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Principles On Drawing

( Originally Published 1920 )


Joint Authors of "Art Recreations."

A PERFECT muscular control of the hand is of the first importance in drawing, as accuracy of outline and delicacy of expression can only be obtained by having the fingers in complete subjection to the will, so that the slightest volition will be properly interpreted by the pencil. This requisite facility in the use of the pencil or brush can be acquired only by patient practice, the length of time necessary for its attainment being in some degree dependent upon the natural ability, taste, or "genius" of the learner. Of equal importance, and as absolutely indispensable, is correctness of eye in determining distances and measurements-an attainment which can be carried to a wonderful degree of perfection. Thorough practice in making straight and curved lines demands the first attention of the. beginner. Use a pencil of medium softness, well sharpened, and hold it very lightly. Commence with short horizontal lines, gradually increasing the length, making the line in a distinct, bold and rapid manner, first from left to right, and then vice versa.

Next, draw straight lines touching each other at different angles, then perpendicular lines. Too much practice cannot be given to these lines, and the difficulties at first experienced in drawing straight, continuous lines will gradually diminish. When these right-lines, horizontal, perpendicular, and at various angles, can be drawn with accuracy and with freedom of pencil, then practice a combination of them all. Combinations will suggest themselves to the inventive mind, and the learner will be astonished in his practice in finding what a variety of forms and almost endless variations can be produced from straight lines. It may be well to copy some figures composed of straight lines; but the best method is to draw from the storehouse of your own invention, taxing the mind for new combinations, and thus adopting one of the surest means of success. The power to originate, as well as to imitate, is necessary to make the true artist.

Having attained a degree of proficiency in straight lines, the next step is the curve, with all its variations. Commence by drawing a horizontal line, connecting the ends by arches of different altitudes, then perpendicular lines, connecting the ends by arches in the same manner.

In each of these cases, the straight lines form a basis by which to determine with more accuracy the true sweep of the arch curves; and all irregular forms can best be determined by their relative positions to straight lines. A practiced eye will soon learn to detect right-lines in all things, and thus have an unerring standard.

Now draw straight lines, and divide them into equal parts, testing the accuracy of your eye by the compasses, and practice this until the eye can measure with great accuracy. Then draw arches (without any base line) and divide them in the same manner. Forms of grace and beauty being dependent upon curved lines, great attention and practice should be given to them in the infinite variety in which they occur. Select simple curved forms, and having acquired some proficiency in making them, advance to those of a more difficult character. Vases, gob-lets, shells, and numerous other forms combining curved lines will readily occur to the mind.

It will now be found a good practice to draw straight and curved lines with their parallels, varying the spaces between the lines until the hand becomes steady and accurate in its motion and the eye deter-mines the equi-distances. Thorough practice in drawing these lines, and in dividing them at equi-distances, gives to the learner the whole alphabet of drawing. Too much attention cannot be given to the combinations of which these various lines are susceptible, and patience and diligence are indispenable requisites to success. All mistakes should be carefully corrected, not in imagination, but in reality, as thus the hand and eye gain experience. Fruit and flowers are interesting models from which to draw, and these can be followed by more complicated subjects.

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