Learn to Draw > The Drawing

If the student has studied the preceding chapters carefully and practiced faithfully, he will be able to produce a competent drawing. He now knows about the materials he needs and the formal problems that beset him as a draftsman and as a painter. It would require a lifetime and more to penetrate fully the structure and signincance of all the forms in nature, but by now he has mastered some branches of this study and is able to learn the rest as special occasion demands.

Yet even what we think we have mastered continues to pose new problems with the years. To take an example: even when the student has an exact knowledge of human surface anatomy, he will find himself gradually, or sometimes suddenly, seeing the forms he knows well in quite a different light. He discovers that he is no longer concerned with anatomically correct form alone; on the contrary, thanks to his knowledge, he may feel free to ignore it deliberately without committing any gross errors. With this freedom, he can now concern himself only with the over-all gesture, which, in certain circumstances, can best be expressed by the flow of lines rather than. a precise rendering of the contours. The latter method only weakens his expressive powers.



We have already referred to this practice - in life drawing by emphasizing the over-all rhythm, in portraits and caricatures by showing how only a few lines can capture an expression or mood. The objective forms of animals, landscape, architecture, and still life can also be treated in the same way. But the artist must know where to look for the central structural problem of every natural form and be able to draw it exactly as the need arises.

If the artist knows what is essential to master and has a general idea of the most important problems in other fields and subjects, he can then work according to a plan; he will not just sketch at random but will make studies. In other words, he will pursue a definite purpose in his drawing.

The
sketch is simply a note or memorandum, either of an object seen or of an idea that the artist wishes to remember. A study, however, has a definite aim in view: the nxing of some aspect of a subject required to carry out the idea suggested by the sketch. While the sketch is generally a quick view of the whole, the study is systematic work on a detail that needs mastering. One must always keep the details in mind in order to have a dennite view of the whole picture.

The artist should never be in doubt as to whether he is making a sketch or a study. The sketch is always rapid and suggestive and leaves plenty of play for the imagination - that is its charm and its value. The study, on the other hand, sets a limit to the imagination by thoroughly investigating the subject.

We will now take a single example of how to approach a drawing with a very limited and dennite purpose. Our model is a color photograph, which must serve here as a substitute for direct nature. We will imagine that we are in Engadin and that we see the chapel on a low hill surrounded by mountains. Why we choose to make something of this particular spot we leave to the reader's imagination. Our task, however, is to make the chapel recognizable, to draw its portrait. Any distortion of what we see must be used only to emphasize the essential features of the subject.

Of the many possibilities available we shall select three: an illustration of a story, a reminder of an occasion, and an outline drawing which contents itself with the external formal structure, its rhythm, accent, harmony, and dissonance. The drawing is to be black and white. A color photograph is chosen as a substitute for nature because natural models are always colored. A black and white photograph would already have translated the subject into values of black, white, and gray, and this is one of the problems we are to solve for ourselves.

Next:
Studies versus sketches

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