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Title: The Elements of Drawing - In Three Letters to Beginners
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Library Edition



National Library Association
New York             Chicago





  PREFACE                                                 ix

  ON FIRST PRACTICE                                        1

  SKETCHING FROM NATURE                                   65

  ON COLOR AND COMPOSITION                               106

  ILLUSTRATIVE NOTES                                     183

  THINGS TO BE STUDIED                                   188

["The Elements of Drawing" was written during the winter of 1856. The
First Edition was published in 1857; the Second followed in the same
year, with some additions and slight alterations. The Third Edition
consisted of sixth thousand, 1859; seventh thousand, 1860; and eighth
thousand, 1861.

The work was partly reproduced in "Our Sketching Club," by the Rev. R.
St. John Tyrwhitt, M.A., 1874; with new editions in 1875, 1882, and

Mr. Ruskin meant, during his tenure of the Slade Professorship at
Oxford, to recast his teaching, and to write a systematic manual for the
use of his Drawing School, under the title of "The Laws of Fésole." Of
this only vol. i. was completed, 1879; second edition, 1882.

As, therefore, "The Elements of Drawing" has never been completely
superseded, and as many readers of Mr. Ruskin's works have expressed a
desire to possess the book in its old form, it is now reprinted as it
stood in 1859.]




As one or two questions, asked of me since the publication of this work,
have indicated points requiring elucidation, I have added a few short
notes in the first Appendix. It is not, I think, desirable otherwise to
modify the form or add to the matter of a book as it passes through
successive editions; I have, therefore, only mended the wording of some
obscure sentences; with which exception the text remains, and will
remain, in its original form, which I had carefully considered. Should
the public find the book useful, and call for further editions of it,
such additional notes as may be necessary will be always placed in the
first Appendix, where they can be at once referred to, in any library,
by the possessors of the earlier editions; and I will take care they
shall not be numerous.

  _August 3, 1857._


i. It may perhaps be thought, that in prefacing a manual of drawing, I
ought to expatiate on the reasons why drawing should be learned; but
those reasons appear to me so many and so weighty, that I cannot quickly
state or enforce them. With the reader's permission, as this volume is
too large already, I will waive all discussion respecting the importance
of the subject, and touch only on those points which may appear
questionable in the method of its treatment.

ii. In the first place, the book is not calculated for the use of
children under the age of twelve or fourteen. I do not think it
advisable to engage a child in any but the most voluntary practice of
art. If it has talent for drawing, it will be continually scrawling on
what paper it can get; and should be allowed to scrawl at its own free
will, due praise being given for every appearance of care, or truth, in
its efforts. It should be allowed to amuse itself with cheap colors
almost as soon as it has sense enough to wish for them. If it merely
daubs the paper with shapeless stains, the color-box may be taken away
till it knows better: but as soon as it begins painting red coats on
soldiers, striped flags to ships, etc., it should have colors at
command; and, without restraining its choice of subject in that
imaginative and historical art, of a military tendency, which children
delight in, (generally quite as valuable, by the way, as any historical
art delighted in by their elders,) it should be gently led by the
parents to try to draw, in such childish fashion as may be, the things
it can see and likes,--birds, or butterflies, or flowers, or fruit.

iii. In later years, the indulgence of using the color should only be
granted as a reward, after it has shown care and progress in its
drawings with pencil. A limited number of good and amusing prints should
always be within a boy's reach: in these days of cheap illustration he
can hardly possess a volume of nursery tales without good wood-cuts in
it, and should be encouraged to copy what he likes best of this kind;
but should be firmly restricted to a _few_ prints and to a few books. If
a child has many toys, it will get tired of them and break them; if a
boy has many prints he will merely dawdle and scrawl over them; it is by
the limitation of the number of his possessions that his pleasure in
them is perfected, and his attention concentrated. The parents need give
themselves no trouble in instructing him, as far as drawing is
concerned, beyond insisting upon economical and neat habits with his
colors and paper, showing him the best way of holding pencil and rule,
and, so far as they take notice of his work, pointing out where a line
is too short or too long, or too crooked, when compared with the copy;
_accuracy_ being the first and last thing they look for. If the child
shows talent for inventing or grouping figures, the parents should
neither check, nor praise it. They may laugh with it frankly, or show
pleasure in what it has done, just as they show pleasure in seeing it
well, or cheerful; but they must not praise it for being clever, any
more than they would praise it for being stout. They should praise it
only for what costs it self-denial, namely attention and hard work;
otherwise they will make it work for vanity's sake, and always badly.
The best books to put into its hands are those illustrated by George
Cruikshank or by Richter. (See Appendix.) At about the age of twelve or
fourteen, it is quite time enough to set youth or girl to serious work;
and then this book will, I think, be useful to them; and I have good
hope it may be so, likewise, to persons of more advanced age wishing to
know something of the first principles of art.

iv. Yet observe, that the method of study recommended is not brought
forward as absolutely the best, but only as the best which I can at
present devise for an isolated student. It is very likely that farther
experience in teaching may enable me to modify it with advantage in
several important respects; but I am sure the main principles of it are
sound, and most of the exercises as useful as they can be rendered
without a master's superintendence. The method differs, however, so
materially from that generally adopted by drawing-masters, that a word
or two of explanation may be needed to justify what might otherwise be
thought willful eccentricity.

v. The manuals at present published on the subject of drawing are all
directed, as far as I know, to one or other of two objects. Either they
propose to give the student a power of dexterous sketching with pencil
or water-color, so as to emulate (at considerable distance) the slighter
work of our second-rate artists; or they propose to give him such
accurate command of mathematical forms as may afterwards enable him to
design rapidly and cheaply for manufactures. When drawing is taught as
an accomplishment, the first is the aim usually proposed; while the
second is the object kept chiefly in view at Marlborough House, and in
the branch Government Schools of Design.

vi. Of the fitness of the modes of study adopted in those schools, to
the end specially intended, judgment is hardly yet possible; only, it
seems to me, that we are all too much in the habit of confusing art as
_applied_ to manufacture, with manufacture itself. For instance, the
skill by which an inventive workman designs and molds a beautiful cup,
is skill of true art; but the skill by which that cup is copied and
afterwards multiplied a thousandfold, is skill of manufacture: and the
faculties which enable one workman to design and elaborate his original
piece, are not to be developed by the same system of instruction as
those which enable another to produce a maximum number of approximate
copies of it in a given time. Farther: it is surely inexpedient that any
reference to purposes of manufacture should interfere with the education
of the artist himself. Try first to manufacture a Raphael; then let
Raphael direct your manufacture. He will design you a plate, or cup, or
a house, or a palace, whenever you want it, and design them in the most
convenient and rational way; but do not let your anxiety to reach the
platter and the cup interfere with your education of the Raphael. Obtain
first the best work you can, and the ablest hands, irrespective of any
consideration of economy or facility of production. Then leave your
trained artist to determine how far art can be popularized, or
manufacture ennobled.

vii. Now, I believe that (irrespective of differences in individual
temper and character) the excellence of an artist, as such, depends
wholly on refinement of perception, and that it is this, mainly, which a
master or a school can teach; so that while powers of invention
distinguish man from man, powers of perception distinguish school from
school. All great schools enforce delicacy of drawing and subtlety of
sight: and the only rule which I have, as yet, found to be without
exception respecting art, is that all great art is delicate.

viii. Therefore, the chief aim and bent of the following system is to
obtain, first, a perfectly patient, and, to the utmost of the pupil's
power, a delicate method of work, such as may insure his seeing truly.
For I am nearly convinced, that when once we see keenly enough, there is
very little difficulty in drawing what we see; but, even supposing that
this difficulty be still great, I believe that the sight is a more
important thing than the drawing; and I would rather teach drawing that
my pupils may learn to love Nature, than teach the looking at Nature
that they may learn to draw. It is surely also a more important thing,
for young people and unprofessional students, to know how to appreciate
the art of others, than to gain much power in art themselves. Now the
modes of sketching ordinarily taught are inconsistent with this power of
judgment. No person trained to the superficial execution of modern
water-color painting, can understand the work of Titian or Leonardo;
they must forever remain blind to the refinement of such men's
penciling, and the precision of their thinking. But, however slight a
degree of manipulative power the student may reach by pursuing the mode
recommended to him in these letters, I will answer for it that he cannot
go once through the advised exercises without beginning to understand
what masterly work means; and, by the time he has gained some
proficiency in them, he will have a pleasure in looking at the painting
of the great schools, and a new perception of the exquisiteness of
natural scenery, such as would repay him for much more labor than I have
asked him to undergo.

ix. That labor is, nevertheless, sufficiently irksome, nor is it
possible that it should be otherwise, so long as the pupil works
unassisted by a master. For the smooth and straight road which admits
unembarrassed progress must, I fear, be dull as well as smooth; and the
hedges need to be close and trim when there is no guide to warn or bring
back the erring traveler. The system followed in this work will,
therefore, at first, surprise somewhat sorrowfully those who are
familiar with the practice of our class at the Working Men's College;
for there, the pupil, having the master at his side to extricate him
from such embarrassments as his first efforts may lead into, is _at
once_ set to draw from a solid object, and soon finds entertainment in
his efforts and interest in his difficulties. Of course the simplest
object which it is possible to set before the eye is a sphere; and,
practically, I find a child's toy, a white leather ball, better than
anything else; as the gradations on balls of plaster of Paris, which I
use sometimes to try the strength of pupils who have had previous
practice, are a little too delicate for a beginner to perceive. It has
been objected that a circle, or the outline of a sphere, is one of the
most difficult of all lines to draw. It is so;[A] but I do not want it
to be drawn. All that his study of the ball is to teach the pupil, is
the way in which shade gives the appearance of projection. This he
learns most satisfactorily from a sphere; because any solid form,
terminated by straight lines or flat surfaces, owes some of its
appearance of projection to its perspective; but in the sphere, what,
without shade, was a flat circle, becomes, merely by the added shade,
the image of a solid ball; and this fact is just as striking to the
learner, whether his circular outline be true or false. He is,
therefore, never allowed to trouble himself about it; if he makes the
ball look as oval as an egg, the degree of error is simply pointed out
to him, and he does better next time, and better still the next. But his
mind is always fixed on the gradation of shade, and the outline left to
take, in due time, care of itself. I call it outline, for the sake of
immediate intelligibility,--strictly speaking, it is merely the edge of
the shade; no pupil in my class being ever allowed to draw an outline,
in the ordinary sense. It is pointed out to him, from the first, that
Nature relieves one mass, or one tint, against another; but outlines
none. The outline exercise, the second suggested in this letter, is
recommended, not to enable the pupil to draw outlines, but as the only
means by which, unassisted, he can test his accuracy of eye, and
discipline his hand. When the master is by, errors in the form and
extent of shadows can be pointed out as easily as in outline, and the
handling can be gradually corrected in details of the work. But the
solitary student can only find out his own mistakes by help of the
traced limit, and can only test the firmness of his hand by an exercise
in which nothing but firmness is required; and during which all other
considerations (as of softness, complexity, etc.) are entirely excluded.

x. Both the system adopted at the Working Men's College, and that
recommended here, agree, however, in one principle, which I consider the
most important and special of all that are involved in my teaching:
namely, the attaching its full importance, from the first, to local
color. I believe that the endeavor to separate, in the course of
instruction, the observation of light and shade from that of local
color, has always been, and must always be, destructive of the student's
power of accurate sight, and that it corrupts his taste as much as it
retards his progress. I will not occupy the reader's time by any
discussion of the principle here, but I wish him to note it as the only
distinctive one in my system, so far as it _is_ a system. For the
recommendation to the pupil to copy faithfully, and without alteration,
whatever natural object he chooses to study, is serviceable, among other
reasons, just because it gets rid of systematic rules altogether, and
teaches people to draw, as country lads learn to ride, without saddle or
stirrups; my main object being, at first, not to get my pupils to hold
their reins prettily, but to "sit like a jackanapes, never off."

xi. In these written instructions, therefore, it has always been with
regret that I have seen myself forced to advise anything like monotonous
or formal discipline. But, to the unassisted student, such formalities
are indispensable, and I am not without hope that the sense of secure
advancement, and the pleasure of independent effort, may render the
following out of even the more tedious exercises here proposed, possible
to the solitary learner, without weariness. But if it should be
otherwise, and he finds the first steps painfully irksome, I can only
desire him to consider whether the acquirement of so great a power as
that of pictorial expression of thought be not worth some toil; or
whether it is likely, in the natural order of matters in this working
world, that so great a gift should be attainable by those who will give
no price for it.

xii. One task, however, of some difficulty, the student will find I have
not imposed upon him: namely, learning the laws of perspective. It would
be worth while to learn them, if he could do so easily; but without a
master's help, and in the way perspective is at present explained in
treatises, the difficulty is greater than the gain. For perspective is
not of the slightest use, except in rudimentary work. You can draw the
rounding line of a table in perspective, but you cannot draw the sweep
of a sea bay; you can foreshorten a log of wood by it, but you cannot
foreshorten an arm. Its laws are too gross and few to be applied to any
subtle form; therefore, as you must learn to draw the subtle forms by
the eye, certainly you may draw the simple ones. No great painters ever
trouble themselves about perspective, and very few of them know its
laws; they draw everything by the eye, and, naturally enough, disdain in
the easy parts of their work rules which cannot help them in difficult
ones. It would take about a month's labor to draw imperfectly, by laws
of perspective, what any great Venetian will draw perfectly in five
minutes, when he is throwing a wreath of leaves round a head, or bending
the curves of a pattern in and out among the folds of drapery. It is
true that when perspective was first discovered, everybody amused
themselves with it; and all the great painters put fine saloons and
arcades behind their Madonnas, merely to show that they could draw in
perspective: but even this was generally done by them only to catch the
public eye, and they disdained the perspective so much, that though they
took the greatest pains with the circlet of a crown, or the rim of a
crystal cup, in the heart of their picture, they would twist their
capitals of columns and towers of churches about in the background in
the most wanton way, wherever they liked the lines to go, provided only
they left just perspective enough to please the public.

xiii. In modern days, I doubt if any artist among us, except David
Roberts, knows so much perspective as would enable him to draw a Gothic
arch to scale at a given angle and distance. Turner, though he was
professor of perspective to the Royal Academy, did not know what he
professed, and never, as far as I remember, drew a single building in
true perspective in his life; he drew them only with as much perspective
as suited him. Prout also knew nothing of perspective, and twisted his
buildings, as Turner did, into whatever shapes he liked. I do not
justify this; and would recommend the student at least to treat
perspective with common civility, but to pay no court to it. The best
way he can learn it, by himself, is by taking a pane of glass, fixed in
a frame, so that it can be set upright before the eye, at the distance
at which the proposed sketch is intended to be seen. Let the eye be
placed at some fixed point, opposite the middle of the pane of glass,
but as high or as low as the student likes; then with a brush at the end
of a stick, and a little body-color that will adhere to the glass, the
lines of the landscape may be traced on the glass, as you see them
through it. When so traced they are all in true perspective. If the
glass be sloped in any direction, the lines are still in true
perspective, only it is perspective calculated for a sloping plane,
while common perspective always supposes the plane of the picture to be
vertical. It is good, in early practice, to accustom yourself to inclose
your subject, before sketching it, with a light frame of wood held
upright before you; it will show you what you may legitimately take into
your picture, and what choice there is between a narrow foreground near
you, and a wide one farther off; also, what height of tree or building
you can properly take in, etc.[B]

xiv. Of figure drawing, nothing is said in the following pages, because
I do not think figures, as chief subjects, can be drawn to any good
purpose by an amateur. As accessaries in landscape, they are just to be
drawn on the same principles as anything else.

xv. Lastly: If any of the directions given subsequently to the student
should be found obscure by him, or if at any stage of the recommended
practice he find himself in difficulties which I have not enough
provided against, he may apply by letter to Mr. Ward, who is my under
drawing-master at the Working Men's College (45 Great Ormond Street),
and who will give any required assistance, on the lowest terms that can
remunerate him for the occupation of his time. I have not leisure myself
in general to answer letters of inquiry, however much I may desire to do
so; but Mr. Ward has always the power of referring any question to me
when he thinks it necessary. I have good hope, however, that enough
guidance is given in this work to prevent the occurrence of any serious
embarrassment; and I believe that the student who obeys its directions
will find, on the whole, that the best answerer of questions is
perseverance; and the best drawing-masters are the woods and hills.



  [A] Or, more accurately, appears to be so, because any one can see
    an error in a circle.

  [B] If the student is fond of architecture, and wishes to know more
    of perspective than he can learn in this rough way, Mr. Runciman (of
    49 Acacia Road, St. John's Wood), who was my first drawing-master,
    and to whom I owe many happy hours, can teach it him quickly,
    easily, and rightly. [Mr. Runciman has died since this was written:
    Mr. Ward's present address is Bedford Chambers, 28 Southampton
    Street, Strand, London, W.C.]





1. MY DEAR READER,--Whether this book is to be of use to you or not,
depends wholly on your reason for wishing to learn to draw. If you
desire only to possess a graceful accomplishment, to be able to converse
in a fluent manner about drawing, or to amuse yourself listlessly in
listless hours, I cannot help you: but if you wish to learn drawing that
you may be able to set down clearly, and usefully, records of such
things as cannot be described in words, either to assist your own memory
of them, or to convey distinct ideas of them to other people; if you
wish to obtain quicker perceptions of the beauty of the natural world,
and to preserve something like a true image of beautiful things that
pass away, or which you must yourself leave; if, also, you wish to
understand the minds of great painters, and to be able to appreciate
their work sincerely, seeing it for yourself, and loving it, not merely
taking up the thoughts of other people about it; then I _can_ help you,
or, which is better, show you how to help yourself.

2. Only you must understand, first of all, that these powers, which
indeed are noble and desirable, cannot be got without work. It is much
easier to learn to draw well, than it is to learn to play well on any
musical instrument; but you know that it takes three or four years of
practice, giving three or four hours a day, to acquire even ordinary
command over the keys of a piano; and you must not think that a masterly
command of your pencil, and the knowledge of what may be done with it,
can be acquired without painstaking, or in a _very_ short time. The kind
of drawing which is taught, or supposed to be taught, in our schools, in
a term or two, perhaps at the rate of an hour's practice a week, is not
drawing at all. It is only the performance of a few dexterous (not
always even that) evolutions on paper with a black-lead pencil;
profitless alike to performer and beholder, unless as a matter of
vanity, and that the smallest possible vanity. If any young person,
after being taught what is, in polite circles, called "drawing," will
try to copy the commonest piece of real work--suppose a lithograph on
the titlepage of a new opera air, or a wood-cut in the cheapest
illustrated newspaper of the day,--they will find themselves entirely
beaten. And yet that common lithograph was drawn with coarse chalk, much
more difficult to manage than the pencil of which an accomplished young
lady is supposed to have command; and that wood-cut was drawn in urgent
haste, and half spoiled in the cutting afterwards; and both were done by
people whom nobody thinks of as artists, or praises for their power;
both were done for daily bread, with no more artist's pride than any
simple handicraftsmen feel in the work they live by.

3. Do not, therefore, think that you can learn drawing, any more than a
new language, without some hard and disagreeable labor. But do not, on
the other hand, if you are ready and willing to pay this price, fear
that you may be unable to get on for want of special talent. It is
indeed true that the persons who have peculiar talent for art, draw
instinctively, and get on almost without teaching; though never without
toil. It is true, also, that of inferior talent for drawing there are
many degrees: it will take one person a much longer time than another to
attain the same results, and the results thus painfully attained are
never quite so satisfactory as those got with greater ease when the
faculties are naturally adapted to the study. But I have never yet, in
the experiments I have made, met with a person who could not learn to
draw at all; and, in general, there is a satisfactory and available
power in every one to learn drawing if he wishes, just as nearly all
persons have the power of learning French, Latin, or arithmetic, in a
decent and useful degree, if their lot in life requires them to possess
such knowledge.

4. Supposing then that you are ready to take a certain amount of pains,
and to bear a little irksomeness and a few disappointments bravely, I
can promise you that an hour's practice a day for six months, or an
hour's practice every other day for twelve months, or, disposed in
whatever way you find convenient, some hundred and fifty hours'
practice, will give you sufficient power of drawing faithfully whatever
you want to draw, and a good judgment, up to a certain point, of other
people's work: of which hours if you have one to spare at present, we
may as well begin at once.


5. Everything that you can see in the world around you, presents itself
to your eyes only as an arrangement of patches of different colors
variously shaded.[1] Some of these patches of color have an appearance
of lines or texture within them, as a piece of cloth or silk has of
threads, or an animal's skin shows texture of hairs: but whether this be
the case or not, the first broad aspect of the thing is that of a patch
of some definite color; and the first thing to be learned is, how to
produce extents of smooth color, without texture.

6. This can only be done properly with a brush; but a brush, being soft
at the point, causes so much uncertainty in the touch of an unpracticed
hand, that it is hardly possible to learn to draw first with it, and it
is better to take, in early practice, some instrument with a hard and
fine point, both that we may give some support to the hand, and that by
working over the subject with so delicate a point, the attention may be
properly directed to all the most minute parts of it. Even the best
artists need occasionally to study subjects with a pointed instrument,
in order thus to discipline their attention: and a beginner must be
content to do so for a considerable period.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

7. Also, observe that before we trouble ourselves about differences of
color, we must be able to lay on _one_ color properly, in whatever
gradations of depth and whatever shapes we want. We will try, therefore,
first to lay on tints or patches of gray, of whatever depth we want,
with a pointed instrument. Take any finely pointed steel pen (one of
Gillott's lithographic crowquills is best), and a piece of quite smooth,
but not shining, note-paper, cream laid, and get some ink that has stood
already some time in the inkstand, so as to be quite black, and as thick
as it can be without clogging the pen. Take a rule, and draw four
straight lines, so as to inclose a square, or nearly a square, about as
large as _a_, Fig. 1. I say nearly a square, because it does not in the
least matter whether it is quite square or not, the object being merely
to get a space inclosed by straight lines.

8. Now, try to fill in that square space with crossed lines, so
completely and evenly that it shall look like a square patch of gray
silk or cloth, cut out and laid on the white paper, as at _b_. Cover it
quickly, first with straightish lines, in any direction you like, not
troubling yourself to draw them much closer or neater than those in the
square _a_. Let them quite dry before retouching them. (If you draw
three or four squares side by side, you may always be going on with one
while the others are drying.) Then cover these lines with others in a
different direction, and let those dry; then in another direction still,
and let those dry. Always wait long enough to run no risk of blotting,
and then draw the lines as quickly as you can. Each ought to be laid on
as swiftly as the dash of the pen of a good writer; but if you try to
reach this great speed at first, you will go over the edge of the
square, which is a fault in this exercise. Yet it is better to do so now
and then than to draw the lines very slowly; for if you do, the pen
leaves a little dot of ink at the end of each line, and these dots spoil
your work. So draw each line quickly, stopping always as nearly as you
can at the edge of the square. The ends of lines which go over the edge
are afterwards to be removed with the penknife, but not till you have
done the whole work, otherwise you roughen the paper, and the next line
that goes over the edge makes a blot.

9. When you have gone over the whole three or four times, you will find
some parts of the square look darker than other parts. Now try to make
the lighter parts as dark as the rest, so that the whole may be of equal
depth or darkness. You will find, on examining the work, that where it
looks darkest the lines are closest, or there are some much darker lines
than elsewhere; therefore you must put in other lines, or little
scratches and dots, _between_ the lines in the paler parts; and where
there are any very conspicuous dark lines, scratch them out lightly with
the penknife, for the eye must not be attracted by any line in
particular. The more carefully and delicately you fill in the little
gaps and holes the better; you will get on faster by doing two or three
squares perfectly than a great many badly. As the tint gets closer and
begins to look even, work with very little ink in your pen, so as hardly
to make any mark on the paper; and at last, where it is too dark, use
the edge of your penknife very lightly, and for some time, to wear it
softly into an even tone. You will find that the greatest difficulty
consists in getting evenness: one bit will always look darker than
another bit of your square; or there will be a granulated and sandy look
over the whole. When you find your paper quite rough and in a mess,
give it up and begin another square, but do not rest satisfied till you
have done your best with every square. The tint at last ought at least
to be as close and even as that in _b_, Fig. 1. You will find, however,
that it is very difficult to get a pale tint; because, naturally, the
ink lines necessary to produce a close tint at all, blacken the paper
more than you want. You must get over this difficulty not so much by
leaving the lines wide apart as by trying to draw them excessively fine,
lightly and swiftly; being very cautious in filling in; and, at last,
passing the penknife over the whole. By keeping several squares in
progress at one time, and reserving your pen for the light one just when
the ink is nearly exhausted, you may get on better. The paper ought, at
last, to look lightly and evenly toned all over, with no lines
distinctly visible.


10. As this exercise in shading is very tiresome, it will be well to
vary it by proceeding with another at the same time. The power of
shading rightly depends mainly on lightness of hand and keenness of
sight; but there are other qualities required in drawing, dependent not
merely on lightness, but steadiness of hand; and the eye, to be perfect
in its power, must be made accurate as well as keen, and not only see
shrewdly, but measure justly.

11. Possess yourself therefore of any cheap work on botany containing
_outline_ plates of leaves and flowers, it does not matter whether bad
or good: Baxter's British Flowering Plants is quite good enough. Copy
any of the simplest outlines, first with a soft pencil, following it, by
the eye, as nearly as you can; if it does not look right in proportions,
rub out and correct it, always by the eye, till you think it is right:
when you have got it to your mind, lay tracing-paper on the book; on
this paper trace the outline you have been copying, and apply it to your
own; and having thus ascertained the faults, correct them all
patiently, till you have got it as nearly accurate as may be. Work with
a very soft pencil, and do not rub out so hard[2] as to spoil the
surface of your paper; never mind how dirty the paper gets, but do not
roughen it; and let the false outlines alone where they do not really
interfere with the true one. It is a good thing to accustom yourself to
hew and shape your drawing out of a dirty piece of paper. When you have
got it as right as you can, take a quill pen, not very fine at the
point; rest your hand on a book about an inch and a half thick, so as to
hold the pen long; and go over your pencil outline with ink, raising
your pen point as seldom as possible, and never leaning more heavily on
one part of the line than on another. In most outline drawings of the
present day, parts of the curves are thickened to give an effect of
shade; all such outlines are bad, but they will serve well enough for
your exercises, provided you do not imitate this character: it is
better, however, if you can, to choose a book of pure outlines. It does
not in the least matter whether your pen outline be thin or thick; but
it matters greatly that it should be _equal_, not heavier in one place
than in another. The power to be obtained is that of drawing an even
line slowly and in any direction; all dashing lines, or approximations
to penmanship, are bad. The pen should, as it were, walk slowly over the
ground, and you should be able at any moment to stop it, or to turn it
in any other direction, like a well-managed horse.

12. As soon as you can copy every curve _slowly_ and accurately, you
have made satisfactory progress; but you will find the difficulty is in
the slowness. It is easy to draw what appears to be a good line with a
sweep of the hand, or with what is called freedom;[3] the real
difficulty and masterliness is in never letting the hand _be_ free, but
keeping it under entire control at every part of the line.


13. Meantime, you are always to be going on with your shaded squares,
and chiefly with these, the outline exercises being taken up only for

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

As soon as you find you have some command of the pen as a shading
instrument, and can lay a pale or dark tint as you choose, try to
produce gradated spaces like Fig. 2, the dark tint passing gradually
into the lighter ones. Nearly all expression of form, in drawing,
depends on your power of gradating delicately; and the gradation is
always most skillful which passes from one tint into another very little
paler. Draw, therefore, two parallel lines for limits to your work, as
in Fig. 2, and try to gradate the shade evenly from white to black,
passing over the greatest possible distance, yet so that every part of
the band may have visible change in it. The perception of gradation is
very deficient in all beginners (not to say, in many artists), and you
will probably, for some time, think your gradation skillful enough, when
it is quite patchy and imperfect. By getting a piece of gray shaded
ribbon, and comparing it with your drawing, you may arrive, in early
stages of your work, at a wholesome dissatisfaction with it. Widen your
band little by little as you get more skillful, so as to give the
gradation more lateral space, and accustom yourself at the same time to
look for gradated spaces in Nature. The sky is the largest and the most
beautiful; watch it at twilight, after the sun is down, and try to
consider each pane of glass in the window you look through as a piece of
paper colored blue, or gray, or purple, as it happens to be, and observe
how quietly and continuously the gradation extends over the space in the
window, of one or two feet square. Observe the shades on the outside and
inside of a common white cup or bowl, which make it look round and
hollow;[4] and then on folds of white drapery; and thus gradually you
will be led to observe the more subtle transitions of the light as it
increases or declines on flat surfaces. At last, when your eye gets keen
and true, you will see gradation on everything in Nature.

14. But it will not be in your power yet awhile to draw from any objects
in which the gradations are varied and complicated; nor will it be a bad
omen for your future progress, and for the use that art is to be made of
by you, if the first thing at which you aim should be a little bit of
sky. So take any narrow space of evening sky, that you can usually see,
between the boughs of a tree, or between two chimneys, or through the
corner of a pane in the window you like best to sit at, and try to
gradate a little space of white paper as evenly as that is gradated--as
_tenderly_ you cannot gradate it without color, no, nor with color
either; but you may do it as evenly; or, if you get impatient with your
spots and lines of ink, when you look at the beauty of the sky, the
sense you will have gained of that beauty is something to be thankful
for. But you ought not to be impatient with your pen and ink; for all
great painters, however delicate their perception of color, are fond of
the peculiar effect of light which may be got in a pen-and-ink sketch,
and in a wood-cut, by the gleaming of the white paper between the black
lines; and if you cannot gradate well with pure black lines, you will
never gradate well with pale ones. By looking at any common wood-cuts,
in the cheap publications of the day, you may see how gradation is given
to the sky by leaving the lines farther and farther apart; but you must
make your lines as fine as you can, as well as far apart, towards the
light; and do not try to make them long or straight, but let them cross
irregularly in any directions easy to your hand, depending on nothing
but their gradation for your effect. On this point of direction of
lines, however, I shall have to tell you more, presently; in the
meantime, do not trouble yourself about it.


15. As soon as you find you can gradate tolerably with the pen, take an
H. or HH. pencil, using its point to produce shade, from the darkest
possible to the palest, in exactly the same manner as the pen,
lightening, however, now with india-rubber instead of the penknife. You
will find that all _pale_ tints of shade are thus easily producible with
great precision and tenderness, but that you cannot get the same dark
power as with the pen and ink, and that the surface of the shade is apt
to become glossy and metallic, or dirty-looking, or sandy. Persevere,
however, in trying to bring it to evenness with the fine point, removing
any single speck or line that may be too black, with the _point_ of the
knife: you must not scratch the whole with the knife as you do the ink.
If you find the texture very speckled-looking, lighten it all over with
india-rubber, and recover it again with sharp, and excessively fine
touches of the pencil point, bringing the parts that are too pale to
perfect evenness with the darker spots.

You cannot use the point too delicately or cunningly in doing this; work
with it as if you were drawing the down on a butterfly's wing.

16. At this stage of your progress, if not before, you may be assured
that some clever friend will come in, and hold up his hands in mocking
amazement, and ask you who could set you to that "niggling;" and if you
persevere in it, you will have to sustain considerable persecution from
your artistical acquaintances generally, who will tell you that all good
drawing depends on "boldness." But never mind them. You do not hear them
tell a child, beginning music, to lay its little hand with a crash among
the keys, in imitation of the great masters: yet they might, as
reasonably as they may tell you to be bold in the present state of your
knowledge. Bold, in the sense of being undaunted, yes; but bold in the
sense of being careless, confident, or exhibitory,--no,--no, and a
thousand times no; for, even if you were not a beginner, it would be bad
advice that made you bold. Mischief may easily be done quickly, but good
and beautiful work is generally done slowly; you will find no boldness
in the way a flower or a bird's wing is painted; and if Nature is not
bold at her work, do you think you ought to be at yours? So never mind
what people say, but work with your pencil point very patiently; and if
you can trust me in anything, trust me when I tell you, that though
there are all kinds and ways of art,--large work for large places, small
work for narrow places, slow work for people who can wait, and quick
work for people who cannot,--there is one quality, and, I think, only
one, in which all great and good art agrees;--it is all delicate art.
Coarse art is always bad art. You cannot understand this at present,
because you do not know yet how much tender thought, and subtle care,
the great painters put into touches that at first look coarse; but,
believe me, it is true, and you will find it is so in due time.

