Art Book with chapters on Charcoal, Pencil and Brush Drawing
DRAWING IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
THE PENCIL OR THE BRUSH
The question whether the public school pupil shall first study in outline, in light and shade, or in color is one upon which very different opinions are held. Some teachers claim that the pupil should begin with color ; others that he should begin with light and shade ; and others claim that his first study should be in outline.
If pupils could start rightly and under the best conditions, it is not a matter of great importance whether pupils begin with outline or with light and shade ; but it is generally impossible to secure the best conditions and the question really is what is advisable, considering the fact that most of the instruction is given by grade teachers, and is given under very poor conditions as to light and materials.
Outline is a medium which conventionally represents the least important features of a subject ; light and shade effects are far more important than contours ; and color effects are more important than light and shade. But the question of the relative importance of the three is of little assistance in enabling us to decide how the pupil may make the most rapid advance, for he must be able to draw, and able to give values and also color effects, if he is to paint a picture ; and his training must not give undue attention in any one direction.
It is also evident that it should not present the most difficult problems to the youngest pupils. It is a question if work in light and shade would be more difficult for young pupils than work in outline, if the pupils could have, as instructor, an artist who was at the same time a trained teacher ; but as regards color, there can hardly be much difference of opinion. Probably most artists will say that they have personally seen color as it really appears only after having studied many years ; and often they will say that they have for the first time seen the delicate color distinctions, which are essential to the best work in color, after they have made their reputations as artists.
There can be no question that color is far more difficult to see than light and shade. Mediums for color study are very expensive and difficult to prepare and use, and thus color is not so suitable for the beginner. Even the artist is relieved when he works upon a subject where it is not absolutely essential for him to think of the form, light and shade, and color at the same time.
We must decide, then, that the most important work of the pupil at first is to learn to draw ; and whether this shall be by work in outline or by study of light and shade depends upon the age of the pupil, and whether he is studying in a studio with an artist or in a schoolroom with a teacher who has had little time to devote to art work.
It is possible that young pupils may be taught to see effects so that they may work with advantage in light and shade ; but for this to happen the pupils must have the best conditions as to light and instruction. At present there are few teachers not specialists in the public schools who have specially studied light and shade, and for this reason alone drawing in these schools should at first be in outline.
It will be said that only teachers duly qualified should he employed ; but even if this were always done, there are other reasons why in the public schools it is better to begin with outline drawing. First is the fact that until pupils can draw contours with approximate truth, they cannot make light and shade drawings of any merit.. Second, there is no sure and simple way by which pupils can learn to see values, while, as explained in " Free-Hand Drawing," they can teach themselves to draw correctly. These facts lead us to decide that the first study in the public schools should be in outline.
In the past much of the public school instruction in drawing has been such that artists and others informed upon art and art education have pronounced it mechanical and harmful. This has become generally known, and consequently we find that in all possible ways attempts are being made to improve instruction in drawing and to change public opinion concerning the nature of this work.
The work done in the past has been principally in pencil outline ; hence the pencil is now discarded in favor of crayon, colored crayons, the brush, and pen and ink. Even the first instruction in some schools is with the brush, and sometimes brushwork is the principal instruction given through all the grades. As a result of such methods, we find on exhibition in some places drawings which to the public are much more interesting than the pencil outlines exhibited in former years, and pupils are much more interested in such work than in the work formerly done. There is no question that interest is increased by any and all work which suggests picture-making. But. the interest of the pupil is not the only point to be considered ; if it were, we should not ask him to study spelling or arithmetic if he does not like these studies or shows more interest in manual training, chemistry, or any other subject. The pupil's interest is desirable, but is it to be allowed to influence instruction in drawing more than it does instruction in other subjects ? Good instruction Will create interest, and yet interest is not proof of good instruction ; for methods which make the pupil's work or the teacher's work easy will often be popular, and the more harmful these methods are, the more interest they will often create.
The popular interest in light and shade, in crayon drawing, in colored crayons, in brush work, in painting, and in pen and ink in the lower grades of the public schools is largely due to the reaction from the mechanical work of outline drawing mechanically taught, and is often not based on sound principles or sound instruction. The pupil who receives instruction not based upon sound art principles will be no better off than the one who formerly was taught to make mechanical free-hand drawings. There will, however, be a great difference in the cost, for while instruction in pencil drawing is inexpensive as far as materials are concerned, the instruction which allows the pupil to think that he can paint before he can draw will cost many times as much for materials as that formerly provided.
