International studio — 30.1906/​1907(1907)

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Pencil-Dr awing from Nature

More than half the students of landscape
painting want to canter before they can crawl; they
want to use colour before they know anything
beyond the merest elementary rules of drawing.
They may be able to draw the outline of some
object, and do something in the way of light and
shade, but the knowledge of the construction of
the things they paint is slight. Their trees are
frequently flat silhouettes of paint, more or less
right in tone, but seldom right in the expres-
sion of character. There is no modelling of their
branches; their outlines may be as hard as the
edge of a house and not sympathetic as a thing
that lives or breathes. They miss altogether that
subtlety of characterisation which makes them
companions of man. Things which express the
living, moving forces of nature are treated with as
little regard to these predominant qualities as if
they did not exist. I speak of trees particularly,
because it is an accepted fact that they are very

difficult to paint. There is one thing certain—
that the great artists of the past painted them
differently because they appealed to them in a
different way, according to the temperamental
difference of the painter. But you must have
noticed one thing—that they are all well drawn and
well constructed ; in some cases the treatment which
may appear to you as slight, upon examination
reveals a depth of knowledge which makes abbre-
viation possible.
You may ask what is the best way to acquire a
knowledge of trees like Corot’s or Turner’s. The
answer is, draw them with a pencil in your sketch-
book, draw them often, and whenever you get
the opportunity. You will find that it is not
time thrown away, it will save you a good deal of
trouble in the end, and, what is more, a good deal
of worry, if you draw your trees in your sketch-
book first of all, with a view to the composition of
your picture. You may make many drawings for
the composition and feel a little tired, but you may
have by so doing avoided a hundred greater diffi-
culties upon your canvas. There is nothing more
annoying than to find that your picture would have

landscape WITH CATTLE (In Victoria and Albert Museum)


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