17. You will be perhaps also troubled, in these first essays at pencil
drawing, by noticing that more delicate gradations are got in an instant
by a chance touch of the india-rubber, than by an hour's labor with the
point; and you may wonder why I tell you to produce tints so painfully,
which might, it appears, be obtained with ease. But there are two
reasons: the first, that when you come to draw forms, you must be able
to gradate with absolute precision, in whatever place and direction you
wish; not in any wise vaguely, as the india-rubber does it: and,
secondly, that all natural shadows are more or less mingled with gleams
of light. In the darkness of ground there is the light of the little
pebbles or dust; in the darkness of foliage, the glitter of the leaves;
in the darkness of flesh, transparency; in that of a stone, granulation:
in every case there is some mingling of light, which cannot be
represented by the leaden tone which you get by rubbing, or by an
instrument known to artists as the "stump." When you can manage the
point properly, you will indeed be able to do much also with this
instrument, or with your fingers; but then you will have to retouch the
flat tints afterwards, so as to put life and light into them, and that
can only be done with the point. Labor on, therefore, courageously, with
that only.


[Illustration: FIG. 3.]

18. When you can manage to tint and gradate tenderly with the pencil
point, get a good large alphabet, and try to _tint_ the letters into
shape with the pencil point. Do not outline them first, but measure
their height and extreme breadth with the compasses, as _a b_, _a c_,
Fig. 3, and then scratch in their shapes gradually; the letter A,
inclosed within the lines, being in what Turner would have called a
"state of forwardness." Then, when you are satisfied with the shape of
the letter, draw pen-and-ink lines firmly round the tint, as at _d_, and
remove any touches outside the limit, first with the india-rubber, and
then with the penknife, so that all may look clear and right. If you rub
out any of the pencil inside the outline of the letter, retouch it,
closing it up to the inked line. The straight lines of the outline are
all to be ruled,[5] but the curved lines are to be drawn by the eye and
hand; and you will soon find what good practice there is in getting the
curved letters, such as Bs, Cs, etc., to stand quite straight, and come
into accurate form.

19. All these exercises are very irksome, and they are not to be
persisted in alone; neither is it necessary to acquire perfect power in
any of them. An entire master of the pencil or brush ought, indeed, to
be able to draw any form at once, as Giotto his circle; but such skill
as this is only to be expected of the consummate master, having pencil
in hand all his life, and all day long,--hence the force of Giotto's
proof of his skill; and it is quite possible to draw very beautifully,
without attaining even an approximation to such a power; the main point
being, not that every line should be precisely what we intend or wish,
but that the line which we intended or wished to draw should be right.
If we always see rightly and mean rightly, we shall get on, though the
hand may stagger a little; but if we mean wrongly, or mean nothing, it
does not matter how firm the hand is. Do not therefore torment yourself
because you cannot do as well as you would like; but work patiently,
sure that every square and letter will give you a certain increase of
power; and as soon as you can draw your letters pretty well, here is a
more amusing exercise for you.


20. Choose any tree that you think pretty, which is nearly bare of
leaves, and which you can see against the sky, or against a pale wall,
or other light ground: it must not be against strong light, or you will
find the looking at it hurt your eyes; nor must it be in sunshine, or
you will be puzzled by the lights on the boughs. But the tree must be in
shade; and the sky blue, or gray, or dull white. A wholly gray or rainy
day is the best for this practice.

21. You will see that all the boughs of the tree are dark against the
sky. Consider them as so many dark rivers, to be laid down in a map
with absolute accuracy; and, without the least thought about the
roundness of the stems, map them all out in flat shade, scrawling them
in with pencil, just as you did the limbs of your letters; then correct
and alter them, rubbing out and out again, never minding how much your
paper is dirtied (only not destroying its surface), until every bough is
exactly, or as near as your utmost power can bring it, right in
curvature and in thickness. Look at the white interstices between them
with as much scrupulousness as if they were little estates which you had
to survey, and draw maps of, for some important lawsuit, involving heavy
penalties if you cut the least bit of a corner off any of them, or gave
the hedge anywhere too deep a curve; and try continually to fancy the
whole tree nothing but a flat ramification on a white ground. Do not
take any trouble about the little twigs, which look like a confused
network or mist; leave them all out,[6] drawing only the main branches
as far as you can see them distinctly, your object at present being not
to draw a tree, but to learn how to do so. When you have got the thing
as nearly right as you can,--and it is better to make one good study,
than twenty left unnecessarily inaccurate,--take your pen, and put a
fine outline to all the boughs, as you did to your letter, taking care,
as far as possible, to put the outline within the edge of the shade, so
as not to make the boughs thicker: the main use of the outline is to
affirm the whole more clearly; to do away with little accidental
roughnesses and excrescences, and especially to mark where boughs cross,
or come in front of each other, as at such points their arrangement in
this kind of sketch is unintelligible without the outline. It may
perfectly well happen that in Nature it should be less distinct than
your outline will make it; but it is better in this kind of sketch to
mark the facts clearly. The temptation is always to be slovenly and
careless, and the outline is like a bridle, and forces our indolence
into attention and precision. The outline should be about the thickness
of that in Fig. 4, which represents the ramification of a small stone
pine, only I have not endeavored to represent the pencil shading within
the outline, as I could not easily express it in a wood-cut; and you
have nothing to do at present with the indication of foliage above, of
which in another place. You may also draw your trees as much larger than
this figure as you like; only, however large they may be, keep the
outline as delicate, and draw the branches far enough into their outer
sprays to give quite as slender ramification as you have in this figure,
otherwise you do not get good enough practice out of them.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

22. You cannot do too many studies of this kind: every one will give you
some new notion about trees. But when you are tired of tree boughs, take
any forms whatever which are drawn in flat color, one upon another; as
patterns on any kind of cloth, or flat china (tiles, for instance),
executed in two colors only; and practice drawing them of the right
shape and size by the eye, and filling them in with shade of the depth

In doing this, you will first have to meet the difficulty of
representing depth of color by depth of shade. Thus a pattern of
ultramarine blue will have to be represented by a darker tint of gray
than a pattern of yellow.

23. And now it is both time for you to begin to learn the mechanical use
of the brush; and necessary for you to do so in order to provide
yourself with the gradated scale of color which you will want. If you
can, by any means, get acquainted with any ordinary skillful water-color
painter, and prevail on him to show you how to lay on tints with a
brush, by all means do so; not that you are yet, nor for a long while
yet, to begin to color, but because the brush is often more convenient
than the pencil for laying on masses or tints of shade, and the sooner
you know how to manage it as an instrument the better. If, however, you
have no opportunity of seeing how water-color is laid on by a workman of
any kind, the following directions will help you:--


24. Get a shilling cake of Prussian blue. Dip the end of it in water so
as to take up a drop, and rub it in a white saucer till you cannot rub
much more, and the color gets dark, thick, and oily-looking. Put two
teaspoonfuls of water to the color you have rubbed down, and mix it well
up with a camel's-hair brush about three quarters of an inch long.

25. Then take a piece of smooth, but not glossy, Bristol board or
pasteboard; divide it, with your pencil and rule, into squares as large
as those of the very largest chess-board: they need not be perfect
squares, only as nearly so as you can quickly guess. Rest the pasteboard
on something sloping as much as an ordinary desk; then, dipping your
brush into the color you have mixed, and taking up as much of the liquid
as it will carry, begin at the top of one of the squares, and lay a pond
or runlet of color along the top edge. Lead this pond of color
gradually downwards, not faster at one place than another, but as if you
were adding a row of bricks to a building, all along (only building down
instead of up), dipping the brush frequently so as to keep the color as
full in that, and in as great quantity on the paper, as you can, so only
that it does not run down anywhere in a little stream. But if it should,
never mind; go on quietly with your square till you have covered it all
in. When you get to the bottom, the color will lodge there in a great
wave. Have ready a piece of blotting-paper; dry your brush on it, and
with the dry brush take up the superfluous color as you would with a
sponge, till it all looks even.

26. In leading the color down, you will find your brush continually go
over the edge of the square, or leave little gaps within it. Do not
endeavor to retouch these, nor take much care about them; the great
thing is to get the color to lie smoothly where it reaches, not in
alternate blots and pale patches; try, therefore, to lead it over the
square as fast as possible, with such attention to your limit as you are
able to give. The use of the exercise is, indeed, to enable you finally
to strike the color up to the limit with perfect accuracy; but the first
thing is to get it even,--the power of rightly striking the edge comes
only by time and practice: even the greatest artists rarely can do this
quite perfectly.

27. When you have done one square, proceed to do another which does not
communicate with it. When you have thus done all the alternate squares,
as on a chess-board, turn the pasteboard upside down, begin again with
the first, and put another coat over it, and so on over all the others.
The use of turning the paper upside down is to neutralize the increase
of darkness towards the bottom of the squares, which would otherwise
take place from the ponding of the color.

28. Be resolved to use blotting-paper, or a piece of rag, instead of
your lips, to dry the brush. The habit of doing so, once acquired, will
save you from much partial poisoning. Take care, however, always to draw
the brush from root to point, otherwise you will spoil it. You may even
wipe it as you would a pen when you want it very dry, without doing
harm, provided you do not crush it upwards. Get a good brush at first,
and cherish it; it will serve you longer and better than many bad ones.

29. When you have done the squares all over again, do them a third time,
always trying to keep your edges as neat as possible. When your color is
exhausted, mix more in the same proportions, two teaspoonfuls to as much
as you can grind with a drop; and when you have done the alternate
squares three times over, as the paper will be getting very damp, and
dry more slowly, begin on the white squares, and bring them up to the
same tint in the same way. The amount of jagged dark line which then
will mark the limits of the squares will be the exact measure of your

30. As soon as you tire of squares draw circles (with compasses); and
then draw straight lines irregularly across circles, and fill up the
spaces so produced between the straight line and the circumference; and
then draw any simple shapes of leaves, according to the exercise No.
II., and fill up those, until you can lay on color quite evenly in any
shape you want.

31. You will find in the course of this practice, as you cannot always
put exactly the same quantity of water to the color, that the darker the
color is, the more difficult it becomes to lay it on evenly. Therefore,
when you have gained some definite degree of power, try to fill in the
forms required with a full brush, and a dark tint, at once, instead of
laying several coats one over another; always taking care that the tint,
however dark, be quite liquid; and that, after being laid on, so much of
it is absorbed as to prevent its forming a black line at the edge as it
dries. A little experience will teach you how apt the color is to do
this, and how to prevent it; not that it needs always to be prevented,
for a great master in water-colors will sometimes draw a firm outline,
when he _wants_ one, simply by letting the color dry in this way at the

32. When, however, you begin to cover complicated forms with the darker
color, no rapidity will prevent the tint from drying irregularly as it
is led on from part to part. You will then find the following method
useful. Lay in the color very pale and liquid; so pale, indeed, that you
can only just see where it is on the paper. Lead it up to all the
outlines, and make it precise in form, keeping it thoroughly wet
everywhere. Then, when it is all in shape, take the darker color, and
lay some of it _into_ the middle of the liquid color. It will spread
gradually in a branchy kind of way, and you may now lead it up to the
outlines already determined, and play it with the brush till it fills
its place well; then let it dry, and it will be as flat and pure as a
single dash, yet defining all the complicated forms accurately.

33. Having thus obtained the power of laying on a tolerably flat tint,
you must try to lay on a gradated one. Prepare the color with three or
four teaspoonfuls of water; then, when it is mixed, pour away about
two-thirds of it, keeping a teaspoonful of pale color. Sloping your
paper as before, draw two pencil lines all the way down, leaving a space
between them of the width of a square on your chess-board. Begin at the
top of your paper, between the lines; and having struck on the first
brushful of color, and led it down a little, dip your brush deep in
water, and mix up the color on the plate quickly with as much more water
as the brush takes up at that one dip: then, with this paler color, lead
the tint farther down. Dip in water again, mix the color again, and thus
lead down the tint, always dipping in water once between each
replenishing of the brush, and stirring the color on the plate well, but
as quickly as you can. Go on until the color has become so pale that you
cannot see it; then wash your brush thoroughly in water, and carry the
wave down a little farther with that, and then absorb it with the dry
brush, and leave it to dry.

34. If you get to the bottom of your paper before your color gets pale,
you may either take longer paper, or begin, with the tint as it was when
you left off, on another sheet; but be sure to exhaust it to pure
whiteness at last. When all is quite dry, recommence at the top with
another similar mixture of color, and go down in the same way. Then
again, and then again, and so continually until the color at the top of
the paper is as dark as your cake of Prussian blue, and passes down into
pure white paper at the end of your column, with a perfectly smooth
gradation from one into the other.

35. You will find at first that the paper gets mottled or wavy, instead
of evenly gradated; this is because at some places you have taken up
more water in your brush than at others, or not mixed it thoroughly on
the plate, or led one tint too far before replenishing with the next.
Practice only will enable you to do it well; the best artists cannot
always get gradations of this kind quite to their minds; nor do they
ever leave them on their pictures without after-touching.

36. As you get more power, and can strike the color more quickly down,
you will be able to gradate in less compass;[7] beginning with a small
quantity of color, and adding a drop of water, instead of a brushful;
with finer brushes, also, you may gradate to a less scale. But slight
skill will enable you to test the relations of color to shade as far as
is necessary for your immediate progress, which is to be done thus:--

37. Take cakes of lake, of gamboge, of sepia, of blue-black, of cobalt,
and vermilion; and prepare gradated columns (exactly as you have done
with the Prussian blue) of the lake and blue-black.[8] Cut a narrow
slip, all the way down, of each gradated color, and set the three slips
side by side; fasten them down, and rule lines at equal distances across
all the three, so as to divide them into fifty degrees, and number the
degrees of each, from light to dark, 1, 2, 3, etc. If you have gradated
them rightly, the darkest part either of the red or blue will be nearly
equal in power to the darkest part of the blue-black, and any degree of
the black slip will also, accurately enough for our purpose, balance in
weight the degree similarly numbered in the red or the blue slip. Then,
when you are drawing from objects of a crimson or blue color, if you
can match their color by any compartment of the crimson or blue in your
scales, the gray in the compartment of the gray scale marked with the
same number is the gray which must represent that crimson or blue in
your light and shade drawing.

38. Next, prepare scales with gamboge, cobalt, and vermilion. You will
find that you cannot darken these beyond a certain point;[9] for yellow
and scarlet, so long as they remain yellow and scarlet, cannot approach
to black; we cannot have, properly speaking, a dark yellow or dark
scarlet. Make your scales of full yellow, blue, and scarlet, half-way
down; passing _then_ gradually to white. Afterwards use lake to darken
the upper half of the vermilion and gamboge; and Prussian blue to darken
the cobalt. You will thus have three more scales, passing from white
nearly to black, through yellow and orange, through sky-blue, and
through scarlet. By mixing the gamboge and Prussian blue you may make
another with green; mixing the cobalt and lake, another with violet; the
sepia alone will make a forcible brown one; and so on, until you have as
many scales as you like, passing from black to white through different
colors. Then, supposing your scales properly gradated and equally
divided, the compartment or degree No. 1 of the gray will represent in
chiaroscuro the No. 1 of all the other colors; No. 2 of gray the No. 2
of the other colors, and so on.

39. It is only necessary, however, in this matter that you should
understand the principle; for it would never be possible for you to
gradate your scales so truly as to make them practically accurate and
serviceable; and even if you could, unless you had about ten thousand
scales, and were able to change them faster than ever juggler changed
cards, you could not in a day measure the tints on so much as one side
of a frost-bitten apple. But when once you fully understand the
principle, and see how all colors contain as it were a certain quantity
of darkness, or power of dark relief from white--some more, some less;
and how this pitch or power of each may be represented by equivalent
values of gray, you will soon be able to arrive shrewdly at an
approximation by a glance of the eye, without any measuring scale at

40. You must now go on, again with the pen, drawing patterns, and any
shapes of shade that you think pretty, as veinings in marble or
tortoiseshell, spots in surfaces of shells, etc., as tenderly as you
can, in the darknesses that correspond to their colors; and when you
find you can do this successfully, it is time to begin rounding.


41. Go out into your garden, or into the road, and pick up the first
round or oval stone you can find, not very white, nor very dark; and the
smoother it is the better, only it must not _shine_. Draw your table
near the window, and put the stone, which I will suppose is about the
size of _a_ in Fig. 5 (it had better not be much larger), on a piece of
not very white paper, on the table in front of you. Sit so that the
light may come from your left, else the shadow of the pencil point
interferes with your sight of your work. You must not let the _sun_ fall
on the stone, but only ordinary light: therefore choose a window which
the sun does not come in at. If you can shut the shutters of the other
windows in the room it will be all the better; but this is not of much

42. Now if you can draw that stone, you can draw anything; I mean,
anything that is drawable. Many things (sea foam, for instance) cannot
be drawn at all, only the idea of them more or less suggested; but if
you can draw the stone _rightly_, everything within reach of art is also
within yours.

For all drawing depends, primarily, on your power of representing
_Roundness_. If you can once do that, all the rest is easy and
straightforward; if you cannot do that, nothing else that you may be
able to do will be of any use. For Nature is all made up of roundnesses;
not the roundness of perfect globes, but of variously curved surfaces.
Boughs are rounded, leaves are rounded, stones are rounded, clouds are
rounded, cheeks are rounded, and curls are rounded: there is no more
flatness in the natural world than there is vacancy. The world itself is
round, and so is all that is in it, more or less, except human work,
which is often very flat indeed.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.]

Therefore, set yourself steadily to conquer that round stone, and you
have won the battle.

43. Look your stone antagonist boldly in the face. You will see that the
side of it next the window is lighter than most of the paper; that the
side of it farthest from the window is darker than the paper; and that
the light passes into the dark gradually, while a shadow is thrown to
the right on the paper itself by the stone: the general appearance of
things being more or less as in _a_, Fig. 5, the spots on the stone
excepted, of which more presently.

44. Now, remember always what was stated in the outset, that everything
you can see in Nature is seen only so far as it is lighter or darker
than the things about it, or of a different color from them. It is
either seen as a patch of one color on a ground of another; or as a pale
thing relieved from a dark thing, or a dark thing from a pale thing. And
if you can put on patches of color or shade of exactly the same size,
shape, and gradations as those on the object and its ground, you will
produce the appearance of the object and its ground. The best
draughtsman--Titian and Paul Veronese themselves--could do no more than
this; and you will soon be able to get some power of doing it in an
inferior way, if you once understand the exceeding simplicity of what is
to be done. Suppose you have a brown book on a white sheet of paper, on
a red tablecloth. You have nothing to do but to put on spaces of red,
white, and brown, in the same shape, and gradated from dark to light in
the same degrees, and your drawing is done. If you will not look at what
you see, if you try to put on brighter or duller colors than are there,
if you try to put them on with a dash or a blot, or to cover your paper
with "vigorous" lines, or to produce anything, in fact, but the plain,
unaffected, and finished tranquillity of the thing before you, you need
not hope to get on. Nature will show you nothing if you set yourself up
for her master. But forget yourself, and try to obey her, and you will
find obedience easier and happier than you think.

45. The real difficulties are to get the refinement of the forms and the
evenness of the gradations. You may depend upon it, when you are
dissatisfied with your work, it is always too coarse or too uneven. It
may not be wrong--in all probability is not wrong, in any (so-called)
great point. But its edges are not true enough in outline; and its
shades are in blotches, or scratches, or full of white holes. Get it
more tender and more true, and you will find it is more powerful.

46. Do not, therefore, think your drawing must be weak because you have
a finely pointed pen in your hand. Till you can draw with that, you can
draw with nothing; when you can draw with that, you can draw with a log
of wood charred at the end. True boldness and power are only to be
gained by care. Even in fencing and dancing, all ultimate ease depends
on early precision in the commencement; much more in singing or drawing.

47. Now I do not want you to copy my sketch in Fig. 5, but to copy the
stone before you in the way that my sketch is done. To which end, first
measure the extreme length of the stone with compasses, and mark that
length on your paper; then, between the points marked, leave something
like the form of the stone in light, scrawling the paper all over, round
it; _b_, in Fig. 5, is a beginning of this kind. Rather leave too much
room for the high light, than too little; and then more cautiously fill
in the shade, shutting the light gradually up, and putting in the dark
slowly on the dark side. You need not plague yourself about accuracy of
shape, because, till you have practiced a great deal, it is impossible
for you to draw the shape of the stone quite truly, and you must
gradually gain correctness by means of these various exercises: what you
have mainly to do at present is, to get the stone to look solid and
round, not much minding what its exact contour is--only draw it as
nearly right as you can without vexation; and you will get it more right
by thus feeling your way to it in shade, than if you tried to draw the
outline at first. For you can _see_ no outline; what you see is only a
certain space of gradated shade, with other such spaces about it; and
those pieces of shade you are to imitate as nearly as you can, by
scrawling the paper over till you get them to the right shape, with the
same gradations which they have in Nature. And this is really more
likely to be done well, if you have to fight your way through a little
confusion in the sketch, than if you have an accurately traced outline.
For instance, having sketched the fossil sea-urchin at _a_, in Fig. 5,
whose form, though irregular, required more care in following than that
of a common stone, I was going to draw it also under another effect;
reflected light bringing its dark side out from the background: but when
I had laid on the first few touches I thought it would be better to
stop, and let you see how I had begun it, at _b_. In which beginning it
will be observed that nothing is so determined but that I can more or
less modify, and add to or diminish the contour as I work on, the lines
which suggest the outline being blended with the others if I do not want
them; and the having to fill up the vacancies and conquer the
irregularities of such a sketch will probably secure a higher completion
at last, than if half an hour had been spent in getting a true outline
before beginning.

48. In doing this, however, take care not to get the drawing too dark.
In order to ascertain what the shades of it really are, cut a round
hole, about half the size of a pea, in a piece of white paper the color
of that you use to draw on. Hold this bit of paper with the hole in it,
between you and your stone; and pass the paper backwards and forwards,
so as to see the different portions of the stone (or other subject)
through the hole. You will find that, thus, the circular hole looks like
one of the patches of color you have been accustomed to match, only
changing in depth as it lets different pieces of the stone be seen
through it. You will be able thus actually to _match_ the color of the
stone at any part of it, by tinting the paper beside the circular
opening. And you will find that this opening never looks quite _black_,
but that all the roundings of the stone are given by subdued grays.[10]

49. You will probably find, also, that some parts of the stone, or of
the paper it lies on, look luminous through the opening; so that the
little circle then tells as a light spot instead of a dark spot. When
this is so, you cannot imitate it, for you have no means of getting
light brighter than white paper: but by holding the paper more sloped
towards the light, you will find that many parts of the stone, which
before looked light through the hole, then look dark through it; and if
you can place the paper in such a position that every part of the stone
looks slightly dark, the little hole will tell always as a spot of
shade, and if your drawing is put in the same light, you can imitate or
match every gradation. You will be amazed to find, under these
circumstances, how slight the differences of tint are, by which, through
infinite delicacy of gradation, Nature can express form.

If any part of your subject will obstinately show itself as a light
through the hole, that part you need not hope to imitate. Leave it
white; you can do no more.

50. When you have done the best you can to get the general form, proceed
to finish, by imitating the texture and all the cracks and stains of the
stone as closely as you can; and note, in doing this, that cracks or
fissures of any kind, whether between stones in walls, or in the grain
of timber or rocks, or in any of the thousand other conditions they
present, are never expressible by single black lines, or lines of simple
shadow. A crack must always have its complete system of light and shade,
however small its scale. It is in reality a little ravine, with a dark
or shady side, and light or sunny side, and, usually, shadow in the
bottom. This is one of the instances in which it may be as well to
understand the reason of the appearance; it is not often so in drawing,
for the aspects of things are so subtle and confused that they cannot in
general be explained; and in the endeavor to explain some, we are sure
to lose sight of others, while the natural overestimate of the
importance of those on which the attention is fixed causes us to
exaggerate them, so that merely scientific draughtsmen caricature a
third part of Nature, and miss two-thirds. The best scholar is he whose
eye is so keen as to see at once how the thing looks, and who need not
therefore trouble himself with any reasons why it looks so: but few
people have this acuteness of perception; and to those who are destitute
of it, a little pointing out of rule and reason will be a help,
especially when a master is not near them. I never allow my own pupils
to ask the reason of anything, because, as I watch their work, I can
always show them how the thing is, and what appearance they are missing
in it; but when a master is not by to direct the sight, science may,
here and there, be allowed to do so in his stead.

51. Generally, then, every solid illumined object--for instance, the
stone you are drawing--has a light side turned towards the light, a dark
side turned away from the light, and a shadow, which is cast on
something else (as by the stone on the paper it is set upon). You may
sometimes be placed so as to see only the light side and shadow,
sometimes only the dark side and shadow, and sometimes both or either
without the shadow; but in most positions solid objects will show all
the three, as the stone does here.

52. Hold up your hand with the edge of it towards you, as you sit now
with your side to the window, so that the flat of your hand is turned to
the window. You will see one side of your hand distinctly lighted, the
other distinctly in shade. Here are light side and dark side, with no
seen shadow; the shadow being detached, perhaps on the table, perhaps on
the other side of the room; you need not look for it at present.

53. Take a sheet of note-paper, and holding it edgewise, as you hold
your hand, wave it up and down past the side of your hand which is
turned from the light, the paper being of course farther from the
window. You will see, as it passes, a strong gleam of light strike on
your hand, and light it considerably on its dark side. This light is
_reflected_ light. It is thrown back from the paper (on which it strikes
first in coming from the window) to the surface of your hand, just as a
ball would be if somebody threw it through the window at the wall and
you caught it at the rebound.

Next, instead of the note-paper, take a red book, or a piece of scarlet
cloth. You will see that the gleam of light falling on your hand, as
you wave the book, is now reddened. Take a blue book, and you will find
the gleam is blue. Thus every object will cast some of its own color
back in the light that it reflects.

54. Now it is not only these books or papers that reflect light to your
hand: every object in the room on that side of it reflects some, but
more feebly, and the colors mixing all together form a neutral[11]
light, which lets the color of your hand itself be more distinctly seen
than that of any object which reflects light to it; but if there were no
reflected light, that side of your hand would look as black as a coal.

55. Objects are seen therefore, in general, partly by direct light, and
partly by light reflected from the objects around them, or from the
atmosphere and clouds. The color of their light sides depends much on
that of the direct light, and that of the dark sides on the colors of
the objects near them. It is therefore impossible to say beforehand what
color an object will have at any point of its surface, that color
depending partly on its own tint, and partly on infinite combinations of
rays reflected from other things. The only certain fact about dark sides
is, that their color will be changeful, and that a picture which gives
them merely darker shades of the color of the light sides must assuredly
be bad.

56. Now, lay your hand flat on the white paper you are drawing on. You
will see one side of each finger lighted, one side dark, and the shadow
of your hand on the paper. Here, therefore, are the three divisions of
shade seen at once. And although the paper is white, and your hand of a
rosy color somewhat darker than white, yet you will see that the shadow
all along, just under the finger which casts it, is darker than the
flesh, and is of a very deep gray. The reason of this is, that much
light is reflected from the paper to the dark side of your finger, but
very little is reflected from other things to the paper itself in that
chink under your finger.

57. In general, for this reason, a shadow, or, at any rate, the part of
the shadow nearest the object, is darker than the dark side of the
object. I say in general, because a thousand accidents may interfere to
prevent its being so. Take a little bit of glass, as a wine-glass, or
the ink-bottle, and play it about a little on the side of your hand
farthest from the window; you will presently find you are throwing
gleams of light all over the dark side of your hand, and in some
positions of the glass the reflection from it will annihilate the shadow
altogether, and you will see your hand dark on the white paper. Now a
stupid painter would represent, for instance, a drinking-glass beside
the hand of one of his figures, and because he had been taught by rule
that "shadow was darker than the dark side," he would never think of the
reflection from the glass, but paint a dark gray under the hand, just as
if no glass were there. But a great painter would be sure to think of
the true effect, and paint it; and then comes the stupid critic, and
wonders why the hand is so light on its dark side.

58. Thus it is always dangerous to assert anything as a _rule_ in
matters of art; yet it is useful for you to remember that, in a general
way, a shadow is darker than the dark side of the thing that casts it,
supposing the colors otherwise the same; that is to say, when a white
object casts a shadow on a white surface, or a dark object on a dark
surface: the rule will not hold if the colors are different, the shadow
of a black object on a white surface being, of course, not so dark,
usually, as the black thing casting it. The only way to ascertain the
ultimate truth in such matters is to _look_ for it; but, in the
meantime, you will be helped by noticing that the cracks in the stone
are little ravines, on one side of which the light strikes sharply,
while the other is in shade. This dark side usually casts a little
darker shadow at the bottom of the crack; and the general tone of the
stone surface is not so bright as the light bank of the ravine. And,
therefore, if you get the surface of the object of a uniform tint, more
or less indicative of shade, and then scratch out a white spot or
streak in it of any shape; by putting a dark touch beside this white
one, you may turn it, as you choose, into either a ridge or an incision,
into either a boss or a cavity. If you put the dark touch on the side of
it nearest the sun, or rather, nearest the place that the light comes
from, you will make it a cut or cavity; if you put it on the opposite
side, you will make it a ridge or mound; and the complete success of the
effect depends less on depth of shade than on the rightness of the
drawing; that is to say, on the evident correspondence of the form of
the shadow with the form that casts it. In drawing rocks, or wood, or
anything irregularly shaped, you will gain far more by a little patience
in following the forms carefully, though with slight touches, than by
labored finishing of texture of surface and transparencies of shadow.

59. When you have got the whole well into shape, proceed to lay on the
stains and spots with great care, quite as much as you gave to the
forms. Very often, spots or bars of local color do more to express form
than even the light and shade, and they are always interesting as the
means by which Nature carries light into her shadows, and shade into her
lights; an art of which we shall have more to say hereafter, in speaking
of composition. _a_, in Fig. 5, is a rough sketch of a fossil
sea-urchin, in which the projections of the shell are of black flint,
coming through a chalky surface. These projections form dark spots in
the light; and their sides, rising out of the shadow, form smaller
whiter spots in the dark. You may take such scattered lights as these
out with the penknife, provided you are just as careful to place them
rightly as if you got them by a more laborious process.

60. When you have once got the feeling of the way in which gradation
expresses roundness and projection, you may try your strength on
anything natural or artificial that happens to take your fancy, provided
it be not too complicated in form. I have asked you to draw a stone
first, because any irregularities and failures in your shading will be
less offensive to you, as being partly characteristic of the rough stone
surface, than they would be in a more delicate subject; and you may as
well go on drawing rounded stones of different shapes for a little
while, till you find you can really shade delicately. You may then take
up folds of thick white drapery, a napkin or towel thrown carelessly on
the table is as good as anything, and try to express them in the same
way; only now you will find that your shades must be wrought with
perfect unity and tenderness, or you will lose the flow of the folds.
Always remember that a little bit perfected is worth more than many
scrawls; whenever you feel yourself inclined to scrawl, give up work
resolutely, and do not go back to it till next day. Of course your towel
or napkin must be put on something that may be locked up, so that its
folds shall not be disturbed till you have finished. If you find that
the folds will not look right, get a photograph of a piece of drapery
(there are plenty now to be bought, taken from the sculpture of the
cathedrals of Rheims, Amiens, and Chartres, which will at once educate
your hand and your taste), and copy some piece of that; you will then
ascertain what it is that is wanting in your studies from Nature,
whether more gradation, or greater watchfulness of the disposition of
the folds. Probably for some time you will find yourself failing
painfully in both, for drapery is very difficult to follow in its
sweeps; but do not lose courage, for the greater the difficulty, the
greater the gain in the effort. If your eye is more just in measurement
of form than delicate in perception of tint, a pattern on the folded
surface will help you. Try whether it does or not: and if the patterned
drapery confuses you, keep for a time to the simple white one; but if it
helps you, continue to choose patterned stuffs (tartans and simple
checkered designs are better at first than flowered ones), and even
though it should confuse you, begin pretty soon to use a pattern
occasionally, copying all the distortions and perspective modifications
of it among the folds with scrupulous care.

61. Neither must you suppose yourself condescending in doing this. The
greatest masters are always fond of drawing patterns; and the greater
they are, the more pains they take to do it truly.[12] Nor can there be
better practice at any time, as introductory to the nobler complication
of natural detail. For when you can draw the spots which follow the
folds of a printed stuff, you will have some chance of following the
spots which fall into the folds of the skin of a leopard as he leaps;
but if you cannot draw the manufacture, assuredly you will never be able
to draw the creature. So the cloudings on a piece of wood, carefully
drawn, will be the best introduction to the drawing of the clouds of the
sky, or the waves of the sea; and the dead leaf-patterns on a damask
drapery, well rendered, will enable you to disentangle masterfully the
living leaf-patterns of a thorn thicket or a violet bank.

