The Round Reduced to the FlatThe Art Of Painting - The Round Reduced to the Flat - 6, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
Some of my readers will no doubt see their way to adopting in a measure, if not at first absolutely, the method I have so far been advocating. Prejudice may possibly exist against an unwonted system with others. But the art student is a reasonable being—let me essay to convince him that the principle here advanced is logically sound.
He will, I am sure, follow me when I ask him if, having drawn the south coast of England and the north coast of France, he cannot readily prove the correctness of the relative positions of these coasts by assuring himself that the shape of the English Channel lying between them is correct ? And if not correct, whether he has not here a means of at once discovering where his fault lies ?
Similarly, when he has drawn from his model an arm akimbo, and finds that the shape of the passage left between the inner lines of the arm and the body is at any point dissimilar to that passage in nature, can he not equally well by this means diagnose either an error in the outline or the relative position of the parts ? It is clear that if the one be wrong the other is necessarily wrong also.
I contend that this is a reliable way of proving the correctness or faultiness of the work, and I can add to this, by way of advice, that should the student draw at the outset in a way to which he is accustomed, he would do well, at least, to refer to the spaces left, as he proceeds, for confirmation of the justness of his observations.
The use of this method has other and important advantages. It will enable the student to reduce his outline to its greatest simplicity. A common fault is to exaggerate depressions and convexities, and to mistake the shaded parts of the outline for concavities which a careful examination, with his eyes nearly closed, of the background shapes, will prove to be non- or hardly existent.
The ever-present source of confusion to the inexperienced eye is, that lines, particularly when they are foreshortened, appear to take a direction contrary to that towards which in reality they lean. It is a fault to which I constantly have to refer in teaching whole classes of students, few of whom are inexperienced.
If the student will only take the trouble to reduce, by the means I have suggested, the round object to the " flat," comparing the direction of his line at the same time with the upright or horizontal lines which are nearly always to be found within his range of vision, that difficulty, at least, will be dispelled. Foreshortening can hardly be done scientifically by any other means.
I have reserved, as a bonne-bouche, the accompanying Plate, reproduced from one of Velazquez's portraits, which demonstrates pretty clearly that the greatest of draughtsmen did not disdain to keep his eye well fixed on the general silhouette of his subject, thus securing its inimitable action, characterisation, and breadth.
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