The public should understand that to give a boy a paint-box does not make him an artist, or give him the power to draw any more truthfully than he can draw with the lead pencil. Public school graduates have generally been unable to draw with any degree of facility, or even accuracy, the simplest objects about them, and consequently the public demands that some change in drawing be made. This demand is now met in some places by putting into the hands of the pupil a brush instead of a pencil. With this brush the pupil makes drawings which are freer than the outline drawings he formerly made ; but are they any truer, any more like the objects studied, and will this training enable the pupil to draw correctly ? With the brush the pupil draws leaves, flowers, vegetables, etc. These subjects are such that they are recognized if the drawings are far from correct ; the handling of the brush produces variety and accidental effects which are often pleasing and artistic, so that to the casual observer, who cannot compare the drawings with the objects, it may seem as if the work was a great advance over the simple outline work previously done. But ask the pupil who has used the brush exclusively, or even largely, through all the grades, to draw a chair or a corner of a room or a landscape, and he will in many cases draw no .better than he formerly did.
The remedy for poor drawing is not to be found in a change of mediums. If instruction in drawing is based upon good methods, the pencil or the brush or any other medium can be used, and the student will learn to draw ; but until he studies the appearances of nature, and not simply the handling of any medium, he will never draw any better than he has drawn with the instruction of the past, which has taught him to use a pencil mechanically.
I do not mean to say that in many places good may not result from the present movement in favor of other mediums than the pencil, but this will come principally when directors of drawing base their efforts on the serious study of nature and on the careful comparison and correction of all work, until the eye has learned to see truly enough to allow the hand to express form rapidly.
The pupil who has not learned to draw quite truthfully by the use of the pencil, or some other medium, which permits frequent changes, will only waste time and money by taking up are with the brush and India ink, or work in color ; and teachers are earnestly advised not to allow pupils to attempt this work until they can draw fairly well in outline.
If proper instruction in the lower grades is given in pencil outline, pupils will be interested, and they will learn to draw before they enter the higher grammar grades, so that in these grades it will be possible to begin the use of the brush and other mediums more difficult than the pencil. The first subjects for brush instruction should be foliage, vegetables, etc., for errors in drawing will not appear at first glance in this work ; but the brush should not be used until pupils can avoid the most serious errors of drawing.
Pupils may receive good instruction in outline and light and shade and study exclusively or largely with the brush, but they will gain nothing by so doing. On the contrary, they will lose ; for to learn to draw is a difficult problem if made as simple as possible, and the brush makes it much more difficult than other mediums the pupil may use, with far less expenditure of time and money. The pencil is cleaner than any other medium and more durable; it is equally well adapted for the slightest sketch or for the most careful study, and it allows changes to be made much more readily than most other mediums. It is at the same time the cheapest medium, the most educational, and the best in all ways ; and far from being childish or mechanical, it is, and has been, a favorite medium of nearly all great artists.
The pencil is adapted, not only for the first work in the public schools, but for the use of all art students ; and when students have the advantages of a studio and an artist as teacher, they should use the pencil part of the time, even if they begin with the study of light and shade in charcoal, for it is necessary to study form as well as values. To whichever subject the student' first gives his attention, he should change for a time, and make the other of first importance.
Charcoal is better adapted for the study of values than any other medium, for changes in the values of the charcoal drawing may be made most readily. The pencil is better adapted to the study of form than the charcoal, for it has a fine, durable point, and with it the faintest touches may be made ; so that it is possible to change a drawing many times without any use of the eraser, by gradually strengthening the touches. Making a drawing in this way, without the use of the eraser, until the correct lines have been found, gives the best drill in drawing, and is the only artistic method ; and teachers of private classes and of art-school students should depend upon their judgment as to whether their pupils shall study values first with the charcoal, or form first with the lead pencil.
FIRST WORK IN LIGHT AND SHADE
Having shown the different methods in which the pencil may be used in light and shade work, we will now consider what public school pupils in the lower grades may do, bearing .in mind the facts that the drawing instruction must generally be given by teachers who have had little chance to study art, and that the lessons must be given in regular classrooms, with the conditions as to light, models, etc., very unsatisfactory.
Light and shade drawings are often made by copying or by dictation methods ; but such work should never be permitted, and when teachers are not able to explain principles, or to make or criticise light and shade studies from nature, students should not attempt light and shade work.
The subject of light and shade is not so difficult that teachers who wish to give elementary instruction in it cannot, after a little study, qualify themselves to direct the work, for pupils will readily see shadows and cast shadows upon common objects, vegetables, foliage, etc.; and teachers may so direct pupils that when such subjects are drawn, effects similar to Figs. 46, 47, and 48 may be produced.
All teachers will be able to show that objects have light surfaces and shadow surfaces, and throw cast shadows. Most pupils will readily see these effects, and with but little explanation will be able to make from nature drawings similar to Figs. so and 54.