62. Observe, however, in drawing any stuffs, or bindings of books, or
other finely textured substances, do not trouble yourself, as yet, much
about the wooliness or gauziness of the thing; but get it right in shade
and fold, and true in pattern. We shall see, in the course of
after-practice, how the penned lines may be made indicative of texture;
but at present attend only to the light and shade and pattern. You will
be puzzled at first by _lustrous_ surfaces, but a little attention will
show you that the expression of these depends merely on the right
drawing of their light and shade, and reflections. Put a small black
japanned tray on the table in front of some books; and you will see it
reflects the objects beyond it as in a little black rippled pond; its
own color mingling always with that of the reflected objects. Draw these
reflections of the books properly, making them dark and distorted, as
you will see that they are, and you will find that this gives the luster
to your tray. It is not well, however, to draw polished objects in
general practice; only you should do one or two in order to understand
the aspect of any lustrous portion of other things, such as you cannot
avoid; the gold, for instance, on the edges of books, or the shining of
silk and damask, in which lies a great part of the expression of their
folds. Observe also that there are very few things which are totally
without luster; you will frequently find a light which puzzles you, on
some apparently dull surface, to be the dim image of another object.

63. And now, as soon as you can conscientiously assure me that with the
point of the pen or pencil you can lay on any form and shade you like, I
give you leave to use the brush with one color,--sepia, or blue black,
or mixed cobalt and blue black, or neutral tint; and this will much
facilitate your study, and refresh you. But, preliminary, you must do
one or two more exercises in tinting.


64. Prepare your color as directed for Exercise VII. Take a brush full
of it, and strike it on the paper in any irregular shape; as the brush
gets dry, sweep the surface of the paper with it as if you were dusting
the paper very lightly; every such sweep of the brush will leave a
number of more or less minute interstices in the color. The lighter and
faster every dash the better. Then leave the whole to dry; and, as soon
as it is dry, with little color in your brush, so that you can bring it
to a fine point, fill up all the little interstices one by one, so as to
make the whole as even as you can, and fill in the larger gaps with more
color, always trying to let the edges of the first and of the newly
applied color exactly meet, and not lap over each other. When your new
color dries, you will find it in places a little paler than the first.
Retouch it therefore, trying to get the whole to look quite one piece. A
very small bit of color thus filled up with your very best care, and
brought to look as if it had been quite even from the first, will give
you better practice and more skill than a great deal filled in
carelessly; so do it with your best patience, not leaving the most
minute spot of white; and do not fill in the large pieces first and then
go to the small, but quietly and steadily cover in the whole up to a
marked limit; then advance a little farther, and so on; thus always
seeing distinctly what is done and what undone.


65. Lay a coat of the blue, prepared as usual, over a whole square of
paper. Let it dry. Then another coat over four fifths of the square, or
thereabouts, leaving the edge rather irregular than straight, and let it
dry. Then another coat over three fifths; another over two fifths; and
the last over one fifth; so that the square may present the appearance
of gradual increase in darkness in five bands, each darker than the one
beyond it. Then, with the brush rather dry (as in the former exercise,
when filling up the interstices), try, with small touches, like those
used in the pen etching, only a little broader, to add shade delicately
beyond each edge, so as to lead the darker tints into the paler ones
imperceptibly. By touching the paper very lightly, and putting a
multitude of little touches, crossing and recrossing in every direction,
you will gradually be able to work up to the darker tints, outside of
each, so as quite to efface their edges, and unite them tenderly with
the next tint. The whole square, when done, should look evenly shaded
from dark to pale, with no bars, only a crossing texture of touches,
something like chopped straw, over the whole.[13]

66. Next, take your rounded pebble; arrange it in any light and shade
you like; outline it very loosely with the pencil. Put on a wash of
color, prepared _very_ pale, quite flat over all of it, except the
highest light, leaving the edge of your color quite sharp. Then another
wash, extending only over the darker parts, leaving the edge of that
sharp also, as in tinting the square. Then another wash over the still
darker parts, and another over the darkest, leaving each edge to dry
sharp. Then, with the small touches, efface the edges, reinforce the
darks, and work the whole delicately together as you would with the pen,
till you have got it to the likeness of the true light and shade. You
will find that the tint underneath is a great help, and that you can now
get effects much more subtle and complete than with the pen merely.

67. The use of leaving the edges always sharp is that you may not
trouble or vex the color, but let it lie as it falls suddenly on the
paper: color looks much more lovely when it has been laid on with a dash
of the brush, and left to dry in its own way, than when it has been
dragged about and disturbed; so that it is always better to let the
edges and forms be a little wrong, even if one cannot correct them
afterwards, than to lose this fresh quality of the tint. Very great
masters in water color can lay on the true forms at once with a dash,
and bad masters in water color lay on grossly false forms with a dash,
and leave them false; for people in general, not knowing false from
true, are as much pleased with the appearance of power in the irregular
blot as with the presence of power in the determined one; but _we_, in
our beginnings, must do as much as we can with the broad dash, and then
correct with the point, till we are quite right. We must take care to be
right, at whatever cost of pains; and then gradually we shall find we
can be right with freedom.

68. I have hitherto limited you to color mixed with two or three
teaspoonfuls of water; but, in finishing your light and shade from the
stone, you may, as you efface the edge of the palest coat towards the
light, use the color for the small touches with more and more water,
till it is so pale as not to be perceptible. Thus you may obtain a
perfect gradation to the light. And in reinforcing the darks, when they
are very dark, you may use less and less water. If you take the color
tolerably dark on your brush, only always liquid (not pasty), and dash
away the superfluous color on blotting paper, you will find that,
touching the paper very lightly with the dry brush, you can, by repeated
touches, produce a dusty kind of bloom, very valuable in giving depth to
shadow; but it requires great patience and delicacy of hand to do this
properly. You will find much of this kind of work in the grounds and
shadows of William Hunt's drawings.[14]

69. As you get used to the brush and color, you will gradually find out
their ways for yourself, and get the management of them. And you will
often save yourself much discouragement by remembering what I have so
often asserted,--that if anything goes wrong, it is nearly sure to be
refinement that is wanting, not force; and connection, not alteration.
If you dislike the state your drawing is in, do not lose patience with
it, nor dash at it, nor alter its plan, nor rub it desperately out, at
the place you think wrong; but look if there are no shadows you can
gradate more perfectly; no little gaps and rents you can fill; no forms
you can more delicately define: and do not _rush_ at any of the errors
or incompletions thus discerned, but efface or supply slowly, and you
will soon find your drawing take another look. A very useful expedient
in producing some effects, is to wet the paper, and then lay the color
on it, more or less wet, according to the effect you want. You will soon
see how prettily it gradates itself as it dries; when dry, you can
reinforce it with delicate stippling when you want it darker. Also,
while the color is still damp on the paper, by drying your brush
thoroughly, and touching the color with the brush so dried, you may take
out soft lights with great tenderness and precision. Try all sorts of
experiments of this kind, noticing how the color behaves; but
remembering always that your final results must be obtained, and can
only be obtained, by pure work with the point, as much as in the pen

70. You will find also, as you deal with more and more complicated
subjects, that Nature's resources in light and shade are so much richer
than yours, that you cannot possibly get all, or anything like all, the
gradations of shadow in any given group. When this is the case,
determine first to keep the broad masses of things distinct: if, for
instance, there is a green book, and a white piece of paper, and a black
inkstand in the group, be sure to keep the white paper as a light mass,
the green book as a middle tint mass, the black inkstand as a dark mass;
and do not shade the folds in the paper, or corners of the book, so as
to equal in depth the darkness of the inkstand. The great difference
between the masters of light and shade, and imperfect artists, is the
power of the former to draw so delicately as to express form in a
dark-colored object with little light, and in a light-colored object
with little darkness; and it is better even to leave the forms here and
there unsatisfactorily rendered than to lose the general relations of
the great masses. And this, observe, not because masses are grand or
desirable things in your composition (for with composition at present
you have nothing whatever to do), but because it is a fact that things
do so present themselves to the eyes of men, and that we see paper,
book, and inkstand as three separate things, before we see the wrinkles,
or chinks, or corners of any of the three. Understand, therefore, at
once, that no detail can be as strongly expressed in drawing as it is in
reality; and strive to keep all your shadows and marks and minor
markings on the masses, lighter than they appear to be in Nature; you
are sure otherwise to get them too dark. You will in doing this find
that you cannot get the projection of things sufficiently shown; but
never mind that; there is no need that they should appear to project,
but great need that their relations of shade to each other should be
preserved. All deceptive projection is obtained by partial exaggeration
of shadow; and whenever you see it, you may be sure the drawing is more
or less bad: a thoroughly fine drawing or painting will always show a
slight tendency towards flatness.

71. Observe, on the other hand, that, however white an object may be,
there is always some small point of it whiter than the rest. You must
therefore have a slight tone of gray over everything in your picture
except on the extreme high lights; even the piece of white paper, in
your subject, must be toned slightly down, unless (and there are
thousand chances against its being so) it should all be turned so as
fully to front the light. By examining the treatment of the white
objects in any pictures accessible to you by Paul Veronese or Titian,
you will soon understand this.[15]

72. As soon as you feel yourself capable of expressing with the brush
the undulations of surfaces and the relations of masses, you may proceed
to draw more complicated and beautiful things.[16] And first, the boughs
of trees, now not in mere dark relief, but in full rounding. Take the
first bit of branch or stump that comes to hand, with a fork in it; cut
off the ends of the forking branches, so as to leave the whole only
about a foot in length; get a piece of paper the same size, fix your bit
of branch in some place where its position will not be altered, and draw
it thoroughly, in all its light and shade, full size; striving, above
all things, to get an accurate expression of its structure at the fork
of the branch. When once you have mastered the tree at its _armpits_,
you will have little more trouble with it.

73. Always draw whatever the background happens to be, exactly as you
see it. Wherever you have fastened the bough, you must draw whatever is
behind it, ugly or not, else you will never know whether the light and
shade are right; they may appear quite wrong to you, only for want of
the background. And this general law is to be observed in all your
studies: whatever you draw, draw completely and unalteringly, else you
never know if what you have done is right, or whether you _could_ have
done it rightly had you tried. There is nothing _visible_ out of which
you may not get useful practice.

74. Next, to put the leaves on your boughs. Gather a small twig with
four or five leaves on it, put it into water, put a sheet of
light-colored or white paper behind it, so that all the leaves may be
relieved in dark from the white field; then sketch in their dark shape
carefully with pencil as you did the complicated boughs, in order to be
sure that all their masses and interstices are right in shape before you
begin shading, and complete as far as you can with pen and ink, in the
manner of Fig. 6, which is a young shoot of lilac.

75. You will probably, in spite of all your pattern drawings, be at
first puzzled by leaf foreshortening; especially because the look of
retirement or projection depends not so much on the perspective of the
leaves themselves as on the double sight of the two eyes. Now there are
certain artifices by which good painters can partly conquer this
difficulty; as slight exaggerations of force or color in the nearer
parts, and of obscurity in the more distant ones; but you must not
attempt anything of this kind. When you are first sketching the leaves,
shut one of your eyes, fix a point in the background, to bring the point
of one of the leaves against; and so sketch the whole bough as you see
it in a fixed position, looking with one eye only. Your drawing never
can be made to look like the object itself, as you see that object with
_both_ eyes,[17] but it can be made perfectly like the object seen with
one, and you must be content when you have got a resemblance on these

76. In order to get clearly at the notion of the thing to be done, take
a single long leaf, hold it with its point towards you, and as flat as
you can, so as to see nothing of it but its thinness, as if you wanted
to know how thin it was; outline it so. Then slope it down gradually
towards you, and watch it as it lengthens out to its full length, held
perpendicularly down before you. Draw it in three or four different
positions between these extremes, with its ribs as they appear in each
position, and you will soon find out how it must be.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.]

77. Draw first only two or three of the leaves; then larger clusters;
and practice, in this way, more and more complicated pieces of bough and
leafage, till you find you can master the most difficult arrangements,
not consisting of more than ten or twelve leaves. You will find as you
do this, if you have an opportunity of visiting any gallery of pictures,
that you take a much more lively interest than before in the work of the
great masters; you will see that very often their best backgrounds are
composed of little more than a few sprays of leafage, carefully studied,
brought against the distant sky; and that another wreath or two form the
chief interest of their foregrounds. If you live in London you may test
your progress _accurately_ by the degree of admiration you feel for the
leaves of vine round the head of the Bacchus, in Titian's Bacchus and
Ariadne. All this, however, will not enable you to draw a mass of
foliage. You will find, on looking at any rich piece of vegetation, that
it is only one or two of the nearer clusters that you can by any
possibility draw in this complete manner. The mass is too vast, and too
intricate, to be thus dealt with.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.]

78. You must now therefore have recourse to some confused mode of
execution, capable of expressing the confusion of Nature. And, first,
you must understand what the character of that confusion is. If you look
carefully at the outer sprays of any tree at twenty or thirty yards'
distance, you will see them defined against the sky in masses, which, at
first, look quite definite; but if you examine them, you will see,
mingled with the real shapes of leaves, many indistinct lines, which
are, some of them, stalks of leaves, and some, leaves seen with the
edge turned towards you, and coming into sight in a broken way; for,
supposing the real leaf shape to be as at _a_, Fig. 7, this, when
removed some yards from the eye, will appear dark against the sky, as at
_b_; then, when removed some yards farther still, the stalk and point
disappear altogether, the middle of the leaf becomes little more than a
line; and the result is the condition at _c_, only with this farther
subtlety in the look of it, inexpressible in the wood-cut, that the
stalk and point of the leaf, though they have disappeared to the eye,
have yet some influence in _checking the light_ at the places where they
exist, and cause a slight dimness about the part of the leaf which
remains visible, so that its perfect effect could only be rendered by
two layers of color, one subduing the sky tone a little, the next
drawing the broken portions of the leaf, as at _c_, and carefully
indicating the greater darkness of the spot in the middle, where the
under side of the leaf is.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.]

This is the perfect theory of the matter. In practice we cannot reach
such accuracy; but we shall be able to render the general look of the
foliage satisfactorily by the following mode of practice.

79. Gather a spray of any tree, about a foot or eighteen inches long.
Fix it firmly by the stem in anything that will support it steadily; put
it about eight feet away from you, or ten if you are far-sighted. Put a
sheet of not very white paper behind it, as usual. Then draw very
carefully, first placing them with pencil, and then filling them up with
ink, every leaf-mass and stalk of it in simple black profile, as you see
them against the paper: Fig. 8 is a bough of Phillyrea so drawn. Do not
be afraid of running the leaves into a black mass when they come
together; this exercise is only to teach you what the actual shapes of
such masses are when seen against the sky.

80. Make two careful studies of this kind of one bough of every common
tree,--oak, ash, elm, birch, beech, etc.; in fact, if you are good, and
industrious, you will make one such study carefully at least three times
a week, until you have examples of every sort of tree and shrub you can
get branches of. You are to make two studies of each bough, for this
reason,--all masses of foliage have an upper and under surface, and the
side view of them, or profile, shows a wholly different organization of
branches from that seen in the view from above. They are generally seen
more or less in profile, as you look at the whole tree, and Nature puts
her best composition into the profile arrangement. But the view from
above or below occurs not unfrequently, also, and it is quite necessary
you should draw it if you wish to understand the anatomy of the tree.
The difference between the two views is often far greater than you could
easily conceive. For instance, in Fig. 9, _a_ is the upper view and _b_
the profile, of a single spray of Phillyrea. Fig. 8 is an intermediate
view of a larger bough; seen from beneath, but at some lateral distance

81. When you have done a few branches in this manner, take one of the
drawings you have made, and put it first a yard away from you, then a
yard and a half, then two yards; observe how the thinner stalks and
leaves gradually disappear, leaving only a vague and slight darkness
where they were; and make another study of the effect at each distance,
taking care to draw nothing more than you really see, for in this
consists all the difference between what would be merely a miniature
drawing of the leaves seen near, and a full-size drawing of the same
leaves at a distance. By full size, I mean the size which they would
really appear of if their outline were traced through a pane of glass
held at the same distance from the eye at which you mean to hold your
drawing. You can always ascertain this full size of any object by
holding your paper upright before you, at the distance from your eye at
which you wish your drawing to be seen. Bring its edge across the object
you have to draw, and mark upon this edge the points where the outline
of the object crosses, or goes behind, the edge of the paper. You will
always find it, thus measured, smaller than you supposed.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.]

82. When you have made a few careful experiments of this kind on your
own drawings, (which are better for practice, at first, than the real
trees, because the black profile in the drawing is quite stable, and
does not shake, and is not confused by sparkles of luster on the
leaves,) you may try the extremities of the real trees, only not doing
much at a time, for the brightness of the sky will dazzle and perplex
your sight. And this brightness causes, I believe, some loss of the
outline itself; at least the chemical action of the light in a
photograph extends much within the edges of the leaves, and, as it
were, eats them away, so that no tree extremity, stand it ever so still,
nor any other form coming against bright sky, is truly drawn by a
photograph; and if you once succeed in drawing a few sprays rightly, you
will find the result much more lovely and interesting than any
photograph can be.

83. All this difficulty, however, attaches to the rendering merely the
dark form of the sprays as they come against the sky. Within those
sprays, and in the heart of the tree, there is a complexity of a much
more embarrassing kind; for nearly all leaves have some luster, and all
are more or less translucent (letting light through them); therefore, in
any given leaf, besides the intricacies of its own proper shadows and
foreshortenings, there are three series of circumstances which alter or
hide its forms. First, shadows cast on it by other leaves,--often very
forcibly. Secondly, light reflected from its lustrous surface, sometimes
the blue of the sky, sometimes the white of clouds, or the sun itself
flashing like a star. Thirdly, forms and shadows of other leaves, seen
as darknesses through the translucent parts of the leaf; a most
important element of foliage effect, but wholly neglected by landscape
artists in general.

84. The consequence of all this is, that except now and then by chance,
the form of a complete leaf is never seen; but a marvelous and quaint
confusion, very definite, indeed, in its evidence of direction of
growth, and unity of action, but wholly indefinable and inextricable,
part by part, by any amount of patience. You cannot possibly work it out
in facsimile, though you took a twelvemonth's time to a tree; and you
must therefore try to discover some mode of execution which will more or
less imitate, by its own variety and mystery, the variety and mystery of
Nature, without absolute delineation of detail.

85. Now I have led you to this conclusion by observation of tree form
only, because in that the thing to be proved is clearest. But no natural
object exists which does not involve in some part or parts of it this
inimitableness, this mystery of quantity, which needs peculiarity of
handling and trick of touch to express it completely. If leaves are
intricate, so is moss, so is foam, so is rock cleavage, so are fur and
hair, and texture of drapery, and of clouds. And although methods and
dexterities of handling are wholly useless if you have not gained first
the thorough knowledge of the form of the thing; so that if you cannot
draw a branch perfectly, then much less a tree; and if not a wreath of
mist perfectly, much less a flock of clouds; and if not a single grass
blade perfectly, much less a grass bank; yet having once got this power
over decisive form, you may safely--and must, in order to perfection of
work--carry out your knowledge by every aid of method and dexterity of

86. But, in order to find out what method can do, you must now look at
Art as well as at Nature, and see what means painters and engravers have
actually employed for the expression of these subtleties. Whereupon
arises the question, what opportunity you have to obtain engravings? You
ought, if it is at all in your power, to possess yourself of a certain
number of good examples of Turner's engraved works: if this be not in
your power, you must just make the best use you can of the shop windows,
or of any plates of which you can obtain a loan. Very possibly, the
difficulty of getting sight of them may stimulate you to put them to
better use. But, supposing your means admit of your doing so, possess
yourself, first, of the illustrated edition either of Rogers's Italy or
Rogers's Poems, and then of about a dozen of the plates named in the
annexed lists. The prefixed letters indicate the particular points
deserving your study in each engraving.[18] Be sure, therefore, that
your selection includes, at all events, one plate marked with each
letter. Do not get more than twelve of these plates, nor even all the
twelve at first; for the more engravings you have, the less attention
you will pay to them. It is a general truth, that the enjoyment
derivable from art cannot be increased in quantity, beyond a certain
point, by quantity of possession; it is only spread, as it were, over a
larger surface, and very often dulled by finding ideas repeated in
different works. Now, for a beginner, it is always better that his
attention should be concentrated on one or two good things, and all his
enjoyment founded on them, than that he should look at many, with
divided thoughts. He has much to discover; and his best way of
discovering it is to think long over few things, and watch them
earnestly. It is one of the worst errors of this age to try to know and
to see too much: the men who seem to know everything, never in reality
know anything rightly. Beware of _handbook_ knowledge.

87. These engravings are, in general, more for you to look at than to
copy; and they will be of more use to you when we come to talk of
composition, than they are at present; still, it will do you a great
deal of good, sometimes to try how far you can get their delicate
texture, or gradations of tone: as your pen-and-ink drawing will be apt
to incline too much to a scratchy and broken kind of shade. For
instance, the texture of the white convent wall, and the drawing of its
tiled roof, in the vignette at p. 227 of Rogers's Poems, is as exquisite
as work can possibly be; and it will be a great and profitable
achievement if you can at all approach it. In like manner, if you can at
all imitate the dark distant country at p. 7, or the sky at p. 80, of
the same volume, or the foliage at pp. 12 and 144, it will be good gain;
and if you can once draw the rolling clouds and running river at p. 9 of
the Italy, or the city in the vignette of Aosta at p. 25, or the
moonlight at p. 223, you will find that even Nature herself cannot
afterwards very terribly puzzle you with her torrents, or towers, or

88. You need not copy touch for touch, but try to get the same effect.
And if you feel discouraged by the delicacy required, and begin to think
that engraving is not drawing, and that copying it cannot help you to
draw, remember that it differs from common drawing only by the
difficulties it has to encounter. You perhaps have got into a careless
habit of thinking that engraving is a mere business, easy enough when
one has got into the knack of it. On the contrary, it is a form of
drawing more difficult than common drawing, by exactly so much as it is
more difficult to cut steel than to move the pencil over paper. It is
true that there are certain mechanical aids and methods which reduce it
at certain stages either to pure machine work, or to more or less a
habit of hand and arm; but this is not so in the foliage you are trying
to copy, of which the best and prettiest parts are always etched--that
is, drawn with a fine steel point and free hand: only the line made is
white instead of black, which renders it much more difficult to judge of
what you are about. And the trying to copy these plates will be good for
you, because it will awaken you to the real labor and skill of the
engraver, and make you understand a little how people must work, in this
world, who have really to _do_ anything in it.

89. Do not, however, suppose that I give you the engraving as a
model--far from it; but it is necessary you should be able to do as
well[19] before you think of doing better, and you will find many little
helps and hints in the various work of it. Only remember that _all_
engravers' foregrounds are bad; whenever you see the peculiar wriggling
parallel lines of modern engravings become distinct, you must not copy;
nor admire: it is only the softer masses, and distances, and portions of
the foliage in the plates marked _f_, which you may copy. The best for
this purpose, if you can get it, is the "Chain bridge over the Tees,"
of the England series; the thicket on the right is very beautiful and
instructive, and very like Turner. The foliage in the "Ludlow" and
"Powis" is also remarkably good.

90. Besides these line engravings, and to protect you from what harm
there is in their influence, you are to provide yourself, if possible,
with a Rembrandt etching, or a photograph of one (of figures, not
landscape). It does not matter of what subject, or whether a sketchy or
finished one, but the sketchy ones are generally cheapest, and will
teach you most. Copy it as well as you can, noticing especially that
Rembrandt's most rapid lines have steady purpose; and that they are laid
with almost inconceivable precision when the object becomes at all
interesting. The "Prodigal Son," "Death of the Virgin," "Abraham and
Isaac," and such others, containing incident and character rather than
chiaroscuro, will be the most instructive. You can buy one; copy it
well; then exchange it, at little loss, for another; and so, gradually,
obtain a good knowledge of his system. Whenever you have an opportunity
of examining his work at museums, etc., do so with the greatest care,
not looking at _many_ things, but a long time at each. You must also
provide yourself, if possible, with an engraving of Albert Dürer's. This
you will not be able to copy; but you must keep it beside you, and refer
to it as a standard of precision in line. If you can get one with a
_wing_ in it, it will be best. The crest with the cock, that with the
skull and satyr, and the "Melancholy," are the best you could have, but
any will do. Perfection in chiaroscuro drawing lies between these two
masters, Rembrandt and Dürer. Rembrandt is often too loose and vague;
and Dürer has little or no effect of mist or uncertainty. If you can see
anywhere a drawing by Leonardo, you will find it balanced between the
two characters; but there are no engravings which present this
perfection, and your style will be best formed, therefore, by alternate
study of Rembrandt and Dürer. Lean rather to Dürer; it is better, for
amateurs, to err on the side of precision than on that of vagueness:
and though, as I have just said, you cannot copy a Dürer, yet try every
now and then a quarter of an inch square or so, and see how much nearer
you can come; you cannot possibly try to draw the leafy crown of the
"Melancholia" too often.

91. If you cannot get either a Rembrandt or a Dürer, you may still learn
much by carefully studying any of George Cruikshank's etchings, or
Leech's wood-cuts in Punch, on the free side; with Alfred Rethel's and
Richter's[20] on the severe side. But in so doing you will need to
notice the following points:

92. When either the material (as the copper or wood) or the time of an
artist does not permit him to make a perfect drawing,--that is to say,
one in which no lines shall be prominently visible,--and he is reduced
to show the black lines, either drawn by the pen, or on the wood, it is
better to make these lines help, as far as may be, the expression of
texture and form. You will thus find many textures, as of cloth or grass
or flesh, and many subtle effects of light, expressed by Leech with
zigzag or crossed or curiously broken lines; and you will see that
Alfred Rethel and Richter constantly express the direction and rounding
of surfaces by the direction of the lines which shade them. All these
various means of expression will be useful to you, as far as you can
learn them, provided you remember that they are merely a kind of
shorthand; telling certain facts not in quite the right way, but in the
only possible way under the conditions: and provided in any after use of
such means, you never try to show your own dexterity; but only to get as
much record of the object as you can in a given time; and that you
continually make efforts to go beyond such shorthand, and draw portions
of the objects rightly.

93. And touching this question of direction of lines as indicating that
of surface, observe these few points:

[Illustration: FIG. 10.]

If lines are to be distinctly shown, it is better that, so far as they
_can_ indicate anything by their direction, they should explain rather
than oppose the general character of the object. Thus, in the piece of
wood-cut from Titian, Fig. 10, the lines are serviceable by expressing,
not only the shade of the trunk, but partly also its roundness, and the
flow of its grain. And Albert Dürer, whose work was chiefly engraving,
sets himself always thus to make his lines as _valuable_ as possible;
telling much by them, both of shade and direction of surface: and if you
were always to be limited to engraving on copper (and did not want to
express effects of mist or darkness, as well as delicate forms), Albert
Dürer's way of work would be the best example for you. But, inasmuch as
the perfect way of drawing is by shade without lines, and the great
painters always conceive their subject as complete, even when they are
sketching it most rapidly, you will find that, when they are not limited
in means, they do not much trust to direction of line, but will often
scratch in the shade of a rounded surface with nearly straight lines,
that is to say, with the easiest and quickest lines possible to
themselves. When the hand is free, the easiest line for it to draw is
one inclining from the left upwards to the right, or vice versâ, from
the right downwards to the left; and when done very quickly, the line is
hooked a little at the end by the effort at return to the next. Hence,
you will always find the pencil, chalk, or pen sketch of a _very_ great
master full of these kind of lines; and even if he draws carefully, you
will find him using simple straight lines from left to right, when an
inferior master would have used curved ones. Fig. 11 is a fair facsimile
of part of a sketch of Raphael's, which exhibits these characters very
distinctly. Even the careful drawings of Leonardo da Vinci are shaded
most commonly with straight lines; and you may always assume it as a
point increasing the probability of a drawing being by a great master
if you find rounded surfaces, such as those of cheeks or lips, shaded
with straight lines.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.]

94. But you will also now understand how easy it must be for dishonest
dealers to forge or imitate scrawled sketches like Fig. 11, and pass
them for the work of great masters; and how the power of determining the
genuineness of a drawing depends entirely on your knowing the facts of
the objects drawn, and perceiving whether the hasty handling is _all_
conducive to the expression of those truths. In a great man's work, at
its fastest, no line is thrown away, and it is not by the rapidity, but
the _economy_ of the execution that you know him to be great. Now to
judge of this economy, you must know exactly what he meant to do,
otherwise you cannot of course discern how far he has done it; that is,
you must know the beauty and nature of the thing he was drawing. All
judgment of art thus finally founds itself on knowledge of Nature.

95. But farther observe, that this scrawled, or economic, or impetuous
execution is never affectedly impetuous. If a great man is not in a
hurry, he never pretends to be; if he has no eagerness in his heart, he
puts none into his hand; if he thinks his effect would be better got
with _two_ lines, he never, to show his dexterity, tries to do it with
one. Be assured, therefore (and this is a matter of great importance),
that you will never produce a great drawing by imitating the execution
of a great master. Acquire his knowledge and share his feelings, and the
easy execution will fall from your hand as it did from his: but if you
merely scrawl because he scrawled, or blot because he blotted, you will
not only never advance in power, but every able draughtsman, and every
judge whose opinion is worth having, will know you for a cheat, and
despise you accordingly.

96. Again, observe respecting the use of outline:

All merely outlined drawings are bad, for the simple reason, that an
artist of any power can always do more, and tell more, by quitting his
outlines occasionally, and scratching in a few lines for shade, than he
can by restricting himself to outline only. Hence the fact of his so
restricting himself, whatever may be the occasion, shows him to be a bad
draughtsman, and not to know how to apply his power economically. This
hard law, however, bears only on drawings meant to remain in the state
in which you see them; not on those which were meant to be proceeded
with, or for some mechanical use. It is sometimes necessary to draw pure
outlines, as an incipient arrangement of a composition, to be filled up
afterwards with color, or to be pricked through and used as patterns or
tracings; but if, with no such ultimate object, making the drawing
wholly for its own sake, and meaning it to remain in the state he leaves
it, an artist restricts himself to outline, he is a bad draughtsman, and
his work is bad. There is no exception to this law. A good artist
habitually sees masses, not edges, and can in every case make his
drawing more expressive (with any given quantity of work) by rapid shade
than by contours; so that all good work whatever is more or less touched
with shade, and more or less interrupted as outline.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.]

97. Hence, the published works of Retzsch, and all the English
imitations of them, and all outline engravings from pictures, are bad
work, and only serve to corrupt the public taste. And of such outlines,
the worst are those which are darkened in some part of their course by
way of expressing the dark side, as Flaxman's from Dante, and such
others; because an outline can only be true so long as it accurately
represents the form of the given object with _one_ of its edges. Thus,
the outline _a_ and the outline _b_, Fig. 12, are both _true_ outlines
of a ball; because, however thick the line may be, whether we take the
interior or exterior edge of it, that edge of it always draws a true
circle. But _c_ is a false outline of a ball, because either the inner
or outer edge of the black line must be an untrue circle, else the line
could not be thicker in one place than another. Hence all "force," as it
is called, is gained by falsification of the contours; so that no artist
whose eye is true and fine could endure to look at it. It does indeed
often happen that a painter, sketching rapidly, and trying again and
again for some line which he cannot quite strike, blackens or loads the
first line by setting others beside and across it; and then a careless
observer supposes it has been thickened on purpose: or, sometimes also,
at a place where shade is afterwards to inclose the form, the painter
will strike a broad dash of this shade beside his outline at once,
looking as if he meant to thicken the outline; whereas this broad line
is only the first installment of the future shadow, and the outline is
really drawn with its inner edge.[21] And thus, far from good
draughtsmen darkening the lines which turn away from the light, the
_tendency_ with them is rather to darken them towards the light, for it
is there in general that shade will ultimately inclose them. The best
example of this treatment that I know is Raphael's sketch, in the
Louvre, of the head of the angel pursuing Heliodorus, the one that shows
part of the left eye; where the dark strong lines which terminate the
nose and forehead towards the light are opposed to tender and light ones
behind the ear, and in other places towards the shade. You will see in
Fig. 11 the same principle variously exemplified; the principal dark
lines, in the head and drapery of the arms, being on the side turned to
the light.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.]

