as a
Fig. 95.--See scale of tones (Fig. 92 of this chapter)
model one of those clipped Yews or Laurels of an old garden, we can see exactly how the light should fall on each surface (Fig. 95), and the exercise will accustom us to look for and recognise in the free-grown forms of the forest tree those surfaces that are in the same plane, and to render them by the same tone ; when painting a tree with this intention, we can differentiate those over-reaching forms which catch another light that does not belong to their plane. When we are hustled, trying to record the variety and charm of the glittering lights or sunlit sprays, it is easy to forget that they are an accident to be added to the bulk of the tree, and that it must still be built of a definite scale of tones ; this we must remember, otherwise we get all sparkle but no tree to hold it. It will not be amiss to think of our tree as made up of a certain set of tones, and for the sunlit parts to use a new and lighter set, quite apart from the others.
Sunlight brings with it other sources of variety, for it passes through the thin layers of leafage and causes them to be lighter (though more rich and transparent) than are many spaces of the more densely leaved groups. When the sun is behind the tree we see the effect of a dark trunk, and perhaps some boughs, against the bright transparent colour of the thin layers of leaves on the far side ; these transparent leaves are of two or three tones according to their density. Projecting groups of foliage on the near-side that abut them tell as a dark against them. These are, of course, much greyer in colour from the sky reflection, though the greyness is replaced by a dark rich green in the recesses, where they are lit by the reflected green light from other leaves ; the tops and edges of the tree take a lighter grey as they recede round its dome. With the sun high up in the sky, spaces towards the apex are caught by a high light of glitter, and the ends that jut out lower down are also touched with sparkle or look greener than the parts in shadow. Where gaps occur, the sunlight streams through ; then the transparent bright leaves, with the grey-lit ones and the general shimmer, confuse the opening, and the halation dispels all matter-of-fact observances. Branches that cut across such a light lose their edges and darkness and modelling, and become thin strips of undecided half tone. Variety in the light and shade of the limbs is caused in part by the texture of the surface ; the smooth bark of a Holly stem catches only that light that should normally fall on a particular strip of a cylinder or on the contours that compose it, while the loose layers of papery bark curling from a Birch stem may on the shadow side catch a light that belongs to the surface facing the light. So also the bole of a Birch or Elder, deeply fissured by split bark of some thickness, carries many darks into the light side, while the bark itself in relief takes light towards the shadow side I; thus the simple gradation from light to dark that would describe the roundness of the limb is interrupted by auxiliary splashes of light, grey, and dark. Other delightful effects, giving variety, come from the cast shadows and sunspots that chequer the boughs ; and one should notice that under some conditions the details of the bark, lichen, and markings are seen best in the sunlit spaces--under other conditions in the shadow spaces ; the strongest colour, too, must be looked for in one or the other. These are not, however, things to dogmatise about, since the effects are the results of the conditions, and these vary beyond description. Boughs are sometimes painted too monotonous in tone ; the reflected light on the under side of the horizontal ones is not observed, nor is sufficient account taken of the cast shadows from the small branches at their junction, nor sufficient use made of the give and take on the edges when seen first against a dark and then against a light background. Various differences in the size of the branches, and more particularly of the twigs, in various species, account for the wonderful variety we see in winter time or in the interior of a wood, irrespective of the direction assumed by them. If we remember that the extremities of a Larch or a Birch are made up of millions of minute twigs that collectively would equal the girth of the parent boughs, and that it is the same thing with other trees--a Horse Chestnut, for example-- we are not surprised, after comparing the width of each, to find that the Horse Chestnut has but few twigs ; and we are less surprised that the Larch twigs disappear in a haze while the Chestnut shoots stand detached and clearly seen. We come across pictures where the interest to be derived from these variations is neglected for the sake of following a certain method of representing trees, founded on the workmanship of some Master who utilised a particular technique to render a particular species, but had no thought of every tree, however dissimilar, being subjected to it. Such painters have covered English and Scottish landscape with hybrid Oaks, Birches, or Willows, following on the great names that for the time had sway ; when the freshness of the fashion has worn off, their work appears stripped of any pleasure-giving means--just a meaningless representation of nothing in particular, and we notice only its extravagance of untruth.