Pupils who do not see these effects will be assisted to do so if the teacher places in front of a cylinder, at least a foot in diameter and exposed to a side light, a sheet of paper in which a hole is cut so that through it the pupils may see part of the light surface and part of the shadow surface, but not the contours or enough of the cylinder to recognize it. The pupils should not be allowed to see the cylinder before the paper is placed in front of it. This experiment may readily be made by rolling up a sheet of white paper and tying it together at its ends to form the cylinder, and placing it in position when the pupils are out of the room. It should be so situated that the pupils can see it only through the hole cut in the paper placed in front of it. There are few pupils who will not see the light and dark upon the cylinder when it is thus situated, and after they have done this, the paper in front of the cylinder may be removed, and they will then realize that the light and dark was really upon one white object, and due wholly to light and shade. Pupils who can see these effects of light and shade will readily represent them by simple masses, and may thus begin their study of nature's lights and shadows.
When work more advanced than this is desired, it will be well to study the cube, or a similar object, as follows :
First place the cube in a side light producing an effect similar to that of the plinth in Fig. 8, and have the pupils represent the effect as in Fig. 49. Next place the cube with the light in front of the pupils so that the effect is similar to that of the plinth in Fig. i i. The pupils will represent the cast shadow and the two vertical shadow surfaces by dark tones, and the top of the cube by an outline. Next place the cube so that the light comes from behind the pupils, and so that the effect is similar to that of the plinth in Fig. 8, and ask the pupils to make a light and shade drawing of the cube. The pupils have been accustomed to represent the cast shadow and the shadow surfaces by dark tones which have produced the effect of the drawings. But now the effect of the subject is entirely light, and cannot be represented by shading any surface of the object as the pupils have been in the habit of doing. This effect will show the pupils that it is often 'necessary to use a background, and this may now be represented so that the cube comes out light against it as the object does against its background in nature.
The cube should now be placed in different positions and with different backgrounds, so that its shadow surface appears first darker and then lighter than the background, and the pupils should be asked to represent the value of the background as well as that of the shadow and cast shadow. Drawings such as Fig. 51 will result.
It is now time to ask the pupils to observe that the light faces are not equally light, and the sphere should be studied to show the gradation that there is in the masses both of light and of shadow. The pupils should make a careful study of the sphere from the object, and should give all the gradations that can be seen. After this they may study a colored object and a white object at the same time. In their work from this time on they should represent a background or not, according to the nature of the subject. They should understand that a dark object seen against a light background, or any object which appears darker than its background, may be effectively rendered without a background ; but when any object appears lighter than its background, in whole or in part, a sketch true in values cannot be made without the use of a background. If pupils are taught to observe nature, and understand that their sketches should be truthful representations of what they see, they will be interested in. the work, and will make rapid progress.
The artistic method of making these pencil sketches is to suggest the proportions of the drawing and its principal masses by lightly indicating the principal shadows and cast shadows, and then strengthening them so as to obtain drawing and values at the same time, as explained in Chap. V. Public school pupils will not be able, however, to draw well enough to work in this way at first, and they will be obliged to indicate the outlines of the objects before beginning the shading. If in obtaining correct form the outlines become strong, the eraser should be used to make them very faint before the drawing is shaded. When possible no shadow or edge should_ be defined in a finished drawing by an outline ; and whenever a background is used the forms may always be shown by the values alone.
Perfectly accurate geometric solids are not the best subjects for this work, as it is difficult to represent the facts of their form in a drawing artistically handled, and a subject such as Fig. 54 is far preferable to the cube of Fig. 49. The type solids should, however, be studied first, and sketches similar to Fig. 52 are advisable, as they show at the same time the student's capacity for drawing truly and for rendering light and shade effects.
At first pupils should be allowed to work slowly and carefully in order that the shading may not extend beyond the outlines ; and no directions should be given restricting them to shading by means of lines or by means of strokes in any special direction. They should use a soft pencil, having a wide point, so as to produce even tones in any way that occurs to them, and should at first think only of the values and the forms of these tones.
After the students have worked for some time representing the darks by tones secured by whatever use of the pencil is natural to them, they will work more freely and directly, and they may then be asked to produce shading by moving the pencil back and forth in the direction of the surface to be shaded, so as to obtain the shading by means of lines whose direction helps to express the surface. Thus on the foreground the strokes of the pencil may be about horizontal, and upon the background they may be. vertical or inclined a little from the vertical. The pencil strokes that form the shading upon any object may have such a direction that they help to express the form of the object ; but it will not be possible to formulate rules for determining the direction of the pencil lines used in shading, for there must always be variety, and the principal directions must be contrasted by lines having other directions. It will not do for the lines of shading always to be vertical upon vertical surfaces, or horizontal upon horizontal surfaces, or oblique upon oblique surfaces, or to follow the exact curvature of curved surfaces ; but the pupil will be assisted by remembering that such directions will often produce the most satisfactory results. The effect will be most satisfactory when the shading follows these general directions, and is varied by other lines which keep the effect from becoming monotonous.