98. All these refinements and ultimate principles, however, do not
affect your drawing for the present. You must try to make your outlines
as _equal_ as possible; and employ pure outline only for the two
following purposes: either (1.) to steady your hand, as in Exercise II.,
for if you cannot draw the line itself, you will never be able to
terminate your shadow in the precise shape required, when the line is
absent; or (2.) to give you shorthand memoranda of forms, when you are
pressed for time. Thus the forms of distant trees in groups are defined,
for the most part, by the light edge of the rounded mass of the nearer
one being shown against the darker part of the rounded mass of a more
distant one; and to draw this properly, nearly as much work is required
to round each tree as to round the stone in Fig. 5. Of course you cannot
often get time to do this; but if you mark the terminal line of each
tree as is done by Dürer in Fig. 13, you will get a most useful
memorandum of their arrangement, and a very interesting drawing. Only
observe in doing this, you must not, because the procedure is a quick
one, hurry that procedure itself. You will find, on copying that bit of
Dürer, that every one of his lines is firm, deliberate, and accurately
descriptive as far as it goes. It means a bush of such a size and such a
shape, definitely observed and set down; it contains a true
"signalement" of every nut-tree, and apple-tree, and higher bit of
hedge, all round that village. If you have not time to draw thus
carefully, do not draw at all--you are merely wasting your work and
spoiling your taste. When you have had four or five years' practice you
may be able to make useful memoranda at a rapid rate, but not yet;
except sometimes of light and shade, in a way of which I will tell you
presently. And this use of outline, note farther, is wholly confined to
objects which have edges or limits. You can outline a tree or a stone,
when it rises against another tree or stone; but you cannot outline
folds in drapery, or waves in water; if these are to be expressed at
all, it must be by some sort of shade, and therefore the rule that no
good drawing can consist throughout of pure outline remains absolute.
You see, in that wood-cut of Dürer's, his reason for even limiting
himself so much to outline as he has, in those distant woods and plains,
is that he may leave them in bright light, to be thrown out still more
by the dark sky and the dark village spire: and the scene becomes real
and sunny only by the addition of these shades.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.]

99. Understanding, then, thus much of the use of outline, we will go
back to our question about tree-drawing left unanswered at page 48.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.]

We were, you remember, in pursuit of mystery among the leaves. Now, it
is quite easy to obtain mystery and disorder, to any extent; but the
difficulty is to keep organization in the midst of mystery. And you will
never succeed in doing this unless you lean always to the definite side,
and allow yourself rarely to become quite vague, at least through all
your early practice. So, after your single groups of leaves, your first
step must be to conditions like Figs. 14 and 15, which are careful
facsimiles of two portions of a beautiful wood-cut of Dürer's, the
"Flight into Egypt." Copy these carefully,--never mind how little at a
time, but thoroughly; then trace the Dürer, and apply it to your
drawing, and do not be content till the one fits the other, else your
eye is not true enough to carry you safely through meshes of real
leaves. And in the course of doing this, you will find that not a line
nor dot of Dürer's can be displaced without harm; that all add to the
effect, and either express something, or illumine something, or relieve
something. If, afterwards, you copy any of the pieces of modern tree
drawing, of which so many rich examples are given constantly in our
cheap illustrated periodicals (any of the Christmas numbers of last
year's _Illustrated News_ or others are full of them), you will see
that, though good and forcible general effect is produced, the lines are
thrown in by thousands without special intention, and might just as well
go one way as another, so only that there be enough of them to produce
all together a well-shaped effect of intricacy: and you will find that a
little careless scratching about with your pen will bring you very near
the same result without an effort; but that no scratching of pen, nor
any fortunate chance, nor anything but downright skill and thought, will
imitate so much as one leaf of Dürer's. Yet there is considerable
intricacy and glittering confusion in the interstices of those vine
leaves of his, as well as of the grass.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.]

100. When you have got familiarized to his firm manner, you may draw
from Nature as much as you like in the same way; and when you are tired
of the intense care required for this, you may fall into a little more
easy massing of the leaves, as in Fig. 10 (p. 55). This is facsimilëd
from an engraving after Titian, but an engraving not quite first-rate in
manner, the leaves being a little too formal; still, it is a good enough
model for your times of rest; and when you cannot carry the thing even
so far as this, you may sketch the forms of the masses, as in Fig.
16,[22] taking care always to have thorough command over your hand;
that is, not to let the mass take a free shape because your hand ran
glibly over the paper, but because in Nature it has actually a free and
noble shape, and you have faithfully followed the same.

101. And now that we have come to questions of noble shape, as well as
true shape, and that we are going to draw from Nature at our pleasure,
other considerations enter into the business, which are by no means
confined to first practice, but extend to all practice; these (as this
letter is long enough, I should think, to satisfy even the most exacting
of correspondents) I will arrange in a second letter; praying you only
to excuse the tiresomeness of this first one--tiresomeness inseparable
from directions touching the beginning of any art,--and to believe me,
even though I am trying to set you to dull and hard work,

                                      Very faithfully yours,

                                                         J. RUSKIN.


  [1] (_N.B._--This note is only for the satisfaction of incredulous
    or curious readers. You may miss it if you are in a hurry, or are
    willing to take the statement in the text on trust.)

    The perception of solid Form is entirely a matter of experience. We
    see nothing but flat colors; and it is only by a series of
    experiments that we find out that a stain of black or gray indicates
    the dark side of a solid substance, or that a faint hue indicates
    that the object in which it appears is far away. The whole technical
    power of painting depends on our recovery of what may be called the
    _innocence of the eye_; that is to say, of a sort of childish
    perception of these flat stains of color, merely as such, without
    consciousness of what they signify,--as a blind man would see them
    if suddenly gifted with sight.

    For instance: when grass is lighted strongly by the sun in certain
    directions, it is turned from green into a peculiar and somewhat
    dusty-looking yellow. If we had been born blind, and were suddenly
    endowed with sight on a piece of grass thus lighted in some parts by
    the sun, it would appear to us that part of the grass was green, and
    part a dusty yellow (very nearly of the color of primroses); and, if
    there were primroses near, we should think that the sunlighted grass
    was another mass of plants of the same sulphur-yellow color. We
    should try to gather some of them, and then find that the color went
    away from the grass when we stood between it and the sun, but not
    from the primroses; and by a series of experiments we should find
    out that the sun was really the cause of the color in the one,--not
    in the other. We go through such processes of experiment
    unconsciously in childhood; and having once come to conclusions
    touching the signification of certain colors, we always suppose that
    we _see_ what we only know, and have hardly any consciousness of the
    real aspect of the signs we have learned to interpret. Very few
    people have any idea that sunlighted grass is yellow.

    Now, a highly accomplished artist has always reduced himself as
    nearly as possible to this condition of infantine sight. He sees the
    colors of nature exactly as they are, and therefore perceives at
    once in the sunlighted grass the precise relation between the two
    colors that form its shade and light. To him it does not seem shade
    and light, but bluish green barred with gold.

    Strive, therefore, first of all, to convince yourself of this great
    fact about sight. This, in your hand, which you know by experience
    and touch to be a book, is to your eye nothing but a patch of white,
    variously gradated and spotted; this other thing near you, which by
    experience you know to be a table, is to your eye only a patch of
    brown, variously darkened and veined; and so on: and the whole art
    of Painting consists merely in perceiving the shape and depth of
    these patches of color, and putting patches of the same size, depth,
    and shape on canvas. The only obstacle to the success of painting
    is, that many of the real colors are brighter and paler than it is
    possible to put on canvas: we must put darker ones to represent

  [2] Stale crumb of bread is better, if you are making a delicate
    drawing, than india-rubber, for it disturbs the surface of the paper
    less: but it crumbles about the room and makes a mess; and, besides,
    you waste the good bread, which is wrong; and your drawing will not
    for a long while be worth the crumbs. So use india-rubber very
    lightly; or, if heavily, pressing it only, not passing it over the
    paper, and leave what pencil marks will not come away so, without
    minding them. In a finished drawing the uneffaced penciling is often
    serviceable, helping the general tone, and enabling you to take out
    little bright lights.

  [3] What is usually so much sought after under the term "freedom" is
    the character of the drawing of a great master in a hurry, whose
    hand is so thoroughly disciplined, that when pressed for time he can
    let it fly as it will, and it will not go far wrong. But the hand of
    a great master at real _work_ is _never_ free: its swiftest dash is
    under perfect government. Paul Veronese or Tintoret could pause
    within a hair's breadth of any appointed mark, in their fastest
    touches; and follow, within a hair's breadth, the previously
    intended curve. You must never, therefore, aim at freedom. It is not
    required of your drawing that it should be free, but that it should
    be right; in time you will be able to do right easily, and then your
    work will be free in the best sense; but there is no merit in doing
    wrong easily.

    These remarks, however, do not apply to the lines used in shading,
    which, it will be remembered, are to be made as quickly as possible.
    The reason of this is, that the quicker a line is drawn, the lighter
    it is at the ends, and therefore the more easily joined with other
    lines, and concealed by them; the object in perfect shading being to
    conceal the lines as much as possible.

    And observe, in this exercise, the object is more to get firmness of
    hand than accuracy of eye for outline; for there are no outlines in
    Nature, and the ordinary student is sure to draw them falsely if he
    draws them at all. Do not, therefore, be discouraged if you find
    mistakes continue to occur in your outlines; be content at present
    if you find your hand gaining command over the curves.

  [4] If you can get any pieces of dead white porcelain, not glazed,
    they will be useful models.

  [5] Artists who glance at this book may be surprised at this
    permission. My chief reason is, that I think it more necessary that
    the pupil's eye should be trained to accurate perception of the
    relations of curve and right lines, by having the latter absolutely
    true, than that he should practice drawing straight lines. But also,
    I believe, though I am not quite sure of this, that he never _ought_
    to be able to draw a straight line. I do not believe a perfectly
    trained hand ever can draw a line without some curvature in it, or
    some variety of direction. Prout could draw a straight line, but I
    do not believe Raphael could, nor Tintoret. A great draughtsman can,
    as far as I have observed, draw every line _but_ a straight one.

  [6] Or, if you feel able to do so, scratch them in with confused
    quick touches, indicating the general shape of the cloud or mist of
    twigs round the main branches; but do not take much trouble about

  [7] It is more difficult, at first, to get, in color, a narrow
    gradation than an extended one; but the ultimate difficulty is, as
    with the pen, to make the gradation go _far_.

  [8] Of course, all the columns of color are to be of equal length.

  [9] The degree of darkness you can reach with the given color is
    always indicated by the color of the solid cake in the box.

  [10] The figure _a_, Fig. 5, is very dark, but this is to give an
    example of all kinds of depths of tint, without repeated figures.

  [11] Nearly neutral in ordinary circumstances, but yet with quite
    different tones in its neutrality, according to the colors of the
    various reflected rays that compose it.

  [12] If we had any business with the reasons of this, I might
    perhaps be able to show you some metaphysical ones for the
    enjoyment, by truly artistical minds, of the changes wrought by
    light and shade and perspective in patterned surfaces; but this is
    at present not to the point; and all that you need to know is that
    the drawing of such things is good exercise, and moreover a kind of
    exercise which Titian, Veronese, Tintoret, Giorgione, and Turner,
    all enjoyed, and strove to excel in.

  [13] The use of acquiring this habit of execution is that you may be
    able, when you begin to color, to let one hue be seen in minute
    portions, gleaming between the touches of another.

  [14] William Hunt, of the Old Water-color Society.

  [15] At Marlborough House, [in 1857] among the four principal
    examples of Turner's later water-color drawing, perhaps the most
    neglected was that of fishing-boats and fish at sunset. It is one of
    his most wonderful works, though unfinished. If you examine the
    larger white fishing-boat sail, you will find it has a little spark
    of pure white in its right-hand upper corner, about as large as a
    minute pin's head, and that all the surface of the sail is gradated
    to that focus. Try to copy this sail once or twice, and you will
    begin to understand Turner's work. Similarly, the wing of the Cupid
    in Correggio's large picture in the National Gallery is focused to
    two little grains of white at the top of it. The points of light on
    the white flower in the wreath round the head of the dancing
    child-faun, in Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne, exemplify the same

  [16] I shall not henceforward number the exercises recommended; as
    they are distinguished only by increasing difficulty of subject, not
    by difference of method.

  [17] If you understand the principle of the stereoscope you will
    know why; if not, it does not matter; trust me for the truth of the
    statement, as I cannot explain the principle without diagrams and
    much loss of time. See, however, Note 1, in Appendix I.

  [18] The plates marked with a star are peculiarly desirable. See
    note at the end of Appendix I. The letters mean as follows:--

    _a_ stands for architecture, including distant grouping of towns,
         cottages, etc.
    _c_ clouds, including mist and aërial effects.
    _f_ foliage.
    _g_ ground, including low hills, when not rocky.
    _l_ effects of light.
    _m_ mountains, or bold rocky ground.
    _p_ power of general arrangement and effect.
    _q_ quiet water.
    _r_ running or rough water; or rivers, even if calm, when their
         line of flow is beautifully marked.

    _From the England Series._

    _a c f r._ Arundel.                   _a f p._ Lancaster.
      _a f l._ Ashby de la Zouche.      _c l m r._ Lancaster Sands.*
    _a l q r._ Barnard Castle.*           _a g f._ Launceston.*
      _f m r._ Bolton Abbey.            _c f l r._ Leicester Abbey.
      _f g r._ Buckfastleigh.*              _f r._ Ludlow.
      _a l p._ Caernarvon.                _a f l._ Margate.
      _c l q._ Castle Upnor.              _a l q._ Orford.
      _a f l._ Colchester.                  _c p._ Plymouth.
        _l q._ Cowes.                         _f._ Powis Castle.
      _c f p._ Dartmouth Cove.*           _l m q._ Prudhoe Castle.
      _c l q._ Flint Castle.*           _f l m r._ Chain Bridge over
    _a f g l._ Knaresborough.*                      Tees.*
        _m r._ High Force of Tees.*         _m q._ Ulleswater.
      _a f q._ Trematon.                    _f m._ Valle Crucis.

    _From the Keepsake._

      _m p q._ Arona.                         _p._ St. Germain en Laye.
        _l m._ Drachenfels.*              _l p q._ Florence.
        _f l._ Marly.*                      _l m._ Ballyburgh Ness.*

    _From the Bible Series._

        _f m._ Mount Lebanon.             _a c g._ Joppa.
          _m._ Rock of Moses at         _c l p q._ Solomon's Pools.*
                Sinai.                      _a l._ Santa Saba.
      _a l m._ Jericho.                     _a l._ Pool of Bethesda.

    _From Scott's Works._

        _p r._ Melrose.*                    _c m._ Glencoe.
        _f r._ Dryburgh.*                   _c m._ Loch Coriskin.*

        _a l._ Caerlaverock.

    _From the Rivers of France._

        _a q._ Château of Amboise, with     _a p._ Rouen Cathedral.
                large bridge on right.      _f p._ Pont de l'Arche.
      _l p r._ Rouen, looking down the    _f l p._ View on the Seine,
                river, poplars on right.*           with avenue.
      _a l p._ Rouen, with cathedral      _a c p._ Bridge of Meulan.
                and rainbow, avenue     _c g p r._ Caudebec.*
                on left.

  [19] As _well_;--not as minutely: the diamond cuts finer lines on
    the steel than you can draw on paper with your pen; but you must be
    able to get tones as even, and touches as firm.

  [20] See, for account of these plates, the Appendix on "Works to be

  [21] See Note 2 in Appendix I.

  [22] This sketch is not of a tree standing on its head, though it
    looks like it. You will find it explained presently.



102. MY DEAR READER,--The work we have already gone through together
has, I hope, enabled you to draw with fair success either rounded and
simple masses, like stones, or complicated arrangements of form, like
those of leaves; provided only these masses or complexities will stay
quiet for you to copy, and do not extend into quantity so great as to
baffle your patience. But if we are now to go out to the fields, and to
draw anything like a complete landscape, neither of these conditions
will any more be observed for us. The clouds will not wait while we copy
their heaps or clefts; the shadows will escape from us as we try to
shape them, each, in its stealthy minute march, still leaving light
where its tremulous edge had rested the moment before, and involving in
eclipse objects that had seemed safe from its influence; and instead of
the small clusters of leaves which we could reckon point by point,
embarrassing enough even though numerable, we have now leaves as little
to be counted as the sands of the sea, and restless, perhaps, as its

103. In all that we have to do now, therefore, direct imitation becomes
more or less impossible. It is always to be aimed at so far as it _is_
possible; and when you have time and opportunity, some portions of a
landscape may, as you gain greater skill, be rendered with an
approximation almost to mirrored portraiture. Still, whatever skill you
may reach, there will always be need of judgment to choose, and of speed
to seize, certain things that are principal or fugitive; and you must
give more and more effort daily to the observance of characteristic
points, and the attainment of concise methods.

104. I have directed your attention early to foliage for two reasons.
First, that it is always accessible as a study; and secondly, that its
modes of growth present simple examples of the importance of leading or
governing lines. It is by seizing these leading lines, when we cannot
seize all, that likeness and expression are given to a portrait, and
grace and a kind of vital truth to the rendering of every natural form.
I call it vital truth, because these chief lines are always expressive
of the past history and present action of the thing. They show in a
mountain, first, how it was built or heaped up; and secondly, how it is
now being worn away, and from what quarter the wildest storms strike it.
In a tree, they show what kind of fortune it has had to endure from its
childhood: how troublesome trees have come in its way, and pushed it
aside, and tried to strangle or starve it; where and when kind trees
have sheltered it, and grown up lovingly together with it, bending as it
bent; what winds torment it most; what boughs of it behave best, and
bear most fruit; and so on. In a wave or cloud, these leading lines show
the run of the tide and of the wind, and the sort of change which the
water or vapor is at any moment enduring in its form, as it meets shore,
or counter-wave, or melting sunshine. Now remember, nothing
distinguishes great men from inferior men more than their always,
whether in life or in art, _knowing the way things are going_. Your
dunce thinks they are standing still, and draws them all fixed; your
wise man sees the change or changing in them, and draws them so,--the
animal in its motion, the tree in its growth, the cloud in its course,
the mountain in its wearing away. Try always, whenever you look at a
form, to see the lines in it which have had power over its past fate and
will have power over its futurity. Those are its _awful_ lines; see that
you seize on those, whatever else you miss. Thus, the leafage in Fig. 16
(p. 63) grew round the root of a stone pine, on the brow of a crag at
Sestri near Genoa, and all the sprays of it are thrust away in their
first budding by the great rude root, and spring out in every direction
round it, as water splashes when a heavy stone is thrown into it. Then,
when they have got clear of the root, they begin to bend up again; some
of them, being little stone pines themselves, have a great notion of
growing upright, if they can; and this struggle of theirs to recover
their straight road towards the sky, after being obliged to grow
sideways in their early years, is the effort that will mainly influence
their future destiny, and determine if they are to be crabbed, forky
pines, striking from that rock of Sestri, whose clefts nourish them,
with bared red lightning of angry arms towards the sea; or if they are
to be goodly and solemn pines, with trunks like pillars of temples, and
the purple burning of their branches sheathed in deep globes of cloudy
green. Those, then, are their fateful lines; see that you give that
spring and resilience, whatever you leave ungiven: depend upon it, their
chief beauty is in these.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.]

105. So in trees in general, and bushes, large or small, you will notice
that, though the boughs spring irregularly and at various angles, there
is a tendency in all to stoop less and less as they near the top of the
tree. This structure, typified in the simplest possible terms at _c_,
Fig. 17, is common to all trees that I know of, and it gives them a
certain plumy character, and aspect of unity in the hearts of their
branches which are essential to their beauty. The stem does not merely
send off a wild branch here and there to take its own way, but all the
branches share in one great fountain-like impulse; each has a curve and
a path to take, which fills a definite place, and each terminates all
its minor branches at its outer extremity, so as to form a greater outer
curve, whose character and proportion are peculiar for each species.
That is to say, the general type or idea of a tree is not as _a_, Fig.
17, but as _b_, in which, observe, the boughs all carry their minor
divisions right out to the bounding curve; not but that smaller
branches, by thousands, terminate in the heart of the tree, but the idea
and main purpose in every branch are to carry all its child branches
well out to the air and light, and let each of them, however small, take
its part in filling the united flow of the bounding curve, so that the
type of each separate bough is again not _a_, but _b_, Fig. 18;
approximating, that is to say, so far to the structure of a plant of
broccoli as to throw the great mass of spray and leafage out to a
rounded surface. Therefore beware of getting into a careless habit of
drawing boughs with successive sweeps of the pen or brush, one hanging
to the other, as in Fig. 19. If you look at the tree-boughs in any
painting of Wilson's you will see this structure, and nearly every other
that is to be avoided, in their intensest types. You will also notice
that Wilson never conceives a tree as a round mass, but flat, as if it
had been pressed and dried. Most people in drawing pines seem to fancy,
in the same way, that the boughs come out only on two sides of the
trunk, instead of all round it: always, therefore, take more pains in
trying to draw the boughs of trees that grow _towards_ you than those
that go off to the sides; anybody can draw the latter, but the
foreshortened ones are not so easy. It will help you in drawing them to
observe that in most trees the ramification of each branch, though not
of the tree itself, is more or less flattened, and approximates, in its
position, to the look of a hand held out to receive something, or
shelter something. If you take a looking-glass, and hold your hand
before it slightly hollowed, with the palm upwards, and the fingers
open, as if you were going to support the base of some great bowl,
larger than you could easily hold; and sketch your hand as you see it in
the glass with the points of the fingers towards you; it will materially
help you in understanding the way trees generally hold out their hands:
and if then you will turn yours with its palm downwards, as if you were
going to try to hide something, but with the fingers expanded, you will
get a good type of the action of the lower boughs in cedars and such
other spreading trees.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.]

[Illustration: FIG. 19.]

106. Fig. 20 will give you a good idea of the simplest way in which
these and other such facts can be rapidly expressed; if you copy it
carefully, you will be surprised to find how the touches all group
together, in expressing the plumy toss of the tree branches, and the
springing of the bushes out of the bank, and the undulation of the
ground: note the careful drawing of the footsteps made by the climbers
of the little mound on the left.[23] It is facsimilëd from an etching of
Turner's, and is as good an example as you can have of the use of pure
and firm lines; it will also show you how the particular action in
foliage, or anything else to which you wish to direct attention, may be
intensified by the adjuncts. The tall and upright trees are made to look
more tall and upright still, because their line is continued below by
the figure of the farmer with his stick; and the rounded bushes on the
bank are made to look more rounded because their line is continued in
one broad sweep by the black dog and the boy climbing the wall. These
figures are placed entirely with this object, as we shall see more fully
hereafter when we come to talk about composition; but, if you please,
we will not talk about that yet awhile. What I have been telling you
about the beautiful lines and action of foliage has nothing to do with
composition, but only with fact, and the brief and expressive
representation of fact. But there will be no harm in your looking
forward, if you like to do so, to the account, in Letter III. of the
"Law of Radiation," and reading what is said there about tree growth:
indeed it would in some respects have been better to have said it here
than there, only it would have broken up the account of the principles
of composition somewhat awkwardly.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.]

107. Now, although the lines indicative of action are not always quite
so manifest in other things as in trees, a little attention will soon
enable you to see that there are such lines in everything. In an old
house roof, a bad observer and bad draughtsman will only see and draw
the spotty irregularity of tiles or slates all over; but a good
draughtsman will see all the bends of the under timbers, where they are
weakest and the weight is telling on them most, and the tracks of the
run of the water in time of rain, where it runs off fastest, and where
it lies long and feeds the moss; and he will be careful, however few
slates he draws, to mark the way they bend together towards those
hollows (which have the future fate of the roof in them), and crowd
gradually together at the top of the gable, partly diminishing in
perspective, partly, perhaps, diminished on purpose (they are so in most
English old houses) by the slate-layer. So in ground, there is always
the direction of the run of the water to be noticed, which rounds the
earth and cuts it into hollows; and, generally, in any bank or height
worth drawing, a trace of bedded or other internal structure besides.
Figure 20 will give you some idea of the way in which such facts may be
expressed by a few lines. Do you not feel the depression in the ground
all down the hill where the footsteps are, and how the people always
turn to the left at the top, losing breath a little, and then how the
water runs down in that other hollow towards the valley, behind the
roots of the trees?

108. Now, I want you in your first sketches from Nature to aim
exclusively at understanding and representing these vital facts of form;
using the pen--not now the steel, but the quill--firmly and steadily,
never scrawling with it, but saying to yourself before you lay on a
single touch,--"_that_ leaf is the main one, _that_ bough is the guiding
one, and this touch, _so_ long, _so_ broad, means that part of
it,"--point or side or knot, as the case may be. Resolve always, as you
look at the thing, what you will take, and what miss of it, and never
let your hand run away with you, or get into any habit or method of
touch. If you want a continuous line, your hand should pass calmly from
one end of it to the other without a tremor; if you want a shaking and
broken line, your hand should shake, or break off, as easily as a
musician's finger shakes or stops on a note: only remember this, that
there is no general way of doing _any_ thing; no recipe can be given you
for so much as the drawing of a cluster of grass. The grass may be
ragged and stiff, or tender and flowing; sunburnt and sheep-bitten, or
rank and languid; fresh or dry; lustrous or dull: look at it, and try to
draw it as it is, and don't think how somebody "told you to _do_ grass."
So a stone may be round or angular, polished or rough, cracked all over
like an ill-glazed teacup, or as united and broad as the breast of
Hercules. It may be as flaky as a wafer, as powdery as a field
puff-ball; it may be knotted like a ship's hawser, or kneaded like
hammered iron, or knit like a Damascus saber, or fused like a glass
bottle, or crystallized like hoar-frost, or veined like a forest leaf:
look at it, and don't try to remember how anybody told you to "do a

109. As soon as you find that your hand obeys you thoroughly, and that
you can render any form with a firmness and truth approaching that of
Turner's or Dürer's work,[24] you must add a simple but equally careful
light and shade to your pen drawing, so as to make each study as
complete as possible; for which you must prepare yourself thus. Get, if
you have the means, a good impression of one plate of Turner's Liber
Studiorum; if possible, one of the subjects named in the note
below.[25] If you cannot obtain, or even borrow for a little while, any
of these engravings, you must use a photograph instead (how, I will tell
you presently); but, if you can get the Turner, it will be best. You
will see that it is composed of a firm etching in line, with mezzotint
shadow laid over it. You must first copy the etched part of it
accurately; to which end put the print against the window, and trace
slowly with the greatest care every black line; retrace this on smooth
drawing-paper; and, finally, go over the whole with your pen, looking at
the original plate always, so that if you err at all, it may be on the
right side, not making a line which is too curved or too straight
already in the tracing, more curved or more straight, as you go over it.
And in doing this, never work after you are tired, nor to "get the thing
done," for if it is badly done, it will be of no use to you. The true
zeal and patience of a quarter of an hour are better than the sulky and
inattentive labor of a whole day. If you have not made the touches right
at the first going over with the pen, retouch them delicately, with
little ink in your pen, thickening or reinforcing them as they need: you
cannot give too much care to the facsimile. Then keep this etched
outline by you in order to study at your ease the way in which Turner
uses his line as preparatory for the subsequent shadow;[26] it is only
in getting the two separate that you will be able to reason on this.
Next, copy once more, though for the fourth time, any part of this
etching which you like, and put on the light and shade with the brush,
and any brown color that matches that of the plate;[27] working it with
the point of the brush as delicately as if you were drawing with pencil,
and dotting and cross-hatching as lightly as you can touch the paper,
till you get the gradations of Turner's engraving.

110. In this exercise, as in the former one, a quarter of an inch worked
to close resemblance of the copy is worth more than the whole subject
carelessly done. Not that in drawing afterwards from Nature you are to
be obliged to finish every gradation in this way, but that, once having
fully accomplished the drawing _something_ rightly, you will
thenceforward feel and aim at a higher perfection than you could
otherwise have conceived, and the brush will obey you, and bring out
quickly and clearly the loveliest results, with a submissiveness which
it would have wholly refused if you had not put it to severest work.
Nothing is more strange in art than the way that chance and materials
seem to favor you, when once you have thoroughly conquered them. Make
yourself quite independent of chance, get your result in spite of it,
and from that day forward all things will somehow fall as you would have
them. Show the camel's hair, and the color in it, that no bending nor
blotting is of any use to escape your will; that the touch and the shade
_shall_ finally be right, if it costs you a year's toil; and from that
hour of corrective conviction, said camel's hair will bend itself to all
your wishes, and no blot will dare to transgress its appointed border.
If you cannot obtain a print from the Liber Studiorum, get a
photograph[28] of some general landscape subject, with high hills and a
village or picturesque town, in the middle distance, and some calm water
of varied character (a stream with stones in it, if possible), and copy
any part of it you like, in this same brown color, working, as I have
just directed you to do from the Liber, a great deal with the point of
the brush. You are under a twofold disadvantage here, however; first,
there are portions in every photograph too delicately done for you at
present to be at all able to copy; and, secondly, there are portions
always more obscure or dark than there would be in the real scene, and
involved in a mystery which you will not be able, as yet, to decipher.
Both these characters will be advantageous to you for future study,
after you have gained experience, but they are a little against you in
early attempts at tinting; still you must fight through the difficulty,
and get the power of producing delicate gradations with brown or gray,
like those of the photograph.

111. Now observe; the perfection of work would be tinted shadow, like
photography, without any obscurity or exaggerated darkness; and as long
as your effect depends in anywise on visible lines, your art is not
perfect, though it may be first-rate of its kind. But to get complete
results in tints merely, requires both long time and consummate skill;
and you will find that a few well-put pen lines, with a tint dashed over
or under them, get more expression of facts than you could reach in any
other way, by the same expenditure of time. The use of the Liber
Studiorum print to you is chiefly as an example of the simplest
shorthand of this kind, a shorthand which is yet capable of dealing with
the most subtle natural effects; for the firm etching gets at the
expression of complicated details, as leaves, masonry, textures of
ground, etc., while the overlaid tint enables you to express the most
tender distances of sky, and forms of playing light, mist, or cloud.
Most of the best drawings by the old masters are executed on this
principle, the touches of the pen being useful also to give a look of
transparency to shadows, which could not otherwise be attained but by
great finish of tinting; and if you have access to any ordinarily good
public gallery, or can make friends of any printsellers who have folios
either of old drawings, or facsimiles of them, you will not be at a loss
to find some example of this unity of pen with tinting. Multitudes of
photographs also are now taken from the best drawings by the old
masters, and I hope that our Mechanics' Institutes and other societies
organized with a view to public instruction, will not fail to possess
themselves of examples of these, and to make them accessible to students
of drawing in the vicinity; a single print from Turner's Liber, to show
the unison of tint with pen etching, and the "St. Catherine,"
photographed by Thurston Thompson from Raphael's drawing in the Louvre,
to show the unity of the soft tinting of the stump with chalk, would be
all that is necessary, and would, I believe, be in many cases more
serviceable than a larger collection, and certainly than a whole gallery
of second-rate prints. Two such examples are peculiarly desirable,
because all other modes of drawing, with pen separately, or chalk
separately, or color separately, may be seen by the poorest student in
any cheap illustrated book, or in shop windows. But this unity of
tinting with line he cannot generally see but by some special inquiry,
and in some out of the way places he could not find a single example of
it. Supposing that this should be so in your own case, and that you
cannot meet with any example of this kind, try to make the matter out
alone, thus:

112. Take a small and simple photograph; allow yourself half an hour to
express its subjects with the pen only, using some permanent liquid
color instead of ink, outlining its buildings or trees firmly, and
laying in the deeper shadows, as you have been accustomed to do in your
bolder pen drawings; then, when this etching is dry, take your sepia or
gray, and tint it over, getting now the finer gradations of the
photograph; and, finally taking out the higher lights with penknife or
blotting paper. You will soon find what can be done in this way; and by
a series of experiments you may ascertain for yourself how far the pen
may be made serviceable to reinforce shadows, mark characters of
texture, outline unintelligible masses, and so on. The more time you
have, the more delicate you may make the pen drawing, blending it with
the tint; the less you have, the more distinct you must keep the two.
Practice in this way from one photograph, allowing yourself sometimes
only a quarter of an hour for the whole thing, sometimes an hour,
sometimes two or three hours; in each case drawing the whole subject in
full depth of light and shade, but with such degree of finish in the
parts as is possible in the given time. And this exercise, observe, you
will do well to repeat frequently, whether you can get prints and
drawings as well as photographs, or not.

113. And now at last, when you can copy a piece of Liber Studiorum, or
its photographic substitute, faithfully, you have the complete means in
your power of working from Nature on all subjects that interest you,
which you should do in four different ways.

First. When you have full time, and your subject is one that will stay
quiet for you, make perfect light and shade studies, or as nearly
perfect as you can, with gray or brown color of any kind, reinforced and
defined with the pen.

114. Secondly. When your time is short, or the subject is so rich in
detail that you feel you cannot complete it intelligibly in light and
shade, make a hasty study of the effect, and give the rest of the time
to a Düreresque expression of the details. If the subject seems to you
interesting, and there are points about it which you cannot understand,
try to get five spare minutes to go close up to it, and make a nearer
memorandum; not that you are ever to bring the details of this nearer
sketch into the farther one, but that you may thus perfect your
experience of the aspect of things, and know that such and such a look
of a tower or cottage at five hundred yards off means _that_ sort of
tower or cottage near; while, also, this nearer sketch will be useful to
prevent any future misinterpretation of your own work. If you have time,
however far your light and shade study in the distance may have been
carried, it is always well, for these reasons, to make also your
Düreresque and your near memoranda; for if your light and shade drawing
be good, much of the interesting detail must be lost in it, or

115. Your hasty study of effect may be made most easily and quickly with
a soft pencil, dashed over when done with one tolerably deep tone of
gray, which will fix the pencil. While this fixing color is wet, take
out the higher lights with the dry brush; and, when it is quite dry,
scratch out the highest lights with the penknife. Five minutes,
carefully applied, will do much by these means. Of course the paper is
to be white. I do not like studies on gray paper so well; for you can
get more gradation by the taking off your wet tint, and laying it on
cunningly a little darker here and there, than you can with body-color
white, unless you are consummately skillful. There is no objection to
your making your Düreresque memoranda on gray or yellow paper, and
touching or relieving them with white; only, do not depend much on your
white touches, nor make the sketch for their sake.