Variety in colour.--People who do not paint--when talking of variety in colour--usually refer to Beech trees in autumn, or to a hillside in spring, where Larch and Pine are grown together ; but without straining at these excesses of nature one can appreciate the simple variety in colour noticed in woods, where one tree recedes behind another, until the most distant ones lose their own colour identity in their assimilation with the colour of the sky. Even those near at hand will be affected by the sky, and all will be tinted by the varying light of the sun as the day passes ; so the tree we wrote down as bright green yesterday is grey this morning, and by evening may be golden red. It would be fatuous to try and describe the effects of coloured lights on coloured objects, but we may call to notice the violent contrast between red and green of a tree partly lit by the evening light, or the blue shadows that fill the hollows of gold-tipped masses, and we can but say that the atmosphere makes such colours at times, and at other times fills the contours and hollows alike, with the red glow or golden haze. For these things unwearying observation and homage only can be the teachers. Each tree has its colour, as we have said, influenced by the sky, and each colour has its own grey--the difficulty and most of the charm of colour lie in this relation of the one to the other. I know nothing more
ILLUS. 43. TWIG OF ASPEN (SEE ILLUS. 44)
difficult to match than the exquisite greys on the reds and mauve of Bare trees under a winter sky ; it is not the self-coloured grey of the Oak limbs (beautiful as that is), but the hazard grey that belongs to red and mauve twigs under the right atmosphere. The passage from the grey of the sky to the grey of the twigs is so slight, yet the greys are
ILLUS. 44 TWIG OF GOAT WILLOW
Compare thickness with twig of Aspen (Illus. 43)
distinct, though in harmony. It is a mistake to suppose that greys are only seen in the shadows ; at times most of the colour of an object is seen in the shadows or in the little hollows that miss actual sunlight on the sunlit side ; here the colour is often reinforced by reflected light from the same colour (as we notice in the hollow of a half-closed hand). Sunlight may show up the full colour of an object or it may, by heightening its tone, reduce the effect of colour. The golden leaves of an Elm look wonderfully brilliant in the sunlight ; if you bring them inside they lose their brilliance, but appear a stronger colour. It is difficult to distinguish exactly between the brilliance of light colour and the glow of strong colour when speaking of colour, and beginners get confused between the two when imitating them, as is seen by their making a sunset yellow but not light, and when they put a distant roof as vermilion when it should be pink. Apart from sunlight, it is usual to find the full colour absent from those places where the strongest light falls ; for these spaces, fully lit, contain many tender grey s, or they actually reflect the sky colour so forcibly that it becomes more important than the local colour.
To conclude these scrappy remarks on colour (a thing terribly difficult to write about), I strongly advise students to constantly paint nice coloured objects indoors, carefully noting the grey that belongs to them, and how it is influenced by the texture and lighting.
Exercises in colour on unchangeable objects that leave no loophole to excuse misrepresentation, are full of interest for artists who, by. experience, understand their value ; but still-life objects such as a piece of cloth, velvet, or glass are only interesting to paint as coin- positions of tone and colour ; so it is difficult to wean students from the more engrossing task of perpetual figure drawing. This we readily, grant to be the finest training for drawing, but slovenliness in matching colour is more difficult to overcome in later life than slovenliness in drawing. Neglect of the science of colour in early days can only bring regret in later life, when each year adds to our conviction of the possibilities that mastery over colour can achieve. Facility in matching colours correctly should coincide with the acquirement of correct, drawing. These two together should be the preliminary training for, the next step--that of painting in good schemes of colour and drawing in expressive sets of lines. If the patience of the student would withstand such a test, I would like him to cut out from a piece of neutral grey paper some targets, and on each successively place a bull's-eye of black, white, orange, blue, red, and emerald green, noting in each case how the grey target seemed to become in turn a light grey, dark-grey, blue-grey, yellow-grey, green-grey, and red-grey, and observing that none of the greys were identical with the piece of paper from which the targets were cut. This done, he should turn his back on them, and with his paints repeat from memory each grey. Surely such an exercise would profit him more than elaborating an already superfine stipple on his drawing from the antique.