Pupils in the lower grades do not draw freely enough to profit by devoting much attention to the direction and kind of lines by which the shading is obtained. Until pupils can draw quite freely and give the masses of light and shade readily, it will only be necessary to see that they use the side of a soft pencil so as to produce even tones of shade ; and also to see that they do not use its point, or a sharp or hard pencil, so as to produce fine lines either when shading or when drawing the contour of any object.
The help to be derived from the most suitable direction of the pencil lines, or rather tints by which the shading is given, is mentioned in order that teachers may understand that rules for handling cannot be given, and that the only point which should decide satisfactory technique is whether it gives a pleasing and true impression of the object represented.
To be satisfactory, pencil work must be free and must be varied,— just how is a question which can only be decided by each pupil through his own efforts; and the individuality of each will express itself, so that among sketches by half a dozen different persons there may be no two sketches which are alike in handling. Study from nature and the comparison of his work with that of artists will enable the student to gain an interesting technique with the pencil or with any other medium.
It will be possible to study very simple light and shade effects in a common schoolroom, the object being placed near the window. But to make at all finished studies it will be necessary to have a good light. When rooms are situated so that groups cannot be arranged to receive light from one window, it will be necessary to make special arrangements. A group may be arranged upon a drawing board placed upon a stool in front of a window. If sunlight enters the window it should be curtained by white cloth. A board may be placed behind the group to serve as a background. If light comes from the opposite side of the room, it should be shut off by placing a second drawing board vertically at the side of the group.
To obtain in such ways the proper conditions requires much time and preparation ; but this is necessary if the subject is to be attempted when suitable rooms are not provided.
Pupils who have used the pencil for light and shade work may use the brush for this purpose. In the upper grades pupils who can give light and shade effects with the brush may sometimes be able to study from still life with water colors. Such pupils may also use pen and ink, but this medium should not be used when pupils are not able to make good light and shade drawings with the pencil. No work in drawing should be allowed in the drawing hour of such a nature that pupils cannot by study discover their errors, or of such a nature that the teacher cannot criticise the drawing. Progress is not made by attempting difficult subjects or the technique of the artist. Progress comes only from work upon drawings whose errors the pupils can largely discover themselves, and which beyond this point can be criticised by the teacher.
As in all teaching, the great trouble in public school work has been, and is, that students wish to study subjects too difficult for them they wish to make light and shade drawings and to paint before they can draw in outline ; they wish to draw the human figure before they can draw a cube. Often teachers allow pupils to spend their time in attempting the advanced when they cannot repreSent the simple subjects. Thus, in the public schools, pupils often make illustrative drawings from imagination, depicting subjects that would require the skill of a trained illustrator to draw with any degree of truth. Such work interests the pupils and trains the intellect, and is valuable in this way, but it cannot train the eye to see. It is not properly the study of drawing, and should not be permitted to take the place of that study of nature and that criticism of all drawings which discovers their errors, for advance is impossible except by discovery of error. The teaching which is based upon the idea that criticism of drawings will discourage the pupil, and that if allowed to work without criticism he will in time outgrow his errors and draw correctly, will result in the loss of much valuable time and effort.
Art students who realize the difficulty of success as artists will do well to consider the problem of teaching drawing in the public schools, for by giving part of their time to this teaching they can support themselves, so that they can paint from love of art. To teach drawing well is not a low aim, and if advanced art students should fit themselves for teaching by normal study, they would often benefit themselves while elevating drawing instruction.
School committees would assist in improving drawing instruction if in selecting teachers of drawing they acted on the principle that the best teacher is, other things being equal, the one who can draw and paint the best. It should be understood that the art teacher can never become perfect in his profession, but must always be studying and growing in artistic power.
If the best results are desired, the director or special teacher of drawing should have at least two days each week in which to study, to draw, or to paint. Drawing teachers are often expected and feel compelled to prepare papers and materials for teachers and classes, so that all their time out of school is occupied in work which amounts to the making of textbooks and copies for teachers and pupils. There is no more reason why the drawing teacher should be expected to make such copies than there is why the music teacher should be expected to prepare music charts. Drawing teachers should not be obliged to do such work. The work they do in school is far more trying and difficult than any other teaching, and instead of working all the time, in school and out, they should do justice to themselves and their pupils by studying nature part of the time. In no other way can this most difficult subject of instruction be properly presented. Committees should also understand that no system of drawing instruction can be devised which will dispense with the special teacher, or which can succeed without a competent specialist to instruct and direct the regular teachers.
ADVICE TO THE ART STUDENT
The person who wishes to study art should realize that it is a profession in which nothing of artistic value can be produced without patient study and serious and long continued effort. The life of the artist is one of never ceasing work. To it he must bring the enthusiasm of youth, the strength of manhood, and all the energies of his soul; for his problem is not the representation of the exterior alone, but the study of the soul — the soul of nature. The most talented men fail to solve the mysteries of nature, and the problems of the artist can no more easily be solved in a few years, or in even a lifetime. He must always be a student, and by study advance day by day, if he does not wish to go backward. This is true, not only of the work which distinguishes art from industry, but of the mechanical phases of his work, and students should not begin the study of art without serious consideration of all that it involves.