116. Thirdly. When you have neither time for careful study nor for
Düreresque detail, sketch the outline with pencil, then dash in the
shadows with the brush boldly, trying to do as much as you possibly can
at once, and to get a habit of expedition and decision; laying more
color again and again into the tints as they dry, using every expedient
which your practice has suggested to you of carrying out your
chiaroscuro in the manageable and moist material, taking the color off
here with the dry brush, scratching out lights in it there with the
wooden handle of the brush, rubbing it in with your fingers, drying it
off with your sponge, etc. Then, when the color is in, take your pen and
mark the outline characters vigorously, in the manner of the Liber
Studiorum. This kind of study is very convenient for carrying away
pieces of effect which depend not so much on refinement as on
complexity, strange shapes of involved shadows, sudden effects of sky,
etc.; and it is most useful as a safeguard against any too servile or
slow habits which the minute copying may induce in you; for although the
endeavor to obtain velocity merely for velocity's sake, and dash for
display's sake, is as baneful as it is despicable; there are a velocity
and a dash which not only are compatible with perfect drawing, but
obtain certain results which cannot be had otherwise. And it is
perfectly safe for you to study occasionally for speed and decision,
while your continual course of practice is such as to insure your
retaining an accurate judgment and a tender touch. Speed, under such
circumstances, is rather fatiguing than tempting; and you will find
yourself always beguiled rather into elaboration than negligence.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.]

117. Fourthly. You will find it of great use, whatever kind of landscape
scenery you are passing through, to get into the habit of making
memoranda of the shapes of shadows. You will find that many objects of
no essential interest in themselves, and neither deserving a finished
study, nor a Düreresque one, may yet become of singular value in
consequence of the fantastic shapes of their shadows; for it happens
often, in distant effect, that the shadow is by much a more important
element than the substance. Thus, in the Alpine bridge, Fig. 21, seen
within a few yards of it, as in the figure, the arrangement of timbers
to which the shadows are owing is perceptible; but at half a mile's
distance, in bright sunlight, the timbers would not be seen; and a good
painter's expression of the bridge would be merely the large spot, and
the crossed bars, of pure gray; wholly without indication of their
cause, as in Fig. 22 _a_; and if we saw it at still greater distances,
it would appear, as in Fig. 22 _b_ and _c_, diminishing at last to a
strange, unintelligible, spider-like spot of gray on the light
hill-side. A perfectly great painter, throughout his distances,
continually reduces his objects to these shadow abstracts; and the
singular, and to many persons unaccountable, effect of the confused
touches in Turner's distances, is owing chiefly to this thorough
accuracy and intense meaning of the shadow abstracts.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.]

118. Studies of this kind are easily made, when you are in haste, with
an F. or HB. pencil: it requires some hardness of the point to insure
your drawing delicately enough when the forms of the shadows are very
subtle; they are sure to be so somewhere, and are generally so
everywhere. The pencil is indeed a very precious instrument after you
are master of the pen and brush, for the pencil, cunningly used, is
both, and will draw a line with the precision of the one and the
gradation of the other; nevertheless, it is so unsatisfactory to see the
sharp touches, on which the best of the detail depends, getting
gradually deadened by time, or to find the places where force was wanted
look shiny, and like a fire-grate, that I should recommend rather the
steady use of the pen, or brush, and color, whenever time admits of it;
keeping only a small memorandum-book in the breast-pocket, with its
well-cut, sheathed pencil, ready for notes on passing opportunities: but
never being without this.

119. Thus much, then, respecting the manner in which you are at first to
draw from Nature. But it may perhaps be serviceable to you, if I also
note one or two points respecting your choice of subjects for study, and
the best special methods of treating some of them; for one of by no
means the least difficulties which you have at first to encounter is a
peculiar instinct, common, as far as I have noticed, to all beginners,
to fix on exactly the most unmanageable feature in the given scene.
There are many things in every landscape which can be drawn, if at all,
only by the most accomplished artists; and I have noticed that it is
nearly always these which a beginner will dash at; or, if not these, it
will be something which, though pleasing to him in itself, is unfit for
a picture, and in which, when he has drawn it, he will have little
pleasure. As some slight protection against this evil genius of
beginners, the following general warnings may be useful:

120. (1.) Do not draw things that you love, on account of their
associations; or at least do not draw them because you love them; but
merely when you cannot get anything else to draw. If you try to draw
places that you love, you are sure to be always entangled amongst neat
brick walls, iron railings, gravel walks, greenhouses, and quickset
hedges; besides that you will be continually led into some endeavor to
make your drawing pretty, or complete, which will be fatal to your
progress. You need never hope to get on, if you are the least anxious
that the drawing you are actually at work upon should look nice when it
is done. All you have to care about is to make it _right_, and to learn
as much in doing it as possible. So then, though when you are sitting in
your friend's parlor, or in your own, and have nothing else to do, you
may draw anything that is there, for practice; even the fire-irons or
the pattern on the carpet: be sure that it _is_ for practice, and not
because it is a beloved carpet, or a friendly poker and tongs, nor
because you wish to please your friend by drawing her room.

121. Also, never make presents of your drawings. Of course I am
addressing you as a beginner--a time may come when your work will be
precious to everybody; but be resolute not to give it away till you know
that it is worth something (as soon as it is worth anything you will
know that it is so). If any one asks you for a present of a drawing,
send them a couple of cakes of color and a piece of Bristol board: those
materials are, for the present, of more value in that form than if you
had spread the one over the other.

The main reason for this rule is, however, that its observance will much
protect you from the great danger of trying to make your drawings

122. (2.) Never, by choice, draw anything polished; especially if
complicated in form. Avoid all brass rods and curtain ornaments,
chandeliers, plate, glass, and fine steel. A shining knob of a piece of
furniture does not matter if it comes in your way; but do not fret
yourself if it will not look right, and choose only things that do not

(3.) Avoid all very neat things. They are exceedingly difficult to draw,
and very ugly when drawn. Choose rough, worn, and clumsy-looking things
as much as possible; for instance, you cannot have a more difficult or
profitless study than a newly painted Thames wherry, nor a better study
than an old empty coal-barge, lying ashore at low tide: in general,
everything that you think very ugly will be good for you to draw.

(4.) Avoid, as much as possible, studies in which one thing is seen
through another. You will constantly find a thin tree standing before
your chosen cottage, or between you and the turn of the river; its near
branches all entangled with the distance. It is intensely difficult to
represent this; and though, when the tree _is_ there, you must not
imaginarily cut it down, but do it as well as you can, yet always look
for subjects that fall into definite masses, not into network; that is,
rather for a cottage with a dark tree beside it, than for one with a
thin tree in front of it, rather for a mass of wood, soft, blue, and
rounded, than for a ragged copse, or confusion of intricate stems.

(5.) Avoid, as far as possible, country divided by hedges. Perhaps
nothing in the whole compass of landscape is so utterly unpicturesque
and unmanageable as the ordinary English patchwork of field and hedge,
with trees dotted over it in independent spots, gnawed straight at the
cattle line.

Still, do not be discouraged if you find you have chosen ill, and that
the subject overmasters you. It is much better that it should, than that
you should think you had entirely mastered _it_. But at first, and even
for some time, you must be prepared for very discomfortable failure;
which, nevertheless, will not be without some wholesome result.

123. As, however, I have told you what most definitely to avoid, I may,
perhaps, help you a little by saying what to seek. In general, all banks
are beautiful things, and will reward work better than large landscapes.
If you live in a lowland country, you must look for places where the
ground is broken to the river's edges, with decayed posts, or roots of
trees; or, if by great good luck there should be such things within your
reach, for remnants of stone quays or steps, mossy mill-dams, etc.
Nearly every other mile of road in chalk country will present beautiful
bits of broken bank at its sides; better in form and color than high
chalk cliffs. In woods, one or two trunks, with the flowery ground
below, are at once the richest and easiest kind of study: a not very
thick trunk, say nine inches or a foot in diameter, with ivy running up
it sparingly, is an easy, and always a rewarding subject.

124. Large nests of buildings in the middle distance are always
beautiful, when drawn carefully, provided they are not modern rows of
pattern cottages, or villas with Ionic and Doric porticoes. Any old
English village, or cluster of farmhouses, drawn with all its ins and
outs, and haystacks, and palings, is sure to be lovely; much more a
French one. French landscape is generally as much superior to English as
Swiss landscape is to French; in some respects, the French is
incomparable. Such scenes as that avenue on the Seine, which I have
recommended you to buy the engraving of, admit no rivalship in their
expression of graceful rusticity and cheerful peace, and in the beauty
of component lines.

In drawing villages, take great pains with the gardens; a rustic garden
is in every way beautiful. If you have time, draw all the rows of
cabbages, and hollyhocks, and broken fences, and wandering eglantines,
and bossy roses; you cannot have better practice, nor be kept by
anything in purer thoughts.

Make intimate friends with all the brooks in your neighborhood, and
study them ripple by ripple.

Village churches in England are not often good subjects; there is a
peculiar meanness about most of them and awkwardness of line. Old
manor-houses are often pretty. Ruins are usually, with us, too prim, and
cathedrals too orderly. I do not think there is a single cathedral in
England from which it is possible to obtain _one_ subject for an
impressive drawing. There is always some discordant civility, or jarring
vergerism about them.

125. If you live in a mountain or hill country, your only danger is
redundance of subject. Be resolved, in the first place, to draw a piece
of rounded rock, with its variegated lichens, quite rightly, getting its
complete roundings, and all the patterns of the lichen in true local
color. Till you can do this, it is of no use your thinking of sketching
among hills; but when once you have done this, the forms of distant
hills will be comparatively easy.

126. When you have practiced for a little time from such of these
subjects as may be accessible to you, you will certainly find
difficulties arising which will make you wish more than ever for a
master's help: these difficulties will vary according to the character
of your own mind (one question occurring to one person, and one to
another), so that it is impossible to anticipate them all; and it would
make this too large a book if I answered all that I _can_ anticipate;
you must be content to work on, in good hope that Nature will, in her
own time, interpret to you much for herself; that farther experience on
your own part will make some difficulties disappear; and that others
will be removed by the occasional observation of such artists' work as
may come in your way. Nevertheless, I will not close this letter without
a few general remarks, such as may be useful to you after you are
somewhat advanced in power; and these remarks may, I think, be
conveniently arranged under three heads, having reference to the drawing
of vegetation, water, and skies.

127. And, first, of vegetation. You may think, perhaps, we have said
enough about trees already; yet if you have done as you were bid, and
tried to draw them frequently enough, and carefully enough, you will be
ready by this time to hear a little more of them. You will also
recollect that we left our question, respecting the mode of expressing
intricacy of leafage, partly unsettled in the first letter. I left it so
because I wanted you to learn the real structure of leaves, by drawing
them for yourself, before I troubled you with the most subtle
considerations as to method in drawing them. And by this time, I
imagine, you must have found out two principal things, universal facts,
about leaves; namely, that they always, in the main tendencies of their
lines, indicate a beautiful divergence of growth, according to the law
of radiation, already referred to;[29] and the second, that this
divergence is never formal, but carried out with endless variety of
individual line. I must now press both these facts on your attention a
little farther.

128. You may, perhaps, have been surprised that I have not yet spoken of
the works of J. D. Harding, especially if you happen to have met with
the passages referring to them in Modern Painters, in which they are
highly praised. They are deservedly praised, for they are the only
works by a modern[30] draughtsman which express in any wise the energy
of trees, and the laws of growth, of which we have been speaking. There
are no lithographic sketches which, for truth of general character,
obtained with little cost of time, at all rival Harding's. Calame,
Robert, and the other lithographic landscape sketchers are altogether
inferior in power, though sometimes a little deeper in meaning. But you
must not take even Harding for a model, though you may use his works for
occasional reference; and if you can afford to buy his Lessons on
Trees,[31] it will be serviceable to you in various ways, and will at
present help me to explain the point under consideration. And it is well
that I should illustrate this point by reference to Harding's works,
because their great influence on young students renders it desirable
that their real character should be thoroughly understood.

129. You will find, first, in the titlepage of the Lessons on Trees, a
pretty wood-cut, in which the tree stems are drawn with great truth, and
in a very interesting arrangement of lines. Plate 1 is not quite worthy
of Mr. Harding, tending too much to make his pupil, at starting, think
everything depends on black dots; still, the main lines are good, and
very characteristic of tree growth. Then, in Plate 2, we come to the
point at issue. The first examples in that plate are given to the pupil
that he may practice from them till his hand gets into the habit of
arranging lines freely in a similar manner; and they are stated by Mr.
Harding to be universal in application; "all outlines expressive of
foliage," he says, "are but modifications of them." They consist of
groups of lines, more or less resembling our Fig. 23 below; and the
characters especially insisted upon are, that they "tend at their inner
ends to a common center;" that "their ends terminate in [are inclosed
by] ovoid curves;" and that "the outer ends are most emphatic."

[Illustration: FIG. 23.]

130. Now, as thus expressive of the great laws of radiation and
inclosure, the main principle of this method of execution confirms, in a
very interesting way, our conclusions respecting foliage composition.
The reason of the last rule, that the outer end of the line is to be
most emphatic, does not indeed at first appear; for the line at one end
of a natural leaf is not more emphatic than the line at the other: but
ultimately, in Harding's method, this darker part of the touch stands
more or less for the shade at the outer extremity of the leaf mass; and,
as Harding uses these touches, they express as much of tree character as
any mere habit of touch _can_ express. But, unfortunately, there is
another law of tree growth, quite as fixed as the law of radiation,
which this and all other conventional modes of execution wholly lose
sight of. This second law is, that the radiating tendency shall be
carried out only as a ruling spirit in reconcilement with perpetual
individual caprice on the part of the separate leaves. So that the
moment a touch is monotonous, it must be also false, the liberty of the
leaf individually being just as essential a truth, as its unity of
growth with its companions in the radiating group.

131. It does not matter how small or apparently symmetrical the cluster
may be, nor how large or vague. You can hardly have a more formal one
than _b_ in Fig. 9, p. 47, nor a less formal one than this shoot of
Spanish chestnut, shedding its leaves, Fig. 24; but in either of them,
even the general reader, unpracticed in any of the previously
recommended exercises, must see that there are wandering lines mixed
with the radiating ones, and radiating lines with the wild ones: and if
he takes the pen, and tries to copy either of these examples, he will
find that neither play of hand to left nor to right, neither a free
touch nor a firm touch, nor any learnable or describable touch
whatsoever, will enable him to produce, currently, a resemblance of it;
but that he must either draw it slowly or give it up. And (which makes
the matter worse still) though gathering the bough, and putting it close
to you, or seeing a piece of near foliage against the sky, you may draw
the entire outline of the leaves, yet if the spray has light upon it,
and is ever so little a way off, you will miss, as we have seen, a point
of a leaf here, and an edge there; some of the surfaces will be confused
by glitter, and some spotted with shade; and if you look carefully
through this confusion for the edges or dark stems which you really
_can_ see and put only those down, the result will be neither like Fig.
9 nor Fig. 24, but such an interrupted and puzzling piece of work as
Fig. 25.[32]

[Illustration: FIG. 25.]

[Illustration: FIG. 24.]

132. Now, it is in the perfect acknowledgment and expression of these
_three_ laws that all good drawing of landscape consists. There is,
first, the organic unity; the law, whether of radiation, or parallelism,
or concurrent action, which rules the masses of herbs and trees, of
rocks, and clouds, and waves; secondly, the individual liberty of the
members subjected to these laws of unity; and, lastly, the mystery under
which the separate character of each is more or less concealed.

I say, first, there must be observance of the ruling organic law. This
is the first distinction between good artists and bad artists. Your
common sketcher or bad painter puts his leaves on the trees as if they
were moss tied to sticks; he cannot see the lines of action or growth;
he scatters the shapeless clouds over his sky, not perceiving the sweeps
of associated curves which the real clouds are following as they fly;
and he breaks his mountain side into rugged fragments, wholly
unconscious of the lines of force with which the real rocks have risen,
or of the lines of couch in which they repose. On the contrary, it is
the main delight of the great draughtsman to trace these laws of
government; and his tendency to error is always in the exaggeration of
their authority rather than in its denial.

133. Secondly, I say, we have to show the individual character and
liberty of the separate leaves, clouds, or rocks. And herein the great
masters separate themselves finally from the inferior ones; for if the
men of inferior genius ever express law at all, it is by the sacrifice
of individuality. Thus, Salvator Rosa has great perception of the sweep
of foliage and rolling of clouds, but never draws a single leaflet or
mist wreath accurately. Similarly, Gainsborough, in his landscape, has
great feeling for masses of form and harmony of color; but in the detail
gives nothing but meaningless touches; not even so much as the species
of tree, much less the variety of its leafage, being ever discernible.
Now, although both these expressions of government and individuality are
essential to masterly work, the individuality is the _more_ essential,
and the more difficult of attainment; and, therefore, that attainment
separates the great masters _finally_ from the inferior ones. It is the
more essential, because, in these matters of beautiful arrangement in
visible things, the same rules hold that hold in moral things. It is a
lamentable and unnatural thing to see a number of men subject to no
government, actuated by no ruling principle, and associated by no common
affection: but it would be a more lamentable thing still, were it
possible, to see a number of men so oppressed into assimilation as to
have no more any individual hope or character, no differences in aim, no
dissimilarities of passion, no irregularities of judgment; a society in
which no man could help another, since none would be feebler than
himself; no man admire another, since none would be stronger than
himself; no man be grateful to another, since by none he could be
relieved; no man reverence another, since by none he could be
instructed; a society in which every soul would be as the syllable of a
stammerer instead of the word of a speaker, in which every man would
walk as in a frightful dream, seeing specters of himself, in everlasting
multiplication, gliding helplessly around him in a speechless darkness.
Therefore it is that perpetual difference, play, and change in groups of
form are more essential to them even than their being subdued by some
great gathering law: the law is needful to them for their perfection and
their power, but the difference is needful to them for their life.

134. And here it may be noted in passing, that, if you enjoy the pursuit
of analogies and types, and have any ingenuity of judgment in discerning
them, you may always accurately ascertain what are the noble characters
in a piece of painting by merely considering what are the noble
characters of man in his association with his fellows. What grace of
manner and refinement of habit are in society, grace of line and
refinement of form are in the association of visible objects. What
advantage or harm there may be in sharpness, ruggedness, or quaintness
in the dealings or conversations of men; precisely that relative degree
of advantage or harm there is in them as elements of pictorial
composition. What power is in liberty or relaxation to strengthen or
relieve human souls; that power precisely in the same relative degree,
play and laxity of line have to strengthen or refresh the expression of
a picture. And what goodness or greatness we can conceive to arise in
companies of men, from chastity of thought, regularity of life,
simplicity of custom, and balance of authority; precisely that kind of
goodness and greatness may be given to a picture by the purity of its
color, the severity of its forms, and the symmetry of its masses.

135. You need not be in the least afraid of pushing these analogies too
far. They cannot be pushed too far; they are so precise and complete,
that the farther you pursue them, the clearer, the more certain, the
more useful you will find them. They will not fail you in one
particular, or in any direction of inquiry. There is no moral vice, no
moral virtue, which has not its _precise_ prototype in the art of
painting; so that you may at your will illustrate the moral habit by the
art, or the art by the moral habit. Affection and discord, fretfulness,
and quietness, feebleness and firmness, luxury and purity, pride and
modesty, and all other such habits, and every conceivable modification
and mingling of them, may be illustrated, with mathematical exactness,
by conditions of line and color; and not merely these definable vices
and virtues, but also every conceivable shade of human character and
passion, from the righteous or unrighteous majesty of the king to the
innocent or faultful simplicity of the shepherd boy.

136. The pursuit of this subject belongs properly, however, to the
investigation of the higher branches of composition, matters which it
would be quite useless to treat of in this book; and I only allude to
them here, in order that you may understand how the utmost noblenesses
of art are concerned in this minute work, to which I have set you in
your beginning of it. For it is only by the closest attention, and the
most noble execution, that it is possible to express these varieties of
individual character, on which all excellence of portraiture depends,
whether of masses of mankind, or of groups of leaves.

137. Now you will be able to understand, among other matters, wherein
consists the excellence, and wherein the shortcoming, of the
tree-drawing of Harding. It is excellent in so far as it fondly
observes, with more truth than any other work of the kind, the great
laws of growth and action in trees: it fails,--and observe, not in a
minor, but in the principal point,--because it cannot rightly render any
one individual detail or incident of foliage. And in this it fails, not
from mere carelessness or incompletion, but of necessity; the true
drawing of detail being for evermore impossible to a hand which has
contracted a _habit_ of execution. The noble draughtsman draws a leaf,
and stops, and says calmly,--That leaf is of such and such a character;
I will give him a friend who will entirely suit him: then he considers
what his friend ought to be, and having determined, he draws his friend.
This process may be as quick as lightning when the master is great--one
of the sons of the giants; or it may be slow and timid: but the process
is always gone through; no touch or form is ever added to another by a
good painter without a mental determination and affirmation. But when
the hand has got into a habit, leaf No. 1 necessitates leaf No. 2; you
cannot stop, your hand is as a horse with the bit in its teeth; or
rather is, for the time, a machine, throwing out leaves to order and
pattern, all alike. You must stop that hand of yours, however painfully;
make it understand that it is not to have its own way any more, that it
shall never more slip from one touch to another without orders;
otherwise it is not you who are the master, but your fingers. You may
therefore study Harding's drawing, and take pleasure in it;[33] and you
may properly admire the dexterity which applies the habit of the hand
so well, and produces results on the whole so satisfactory: but you must
never copy it; otherwise your progress will be at once arrested. The
utmost you can ever hope to do would be a sketch in Harding's manner,
but of far inferior dexterity; for he has given his life's toil to gain
his dexterity, and you, I suppose, have other things to work at besides
drawing. You would also incapacitate yourself from ever understanding
what truly great work was, or what Nature was; but, by the earnest and
complete study of facts, you will gradually come to understand the one
and love the other more and more, whether you can draw well yourself or

138. I have yet to say a few words respecting the third law above
stated, that of mystery; the law, namely, that nothing is ever seen
perfectly, but only by fragments, and under various conditions of
obscurity.[34] This last fact renders the visible objects of Nature
complete as a type of the human nature. We have, observe, first,
Subordination; secondly, Individuality; lastly, and this not the least
essential character, Incomprehensibility; a perpetual lesson, in every
serrated point and shining vein which escapes or deceives our sight
among the forest leaves, how little we may hope to discern clearly, or
judge justly, the rents and veins of the human heart; how much of all
that is round us, in men's actions or spirits, which we at first think
we understand, a closer and more loving watchfulness would show to be
full of mystery, never to be either fathomed or withdrawn.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.]

139. The expression of this final character in landscape has never been
completely reached by any except Turner; nor can you hope to reach it at
all until you have given much time to the practice of art. Only try
always when you are sketching any object with a view to completion in
light and shade, to draw only those parts of it which you really see
definitely; preparing for the after development of the forms by
chiaroscuro. It is this preparation by isolated touches for a future
arrangement of superimposed light and shade which renders the etchings
of the Liber Studiorum so inestimable as examples, and so peculiar. The
character exists more or less in them exactly in proportion to the pains
that Turner has taken. Thus the Æsacus and Hesperie was wrought out with
the greatest possible care; and the principal branch on the near tree is
etched as in Fig. 26. The work looks at first like a scholar's instead
of a master's; but when the light and shade are added, every touch falls
into its place, and a perfect expression of grace and complexity
results. Nay, even before the light and shade are added, you ought to be
able to see that these irregular and broken lines, especially where the
expression is given of the way the stem loses itself in the leaves, are
more true than the monotonous though graceful leaf-drawing which, before
Turner's time, had been employed, even by the best masters, in their
distant masses. Fig. 27 is sufficiently characteristic of the manner of
the old wood-cuts after Titian; in which, you see, the leaves are too
much of one shape, like bunches of fruit; and the boughs too completely
seen, besides being somewhat soft and leathery in aspect, owing to the
want of angles in their outline. By great men like Titian, this somewhat
conventional structure was only given in haste to distant masses; and
their exquisite delineation of the foreground, kept their
conventionalism from degeneracy: but in the drawings of the Carracci and
other derivative masters, the conventionalism prevails everywhere, and
sinks gradually into scrawled work, like Fig. 28, about the worst which
it is possible to get into the habit of using, though an ignorant person
might perhaps suppose it more "free," and therefore better than Fig. 26.
Note also, that in noble outline drawing, it does not follow that a
bough is wrongly drawn, because it looks contracted unnaturally
somewhere, as in Fig. 26, just above the foliage. Very often the
muscular action which is to be expressed by the line runs into the
middle of the branch, and the actual outline of the branch at that place
may be dimly seen, or not at all; and it is then only by the future
shade that its actual shape, or the cause of its disappearance, will be

[Illustration: FIG. 27.]

140. One point more remains to be noted about trees, and I have done. In
the minds of our ordinary water-color artists a distant tree seems only
to be conceived as a flat green blot, grouping pleasantly with other
masses, and giving cool color to the landscape, but differing no wise,
in texture, from the blots of other shapes which these painters use to
express stones, or water, or figures. But as soon as you have drawn
trees carefully a little while, you will be impressed, and impressed
more strongly the better you draw them, with the idea of their
_softness_ of surface. A distant tree is not a flat and even piece of
color, but a more or less globular mass of a downy or bloomy texture,
partly passing into a misty vagueness. I find, practically, this lovely
softness of far-away trees the most difficult of all characters to
reach, because it cannot be got by mere scratching or roughening the
surface, but is always associated with such delicate expressions of form
and growth as are only imitable by very careful drawing. The penknife
passed lightly _over_ this careful drawing will do a good deal; but you
must accustom yourself, from the beginning, to aim much at this softness
in the lines of the drawing itself, by crossing them delicately, and
more or less effacing and confusing the edges. You must invent,
according to the character of tree, various modes of execution adapted
to express its texture; but always keep this character of softness in
your mind, and in your scope of aim; for in most landscapes it is the
intention of Nature that the tenderness and transparent infinitude of
her foliage should be felt, even at the far distance, in the most
distinct opposition to the solid masses and flat surfaces of rocks or

[Illustration: FIG. 28.]

141. II. We were, in the second place, to consider a little the modes of
representing water, of which important feature of landscape I have
hardly said anything yet.

Water is expressed, in common drawings, by conventional lines, whose
horizontality is supposed to convey the idea of its surface. In
paintings, white dashes or bars of light are used for the same purpose.

But these and all other such expedients are vain and absurd. A piece of
calm water always contains a picture in itself, an exquisite reflection
of the objects above it. If you give the time necessary to draw these
reflections, disturbing them here and there as you see the breeze or
current disturb them, you will get the effect of the water; but if you
have not patience to draw the reflections, no expedient will give you a
true effect. The picture in the pool needs nearly as much delicate
drawing as the picture above the pool; except only that if there be the
least motion on the water, the horizontal lines of the images will be
diffused and broken, while the vertical ones will remain decisive, and
the oblique ones decisive in proportion to their steepness.

142. A few close studies will soon teach you this: the only thing you
need to be told is to watch carefully the lines of disturbance on the
surface, as when a bird swims across it, or a fish rises, or the current
plays round a stone, reed, or other obstacle. Take the greatest pains to
get the _curves_ of these lines true; the whole value of your careful
drawing of the reflections may be lost by your admitting a single false
curve of ripple from a wild duck's breast. And (as in other subjects) if
you are dissatisfied with your result, always try for more unity and
delicacy: if your reflections are only soft and gradated enough, they
are nearly sure to give you a pleasant effect.[35] When you are taking
pains, work the softer reflections, where they are drawn out by motion
in the water, with touches as nearly horizontal as may be; but when you
are in a hurry, indicate the place and play of the images with vertical
lines. The actual construction of a calm elongated reflection is with
horizontal lines: but it is often impossible to draw the descending
shades delicately enough with a horizontal touch; and it is best always
when you are in a hurry, and sometimes when you are not, to use the
vertical touch. When the ripples are large, the reflections become
shaken, and must be drawn with bold undulatory descending lines.

143. I need not, I should think, tell you that it is of the greatest
possible importance to draw the curves of the shore rightly. Their
perspective is, if not more subtle, at least more stringent than that of
any other lines in Nature. It will not be detected by the general
observer, if you miss the curve of a branch, or the sweep of a cloud, or
the perspective of a building;[36] but every intelligent spectator will
feel the difference between a rightly-drawn bend of shore or shingle,
and a false one. _Absolutely_ right, in difficult river perspectives
seen from heights, I believe no one but Turner ever has been yet; and
observe, there is NO rule for them. To develop the curve mathematically
would require a knowledge of the exact quantity of water in the river,
the shape of its bed, and the hardness of the rock or shore; and even
with these data, the problem would be one which no mathematician could
solve but approximatively. The instinct of the eye can do it; nothing

144. If, after a little study from Nature, you get puzzled by the great
differences between the aspect of the reflected image and that of the
object casting it; and if you wish to know the law of reflection, it is
simply this: Suppose all the objects above the water _actually_ reversed
(not in appearance, but in fact) beneath the water, and precisely the
same in form and in relative position, only all topsy-turvy. Then,
whatever you could see, from the place in which you stand, of the solid
objects so reversed under the water, you will see in the reflection,
always in the true perspective of the solid objects so reversed.

If you cannot quite understand this in looking at water, take a mirror,
lay it horizontally on the table, put some books and papers upon it, and
draw them and their reflections; moving them about, and watching how
their reflections alter, and chiefly how their reflected colors and
shades differ from their own colors and shades, by being brought into
other oppositions. This difference in chiaroscuro is a more important
character in water-painting than mere difference in form.

145. When you are drawing shallow or muddy water, you will see shadows
on the bottom, or on the surface, continually modifying the reflections;
and in a clear mountain stream, the most wonderful complications of
effect resulting from the shadows and reflections of the stones in it,
mingling with the aspect of the stones themselves seen through the
water. Do not be frightened at the complexity; but, on the other hand,
do not hope to render it hastily. Look at it well, making out everything
that you see, and distinguishing each component part of the effect.
There will be, first, the stones seen through the water, distorted
always by refraction, so that, if the general structure of the stone
shows straight parallel lines above the water, you may be sure they will
be bent where they enter it; then the reflection of the part of the
stone above the water crosses and interferes with the part that is seen
through it, so that you can hardly tell which is which; and wherever the
reflection is darkest, you will see through the water best,[37] and
_vice versâ_. Then the real shadow of the stone crosses both these
images, and where that shadow falls, it makes the water more reflective,
and where the sunshine falls, you will see more of the surface of the
water, and of any dust or motes that may be floating on it: but whether
you are to see, at the same spot, most of the bottom of the water, or of
the reflection of the objects above, depends on the position of the eye.
The more you look down into the water, the better you see objects
through it; the more you look along it, the eye being low, the more you
see the reflection of objects above it. Hence the color of a given space
of surface in a stream will entirely change while you stand still in the
same spot, merely as you stoop or raise your head; and thus the colors
with which water is painted are an indication of the position of the
spectator, and connected inseparably with the perspective of the shores.
The most beautiful of all results that I know in mountain streams is
when the water is shallow, and the stones at the bottom are rich
reddish-orange and black, and the water is seen at an angle which
exactly divides the visible colors between those of the stones and that
of the sky, and the sky is of clear, full blue. The resulting purple,
obtained by the blending of the blue and the orange-red, broken by the
play of innumerable gradations in the stones, is indescribably lovely.

146. All this seems complicated enough already; but if there be a strong
color in the clear water itself, as of green or blue in the Swiss lakes,
all these phenomena are doubly involved; for the darker reflections now
become of the color of the water. The reflection of a black gondola, for
instance, at Venice, is never black, but pure dark green. And, farther,
the color of the water itself is of three kinds: one, seen on the
surface, is a kind of milky bloom; the next is seen where the waves let
light through them, at their edges; and the third, shown as a change of
color on the objects seen through the water. Thus, the same wave that
makes a white object look of a clear blue, when seen through it, will
take a red or violet-colored bloom on its surface, and will be made pure
emerald green by transmitted sunshine through its edges. With all this,
however, you are not much concerned at present, but I tell it you partly
as a preparation for what we have afterwards to say about color, and
partly that you may approach lakes and streams with reverence,[38] and
study them as carefully as other things, not hoping to express them by a
few horizontal dashes of white, or a few tremulous blots.[39] Not but
that much may be done by tremulous blots, when you know precisely what
you mean by them, as you will see by many of the Turner sketches, which
are now framed at the National Gallery; but you must have painted water
many and many a day--yes, and all day long--before you can hope to do
anything like those.

147. III. Lastly. You may perhaps wonder why, before passing to the
clouds, I say nothing special about _ground_.[40] But there is too much
to be said about that to admit of my saying it here. You will find the
principal laws of its structure examined at length in the fourth volume
of Modern Painters; and if you can get that volume, and copy carefully
Plate 21, which I have etched after Turner with great pains, it will
give you as much help as you need in the linear expression of
ground-surface. Strive to get the retirement and succession of masses in
irregular ground: much may be done in this way by careful watching of
the perspective diminutions of its herbage, as well as by contour; and
much also by shadows. If you draw the shadows of leaves and tree trunks
on any undulating ground with entire carefulness, you will be surprised
to find how much they explain of the form and distance of the earth on
which they fall.

148. Passing then to skies, note that there is this great peculiarity
about sky subject, as distinguished from earth subject;--that the
clouds, not being much liable to man's interference, are always
beautifully arranged. You cannot be sure of this in any other features
of landscape. The rock on which the effect of a mountain scene
especially depends is always precisely that which the roadmaker blasts
or the landlord quarries; and the spot of green which Nature left with a
special purpose by her dark forest sides, and finished with her most
delicate grasses, is always that which the farmer plows or builds upon.
But the clouds, though we can hide them with smoke, and mix them with
poison, cannot be quarried nor built over, and they are always therefore
gloriously arranged; so gloriously, that unless you have notable powers
of memory you need not hope to approach the effect of any sky that
interests you. For both its grace and its glow depend upon the united
influence of every cloud within its compass: they all move and burn
together in a marvelous harmony; not a cloud of them is out of its
appointed place, or fails of its part in the choir: and if you are not
able to recollect (which in the case of a complicated sky it is
impossible you should) precisely the form and position of all the clouds
at a given moment, you cannot draw the sky at all; for the clouds will
not fit if you draw one part of them three or four minutes before

149. You must try therefore to help what memory you have, by sketching
at the utmost possible speed the whole range of the clouds; marking, by
any shorthand or symbolic work you can hit upon, the peculiar character
of each, as transparent, or fleecy, or linear, or undulatory; giving
afterwards such completion to the parts as your recollection will enable
you to do. This, however, only when the sky is interesting from its
general aspect; at other times, do not try to draw all the sky, but a
single cloud: sometimes a round cumulus will stay five or six minutes
quite steady enough to let you mark out his principal masses; and one or
two white or crimson lines which cross the sunrise will often stay
without serious change for as long. And in order to be the readier in
drawing them, practice occasionally drawing lumps of cotton, which will
teach you better than any other stable thing the kind of softness there
is in clouds. For you will find when you have made a few genuine studies
of sky, and then look at any ancient or modern painting, that ordinary
artists have always fallen into one of two faults: either, in rounding
the clouds, they make them as solid and hard-edged as a heap of stones
tied up in a sack, or they represent them not as rounded at all, but as
vague wreaths of mist or flat lights in the sky; and think they have
done enough in leaving a little white paper between dashes of blue, or
in taking an irregular space out with the sponge. Now clouds are not as
solid as flour-sacks; but, on the other hand, they are neither spongy
nor flat. They are definite and very beautiful forms of sculptured mist;
sculptured is a perfectly accurate word; they are not more _drifted_
into form than they are _carved_ into form, the warm air around them
cutting them into shape by absorbing the visible vapor beyond certain
limits; hence their angular and fantastic outlines, as different from a
swollen, spherical, or globular formation, on the one hand, as from that
of flat films or shapeless mists on the other. And the worst of all is,
that while these forms are difficult enough to draw on any terms,
especially considering that they never stay quiet, they must be drawn
also at greater disadvantage of light and shade than any others, the
force of light in clouds being wholly unattainable by art; so that if we
put shade enough to express their form as positively as it is expressed
in reality, we must make them painfully too dark on the dark sides.
Nevertheless, they are so beautiful, if you in the least succeed with
them, that you will hardly, I think, lose courage.

150. Outline them often with the pen, as you can catch them here and
there; one of the chief uses of doing this will be, not so much the
memorandum so obtained, as the lesson you will get respecting the
softness of the cloud-outlines. You will always find yourself at a loss
to see where the outline really is; and when drawn it will always look
hard and false, and will assuredly be either too round or too square,
however often you alter it, merely passing from the one fault to the
other and back again, the real cloud striking an inexpressible mean
between roundness and squareness in all its coils or battlements. I
speak at present, of course, only of the cumulus cloud: the lighter
wreaths and flakes of the upper sky cannot be outlined;--they can only
be sketched, like locks of hair, by many lines of the pen. Firmly
developed bars of cloud on the horizon are in general easy enough, and
may be drawn with decision. When you have thus accustomed yourself a
little to the placing and action of clouds, try to work out their light
and shade, just as carefully as you do that of other things, looking
exclusively for examples of treatment to the vignettes in Rogers's Italy
and Poems, and to the Liber Studiorum, unless you have access to some
examples of Turner's own work. No other artist ever yet drew the sky:
even Titian's clouds, and Tintoret's, are conventional. The clouds in
the "Ben Arthur," "Source of Arveron," and "Calais Pier," are among the
best of Turner's storm studies; and of the upper clouds, the vignettes
to Rogers's Poems furnish as many examples as you need.

151. And now, as our first lesson was taken from the sky, so, for the
present, let our last be. I do not advise you to be in any haste to
master the contents of my next letter. If you have any real talent for
drawing, you will take delight in the discoveries of natural loveliness,
which the studies I have already proposed will lead you into, among the
fields and hills; and be assured that the more quietly and
single-heartedly you take each step in the art, the quicker, on the
whole, will your progress be. I would rather, indeed, have discussed the
subjects of the following letter at greater length, and in a separate
work addressed to more advanced students; but as there are one or two
things to be said on composition which may set the young artist's mind
somewhat more at rest, or furnish him with defense from the urgency of
ill-advisers, I will glance over the main heads of the matter here;
trusting that my doing so may not beguile you, my dear reader, from your
serious work, or lead you to think me, in occupying part of this book
with talk not altogether relevant to it, less entirely or

                                           Faithfully yours,

                                                         J. RUSKIN.


  [23] It is meant, I believe, for "Salt Hill."

  [24] I do not mean that you can approach Turner or Dürer in their
    strength, that is to say, in their imagination or power of design.
    But you may approach them, by perseverance, in truth of manner.

  [25] The following are the most desirable plates:--

    Grande Chartreuse.               Little Devil's Bridge.
    Æsacus and Hesperie.             River Wye (_not_ Wye and Severn).
    Cephalus and Procris.            Holy Island.
    Source of Arveron.               Clyde.
    Ben Arthur.                      Lauffenburg.
    Watermill.                       Blair Athol.
    Hindhead Hill.                   Alps from Grenoble.
    Hedging and Ditching.            Raglan. (Subject with quiet brook,
    Dumblane Abbey.                   trees, and castle on the right.)
    Calais Pier.
    Pembury Mill.

    If you cannot get one of these, any of the others will be
    serviceable, except only the twelve following, which are quite

      1. Scene in Italy, with goats on a walled road, and trees above.
      2. Interior of church.
      3. Scene with bridge, and trees above; figures on left, one playing
          a pipe.
      4. Scene with figure playing on tambourine.
      5. Scene on Thames with high trees, and a square tower of a church
          seen through them.
      6. Fifth Plague of Egypt.
      7. Tenth Plague of Egypt.
      8. Rivaulx Abbey.
      9. Wye and Severn.
     10. Scene with castle in center, cows under trees on the left.
     11. Martello Towers.
     12. Calm.

    It is very unlikely that you should meet with one of the original
    etchings; if you should, it will be a drawing-master in itself
    alone, for it is not only equivalent to a pen-and-ink drawing by
    Turner, but to a very careful one; only observe, the Source of
    Arveron, Raglan, and Dumblane were not etched by Turner; and the
    etchings of those three are not good for separate study, though it
    is deeply interesting to see how Turner, apparently provoked at the
    failure of the beginnings in the Arveron and Raglan, took the plates
    up himself, and either conquered or brought into use the bad etching
    by his marvelous engraving. The Dumblane was, however, well etched
    by Mr. Lupton, and beautifully engraved by him. The finest Turner
    etching is of an aqueduct with a stork standing in a mountain
    stream, not in the published series; and next to it, are the
    unpublished etchings of the Via Mala and Crowhurst. Turner seems to
    have been so fond of these plates that he kept retouching and
    finishing them, and never made up his mind to let them go. The Via
    Mala is certainly, in the state in which Turner left it, the finest
    of the whole series: its etching is, as I said, the best after that
    of the aqueduct. Figure 20, above, is part of another fine
    unpublished etching, "Windsor, from Salt Hill." Of the published
    etchings, the finest are the Ben Arthur, Æsacus, Cephalus, and Stone
    Pines, with the Girl washing at a Cistern; the three latter are the
    more generally instructive. Hindhead Hill, Isis, Jason, and Morpeth,
    are also very desirable.

  [26] You will find more notice of this point in the account of
    Harding's tree-drawing, a little farther on.

  [27] The impressions vary so much in color that no brown can be

  [28] You had better get such a photograph, even though you have a
    Liber print as well.

  [29] See the closing letter in this volume.

  [30] [In 1857.]

  [31] If you are not acquainted with Harding's works, (an unlikely
    supposition, considering their popularity,) and cannot meet with the
    one in question, the diagrams given here will enable you to
    understand all that is needful for our purposes.

  [32] I draw this figure (a young shoot of oak) in outline only, it
    being impossible to express the refinements of shade in distant
    foliage in a wood-cut.

  [33] His lithographic sketches, those for instance in the Park and
    the Forest, and his various lessons on foliage, possess greater
    merit than the more ambitious engravings in his Principles and
    Practice of Art. There are many useful remarks, however, dispersed
    through this latter work.

  [34] On this law you do well, if you can get access to it, to look
    at the fourth chapter of the fourth volume of Modern Painters.

  [35] See Note 3 in Appendix I.

  [36] The student may hardly at first believe that the perspective of
    buildings is of little consequence; but he will find it so
    ultimately. See the remarks on this point in the Preface.

  [37] See Note 4 in Appendix I.

  [38] See Note 5 in Appendix I.

  [39] It is a useful piece of study to dissolve some Prussian blue in
    water, so as to make the liquid definitely blue: fill a large white
    basin with the solution, and put anything you like to float on it,
    or lie in it; walnut shells, bits of wood, leaves of flowers, etc.
    Then study the effects of the reflections, and of the stems of the
    flowers or submerged portions of the floating objects, as they
    appear through the blue liquid; noting especially how, as you lower
    your head and look along the surface, you see the reflections
    clearly; and how, as you raise your head, you lose the reflections,
    and see the submerged stems clearly.

  [40] Respecting Architectural Drawing, see the notice of the works
    of Prout in the Appendix.



152. MY DEAR READER,--If you have been obedient, and have hitherto done
all that I have told you, I trust it has not been without much subdued
remonstrance, and some serious vexation. For I should be sorry if, when
you were led by the course of your study to observe closely such things
as are beautiful in color, you had not longed to paint them, and felt
considerable difficulty in complying with your restriction to the use of
black, or blue, or gray. You _ought_ to love color, and to think nothing
quite beautiful or perfect without it; and if you really do love it, for
its own sake, and are not merely desirous to color because you think
painting a finer thing than drawing, there is some chance you may color
well. Nevertheless, you need not hope ever to produce anything more than
pleasant helps to memory, or useful and suggestive sketches in color,
unless you mean to be wholly an artist. You may, in the time which other
vocations leave at your disposal, produce finished, beautiful, and
masterly drawings in light and shade. But to color well, requires your
life. It cannot be done cheaper. The difficulty of doing right is
increased--not twofold nor threefold, but a thousandfold, and more--by
the addition of color to your work. For the chances are more than a
thousand to one against your being right both in form and color with a
given touch: it is difficult enough to be right in form, if you attend
to that only; but when you have to attend, at the same moment, to a much
more subtle thing than the form, the difficulty is strangely
increased,--and multiplied almost to infinity by this great fact, that,
while form is absolute, so that you can say at the moment you draw any
line that it is either right or wrong, color is wholly _relative_. Every
hue throughout your work is altered by every touch that you add in other
places; so that what was warm a minute ago, becomes cold when you have
put a hotter color in another place, and what was in harmony when you
left it, becomes discordant as you set other colors beside it; so that
every touch must be laid, not with a view to its effect at the time, but
with a view to its effect in futurity, the result upon it of all that is
afterwards to be done being previously considered. You may easily
understand that, this being so, nothing but the devotion of life, and
great genius besides, can make a colorist.

153. But though you cannot produce finished colored drawings of any
value, you may give yourself much pleasure, and be of great use to other
people, by occasionally sketching with a view to color only; and
preserving distinct statements of certain color facts--as that the
harvest moon at rising was of such and such a red, and surrounded by
clouds of such and such a rosy gray; that the mountains at evening were
in truth so deep in purple; and the waves by the boat's side were indeed
of that incredible green. This only, observe, if you have an eye for
color; but you may presume that you have this, if you enjoy color.

154. And, though of course you should always give as much form to your
subject as your attention to its color will admit of, remember that the
whole value of what you are about depends, in a colored sketch, on the
color merely. If the color is wrong, everything is wrong: just as, if
you are singing, and sing false notes, it does not matter how true the
words are. If you sing at all, you must sing sweetly; and if you color
at all, you must color rightly. Give up all the form, rather than the
slightest part of the color: just as, if you felt yourself in danger of
a false note, you would give up the word, and sing a meaningless sound,
if you felt that so you could save the note. Never mind though your
houses are all tumbling down,--though your clouds are mere blots, and
your trees mere knobs, and your sun and moon like crooked
sixpences,--so only that trees, clouds, houses, and sun or moon, are of
the right colors. Of course, the discipline you have gone through will
enable you to hint something of form, even in the fastest sweep of the
brush; but do not let the thought of form hamper you in the least, when
you begin to make colored memoranda. If you want the form of the
subject, draw it in black and white. If you want its color, take its
color, and be sure you _have_ it, and not a spurious, treacherous,
half-measured piece of mutual concession, with the colors all wrong, and
the forms still anything but right. It is best to get into the habit of
considering the colored work merely as supplementary to your other
studies; making your careful drawings of the subject first, and then a
colored memorandum separately, as shapeless as you like, but faithful in
hue, and entirely minding its own business. This principle, however,
bears chiefly on large and distant subjects: in foregrounds and near
studies, the color cannot be had without a good deal of definition of
form. For if you do not map the mosses on the stones accurately, you
will not have the right quantity of color in each bit of moss pattern,
and then none of the colors will look right; but it always simplifies
the work much if you are clear as to your point of aim, and satisfied,
when necessary, to fail of all but that.

155. Now, of course, if I were to enter into detail respecting coloring,
which is the beginning and end of a painter's craft, I should need to
make this a work in three volumes instead of three letters, and to
illustrate it in the costliest way. I only hope, at present, to set you
pleasantly and profitably to work, leaving you, within the tethering of
certain leading-strings, to gather what advantages you can from the
works of art of which every year brings a greater number within your
reach;--and from the instruction which, every year, our rising artists
will be more ready to give kindly, and better able to give wisely.

156. And, first, of materials. Use hard cake colors, not moist colors:
grind a sufficient quantity of each on your palette every morning,
keeping a separate plate, large and deep, for colors to be used in
broad washes, and wash both plate and palette every evening, so as to be
able always to get good and pure color when you need it; and force
yourself into cleanly and orderly habits about your colors. The two best
colorists of modern times, Turner and Rossetti,[41] afford us, I am
sorry to say, no confirmation of this precept by their practice. Turner
was, and Rossetti is, as slovenly in all their procedures as men can
well be; but the result of this was, with Turner, that the colors have
altered in all his pictures, and in many of his drawings; and the result
of it with Rossetti is, that though his colors are safe, he has
sometimes to throw aside work that was half done, and begin over again.
William Hunt, of the Old Water-color, is very neat in his practice; so,
I believe, is Mulready; so is John Lewis; and so are the leading
Pre-Raphaelites, Rossetti only excepted. And there can be no doubt about
the goodness of the advice, if it were only for this reason, that the
more particular you are about your colors the more you will get into a
deliberate and methodical habit in using them, and all true speed in
coloring comes of this deliberation.

157. Use Chinese white, well ground, to mix with your colors in order to
pale them, instead of a quantity of water. You will thus be able to
shape your masses more quietly, and play the colors about with more
ease; they will not damp your paper so much, and you will be able to go
on continually, and lay forms of passing cloud and other fugitive or
delicately shaped lights, otherwise unattainable except by time.

158. This mixing of white with the pigments, so as to render them
opaque, constitutes body-color drawing as opposed to transparent-color
drawing, and you will, perhaps, have it often said to you that this
body-color is "illegitimate." It is just as legitimate as oil-painting,
being, so far as handling is concerned, the same process, only without
its uncleanliness, its unwholesomeness, or its inconvenience; for oil
will not dry quickly, nor carry safely, nor give the same effects of
atmosphere without tenfold labor. And if you hear it said that the
body-color looks chalky or opaque, and, as is very likely, think so
yourself, be yet assured of this, that though certain effects of glow
and transparencies of gloom are not to be reached without transparent
color, those glows and glooms are _not_ the noblest aim of art. After
many years' study of the various results of fresco and oil painting in
Italy, and of body-color and transparent color in England, I am now
entirely convinced that the greatest things that are to be done in art
must be done in dead color. The habit of depending on varnish or on
lucid tints for transparency, makes the painter comparatively lose sight
of the nobler translucence which is obtained by breaking various colors
amidst each other: and even when, as by Correggio, exquisite play of hue
is joined with exquisite transparency, the delight in the depth almost
always leads the painter into mean and false chiaroscuro; it leads him
to like dark backgrounds instead of luminous ones,[42] and to enjoy, in
general, quality of color more than grandeur of composition, and
confined light rather than open sunshine: so that the really greatest
thoughts of the greatest men have always, so far as I remember, been
reached in dead color, and the noblest oil pictures of Tintoret and
Veronese are those which are likest frescoes.

159. Besides all this, the fact is, that though sometimes a little
chalky and coarse-looking body-color is, in a sketch, infinitely liker
Nature than transparent color: the bloom and mist of distance are
accurately and instantly represented by the film of opaque blue (_quite_
accurately, I think, by nothing else); and for ground, rocks, and
buildings, the earthy and solid surface is, of course, always truer than
the most finished and carefully wrought work in transparent tints can
ever be.

160. Against one thing, however, I must steadily caution you. All kinds
of color are equally illegitimate, if you think they will allow you to
alter at your pleasure, or blunder at your ease. There is _no_ vehicle
or method of color which admits of alteration or repentance; you must be
right at once, or never; and you might as well hope to catch a rifle
bullet in your hand, and put it straight, when it was going wrong, as to
recover a tint once spoiled. The secret of all good color in oil, water,
or anything else, lies primarily in that sentence spoken to me by
Mulready: "Know what you have to do." The process may be a long one,
perhaps: you may have to ground with one color; to touch it with
fragments of a second; to crumble a third into the interstices; a fourth
into the interstices of the third; to glaze the whole with a fifth; and
to re-enforce in points with a sixth: but whether you have one, or ten,
or twenty processes to go through, you must go _straight_ through them
knowingly and foreseeingly all the way; and if you get the thing once
wrong, there is no hope for you but in washing or scraping boldly down
to the white ground, and beginning again.

161. The drawing in body-color will tend to teach you all this, more
than any other method, and above all it will prevent you from falling
into the pestilent habit of sponging to get texture; a trick which has
nearly ruined our modern water-color school of art. There are sometimes
places in which a skillful artist will roughen his paper a little to get
certain conditions of dusty color with more ease than he could
otherwise; and sometimes a skillfully rased piece of paper will, in the
midst of transparent tints, answer nearly the purpose of chalky
body-color in representing the surfaces of rocks or building. But
artifices of this kind are always treacherous in a tyro's hands,
tempting him to trust in them: and you had better always work on white
or gray paper as smooth as silk;[43] and never disturb the surface of
your color or paper, except finally to scratch out the very highest
lights if you are using transparent colors.

162. I have said above that body-color drawing will teach you the use of
color better than working with merely transparent tints; but this is not
because the process is an easier one, but because it is a more complete
one, and also because it involves some working with transparent tints in
the best way. You are not to think that because you use body-color you
may make any kind of mess that you like, and yet get out of it. But you
are to avail yourself of the characters of your material, which enable
you most nearly to imitate the processes of Nature. Thus, suppose you
have a red rocky cliff to sketch, with blue clouds floating over it. You
paint your cliff first firmly, then take your blue, mixing it to such a
tint (and here is a great part of the skill needed) that when it is laid
over the red, in the thickness required for the effect of the mist, the
warm rock-color showing through the blue cloud-color, may bring it to
exactly the hue you want (your upper tint, therefore, must be mixed
colder than you want it); then you lay it on, varying it as you strike
it, getting the forms of the mist at once, and, if it be rightly done,
with exquisite quality of color, from the warm tint's showing through
and between the particles of the other. When it is dry, you may add a
little color to retouch the edges where they want shape, or heighten the
lights where they want roundness, or put another tone over the whole:
but you can take none away. If you touch or disturb the surface, or by
any untoward accident mix the under and upper colors together, all is
lost irrecoverably. Begin your drawing from the ground again if you
like, or throw it into the fire if you like. But do not waste time in
trying to mend it.[44]

163. This discussion of the relative merits of transparent and opaque
color has, however, led us a little beyond the point where we should
have begun; we must go back to our palette, if you please. Get a cake of
each of the hard colors named in the note below[45] and try experiments
on their simple combinations, by mixing each color with every other. If
you like to do it in an orderly way, you may prepare a squared piece of
pasteboard, and put the pure colors in columns at the top and side; the
mixed tints being given at the intersections, thus (the letters standing
for colors):

      b       c      d      e      f     etc.
    a a b    a c    a d    a e    a f
    b --     b c    b d    b e    b f
    c --     --     c d    c e    c f
    d --     --     --     d e    d f
    e --     --     --     --     e f

This will give you some general notion of the characters of mixed tints
of two colors only, and it is better in practice to confine yourself as
much as possible to these, and to get more complicated colors, either by
putting the third _over_ the first blended tint, or by putting the third
into its interstices. Nothing but watchful practice will teach you the
effects that colors have on each other when thus put over, or beside,
each other.

164. When you have got a little used to the principal combinations,
place yourself at a window which the sun does not shine in at,
commanding some simple piece of landscape: outline this landscape
roughly; then take a piece of white cardboard, cut out a hole in it
about the size of a large pea; and supposing R is the room, _a d_ the
window, and you are sitting at _a_, Fig. 29, hold this cardboard a
little outside of the window, upright, and in the direction _b d_,
parallel to the side of the window, or a little turned, so as to catch
more light, as at _a d_, never turned as at _c d_, or the paper will be
dark. Then you will see the landscape, bit by bit, through the circular
hole. Match the colors of each important bit as nearly as you can,
mixing your tints with white, beside the aperture. When matched, put a
touch of the same tint at the top of your paper, writing under it: "dark
tree color," "hill color," "field color," as the case may be. Then wash
the tint away from beside the opening, and the cardboard will be ready
to match another piece of the landscape.[46] When you have got the
colors of the principal masses thus indicated, lay on a piece of each in
your sketch in its right place, and then proceed to complete the sketch
in harmony with them, by your eye.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.]

165. In the course of your early experiments, you will be much struck by
two things: the first, the inimitable brilliancy of light in sky and in
sunlighted things; and the second, that among the tints which you can
imitate, those which you thought the darkest will continually turn out
to be in reality the lightest. Darkness of objects is estimated by us,
under ordinary circumstances, much more by knowledge than by sight;
thus, a cedar or Scotch fir, at 200 yards off, will be thought of darker
green than an elm or oak near us; because we know by experience that the
peculiar color they exhibit, at that distance, is the _sign_ of darkness
of foliage. But when we try them through the cardboard, the near oak
will be found, indeed, rather dark green, and the distant cedar,
perhaps, pale gray-purple. The quantity of purple and gray in Nature is,
by the way, another somewhat surprising subject of discovery.

166. Well, having ascertained thus your principal tints, you may proceed
to fill up your sketch; in doing which observe these following

(1.) Many portions of your subject appeared through the aperture in the
paper brighter than the paper, as sky, sunlighted grass, etc. Leave
these portions, for the present, white; and proceed with the parts of
which you can match the tints.

(2.) As you tried your subject with the cardboard, you must have
observed how many changes of hue took place over small spaces. In
filling up your work, try to educate your eye to perceive these
differences of hue without the help of the cardboard, and lay them
deliberately, like a mosaic-worker, as separate colors, preparing each
carefully on your palette, and laying it as if it were a patch of
colored cloth, cut out, to be fitted neatly by its edge to the next
patch; so that the _fault_ of your work may be, not a slurred or misty
look, but a patched bed-cover look, as if it had all been cut out with
scissors. For instance, in drawing the trunk of a birch tree, there will
be probably white high lights, then a pale rosy gray round them on the
light side, then a (probably greenish) deeper gray on the dark side,
varied by reflected colors, and, over all, rich black strips of bark and
brown spots of moss. Lay first the rosy gray, leaving white for the high
lights _and for the spots of moss_, and not touching the dark side. Then
lay the gray for the dark side, fitting it well up to the rosy gray of
the light, leaving also in this darker gray the white paper in the
places for the black and brown moss; then prepare the moss colors
separately for each spot, and lay each in the white place left for it.
Not one grain of white, except that purposely left for the high lights,
must be visible when the work is done, even through a magnifying-glass,
so cunningly must you fit the edges to each other. Finally, take your
background colors, and put them on each side of the tree trunk, fitting
them carefully to its edge.

167. Fine work you would make of this, wouldn't you, if you had not
learned to draw first, and could not now draw a good outline for the
stem, much less terminate a color mass in the outline you wanted?

Your work will look very odd for some time, when you first begin to
paint in this way, and before you can modify it, as I shall tell you
presently how; but never mind; it is of the greatest possible importance
that you should practice this separate laying on of the hues, for all
good coloring finally depends on it. It is, indeed, often necessary, and
sometimes desirable, to lay one color and form boldly over another:
thus, in laying leaves on blue sky, it is impossible always in large
pictures, or when pressed for time, to fill in the blue through the
interstices of the leaves; and the great Venetians constantly lay their
blue ground first, and then, having let it dry, strike the golden brown
over it in the form of the leaf, leaving the under blue to shine through
the gold, and subdue it to the olive-green they want. But in the most
precious and perfect work each leaf is inlaid, and the blue worked round
it; and, whether you use one or other mode of getting your result, it is
equally necessary to be absolute and decisive in your laying the color.
Either your ground must be laid firmly first, and then your upper color
struck upon it in perfect form, forever, thenceforward, unalterable; or
else the two colors must be individually put in their places, and led up
to each other till they meet at their appointed border, equally,
thenceforward, unchangeable. Either process, you see, involves absolute
decision. If you once begin to slur, or change, or sketch, or try this
way and that with your color, it is all over with it and with you. You
will continually see bad copyists trying to imitate the Venetians, by
daubing their colors about, and retouching, and finishing, and
softening: when every touch and every added hue only lead them farther
into chaos. There is a dog between two children in a Veronese in the
Louvre, which gives the copyists much employment. He has a dark ground
behind him, which Veronese has painted first, and then when it was dry,
or nearly so, struck the locks of the dog's white hair over it with some
half-dozen curling sweeps of his brush, right at once, and forever. Had
one line or hair of them gone wrong, it would have been wrong forever;
no retouching could have mended it. The poor copyists daub in first some
background, and then some dog's hair; then retouch the background, then
the hair; work for hours at it, expecting it always to come right
to-morrow--"when it is finished." They _may_ work for centuries at it,
and they will never do it. If they can do it with Veronese's allowance
of work, half a dozen sweeps of the hand over the dark background, well;
if not, they may ask the dog himself whether it will ever come right,
and get true answer from him--on Launce's conditions: "If he say 'ay,'
it will; if he say 'no,' it will; if he shake his tail and say nothing,
it will."

168. (3.) Whenever you lay on a mass of color, be sure that however
large it may be, or however small, it shall be gradated. No color exists
in Nature under ordinary circumstances without gradation. If you do not
see this, it is the fault of your inexperience: you will see it in due
time, if you practice enough. But in general you may see it at once. In
the birch trunk, for instance, the rosy gray _must_ be gradated by the
roundness of the stem till it meets the shaded side; similarly the
shaded side is gradated by reflected light. Accordingly, whether by
adding water, or white paint, or by unequal force of touch (this you
will do at pleasure, according to the texture you wish to produce), you
must, in every tint you lay on, make it a little paler at one part than
another, and get an even gradation between the two depths. This is very
like laying down a formal law or recipe for you; but you will find it is
merely the assertion of a natural fact. It is not indeed physically
impossible to meet with an ungradated piece of color, but it is so
supremely improbable, that you had better get into the habit of asking
yourself invariably, when you are going to copy a tint--not "Is that
gradated?" but "Which way is that gradated?" and at least in ninety-nine
out of a hundred instances, you will be able to answer decisively after
a careful glance, though the gradation may have been so subtle that you
did not see it at first. And it does not matter how small the touch of
color may be, though not larger than the smallest pin's head, if one
part of it is not darker than the rest, it is a bad touch; for it is not
merely because the natural fact is so, that your color should be
gradated; the preciousness and pleasantness of the color itself depends
more on this than on any other of its qualities, for gradation is to
colors just what curvature is to lines, both being felt to be beautiful
by the pure instinct of every human mind, and both, considered as types,
expressing the law of gradual change and progress in the human soul
itself. What the difference is in mere beauty between a gradated and
ungradated color, may be seen easily by laying an even tint of
rose-color on paper, and putting a rose leaf beside it. The victorious
beauty of the rose as compared with other flowers, depends wholly on the
delicacy and quantity of its color gradations, all other flowers being
either less rich in gradation, not having so many folds of leaf; or less
tender, being patched and veined instead of flushed.

169. (4.) But observe, it is not enough in general that color should be
gradated by being made merely paler or darker at one place than another.
Generally color changes as it diminishes, and is not merely darker at
one spot, but also purer at one spot than anywhere else. It does not in
the least follow that the darkest spots should be the purest; still less
so that the lightest should be the purest. Very often the two gradations
more or less cross each other, one passing in one direction from
paleness to darkness, another in another direction from purity to
dullness, but there will almost always be both of them, however
reconciled; and you must never be satisfied with a piece of color until
you have got both: that is to say, every piece of blue that you lay on
must be _quite_ blue only at some given spot, nor that a large spot; and
must be gradated from that into less pure blue,--grayish blue, or
greenish blue, or purplish blue,--over all the rest of the space it
occupies. And this you must do in one of three ways: either, while the
color is wet, mix with it the color which is to subdue it, adding
gradually a little more and a little more; or else, when the color is
quite dry, strike a gradated touch of another color over it, leaving
only a point of the first tint visible; or else, lay the subduing tints
on in small touches, as in the exercise of tinting the chess-board. Of
each of these methods I have something to tell you separately; but that
is distinct from the subject of gradation, which I must not quit without
once more pressing upon you the preëminent necessity of introducing it
everywhere. I have profound dislike of anything like habit of hand, and
yet, in this one instance, I feel almost tempted to encourage you to get
into a habit of never touching paper with color, without securing a
gradation. You will not, in Turner's largest oil pictures, perhaps six
or seven feet long by four or five high, find one spot of color as large
as a grain of wheat ungradated: and you will find in practice, that
brilliancy of hue, and vigor of light, and even the aspect of
transparency in shade, are essentially dependent on this character
alone; hardness, coldness, and opacity resulting far more from
_equality_ of color than from nature of color. Give me some mud off a
city crossing, some ocher out of a gravel pit, a little whitening, and
some coal-dust, and I will paint you a luminous picture, if you give me
time to gradate my mud, and subdue my dust: but though you had the red
of the ruby, the blue of the gentian, snow for the light, and amber for
the gold, you cannot paint a luminous picture, if you keep the masses of
those colors unbroken in purity, and unvarying in depth.