Many begin the study of art with no definite purpose, or with simply the aim to acquire slight general knowledge. Of course, it is desirable that art should be a subject of general study, and that all schools should give art instruction suited to their pupils. Nothing will do more to advance a people than the study of art, and the love for art and nature which it will produce ; but those who study should have a definite result in view, and one which is possible for them to attain.
Advice is needed by those who spend time and money on teachers ignorant of art, and whose methods consist simply of allowing pupils to think that they are studying painting while making copies which are worked upon by the teacher, so that, as a result of a few lessons, oil paintings are produced, which are taken home for framing. The public should understand that no one can produce work fit for exhibition without long, study ; and that no teacher is giving good instruction when he works long upon his pupil's drawings. No teacher should allow pupils to think their first work more satisfactory or more artistic than are the finger exercises which the music pupil finds necessary.
A few years ago the word " chromo " suggested the worst in art, but now it is possible to obtain chromos which are in every way much more satisfactory and desirable than many original oil paintings; for the processes of reproduction have been so perfected that one not well informed on art matters cannot distinguish the difference between an original picture worth hundreds of dollars and its reproduction worth a few cents, or, at the most, a few dollars. A good reproduction of the best art is much more to be desired than an original painting which is inartistic. The percentage of good paintings is very small, and pride should not be taken in a picture simply because it is the original. The persons who take lessons with the idea that from the very first each study is to be used for. decoration, not only unwisely spend their money, — for the same amount would provide the best art in photographs or color productions,—but they acquire the most harmful ideas ; and students who wish to study drawing are advised to go to the best schools only or to artists of ability.
Before studying art with a view to making it a profession or a source of income, the experience of those engaged in art professionally should be considered, and, if possible, the advice of some wellknown artist should be obtained. If the honest opinion of a strong painter could always be obtained, many who begin the study of art without the ability required to win success might be advised to their great advantage to enter other fields. The chances of success, either financially or artistically, in art are very small, and the art student should realize this before beginning the long and expensive course of training which many students go through before they realize that they have no talent for art, or that they cannot make a living by it.
" There is always room at the top," and the few great artists win fame and money ; but if one will study the history of the past, he will discover that there are few great painters, and that at any time the number of artists whose work will stand the test of time and hand their names down to coming generations is very small. At the present time there are few painters who make a good income from simply the sale of artistic paintings. There are, however, many good painters who do not sell one picture a year, and who live by illustrating, teaching, designing, or by other work, which is a necessity and not a choice, and which prevents them from doing in art the best work of which they are capable.
If art students would ask teachers whom they respect and whose work may often be widely known, they would find that oftentimes these teachers could not live by the sale of their paintings ; and if, investigating further, they discover that even the painters whose work occupies the best places at the leading exhibitions often sell comparatively few pictures, they might wisely decide to enter some other profession.
The student who considers these facts will realize that if he tries for the best in art the chances are that he will have a small and uncertain income, and that he will gain success, if at all, only after many years of hardship; and that for one who finally succeeds in making money by the sale of really good pictures there are a hundred who try and fail. These failures are no doubt often due to the fact that the work is not artistically great; but it is very discouraging to the artist who tries to be serious and to produce good work— and who succeeds in a measure — to witness the financial success of many who are not serious, who are not students of nature or even clever painters.
Financial success is gained in many different ways ; most rare is that due to inspiration, — to the genius which produces great art. This genius is generally recognized and rewarded whenever great work is produced, though many of the painters now accorded greatness lived a large part of their lives in almost poverty. Financial success is, however, frequently due, not to artistic merit, but to business ability or social influence. It is also due to the effort to suit the public and to paint its ideals, or, in other words, to paint what uneducated eyes see instead of good art and the truth concerning nature. This is especially true regarding landscape art. In figure work it is easier to appreciate the best art, but often in this line the work which is hard, mechanical, and most like a sharp photograph is that which is sought for, and the inartistic painter is often most successful financially.
To make money it is not necessary to study art seriously or to attempt to represent nature's effects of color, or even those of light and shade, for the picture which sells is too often the one which mechanically presents a pleasing subject truthfully as far as form is concerned, but which entirely disregards the appearance as far as light and shade and color effects are concerned.
It is very doubtful if a really great picture has ever been produced by a painter whose sole ambition has been to make money. ' Art is due to a love for beauty which makes the artist desire to produce the very best, which causes him to have no other aim ; which leads him to go to nature for inspiration and to study her patiently and seriously, to work early and late, to endure poverty and hardship, and to allow nothing to interfere with the communion of his soul with the soul of nature, wherein lies at once his chief pleasure and his education. This love for nature and for beauty will produce the great art which is recognized, and which in time brings fame and Money to the few who are geniuses. But great genius is very rare, and most who think they possess it will fail to realize their expectations ; and though they may produce really good and serious work it is not the best, and not sought by the few who appreciate the best art.