170. (5.) Next, note the three processes by which gradation and other
characters are to be obtained:

A. Mixing while the color is wet.

You may be confused by my first telling you to lay on the hues in
separate patches, and then telling you to mix hues together as you lay
them on: but the separate masses are to be laid, when colors distinctly
oppose each other at a given limit; the hues to be mixed, when they
palpitate one through the other, or fade one into the other. It is
better to err a little on the distinct side. Thus I told you to paint
the dark and light sides of the birch trunk separately, though, in
reality, the two tints change, as the trunk turns away from the light,
gradually one into the other; and, after being laid separately on, will
need some farther touching to harmonize them: but they do so in a very
narrow space, marked distinctly all the way up the trunk, and it is
easier and safer, therefore, to keep them separate at first. Whereas it
often happens that the whole beauty of two colors will depend on the one
being continued well through the other, and playing in the midst of it:
blue and green often do so in water; blue and gray, or purple and
scarlet, in sky: in hundreds of such instances the most beautiful and
truthful results may be obtained by laying one color into the other
while wet; judging wisely how far it will spread, or blending it with
the brush in somewhat thicker consistence of wet body-color; only
observe, never mix in this way two _mixtures_; let the color you lay
into the other be always a simple, not a compound tint.

171. B. Laying one color over another.

If you lay on a solid touch of vermilion, and after it is quite dry,
strike a little very wet carmine quickly over it, you will obtain a much
more brilliant red than by mixing the carmine and vermilion. Similarly,
if you lay a dark color first, and strike a little blue or white
body-color lightly over it, you will get a more beautiful gray than by
mixing the color and the blue or white. In very perfect painting,
artifices of this kind are continually used; but I would not have you
trust much to them: they are apt to make you think too much of quality
of color. I should like you to depend on little more than the dead
colors, simply laid on, only observe always this, that the _less_ color
you do the work with, the better it will always be:[47] so that if you
had laid a red color, and you want a purple one above, do not mix the
purple on your palette and lay it on so thick as to overpower the red,
but take a little thin blue from your palette, and lay it lightly over
the red, so as to let the red be seen through, and thus produce the
required purple; and if you want a green hue over a blue one, do not lay
a quantity of green on the blue, but a _little_ yellow, and so on,
always bringing the under color into service as far as you possibly can.
If, however, the color beneath is wholly opposed to the one you have to
lay on, as, suppose, if green is to be laid over scarlet, you must
either remove the required parts of the under color daintily first with
your knife, or with water; or else, lay solid white over it massively,
and leave that to dry, and then glaze the white with the upper color.
This is better, in general, than laying the upper color itself so thick
as to conquer the ground, which, in fact, if it be a transparent color,
you cannot do. Thus, if you have to strike warm boughs and leaves of
trees over blue sky, and they are too intricate to have their places
left for them in laying the blue, it is better to lay them first in
solid white, and then glaze with sienna and ocher, than to mix the
sienna and white; though, of course, the process is longer and more
troublesome. Nevertheless, if the forms of touches required are very
delicate, the after glazing is impossible. You must then mix the warm
color thick at once, and so use it: and this is often necessary for
delicate grasses, and such other fine threads of light in foreground

172. C. Breaking one color in small points through or over another.

This is the most important of all processes in good modern[48] oil and
water-color painting, but you need not hope to attain very great skill
in it. To do it well is very laborious, and requires such skill and
delicacy of hand as can only be acquired by unceasing practice. But you
will find advantage in noting the following points:

173. (_a._) In distant effects of rich subject, wood, or rippled water,
or broken clouds, much may be done by touches or crumbling dashes of
rather dry color, with other colors afterwards put cunningly into the
interstices. The more you practice this, when the subject evidently
calls for it, the more your eye will enjoy the higher qualities of
color. The process is, in fact, the carrying out of the principle of
separate colors to the utmost possible refinement; using atoms of color
in juxtaposition, instead of large spaces. And note, in filling up
minute interstices of this kind, that if you want the color you fill
them with to show brightly, it is better to put a rather positive point
of it, with a little white left beside or round it in the interstice,
than to put a pale tint of the color over the whole interstice. Yellow
or orange will hardly show, if pale, in small spaces; but they show
brightly in firm touches, however small, with white beside them.

174. (_b._) If a color is to be darkened by superimposed portions of
another, it is, in many cases, better to lay the uppermost color in
rather vigorous small touches, like finely chopped straw, over the under
one, than to lay it on as a tint, for two reasons: the first, that the
play of the two colors together is pleasant to the eye; the second, that
much expression of form may be got by wise administration of the upper
dark touches. In distant mountains they may be made pines of, or broken
crags, or villages, or stones, or whatever you choose; in clouds they
may indicate the direction of the rain, the roll and outline of the
cloud masses; and in water, the minor waves. All noble effects of dark
atmosphere are got in good water-color drawing by these two expedients,
interlacing the colors, or retouching the lower one with fine darker
drawing in an upper. Sponging and washing for dark atmospheric effect is
barbarous, and mere tyro's work, though it is often useful for passages
of delicate atmospheric light.

175. (_c._) When you have time, practice the production of mixed tints
by interlaced touches of the pure colors out of which they are formed,
and use the process at the parts of your sketches where you wish to get
rich and luscious effects. Study the works of William Hunt, of the Old
Water-color Society, in this respect, continually, and make frequent
memoranda of the variegations in flowers; not painting the flower
completely, but laying the ground color of one petal, and painting the
spots on it with studious precision: a series of single petals of
lilies, geraniums, tulips, etc., numbered with proper reference to their
position in the flower, will be interesting to you on many grounds
besides those of art. Be careful to get the gradated distribution of the
spots well followed in the calceolarias, foxgloves, and the like; and
work out the odd, indefinite hues of the spots themselves with minute
grains of pure interlaced color, otherwise you will never get their
richness or bloom. You will be surprised to find as you do this, first,
the universality of the law of gradation we have so much insisted upon;
secondly, that Nature is just as economical of _her_ fine colors as I
have told you to be of yours. You would think, by the way she paints,
that her colors cost her something enormous; she will only give you a
single pure touch, just where the petal turns into light; but down in
the bell all is subdued, and under the petal all is subdued, even in the
showiest flower. What you thought was bright blue is, when you look
close, only dusty gray, or green, or purple, or every color in the world
at once, only a single gleam or streak of pure blue in the center of it.
And so with all her colors. Sometimes I have really thought her
miserliness intolerable: in a gentian, for instance, the way she
economizes her ultramarine down in the bell is a little too bad.[49]

176. Next, respecting general tone. I said, just now, that, for the sake
of students, my tax should not be laid on black or on white pigments;
but if you mean to be a colorist, you must lay a tax on them yourself
when you begin to use true color; that is to say, you must use them
little, and make of them much. There is no better test of your color
tones being good, than your having made the white in your picture
precious, and the black conspicuous.

177. I say, first, the white precious. I do not mean merely glittering
or brilliant: it is easy to scratch white seagulls out of black clouds,
and dot clumsy foliage with chalky dew; but when white is well managed,
it ought to be strangely delicious,--tender as well as bright,--like
inlaid mother of pearl, or white roses washed in milk. The eye ought to
seek it for rest, brilliant though it may be; and to feel it as a space
of strange, heavenly paleness in the midst of the flushing of the
colors. This effect you can only reach by general depth of middle tint,
by absolutely refusing to allow any white to exist except where you need
it, and by keeping the white itself subdued by gray, except at a few
points of chief luster.

178. Secondly, you must make the black conspicuous. However small a
point of black may be, it ought to catch the eye, otherwise your work is
too heavy in the shadow. All the ordinary shadows should be of some
_color_,--never black, nor approaching black, they should be evidently
and always of a luminous nature, and the black should look strange among
them; never occurring except in a black object, or in small points
indicative of intense shade in the very center of masses of shadow.
Shadows of absolutely negative gray, however, may be beautifully used
with white, or with gold; but still though the black thus, in subdued
strength, becomes spacious, it should always be conspicuous; the
spectator should notice this gray neutrality with some wonder, and
enjoy, all the more intensely on account of it, the gold color and the
white which it relieves. Of all the great colorists Velasquez is the
greatest master of the black chords. His black is more precious than
most other people's crimson.

179. It is not, however, only white and black which you must make
valuable; you must give rare worth to every color you use; but the white
and black ought to separate themselves quaintly from the rest, while the
other colors should be continually passing one into the other, being all
evidently companions in the same gay world; while the white, black, and
neutral gray should stand monkishly aloof in the midst of them. You may
melt your crimson into purple, your purple into blue, and your blue into
green, but you must not melt any of them into black. You should,
however, try, as I said, to give preciousness to all your colors; and
this especially by never using a grain more than will just do the work,
and giving each hue the highest value by opposition. All fine coloring,
like fine drawing, is delicate; and so delicate that if, at last, you
_see_ the color you are putting on, you are putting on too much. You
ought to feel a change wrought in the general tone, by touches of color
which individually are too pale to be seen; and if there is one atom of
any color in the whole picture which is unnecessary to it, that atom
hurts it.

180. Notice also that nearly all good compound colors are _odd_ colors.
You shall look at a hue in a good painter's work ten minutes before you
know what to call it. You thought it was brown, presently you feel that
it is red; next that there is, somehow, yellow in it; presently
afterwards that there is blue in it. If you try to copy it you will
always find your color too warm or too cold--no color in the box will
seem to have an affinity with it; and yet it will be as pure as if it
were laid at a single touch with a single color.

181. As to the choice and harmony of colors in general, if you cannot
choose and harmonize them by instinct, you will never do it at all. If
you need examples of utterly harsh and horrible color, you may find
plenty given in treatises upon coloring, to illustrate the laws of
harmony; and if you want to color beautifully, color as best pleases
yourself at _quiet times_, not so as to catch the eye, nor look as if it
were clever or difficult to color in that way, but so that the color may
be pleasant to you when you are happy or thoughtful. Look much at the
morning and evening sky, and much at simple flowers--dog-roses,
wood-hyacinths, violets, poppies, thistles, heather, and such like,--as
Nature arranges them in the woods and fields. If ever any scientific
person tells you that two colors are "discordant," make a note of the
two colors, and put them together whenever you can. I have actually
heard people say that blue and green were discordant; the two colors
which Nature seems to intend never to be separated, and never to be
felt, either of them, in its full beauty without the other!--a peacock's
neck, or a blue sky through green leaves, or a blue wave with green
lights through it, being precisely the loveliest things, next to clouds
at sunrise, in this colored world of ours. If you have a good eye for
colors, you will soon find out how constantly Nature puts purple and
green together, purple and scarlet, green and blue, yellow and neutral
gray, and the like; and how she strikes these color-concords for general
tones, and then works into them with innumerable subordinate ones; and
you will gradually come to like what she does, and find out new and
beautiful chords of color in her work every day. If you enjoy them,
depend upon it you will paint them to a certain point right: or, at
least, if you do not enjoy them, you are certain to paint them wrong. If
color does not give you intense pleasure, let it alone; depend upon it,
you are only tormenting the eyes and senses of people who feel color,
whenever you touch it; and that is unkind and improper.

182. You will find, also, your power of coloring depend much on your
state of health and right balance of mind; when you are fatigued or ill
you will not see colors well, and when you are ill-tempered you will not
choose them well: thus, though not infallibly a test of character in
individuals, color power is a great sign of mental health in nations;
when they are in a state of intellectual decline, their coloring always
gets dull.[50] You must also take great care not to be misled by
affected talk about colors from people who have not the gift of it:
numbers are eager and voluble about it who probably never in all their
lives received one genuine color-sensation. The modern religionists of
the school of Overbeck are just like people who eat slate-pencil and
chalk, and assure everybody that they are nicer and purer than
strawberries and plums.

183. Take care also never to be misled into any idea that color can help
or display _form_; color[51] always disguises form, and is meant to do

184. It is a favorite dogma among modern writers on color that "warm
colors" (reds and yellows) "approach," or express nearness, and "cold
colors" (blue and gray) "retire," or express distance. So far is this
from being the case, that no expression of distance in the world is so
great as that of the gold and orange in twilight sky. Colors, as such,
are ABSOLUTELY inexpressive respecting distance. It is their quality (as
depth, delicacy, etc.) which expresses distance, not their tint. A blue
bandbox set on the same shelf with a yellow one will not look an inch
farther off, but a red or orange cloud, in the upper sky, will always
appear to be beyond a blue cloud close to us, as it is in reality. It is
quite true that in certain objects, blue is a _sign_ of distance; but
that is not because blue is a retiring color, but because the mist in
the air is blue, and therefore any warm color which has not strength of
light enough to pierce the mist is lost or subdued in its blue: but blue
is no more, on this account, a "retiring color," than brown is a
retiring color, because, when stones are seen through brown water, the
deeper they lie the browner they look; or than yellow is a retiring
color, because, when objects are seen through a London fog, the farther
off they are the yellower they look. Neither blue, nor yellow, nor red,
can have, as such, the smallest power of expressing either nearness or
distance: they express them only under the peculiar circumstances which
render them at the moment, or in that place, _signs_ of nearness or
distance. Thus, vivid orange in an orange is a sign of nearness, for if
you put the orange a great way off, its color will not look so bright;
but vivid orange in sky is a sign of distance, because you cannot get
the color of orange in a cloud near you. So purple in a violet or a
hyacinth is a sign of nearness, because the closer you look at them the
more purple you see. But purple in a mountain is a sign of distance,
because a mountain close to you is not purple, but green or gray. It
may, indeed, be generally assumed that a tender or pale color will more
or less express distance, and a powerful or dark color nearness; but
even this is not always so. Heathery hills will usually give a pale and
tender purple near, and an intense and dark purple far away; the rose
color of sunset on snow is pale on the snow at your feet, deep and full
on the snow in the distance; and the green of a Swiss lake is pale in
the clear waves on the beach, but intense as an emerald in the sunstreak
six miles from shore. And in any case, when the foreground is in strong
light, with much water about it, or white surface, casting intense
reflections, all its colors may be perfectly delicate, pale, and faint;
while the distance, when it is in shadow, may relieve the whole
foreground with intense darks of purple, blue green, or ultramarine
blue. So that, on the whole, it is quite hopeless and absurd to expect
any help from laws of "aërial perspective." Look for the natural
effects, and set them down as fully as you can, and as faithfully, and
_never_ alter a color because it won't look in its right place. Put the
color strong, if it be strong, though far off; faint, if it be faint,
though close to you. Why should you suppose that Nature always means you
to know exactly how far one thing is from another? She certainly intends
you always to enjoy her coloring, but she does not wish you always to
measure her space. You would be hard put to it, every time you painted
the sun setting, if you had to express his 95,000,000 miles of distance
in "aërial perspective."

185. There is, however, I think, one law about distance, which has some
claims to be considered a constant one: namely, that dullness and
heaviness of color are more or less indicative of nearness. All distant
color is _pure_ color: it may not be bright, but it is clear and lovely,
not opaque nor soiled; for the air and light coming between us and any
earthy or imperfect color, purify or harmonize it; hence a bad colorist
is peculiarly incapable of expressing distance. I do not of course mean
that you are to use bad colors in your foreground by way of making it
come forward; but only that a failure in color, there, will not put it
out of its place; while a failure in color in the distance will at once
do away with its remoteness; your dull-colored foreground will still be
a foreground, though ill-painted; but your ill-painted distance will not
be merely a dull distance,--it will be no distance at all.

186. I have only one thing more to advise you, namely, never to color
petulantly or hurriedly. You will not, indeed, be able, if you attend
properly to your coloring, to get anything like the quantity of form you
could in a chiaroscuro sketch; nevertheless, if you do not dash or rush
at your work, nor do it lazily, you may always get enough form to be
satisfactory. An extra quarter of an hour, distributed in quietness
over the course of the whole study, may just make the difference between
a quite intelligible drawing, and a slovenly and obscure one. If you
determine well beforehand what outline each piece of color is to have,
and, when it is on the paper, guide it without nervousness, as far as
you can, into the form required; and then, after it is dry, consider
thoroughly what touches are needed to complete it, before laying one of
them on; you will be surprised to find how masterly the work will soon
look, as compared with a hurried or ill-considered sketch. In no process
that I know of--least of all in sketching--can time be really gained by
precipitation. It is gained only by caution; and gained in all sorts of
ways; for not only truth of form, but force of light, is always added by
an intelligent and shapely laying of the shadow colors. You may often
make a simple flat tint, rightly gradated and edged, express a
complicated piece of subject without a single retouch. The two Swiss
cottages, for instance, with their balconies, and glittering windows,
and general character of shingly eaves, are expressed in Fig. 30 with
one tint of gray, and a few dispersed spots and lines of it; all of
which you ought to be able to lay on without more than thrice dipping
your brush, and without a single touch after the tint is dry.

[Illustration: FIG. 30.]

187. Here, then, for I cannot without colored illustrations tell you
more, I must leave you to follow out the subject for yourself, with
such help as you may receive from the water-color drawings accessible to
you; or from any of the little treatises on their art which have been
published lately by our water-color painters.[52] But do not trust much
to works of this kind. You may get valuable hints from them as to
mixture of colors; and here and there you will find a useful artifice or
process explained; but nearly all such books are written only to help
idle amateurs to a meretricious skill, and they are full of precepts and
principles which may, for the most part, be interpreted by their
_precise_ negatives, and then acted upon with advantage. Most of them
praise boldness, when the only safe attendant spirit of a beginner is
caution;--advise velocity, when the first condition of success is
deliberation;--and plead for generalization, when all the foundations of
power must be laid in knowledge of speciality.

      *       *       *       *       *

188. And now, in the last place, I have a few things to tell you
respecting that dangerous nobleness of consummate art,--COMPOSITION. For
though it is quite unnecessary for you yet awhile to attempt it, and it
_may_ be inexpedient for you to attempt it at all, you ought to know
what it means, and to look for and enjoy it in the art of others.

Composition means, literally and simply, putting several things
together, so as to make _one_ thing out of them; the nature and goodness
of which they all have a share in producing. Thus a musician composes an
air, by putting notes together in certain relations; a poet composes a
poem, by putting thoughts and words in pleasant order; and a painter a
picture, by putting thoughts, forms, and colors in pleasant order.

In all these cases, observe, an intended unity must be the result of
composition. A pavior cannot be said to compose the heap of stones which
he empties from his cart, nor the sower the handful of seed which he
scatters from his hand. It is the essence of composition that
everything should be in a determined place, perform an intended part,
and act, in that part, advantageously for everything that is connected
with it.

189. Composition, understood in this pure sense, is the type, in the
arts of mankind, of the Providential government of the world.[53] It is
an exhibition, in the order given to notes, or colors, or forms, of the
advantage of perfect fellowship, discipline, and contentment. In a
well-composed air, no note, however short or low, can be spared, but the
least is as necessary as the greatest: no note, however prolonged, is
tedious; but the others prepare for, and are benefited by, its duration:
no note, however high, is tyrannous; the others prepare for, and are
benefited by, its exaltation: no note, however low, is overpowered; the
others prepare for, and sympathize with, its humility: and the result
is, that each and every note has a value in the position assigned to it,
which, by itself, it never possessed, and of which, by separation from
the others, it would instantly be deprived.

190. Similarly, in a good poem, each word and thought enhances the value
of those which precede and follow it; and every syllable has a
loveliness which depends not so much on its abstract sound as on its
position. Look at the same word in a dictionary, and you will hardly
recognize it.

Much more in a great picture; every line and color is so arranged as to
advantage the rest. None are inessential, however slight; and none are
independent, however forcible. It is not enough that they truly
represent natural objects; but they must fit into certain places, and
gather into certain harmonious groups: so that, for instance, the red
chimney of a cottage is not merely set in its place as a chimney, but
that it may affect, in a certain way pleasurable to the eye, the pieces
of green or blue in other parts of the picture; and we ought to see that
the work is masterly, merely by the positions and quantities of these
patches of green, red, and blue, even at a distance which renders it
perfectly impossible to determine what the colors represent: or to see
whether the red is a chimney, or an old woman's cloak; and whether the
blue is smoke, sky, or water.

191. It seems to be appointed, in order to remind us, in all we do, of
the great laws of Divine government and human polity, that composition
in the arts should strongly affect every order of mind, however
unlearned or thoughtless. Hence the popular delight in rhythm and meter,
and in simple musical melodies. But it is also appointed that _power_ of
composition in the fine arts should be an exclusive attribute of great
intellect. All men can more or less copy what they see, and, more or
less, remember it: powers of reflection and investigation are also
common to us all, so that the decision of inferiority in these rests
only on questions of _degree_. A. has a better memory than B., and C.
reflects more profoundly than D. But the gift of composition is not
given _at all_ to more than one man in a thousand; in its highest range,
it does not occur above three or four times in a century.

192. It follows, from these general truths, that it is impossible to
give rules which will enable you to compose. You might much more easily
receive rules to enable you to be witty. If it were possible to be witty
by rule, wit would cease to be either admirable or amusing: if it were
possible to compose melody by rule, Mozart and Cimarosa need not have
been born: if it were possible to compose pictures by rule, Titian and
Veronese would be ordinary men. The essence of composition lies
precisely in the fact of its being unteachable, in its being the
operation of an individual mind of range and power exalted above others.

But though no one can _invent_ by rule, there are some simple laws of
arrangement which it is well for you to know, because, though they will
not enable you to produce a good picture, they will often assist you to
set forth what goodness may be in your work in a more telling way than
you could have done otherwise; and by tracing them in the work of good
composers, you may better understand the grasp of their imagination,
and the power it possesses over their materials. I shall briefly state
the chief of these laws.


193. The great object of composition being always to secure unity; that
is, to make out of many things one whole; the first mode in which this
can be effected is, by determining that _one_ feature shall be more
important than all the rest, and that the others shall group with it in
subordinate positions.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.]

This is the simplest law of ordinary ornamentation. Thus the group of
two leaves, _a_, Fig. 31, is unsatisfactory, because it has no leading
leaf; but that at _b_ _is_ prettier, because it has a head or master
leaf; and _c_ more satisfactory still, because the subordination of the
other members to this head leaf is made more manifest by their gradual
loss of size as they fall back from it. Hence part of the pleasure we
have in the Greek honeysuckle ornament, and such others.

194. Thus, also, good pictures have always one light larger and brighter
than the other lights, or one figure more prominent than the other
figures, or one mass of color dominant over all the other masses; and in
general you will find it much benefit your sketch if you manage that
there shall be one light on the cottage wall, or one blue cloud in the
sky, which may attract the eye as leading light, or leading gloom, above
all others. But the observance of the rule is often so cunningly
concealed by the great composers, that its force is hardly at first
traceable; and you will generally find they are vulgar pictures in which
the law is strikingly manifest.

195. This may be simply illustrated by musical melody: for instance, in
such phrases as this--


one note (here the upper G) rules the whole passage, and has the full
energy of it concentrated in itself. Such passages, corresponding to
completely subordinated compositions in painting, are apt to be
wearisome if often repeated. But, in such a phrase as this--


it is very difficult to say which is the principal note. The A in the
last bar is slightly dominant, but there is a very equal current of
power running through the whole; and such passages rarely weary. And
this principle holds through vast scales of arrangement; so that in the
grandest compositions, such as Paul Veronese's Marriage in Cana, or
Raphaels Disputa, it is not easy to fix at once on the principal figure;
and very commonly the figure which is really chief does not catch the
eye at first, but is gradually felt to be more and more conspicuous as
we gaze. Thus in Titian's grand composition of the Cornaro Family, the
figure meant to be principal is a youth of fifteen or sixteen, whose
portrait it was evidently the painter's object to make as interesting as
possible. But a grand Madonna, and a St. George with a drifting banner,
and many figures more, occupy the center of the picture, and first
catch the eye; little by little we are led away from them to a gleam of
pearly light in the lower corner, and find that, from the head which it
shines upon, we can turn our eyes no more.

196. As, in every good picture, nearly all laws of design are more or
less exemplified, it will, on the whole, be an easier way of explaining
them to analyze one composition thoroughly, than to give instances from
various works. I shall therefore take one of Turner's simplest; which
will allow us, so to speak, easily to decompose it, and illustrate each
law by it as we proceed.

[Illustration: FIG. 32.]

Fig. 32 is a rude sketch of the arrangement of the whole subject; the
old bridge over the Moselle at Coblentz, the town of Coblentz on the
right, Ehrenbreitstein on the left. The leading or master feature is, of
course, the tower on the bridge. It is kept from being _too_ principal
by an important group on each side of it; the boats, on the right, and
Ehrenbreitstein beyond. The boats are large in mass, and more forcible
in color, but they are broken into small divisions, while the tower is
simple, and therefore it still leads. Ehrenbreitstein is noble in its
mass, but so reduced by aërial perspective of color that it cannot
contend with the tower, which therefore holds the eye, and becomes the
key of the picture. We shall see presently how the very objects which
seem at first to contend with it for the mastery are made, occultly, to
increase its preëminence.


197. Another important means of expressing unity is to mark some kind of
sympathy among the different objects, and perhaps the pleasantest,
because most surprising, kind of sympathy, is when one group imitates or
repeats another; not in the way of balance or symmetry, but
subordinately, like a far-away and broken echo of it. Prout has insisted
much on this law in all his writings on composition; and I think it is
even more authoritatively present in the minds of most great composers
than the law of principality.[54] It is quite curious to see the pains
that Turner sometimes takes to echo an important passage of color; in
the Pembroke Castle for instance, there are two fishing-boats, one with
a red, and another with a white sail. In a line with them, on the beach,
are two fish in precisely the same relative positions; one red and one
white. It is observable that he uses the artifice chiefly in pictures
where he wishes to obtain an expression of repose: in my notice of the
plate of Scarborough, in the series of the Harbors of England, I have
already had occasion to dwell on this point; and I extract in the
note[55] one or two sentences which explain the principle. In the
composition I have chosen for our illustration, this reduplication is
employed to a singular extent. The tower, or leading feature, is first
repeated by the low echo of it to the left; put your finger over this
lower tower, and see how the picture is spoiled. Then the spires of
Coblentz are all arranged in couples (how they are arranged in reality
does not matter; when we are composing a great picture, we must play the
towers about till they come right, as fearlessly as if they were
chessmen instead of cathedrals). The dual arrangement of these towers
would have been too easily seen, were it not for the little one which
pretends to make a triad of the last group on the right, but is so faint
as hardly to be discernible: it just takes off the attention from the
artifice, helped in doing so by the mast at the head of the boat, which,
however, has instantly its own duplicate put at the stern.[56] Then
there is the large boat near, and its echo beyond it. That echo is
divided into two again, and each of those two smaller boats has two
figures in it; while two figures are also sitting together on the great
rudder that lies half in the water, and half aground. Then, finally, the
great mass of Ehrenbreitstein, which appears at first to have no
answering form, has almost its _facsimile_ in the bank on which the girl
is sitting; this bank is as absolutely essential to the completion of
the picture as any object in the whole series. All this is done to
deepen the effect of repose.

198. Symmetry, or the balance of parts or masses in nearly equal
opposition, is one of the conditions of treatment under the law of
Repetition. For the opposition, in a symmetrical object, is of like
things reflecting each other: it is not the balance of contrary natures
(like that of day and night), but of like natures or like forms; one
side of a leaf being set like the reflection of the other in water.

Symmetry in Nature is, however, never formal nor accurate. She takes the
greatest care to secure some difference between the corresponding things
or parts of things; and an approximation to accurate symmetry is only
permitted in animals, because their motions secure perpetual difference
between the balancing parts. Stand before a mirror; hold your arms in
precisely the same position at each side, your head upright, your body
straight; divide your hair exactly in the middle and get it as nearly as
you can into exactly the same shape over each ear; and you will see the
effect of accurate symmetry: you will see, no less, how all grace and
power in the human form result from the interference of motion and life
with symmetry, and from the reconciliation of its balance with its
changefulness. Your position, as seen in the mirror, is the highest type
of symmetry as understood by modern architects.

199. In many sacred compositions, living symmetry, the balance of
harmonious opposites, is one of the profoundest sources of their power:
almost any works of the early painters, Angelico, Perugino, Giotto,
etc., will furnish you with notable instances of it. The Madonna of
Perugino in the National Gallery, with the angel Michael on one side and
Raphael on the other, is as beautiful an example as you can have.

In landscape, the principle of balance is more or less carried out, in
proportion to the wish of the painter to express disciplined calmness.
In bad compositions, as in bad architecture, it is formal, a tree on one
side answering a tree on the other; but in good compositions, as in
graceful statues, it is always easy and sometimes hardly traceable. In
the Coblentz, however, you cannot have much difficulty in seeing how the
boats on one side of the tower and the figures on the other are set in
nearly equal balance; the tower, as a central mass, uniting both.


200. Another important and pleasurable way of expressing unity, is by
giving some orderly succession to a number of objects more or less
similar. And this succession is most interesting when it is connected
with some gradual change in the aspect or character of the objects. Thus
the succession of the pillars of a cathedral aisle is most interesting
when they retire in perspective, becoming more and more obscure in
distance: so the succession of mountain promontories one behind another,
on the flanks of a valley; so the succession of clouds, fading farther
and farther towards the horizon; each promontory and each cloud being of
different shape, yet all evidently following in a calm and appointed
order. If there be no change at all in the shape or size of the objects,
there is no continuity; there is only repetition--monotony. It is the
change in shape which suggests the idea of their being individually free,
and able to escape, if they like, from the law that rules them, and yet
submitting to it.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.]

201. I will leave our chosen illustrative composition for a moment to
take up another, still more expressive of this law. It is one of
Turner's most tender studies, a sketch on Calais Sands at sunset; so
delicate in the expression of wave and cloud, that it is of no use for
me to try to reach it with any kind of outline in a wood-cut; but the
rough sketch, Fig. 33, is enough to give an idea of its arrangement.
The aim of the painter has been to give the intensest expression of
repose, together with the enchanted, lulling, monotonous motion of cloud
and wave. All the clouds are moving in innumerable ranks after the sun,
meeting towards that point in the horizon where he has set; and the
tidal waves gain in winding currents upon the sand, with that stealthy
haste in which they cross each other so quietly, at their edges; just
folding one over another as they meet, like a little piece of ruffled
silk, and leaping up a little as two children kiss and clap their hands,
and then going on again, each in its silent hurry, drawing pointed
arches on the sand as their thin edges intersect in parting. But all
this would not have been enough expressed without the line of the old
pier-timbers, black with weeds, strained and bent by the storm waves,
and now seeming to stoop in following one another, like dark ghosts
escaping slowly from the cruelty of the pursuing sea.

202. I need not, I hope, point out to the reader the illustration of
this law of continuance in the subject chosen for our general
illustration. It was simply that gradual succession of the retiring
arches of the bridge which induced Turner to paint the subject at all;
and it was this same principle which led him always to seize on subjects
including long bridges wherever he could find them; but especially,
observe, unequal bridges, having the highest arch at one side rather
than at the center. There is a reason for this, irrespective of general
laws of composition, and connected with the nature of rivers, which I
may as well stop a minute to tell you about, and let you rest from the
study of composition.

203. All rivers, small or large, agree in one character, they like to
lean a little on one side: they cannot bear to have their channels
deepest in the middle, but will always, if they can, have one bank to
sun themselves upon, and another to get cool under; one shingly shore to
play over, where they may be shallow, and foolish, and childlike, and
another steep shore, under which they can pause, and purify themselves,
and get their strength of waves fully together for due occasion. Rivers
in this way are just like wise men, who keep one side of their life for
play, and another for work; and can be brilliant, and chattering, and
transparent, when they are at ease, and yet take deep counsel on the
other side when they set themselves to their main purpose. And rivers
are just in this divided, also, like wicked and good men: the good
rivers have serviceable deep places all along their banks, that ships
can sail in; but the wicked rivers go scooping irregularly under their
banks until they get full of strangling eddies, which no boat can row
over without being twisted against the rocks; and pools like wells,
which no one can get out of but the water-kelpie that lives at the
bottom; but, wicked or good, the rivers all agree in having two kinds of
sides. Now the natural way in which a village stone-mason therefore
throws a bridge over a strong stream is, of course, to build a great
door to let the cat through, and little doors to let the kittens
through; a great arch for the great current, to give it room in flood
time, and little arches for the little currents along the shallow shore.
This, even without any prudential respect for the floods of the great
current, he would do in simple economy of work and stone; for the
smaller your arches are, the less material you want on their flanks. Two
arches over the same span of river, supposing the butments are at the
same depth, are cheaper than one, and that by a great deal; so that,
where the current is shallow, the village mason makes his arches many
and low: as the water gets deeper, and it becomes troublesome to build
his piers up from the bottom, he throws his arches wider; at last he
comes to the deep stream, and, as he cannot build at the bottom of that,
he throws his largest arch over it with a leap, and with another little
one or so gains the opposite shore. Of course as arches are wider they
must be higher, or they will not stand; so the roadway must rise as the
arches widen. And thus we have the general type of bridge, with its
highest and widest arch towards one side, and a train of minor arches
running over the flat shore on the other: usually a steep bank at the
river-side next the large arch; always, of course, a flat shore on the
side of the small ones: and the bend of the river assuredly concave
towards this flat, cutting round, with a sweep into the steep bank; or,
if there is no steep bank, still assuredly cutting into the shore at the
steep end of the bridge.