The art student should understand these facts, and in the beginning decide either to work for love of nature and of the best art, or to make a business of art. Before deciding for the former he should carefully study the experiences of the few who are artistically great and note how many years they studied before they obtained success, and how hard they work even at the height of their success to satisfy themselves. If students only realized that the master whose work they admire so much very likely painted a dozen or even more times the head or hand which seems so hastily done with broad and careless strokes, before the final satisfactory result was secured, they would begin to appreciate the difficulties of the artist and to consider more 'seriously the problem before them. Students should realize that greatness is due to inspiration or genius, but that genius in the case of the painter must be combined with the faculty for hard work. Some work longer than others to accomplish the same results, but the history of art records none who have painted masterpieces while they have been mere children. Children not in their teens astonish the world by their genius in music ; it certainly is not due to work or study when the most difficult masterpieces and beautiful compositions are perfectly executed without thought or study by the genius of the child. But the language of the painter is more difficult every for the inspiration of the genius, who must work long and most seriously to acquire the manual skill and dexterity which will permit his genius to express itself.) The earlier the serious art student realizes this and begins to study nature patiently, the greater his chances of success.'
If the student decides that financial success is his aim, he will most easily and surely obtain it by making social affairs and business methods his chief concern. He should study artists and their work to discover the taste of the public, and when he has decided what sells best he should paint in like manner.
People may assert that all are created free and equal, but the student of nature cannot agree with this statement, for he discovers that through all the lower and through all the higher forms of life nature gives unequal powers. ) As for men, no two are alike in every respect. The student of nature is lost before her mysteries, and with awe and reverence he contemplates the mighty intelligence, — the God who rules and directs all things. He soon is compelled to admit that nothing is by chance,(that law regulates all things, produces all life, and arranges even the simplest details of all life, so that from the planets down to man and his most insignificant surroundings, all events are designed to accomplish the will of the Creator of the universe. It is in accordance with God's laws that men possess such different qualities, powers, and passions that no one can justly judge another, and so in art, as in other things, it is true that each must fulfill his mission) The art student may choose low or high ideals and then can do his best to realize them, but the student who has the highest ideals need not expect to realize them in a short time or without a struggle.
Until a few years ago Chavannes never sold a picture. Millet lived his life in penury and obscurity. But thirty years of persistent ridicule having failed to destroy Degas' genius, some recognition has been extended to it. The fate of all great artists in the nineteenth century is a score of years of neglect and obloquy. They may hardly hope for recognition before they are fifty ; some few cases point the other way, but very few. The rule is thirty years of neglect and obloquy, then a flag of truce will be held out to the recalcitrant artist who cannot be prevented from painting beautiful pictures : Come, let us be friends ; let's kiss and make it up; send a picture to the academy ; we '11 hang it on the line and make you an academian the first vacancy that occurs.' Today the academy would like to get Mr. Whistler, but Mr. Whistler replies to the academy as Degas replied to the government official who wanted a picture for the Luxembourg : 'Non, je ne veux pas 'etre conduit au poste par les sergents de ville d'arts.'" — From " Modern Painting," by George Moore.
We may agree with these statements or not, but the fact remains that the art student who has his own living to earn has a most difficult problem before him, which in many cases he is never able to settle to his own satisfaction. This is often due to the fact that students begin the study of art without consideration of the facts which have been discussed, and often when without even average ability for drawing. Sometimes graduates of high and advanced schools have not had any training in drawing and do not know as much of drawing as a grammar school student ought to know. I have met students who have entered art schools without ever having had a lesson in drawing or ever having tried to draw. Almost any one can learn to draw and in time to paint a picture which is a fair representation of appearances ; but the average ability which enables one to do this is not enough to warrant one in taking up art as a profession, and no one should do this who has not studied long enough to prove himself the possessor of much more than average ability.
The difficulty of earning a living as an artist, illustrator, or designer is far greater now than a few years ago, for then there were few artists and draughtsmen, and the standard of work was far below what it is now. Then it was possible for one with average ability to study for a short time and secure a good income for work which now could not be disposed of at all. A few years ago it was difficult to obtain teachers of drawing, and any one who desired to teach had little difficulty in obtaining a position after having studied for a short time in the schools of New York or Boston. So great was the demand for teachers of drawing in the public schools that many students obtained important positions after not more than a year of study, and sometimes even less time was spent in securing a certificate which stated that its holder was qualified to teach art. Such certificates may have enabled their possessors to obtain positions, but they could not enable them to teach what can only be acquired by years of study and experience, and much of the bad instruction in drawing has been due to the methods which allowed students who were just beginning to study drawing to receive diplomas stating that they were qualified to teach art.
The student of art at present must realize that all this is changed, and that now trained draughtsmen and even the best artists are competing for the work which a few years ago the art student found to do, and the position of teacher in any academy or private school is eagerly sought by artists who have generally studied abroad many years.
The teacher of drawing in the public schools requires training which the artist seldom obtains. This normal training is obtained at normal and normal art schools, and at present there are many first-class teachers of experience who have studied in art and normal art schools from four to six years, and often longer, who are waiting for a chance to teach drawing in the public schools. In the future it will not be possible for art students to support themselves after a year or two of study, for the positions will be obtained only by the very best and those with talent or influence. So the student, must realize that whether his aim is to teach or to practice art, he should not enter an art school until he has shown that he has unusual artistic talent.
It is not necessary for a student to enter a school or to study with a teacher to discover whether he has talent or not. If he has ability he will be fond of art and of drawing, and he will draw and prove his talent, or at least his taste, for art, and he may by his own efforts acquire enough skill to prove the question of talent. .The student who cannot take a few lessons at a good art school or with a good artist should study the art magazines which reproduce artists' drawings, and which give directions by artists and good teachers for art study ; and he should study particularly the reproductions of the drawings a,nd studies by the old masters, for they give the best possible material for study and inspiration. He should take these drawings, not as copies, but to show how to work and study from nature. Any student who will draw from nature with such material to enthuse and suggest ways of working will not go astray, and will often be better off than if with a poor teacher or at a poor art school. The student who studies in this way at home may in a few years be far in advance of those who have studied an equal time under poor instruction.
This is possible because methods of work are often allowed to occupy the attention of art school students, so that their aim is not artistic, but mechanical, and it is possible for students to study many years in even noted art schools without obtaining the first idea of what art is or how they ought to work to secure artistic results. In the book " Modern Painting," which all art students ought to study, Mr. George Moore speaks of the noted English school at South Kensington as follows :
" Five and twenty years ago the schools of art at South Kensington were the most comical in the world ; they were the most complete parody on the continental school of art possible to imagine. They are no doubt the same today as they were five and twenty years ago; any way, the educational result is the same. The schools as I remember them were faultless in everything except the instruction dispensed there. There were noble staircases, the floors were covered with cocoanut matting, the rooms admirably heated with hot water pipes, there were plaster casts, and officials. In the first room the students practiced drawing from the flat. Engraved outlines of elaborate ornamentation were given them, and these they drew with lead pencils, measuring the spaces carefully with compasses. In about six months or a year the student had learned to use his compasses correctly, and to produce a fine, hard, black-lead outline ; the harder and finer the outline, the more the draWing looked like a problem in a book of Euclid, the better the examiner was pleased, and the more willing was he to send the student to the room upstairs, where drawing was praCticed from the antique.
"'This was the room in which the wisdom of South Kensington attained a complete efflorescence. shall never forget the scenes I witnessed there. Having made choice of a cast, the student proceeded to measure the number of heads ; he then measured the cast in every direction, and ascertained by means of a plumb line exactly where the lines fell. It was more like land surveying than drawing, and to accomplish this portion of his task took generally a fortnight, working six hours a week. . He then placed a sheet of tissue paper upon his drawing, leaving only one small part uncovered, and, having reduced his chalk pencil to the finest possible point, he proceeded to lay in a set of extremely fine lines. These were crossed by a second set of lines, and the two sets of lines were elaborately stippled, every black spot being carefully picked out with bread. With a patience truly sublime in its folly, he continued the process all the way down the figure, accomplishing, if he were truly industrious, about an inch square in the course of an evening. Our admiration was generally directed to those who had spent the longest time on their drawings. After three months' work a student began to be noticed ; at the end of four he became an important personage. I remember one who had contrived to spend six months on his drawing. He was a sort of demigod, and we used to watch him, anxious and alarmed lest he might not have the genius to devote still another month to it; and our enthusiasm knew no bounds when we learned that, a week before the drawings had to be sent in, he had taken his drawing home and spent three whole days stippling it and picking out the black spots with bread.
" The poor drawing had neither character nor consistency ; it looked like nothing under the sun, except a drawing done at Kensington, — a flat, foolish thing, but very soft and smooth. But this was enough ; it was passed by the examiners, and the student went into the Life Room to copy an Italian model as he had copied the Apollo Belvedere."
Similar censure has been deserved by other schools, and the student who is unable to study in an art school may console himself with the thought that he might waste much time if not fortunate enough to enter one of the right kind; and every student should understand, whether he studies at home or not, that he is and must be his own best teacher, and that if he has any ability or capacity for art he can develop it sufficiently by home study to know whether it will be wise for him to. make art his life work. If he has not ability which will make itself evident by home study, no amount of study with teachers or in art schools will enable him to obtain results of value, and art students ought to realize that their teachers can at best do but little for them. The best teacher cannot give the correct eye for drawing, the capacity to see color, or the feeling for beauty which the artist must have; and as a matter of fact, many of the' greatest artists have been largely self-taught.
The student who desires to make art his profession must decide how to continue his studies. This is a perplexing question, for Mr. A will tell him to go abroad at once, and that there is no other way to study; while Mr. B will tell him to study in the schools of America for a few years and then go abroad; and Mr. C may tell him that it is not necessary to go abroad at all. The advice to go abroad at once is, however, so generally given that many students start for Paris, for instance, before they know anything concerning student life in that city, and often without knowledge of French and without having studied in the art schools of America. The student should realize that schools of art, like those. for other specialties, will vary. Standards may be higher in one country than in another, but in most countries there will be good and poor schools. Schools of art are very much alike the world over, for they all deal with the grammar of art first, and as a matter of fact, in few schools will the student go far beyond this elementary study. is due to the fact that art must come from within, —that it cannot be taught, and is due to the development of the perceptions and the soul, which is a matter of slow and individual growth.) The student may study its grammar of form, light and shade, and color under practically the same conditions in the best schools of any country, and the chances are that he will make the best progress the first few years in the 'schools of his own country, for in them he is at home, and under none of the disadvantages of one in a foreign country. The American art student is advised to study in America until he can draw and paint fairly well, for he is more likely to obtain a sound foundation and artistic instruction, giving better results in all ways, in the first few years of art-school life here than abroad.
The principal value of'study in Europe is due to the opportunity it gives to study with fellow students who are really strong artists, and also to the inspiration of the galleries which exhibit the masterpieces of the world. But students who have not studied several years are not able to profit by these advantages as are those with more experience, and consequently many students go abroad and study for several years, and return to America not knowing what they ought to have known before going abroad to profit by their study. The student is, then, advised to study in an art school at home for three or four years and then to go abroad for as long a period as he can, for there he is under the influences of the best art of the world and away from the petty jealousies and distractions of a business and inartistic atmosphere, which makes the best work more difficult in America than in Europe.
Many students begin the study of art who have not the money required for continuous study during several years. It is difficult to advise such students, for some may be situated so that they can support themselves while studying, and others cannot do this. Generally it will be difficult to study profitably if the mind cannot be wholly given - to study, and it will be better for the student to work until he can study for a few years ; while doing this he will have holidays and evenings in which to study, and in this time he may improve in drawing, if he cannot obtain the best results in art from a brain which is tired with other affairs. The student who has ability has the opportunity to compete for the scholarships given for foreign study, and often in this way he may continue his education.
But the art student with all other students should realize that nature is the great and only perfect teacher, and that success in any permanent form comes only from the free and honest expression of one's own individuality. In all directions the tendency is not to be honest and original, but to copy some other person, and it is too generally believed that nothing can be right if authority cannot be quoted for its support. Most people, instead of studying nature or the facts of any question to form their own opinions, study books and the opinions of others, and never think of questioning the views of accepted authorities. The absurdity of so doing is realized only by study of the past, whose records prove that upon all subjects opinions are continually changing; and even in the domain of science the accepted theories have been almost as numerous and as changeable as in that of religion. Today, for instance, we discover that there is a light or force which enables us to see through wood, metal, and other solid substances, and even through our own bodies, as if they were translucent. The elements are being divided, and we are so accustomed to the marvels of scientific invention that we should hardly be surprised if told that the problem of the ages has been solved, and gold produced from other substances. The records of the past prove an evolution of mind as well as matter, and show that the authorities have at different times supported many different and opposed views of the same subjects, and it will be possible to quote authority for almost any view of any subject that may be brought up.
In all ages advance has been due to those who have differed from popular opinion, to those who have discarded authorities and studied nature. The art student is earnestly advised to study the work of all great artists, and nature at the same time, and not to accept any views not in harmony with the opinions which he has founded upon his own careful study of nature. Students of art and science also will be wise to go to nature first and always, and never to accept theories concerning which their own study of nature occasions the least doubt or uncertainty.
It is often stated that the inventions of the last few years have been so numerous and so great that the end must soon be reached ; but the student cannot accept this conclusion, and must believe that the end will never be reached, and that as long as man exists he will be adding to his knowledge until he has solved all the problems possible to conceive of now and many as yet not thought of. Who can say that the mysteries of life, death, the soul, and the future shall not some day be solved by the scientist, and life be much more joyful and the world infinitely more beautiful to those who then will be students of an art and science in which our present knowledge and power is merely the alpha of the results which the future will without doubt bring forth.
In the effort to hasten this day of knowledge, which is the day of power and happiness, let us exert all our energies to be serious and honest students, and thus workers for our own welfare and that of the world.