Now this kind of bridge, sympathizing, as it does, with the spirit of
the river, and marking the nature of the thing it has to deal with and
conquer, is the ideal of a bridge; and all endeavors to do the thing in
a grand engineer's manner, with a level roadway and equal arches, are
barbarous; not only because all monotonous forms are ugly in themselves,
but because the mind perceives at once that there has been cost
uselessly thrown away for the sake of formality.[57]

[Illustration: FIG. 34.]

204. Well, to return to our continuity. We see that the Turnerian bridge
in Fig. 32 is of the absolutely perfect type, and is still farther
interesting by having its main arch crowned by a watch-tower. But as I
want you to note especially what perhaps was not the case in the real
bridge, but is entirely Turner's doing, you will find that though the
arches diminish gradually, not one is _regularly_ diminished--they are
all of different shapes and sizes: you cannot see this clearly in Fig.
32, but in the larger diagram, Fig. 34, over leaf, you will with ease.
This is indeed also part of the ideal of a bridge, because the lateral
currents near the shore are of course irregular in size, and a simple
builder would naturally vary his arches accordingly; and also, if the
bottom was rocky, build his piers where the rocks came. But it is not as
a part of bridge ideal, but as a necessity of all noble composition,
that this irregularity is introduced by Turner. It at once raises the
object thus treated from the lower or vulgar unity of rigid law to the
greater unity of clouds, and waves, and trees, and human souls, each
different, each obedient, and each in harmonious service.


205. There is, however, another point to be noticed in this bridge of
Turner's. Not only does it slope away unequally at its sides, but it
slopes in a gradual though very subtle curve. And if you substitute a
straight line for this curve (drawing one with a rule from the base of
the tower on each side to the ends of the bridge, in Fig. 34, and
effacing the curve), you will instantly see that the design has suffered
grievously. You may ascertain, by experiment, that all beautiful objects
whatsoever are thus terminated by delicately curved lines, except where
the straight line is indispensable to their use or stability; and that
when a complete system of straight lines, throughout the form, is
necessary to that stability, as in crystals, the beauty, if any exists,
is in color and transparency, not in form. Cut out the shape of any
crystal you like, in white wax or wood, and put it beside a white lily,
and you will feel the force of the curvature in its purity, irrespective
of added color, or other interfering elements of beauty.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.]

206. Well, as curves are more beautiful than straight lines, it is
necessary to a good composition that its continuities of object, mass,
or color should be, if possible, in curves, rather than straight lines
or angular ones. Perhaps one of the simplest and prettiest examples of a
graceful continuity of this kind is in the line traced at any moment by
the corks of a net as it is being drawn: nearly every person is more or
less attracted by the beauty of the dotted line. Now, it is almost
always possible, not only to secure such a continuity in the arrangement
or boundaries of objects which, like these bridge arches or the corks of
the net, are actually connected with each other, but--and this is a
still more noble and interesting kind of continuity--among features
which appear at first entirely separate. Thus the towers of
Ehrenbreitstein, on the left, in Fig. 32, appear at first independent of
each other; but when I give their profile, on a larger scale, Fig. 35,
the reader may easily perceive that there is a subtle cadence and
harmony among them. The reason of this is, that they are all bounded by
one grand curve, traced by the dotted line; out of the seven towers,
four precisely touch this curve, the others only falling hack from it
here and there to keep the eye from discovering it too easily.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.]

207. And it is not only always possible to obtain continuities of this
kind: it is, in drawing large forests or mountain forms, essential to
truth. The towers of Ehrenbreitstein might or might not in reality fall
into such a curve, but assuredly the basalt rock on which they stand
did; for all mountain forms not cloven into absolute precipice, nor
covered by straight slopes of shales, are more or less governed by these
great curves, it being one of the aims of Nature in all her work to
produce them. The reader must already know this, if he has been able to
sketch at all among mountains; if not, let him merely draw for himself,
carefully, the outlines of any low hills accessible to him, where they
are tolerably steep, or of the woods which grow on them. The steeper
shore of the Thames at Maidenhead, or any of the downs at Brighton or
Dover, or, even nearer, about Croydon (as Addington Hills), is easily
accessible to a Londoner; and he will soon find not only how constant,
but how graceful the curvature is. Graceful curvature is distinguished
from ungraceful by two characters; first in its moderation, that is to
say, its close approach to straightness in some part of its course;[58]
and, secondly, by its variation, that is to say, its never remaining
equal in degree at different parts of its course.

208. This variation is itself twofold in all good curves.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.]

A. There is, first, a steady change through the whole line, from less to
more curvature, or more to less, so that _no_ part of the line is a
segment of a circle, or can be drawn by compasses in any way whatever.
Thus, in Fig. 36, _a_ is a bad curve because it is part of a circle, and
is therefore monotonous throughout; but _b_ is a good curve, because it
continually changes its direction as it proceeds.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.]

The _first_ difference between good and bad drawing of tree boughs
consists in observance of this fact. Thus, when I put leaves on the line
_b_, as in Fig. 37, you can immediately feel the springiness of
character dependent on the changefulness of the curve. You may put
leaves on the other line for yourself, but you will find you cannot make
a right tree spray of it. For _all_ tree boughs, large or small, as well
as all noble natural lines whatsoever, agree in this character; and it
is a point of primal necessity that your eye should always seize and
your hand trace it. Here are two more portions of good curves, with
leaves put on them at the extremities instead of the flanks, Fig. 38;
and two showing the arrangement of masses of foliage seen a little
farther off, Fig. 39, which you may in like manner amuse yourself by
turning into segments of circles--you will see with what result. I hope
however you have beside you, by this time, many good studies of tree
boughs carefully made, in which you may study variations of curvature in
their most complicated and lovely forms.[59]

[Illustration: FIG. 39.]

[Illustration: FIG. 40.]

209. B. Not only does every good curve vary in general tendency, but it
is modulated, as it proceeds, by myriads of subordinate curves. Thus the
outlines of a tree trunk are never as at _a_, Fig. 40, but as at _b_. So
also in waves, clouds, and all other nobly formed masses. Thus another
essential difference between good and bad drawing, or good and bad
sculpture, depends on the quantity and refinement of minor curvatures
carried, by good work, into the great lines. Strictly speaking, however,
this is not variation in large curves, but composition of large curves
out of small ones; it is an increase in the quantity of the beautiful
element, but not a change in its nature.


210. We have hitherto been concerned only with the binding of our
various objects into beautiful lines or processions. The next point we
have to consider is, how we may unite these lines or processions
themselves, so as to make groups of _them_.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.]

[Illustration: FIG. 42.]

Now, there are two kinds of harmonies of lines. One in which, moving
more or less side by side, they variously, but evidently with consent,
retire from or approach each other, intersect or oppose each other;
currents of melody in music, for different voices, thus approach and
cross, fall and rise, in harmony; so the waves of the sea, as they
approach the shore, flow into one another or cross, but with a great
unity through all; and so various lines of composition often flow
harmoniously through and across each other in a picture. But the most
simple and perfect connection of lines is by radiation; that is, by
their all springing from one point, or closing towards it; and this
harmony is often, in Nature almost always, united with the other; as the
boughs of trees, though they intersect and play amongst each other
irregularly, indicate by their general tendency their origin from one
root. An essential part of the beauty of all vegetable form is in this
radiation; it is seen most simply in a single flower or leaf, as in a
convolvulus bell, or chestnut leaf; but more beautifully in the
complicated arrangements of the large boughs and sprays. For a leaf is
only a flat piece of radiation; but the tree throws its branches on all
sides, and even in every profile view of it, which presents a radiation
more or less correspondent to that of its leaves, it is more beautiful,
because varied by the freedom of the separate branches. I believe it has
been ascertained that, in all trees, the angle at which, in their
leaves, the lateral ribs are set on their central rib is approximately
the same at which the branches leave the great stem; and thus each
section of the tree would present a kind of magnified view of its own
leaf, were it not for the interfering force of gravity on the masses of
foliage. This force in proportion to their age, and the lateral
leverage upon them, bears them downwards at the extremities, so that, as
before noticed, the lower the bough grows on the stem, the more it
droops (Fig. 17, p. 67); besides this, nearly all beautiful trees have a
tendency to divide into two or more principal masses, which give a
prettier and more complicated symmetry than if one stem ran all the way
up the center. Fig. 41 may thus be considered the simplest type of tree
radiation, as opposed to leaf radiation. In this figure, however, all
secondary ramification is unrepresented, for the sake of simplicity; but
if we take one half of such a tree, and merely give two secondary
branches to each main branch (as represented in the general branch
structure shown at _b_, Fig. 18, p. 68), we shall have the form Fig. 42.
This I consider the perfect general type of tree structure; and it is
curiously connected with certain forms of Greek, Byzantine, and Gothic
ornamentation, into the discussion of which, however, we must not enter
here. It will be observed, that both in Figs. 41 and 42 all the branches
so spring from the main stem as very nearly to suggest their united
radiation from the root R. This is by no means universally the case; but
if the branches do not bend towards a point in the root, they at least
converge to some point or other. In the examples in Fig. 43, the
mathematical center of curvature, _a_, is thus, in one case, on the
ground, at some distance from the root, and in the other, near the top
of the tree. Half, only, of each tree is given, for the sake of
clearness: Fig. 44 gives both sides of another example, in which the
origins of curvature are below the root. As the positions of such points
may be varied without end, and as the arrangement of the lines is also
farther complicated by the fact of the boughs springing for the most
part in a spiral order round the tree, and at proportionate distances,
the systems of curvature which regulate the form of vegetation are quite
infinite. Infinite is a word easily said, and easily written, and people
do not always mean it when they say it; in this case I _do_ mean it: the
number of systems is incalculable, and even to furnish anything like a
representative number of types, I should have to give several hundreds
of figures such as Fig. 44.[60]

[Illustration: FIG. 43.]

[Illustration: FIG. 44.]

[Illustration: FIG. 45.]

211. Thus far, however, we have only been speaking of the great
relations of stem and branches. The forms of the branches themselves are
regulated by still more subtle laws, for they occupy an intermediate
position between the form of the tree and of the leaf. The leaf has a
flat ramification; the tree a completely rounded one; the bough is
neither rounded nor flat, but has a structure exactly balanced between
the two, in a half-flattened, half-rounded flake, closely resembling in
shape one of the thick leaves of an artichoke or the flake of a fir
cone; by combination forming the solid mass of the tree, as the leaves
compose the artichoke head. I have before pointed out to you the general
resemblance of these branch flakes to an extended hand; but they may be
more accurately represented by the ribs of a boat. If you can imagine a
very broad-headed and flattened boat applied by its keel to the end of a
main branch,[61] as in Fig. 45, the lines which its ribs will take,
supposing them outside of its timbers instead of inside, and the general
contour of it, as seen in different directions, from above and below,
will give you the closest approximation to the perspectives and
foreshortenings of a well-grown branch-flake. Fig. 25 above, p. 89, is
an unharmed and unrestrained shoot of healthy young oak; and, if you
compare it with Fig. 45, you will understand at once the action of the
lines of leafage; the boat only failing as a type in that its ribs are
too nearly parallel to each other at the sides, while the bough sends
all its ramification well forwards, rounding to the head, that it may
accomplish its part in the outer form of the whole tree, yet always
securing the compliance with the great universal law that the branches
nearest the root bend most back; and, of course, throwing _some_ always
back as well as forwards; the appearance of reversed action being much
increased, and rendered more striking and beautiful, by perspective.
Fig. 25 shows the perspective of such a bough as it is seen from below;
Fig. 46 gives rudely the look it would have from above.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.]

212. You may suppose, if you have not already discovered, what
subtleties of perspective and light and shade are involved in the
drawing of these branch-flakes, as you see them in different directions
and actions; now raised, now depressed: touched on the edges by the
wind, or lifted up and bent back so as to show all the white under
surfaces of the leaves shivering in light, as the bottom of a boat rises
white with spray at the surge-crest; or drooping in quietness towards
the dew of the grass beneath them in windless mornings, or bowed down
under oppressive grace of deep-charged snow. Snow time, by the way, is
one of the best for practice in the placing of tree masses; but you will
only be able to understand them thoroughly by beginning with a single
bough and a few leaves placed tolerably even, as in Fig. 38, p. 149.
First one with three leaves, a central and two lateral ones, as at _a_;
then with five, as at _b_, and so on; directing your whole attention to
the expression, both by contour and light and shade, of the boat-like
arrangements, which, in your earlier studies, will have been a good deal
confused, partly owing to your inexperience, and partly to the depth of
shade, or absolute blackness of mass required in those studies.

213. One thing more remains to be noted, and I will let you out of the
wood. You see that in every generally representative figure I have
surrounded the radiating branches with a dotted line: such lines do
indeed terminate every vegetable form; and you see that they are
themselves beautiful curves, which, according to their flow, and the
width or narrowness of the spaces they inclose, characterize the species
of tree or leaf, and express its free or formal action, its grace of
youth or weight of age. So that, throughout all the freedom of her
wildest foliage, Nature is resolved on expressing an encompassing limit;
and marking a unity in the whole tree, caused not only by the rising of
its branches from a common root, but by their joining in one work, and
being bound by a common law. And having ascertained this, let us turn
back for a moment to a point in leaf structure which, I doubt not, you
must already have observed in your earlier studies, but which it is well
to state here, as connected with the unity of the branches in the great
trees. You must have noticed, I should think, that whenever a leaf is
compound,--that is to say, divided into other leaflets which in any way
repeat or imitate the form of the whole leaf,--those leaflets are not
symmetrical, as the whole leaf is, but always smaller on the side
towards the point of the great leaf, so as to express their
subordination to it, and show, even when they are pulled off, that they
are not small independent leaves, but members of one large leaf.

214. Fig. 47, which is a block-plan of a leaf of columbine, without its
minor divisions on the edges, will illustrate the principle clearly. It
is composed of a central large mass, A, and two lateral ones, of which
the one on the right only is lettered, B. Each of these masses is again
composed of three others, a central and two lateral ones; but observe,
the minor one, _a_ of A, is balanced equally by its opposite; but the
minor _b_ 1 of B is larger than its opposite _b_ 2. Again, each of these
minor masses is divided into three; but while the central mass, A of A,
is symmetrically divided, the B of B is unsymmetrical, its largest
side-lobe being lowest. Again, in _b_ 2, the lobe _c_ 1 (its lowest lobe
in relation to B) is larger than _c_ 2; and so also in _b_ 1. So that
universally one lobe of a lateral leaf is always larger than the other,
and the smaller lobe is that which is nearer the central mass; the lower
leaf, as it were by courtesy, subduing some of its own dignity or power,
in the immediate presence of the greater or captain leaf, and always
expressing, therefore, its own subordination and secondary character.
This law is carried out even in single leaves. As far as I know, the
upper half, towards the point of the spray, is always the smaller; and a
slightly different curve, more convex at the springing, is used for the
lower side, giving an exquisite variety to the form of the whole leaf;
so that one of the chief elements in the beauty of every subordinate
leaf throughout the tree is made to depend on its confession of its own
lowliness and subjection.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.]

215. And now, if we bring together in one view the principles we have
ascertained in trees, we shall find they may be summed under four great
laws; and that all perfect[62] vegetable form is appointed to express
these four laws in noble balance of authority.

1. Support from one living root.

2. Radiation, or tendency of force from some one given point, either in
the root or in some stated connection with it.

3. Liberty of each bough to seek its own livelihood and happiness
according to its needs, by irregularities of action both in its play and
its work, either stretching out to get its required nourishment from
light and rain, by finding some sufficient breathing-place among the
other branches, or knotting and gathering itself up to get strength for
any load which its fruitful blossoms may lay upon it, and for any stress
of its storm-tossed luxuriance of leaves; or playing hither and thither
as the fitful sunshine may tempt its young shoots, in their undecided
states of mind about their future life.

4. Imperative requirement of each bough to stop within certain limits,
expressive of its kindly fellowship and fraternity with the boughs in
its neighborhood; and to work with them according to its power,
magnitude, and state of health, to bring out the general perfectness of
the great curve, and circumferent stateliness of the whole tree.

216. I think I may leave you, unhelped, to work out the moral analogies
of these laws; you may, perhaps, however, be a little puzzled to see the
meaning of the second one. It typically expresses that healthy human
actions should spring radiantly (like rays) from some single heart
motive; the most beautiful systems of action taking place when this
motive lies at the root of the whole life, and the action is clearly
seen to proceed from it; while also many beautiful secondary systems of
action taking place from motives not so deep or central, but in some
beautiful subordinate connection with the central or life motive.

The other laws, if you think over them, you will find equally
significative; and as you draw trees more and more in their various
states of health and hardship, you will be every day more struck by the
beauty of the types they present of the truths most essential for
mankind to know;[63] and you will see what this vegetation of the earth,
which is necessary to our life, first, as purifying the air for us and
then as food, and just as necessary to our joy in all places of the
earth,--what these trees and leaves, I say, are meant to teach us as we
contemplate them, and read or hear their lovely language, written or
spoken for us, not in frightful black letters nor in dull sentences, but
in fair green and shadowy shapes of waving words, and blossomed
brightness of odoriferous wit, and sweet whispers of unintrusive wisdom,
and playful morality.

217. Well, I am sorry myself to leave the wood, whatever my reader may
be; but leave it we must, or we shall compose no more pictures to-day.

This law of radiation, then, enforcing unison of action in arising from,
or proceeding to, some given point, is perhaps, of all principles of
composition, the most influential in producing the beauty of groups of
form. Other laws make them forcible or interesting, but this generally
is chief in rendering them beautiful. In the arrangement of masses in
pictures, it is constantly obeyed by the great composers; but, like the
law of principality, with careful concealment of its imperativeness, the
point to which the lines of main curvature are directed being very
often far away out of the picture. Sometimes, however, a system of
curves will be employed definitely to exalt, by their concurrence, the
value of some leading object, and then the law becomes traceable enough.

218. In the instance before us, the principal object being, as we have
seen, the tower on the bridge, Turner has determined that his system of
curvature should have its origin in the top of this tower. The diagram
Fig. 34, p. 145, compared with Fig. 32, p. 137, will show how this is
done. One curve joins the two towers, and is continued by the back of
the figure sitting on the bank into the piece of bent timber. This is a
limiting curve of great importance, and Turner has drawn a considerable
part of it with the edge of the timber very carefully, and then led the
eye up to the sitting girl by some white spots and indications of a
ledge in the bank; then the passage to the tops of the towers cannot be

219. The next curve is begun and drawn carefully for half an inch of its
course by the rudder; it is then taken up by the basket and the heads of
the figures, and leads accurately to the tower angle. The gunwales of
both the boats begin the next two curves, which meet in the same point;
and all are centralized by the long reflection which continues the
vertical lines.

220. Subordinated to this first system of curves there is another, begun
by the small crossing bar of wood inserted in the angle behind the
rudder; continued by the bottom of the bank on which the figure sits,
interrupted forcibly beyond it,[64] but taken up again by the water-line
leading to the bridge foot, and passing on in delicate shadows under the
arches, not easily shown in so rude a diagram, towards the other
extremity of the bridge. This is a most important curve, indicating
that the force and sweep of the river have indeed been in old times
under the large arches; while the antiquity of the bridge is told us by
a long tongue of land, either of carted rubbish, or washed down by some
minor stream, which has interrupted this curve, and is now used as a
landing-place for the boats, and for embarkation of merchandise, of
which some bales and bundles are laid in a heap, immediately beneath the
great tower. A common composer would have put these bales to one side or
the other, but Turner knows better; he uses them as a foundation for his
tower, adding to its importance precisely as the sculptured base adorns
a pillar; and he farther increases the aspect of its height by throwing
the reflection of it far down in the nearer water. All the great
composers have this same feeling about sustaining their vertical masses:
you will constantly find Prout using the artifice most dexterously (see,
for instance, the figure with the wheelbarrow under the great tower, in
the sketch of St. Nicholas, at Prague, and the white group of figures
under the tower in the sketch of Augsburg[65]); and Veronese, Titian,
and Tintoret continually put their principal figures at bases of
pillars. Turner found out their secret very early, the most prominent
instance of his composition on this principle being the drawing of Turin
from the Superga, in Hakewell's Italy. I chose Fig. 20, already given to
illustrate foliage drawing, chiefly because, being another instance of
precisely the same arrangement, it will serve to convince you of its
being intentional. There, the vertical, formed by the larger tree, is
continued by the figure of the farmer, and that of one of the smaller
trees by his stick. The lines of the interior mass of the bushes
radiate, under the law of radiation, from a point behind the farmer's
head; but their outline curves are carried on and repeated, under the
law of continuity, by the curves of the dog and boy--by the way, note
the remarkable instance in these of the use of darkest lines towards the
light--all more or less guiding the eye up to the right, in order to
bring it finally to the Keep of Windsor, which is the central object of
the picture, as the bridge tower is in the Coblentz. The wall on which
the boy climbs answers the purpose of contrasting, both in direction and
character, with these greater curves; thus corresponding as nearly as
possible to the minor tongue of land in the Coblentz. This, however,
introduces us to another law, which we must consider separately.


221. Of course the character of everything is best manifested by
Contrast. Rest can only be enjoyed after labor; sound to be heard
clearly, must rise out of silence; light is exhibited by darkness,
darkness by light; and so on in all things. Now in art every color has
an opponent color, which, if brought near it, will relieve it more
completely than any other; so, also, every form and line may be made
more striking to the eye by an opponent form or line near them; a curved
line is set off by a straight one, a massy form by a slight one, and so
on; and in all good work nearly double the value, which any given color
or form would have uncombined, is given to each by contrast.[66]

In this case again, however, a too manifest use of the artifice
vulgarizes a picture. Great painters do not commonly, or very visibly,
admit violent contrast. They introduce it by stealth, and with
intermediate links of tender change; allowing, indeed, the opposition to
tell upon the mind as a surprise, but not as a shock.[67]

222. Thus in the rock of Ehrenbreitstein, Fig. 35, the main current of
the lines being downwards, in a convex swell, they are suddenly stopped
at the lowest tower by a counter series of beds, directed nearly
straight across them. This adverse force sets off and relieves the great
curvature, but it is reconciled to it by a series of radiating lines
below, which at first sympathize with the oblique bar, then gradually
get steeper, till they meet and join in the fall of the great curve. No
passage, however intentionally monotonous, is ever introduced by a good
artist without _some_ slight counter current of this kind; so much,
indeed, do the great composers feel the necessity of it, that they will
even do things purposely ill or unsatisfactorily, in order to give
greater value to their well-doing in other places. In a skillful poet's
versification the so-called bad or inferior lines are not inferior
because he could not do them better, but because he feels that if all
were equally weighty, there would be no real sense of weight anywhere;
if all were equally melodious, the melody itself would be fatiguing; and
he purposely introduces the laboring or discordant verse, that the full
ring may be felt in his main sentence, and the finished sweetness in his
chosen rhythm.[68] And continually in painting, inferior artists destroy
their work by giving too much of all that they think is good, while the
great painter gives just enough to be enjoyed, and passes to an opposite
kind of enjoyment, or to an inferior state of enjoyment: he gives a
passage of rich, involved, exquisitely wrought color, then passes away
into slight, and pale, and simple color; he paints for a minute or two
with intense decision, then suddenly becomes, as the spectator thinks,
slovenly; but he is not slovenly: you could not have _taken_ any more
decision from him just then; you have had as much as is good for you:
he paints over a great space of his picture forms of the most rounded
and melting tenderness, and suddenly, as you think by a freak, gives you
a bit as jagged and sharp as a leafless blackthorn. Perhaps the most
exquisite piece of subtle contrast in the world of painting is the arrow
point, laid sharp against the white side and among the flowing hair of
Correggio's Antiope. It is quite singular how very little contrast will
sometimes serve to make an entire group of forms interesting which would
otherwise have been valueless. There is a good deal of picturesque
material, for instance, in this top of an old tower, Fig. 48, tiles and
stones and sloping roof not disagreeably mingled; but all would have
been unsatisfactory if there had not happened to be that iron ring on
the inner wall, which by its vigorous black _circular_ line precisely
opposes all the square and angular characters of the battlements and
roof. Draw the tower without the ring, and see what a difference it will

[Illustration: FIG. 48.]

223. One of the most important applications of the law of contrast is in
association with the law of continuity, causing an unexpected but gentle
break in a continuous series. This artifice is perpetual in music, and
perpetual also in good illumination; the way in which little surprises
of change are prepared in any current borders, or chains of ornamental
design, being one of the most subtle characteristics of the work of the
good periods. We take, for instance, a bar of ornament between two
written columns of an early fourteenth century MS., and at the first
glance we suppose it to be quite monotonous all the way up, composed of
a winding tendril, with alternately a blue leaf and a scarlet bud.
Presently, however, we see that, in order to observe the law of
principality, there is one large scarlet leaf instead of a bud, nearly
half-way up, which forms a center to the whole rod; and when we begin to
examine the order of the leaves, we find it varied carefully. Let A
stand for scarlet bud, _b_ for blue leaf, _c_ for two blue leaves on one
stalk, _s_ for a stalk without a leaf, and R, for the large red leaf.
Then, counting from the ground, the order begins as follows:

_b_, _b_, A; _b_, _s_, _b_, A; _b_, _b_, A; _b_, _b_, A; and we think we
shall have two _b_'s and an A all the way, when suddenly it becomes _b_,
A; _b_, R; _b_, A; _b_, A; _b_, A; and we think we are going to have
_b_, A continued; but no: here it becomes _b_, _s_; _b_, _s_; _b_, A;
_b_, _s_; _b_, _s_; _c_, _s_; _b_, _s_; _b_, _s_; and we think we are
surely going to have _b_, _s_ continued, but behold it runs away to the
end with a quick _b_, _b_, A; _b_, _b_, _b_, _b_![69] Very often,
however, the designer is satisfied with _one_ surprise, but I never saw
a good illuminated border without one at least; and no series of any
kind was ever introduced by a great composer in a painting without a
snap somewhere. There is a pretty one in Turner's drawing of Rome with
the large balustrade for a foreground in the Hakewell's Italy series:
the single baluster struck out of the line, and showing the street below
through the gap, simply makes the whole composition right, when
otherwise it would have been stiff and absurd.

224. If you look back to Fig. 48 you will see, in the arrangement of the
battlements, a simple instance of the use of such variation. The whole
top of the tower, though actually three sides of a square, strikes the
eye as a continuous series of five masses. The first two, on the left,
somewhat square and blank, then the next two higher and richer, the
tiles being seen on their slopes. Both these groups being couples, there
is enough monotony in the series to make a change pleasant; and the last
battlement, therefore, is a little higher than the first two,--a little
lower than the second two,--and different in shape from either. Hide it
with your finger, and see how ugly and formal the other four battlements

225. There are in this figure several other simple illustrations of the
laws we have been tracing. Thus the whole shape of the walls' mass being
square, it is well, still for the sake of contrast, to oppose it not
only by the element of curvature, in the ring, and lines of the roof
below, but by that of sharpness; hence the pleasure which the eye takes
in the projecting point of the roof. Also, because the walls are thick
and sturdy, it is well to contrast their strength with weakness;
therefore we enjoy the evident decrepitude of this roof as it sinks
between them. The whole mass being nearly white, we want a contrasting
shadow somewhere; and get it, under our piece of decrepitude. This
shade, with the tiles of the wall below, forms another pointed mass,
necessary to the first by the law of repetition. Hide this inferior
angle with your finger, and see how ugly the other looks. A sense of the
law of symmetry, though you might hardly suppose it, has some share in
the feeling with which you look at the battlements; there is a certain
pleasure in the opposed slopes of their top, on one side down to the
left, on the other to the right. Still less would you think the law of
radiation had anything to do with the matter: but if you take the
extreme point of the black shadow on the left for a center, and follow
first the low curve of the eaves of the wall, it will lead you, if you
continue it, to the point of the tower cornice; follow the second curve,
the top of the tiles of the wall, and it will strike the top of the
right-hand battlement; then draw a curve from the highest point of the
angled battlement on the left, through the points of the roof and its
dark echo; and you will see how the whole top of the tower radiates from
this lowest dark point. There are other curvatures crossing these main
ones, to keep them from being too conspicuous. Follow the curve of the
upper roof, it will take you to the top of the highest battlement; and
the stones indicated at the right-hand side of the tower are more
extended at the bottom, in order to get some less direct expression of
sympathy, such as irregular stones may be capable of, with the general
flow of the curves from left to right.

226. You may not readily believe, at first, that all these laws are
indeed involved in so trifling a piece of composition. But, as you study
longer, you will discover that these laws, and many more, are obeyed by
the powerful composers in every _touch_: that literally, there is never
a dash of their pencil which is not carrying out appointed purposes of
this kind in twenty various ways at once; and that there is as much
difference, in way of intention and authority, between one of the great
composers ruling his colors, and a common painter confused by them, as
there is between a general directing the march of an army, and an old
lady carried off her feet by a mob.


227. Closely connected with the law of contrast is a law which enforces
the unity of opposite things, by giving to each a portion of the
character of the other. If, for instance, you divide a shield into two
masses of color, all the way down--suppose blue and white, and put a
bar, or figure of an animal, partly on one division, partly on the
other, you will find it pleasant to the eye if you make the part of the
animal blue which comes upon the white half, and white which comes upon
the blue half. This is done in heraldry, partly for the sake of perfect
intelligibility, but yet more for the sake of delight in interchange of
color, since, in all ornamentation whatever, the practice is continual,
in the ages of good design.

228. Sometimes this alternation is merely a reversal of contrasts; as
that, after red has been for some time on one side, and blue on the
other, red shall pass to blue's side and blue to red's. This kind of
alternation takes place simply in four-quartered shields; in more subtle
pieces of treatment, a little bit only of each color is carried into the
other, and they are as it were dovetailed together. One of the most
curious facts which will impress itself upon you, when you have drawn
some time carefully from Nature in light and shade, is the appearance of
intentional artifice with which contrasts of this alternate kind are
produced by her; the artistry with which she will darken a tree trunk as
long as it comes against light sky, and throw sunlight on it precisely
at the spot where it comes against a dark hill, and similarly treat all
her masses of shade and color, is so great, that if you only follow her
closely, every one who looks at your drawing with attention will think
that you have been inventing the most artificially and unnaturally
delightful interchanges of shadow that could possibly be devised by
human wit.

229. You will find this law of interchange insisted upon at length by
Prout in his Lessons on Light and Shade: it seems of all his principles
of composition to be the one he is most conscious of; many others he
obeys by instinct, but this he formally accepts and forcibly declares.

The typical purpose of the law of interchange is, of course, to teach us
how opposite natures may be helped and strengthened by receiving each,
as far as they can, some impress or reflection, or imparted power, from
the other.


230. It is to be remembered, in the next place, that while contrast
exhibits the _characters_ of things, it very often neutralizes or
paralyzes their _power_. A number of white things may be shown to be
clearly white by opposition of a black thing, but if we want the full
power of their gathered light, the black thing may be seriously in our
way. Thus, while contrast displays things, it is unity and sympathy
which employ them, concentrating the power of several into a mass. And,
not in art merely, but in all the affairs of life, the wisdom of man is
continually called upon to reconcile these opposite methods of
exhibiting, or using, the materials in his power. By change he gives
them pleasantness, and by consistency value; by change he is refreshed,
and by perseverance strengthened.

231. Hence many compositions address themselves to the spectator by
aggregate force of color or line, more than by contrasts of either; many
noble pictures are painted almost exclusively in various tones of red,
or gray, or gold, so as to be instantly striking by their breadth of
flush, or glow, or tender coldness, these qualities being exhibited only
by slight and subtle use of contrast. Similarly as to form; some
compositions associate massive and rugged forms, others slight and
graceful ones, each with few interruptions by lines of contrary
character. And, in general, such compositions possess higher sublimity
than those which are more mingled in their elements. They tell a special
tale, and summon a definite state of feeling, while the grand
compositions merely please the eye.

232. This unity or breadth of character generally attaches most to the
works of the greatest men; their separate pictures have all separate
aims. We have not, in each, gray color set against somber, and sharp
forms against soft, and loud passages against low: but we have the
bright picture, with its delicate sadness; the somber picture, with its
single ray of relief; the stern picture, with only one tender group of
lines; the soft and calm picture, with only one rock angle at its flank;
and so on. Hence the variety of their work, as well as its
impressiveness. The principal bearing of this law, however, is on the
separate masses or divisions of a picture: the character of the whole
composition may be broken or various, if we please, but there must
certainly be a tendency to consistent assemblage in its divisions. As an
army may act on several points at once, but can only act effectually by
having somewhere formed and regular masses, and not wholly by
skirmishers; so a picture may be various in its tendencies, but must be
somewhere united and coherent in its masses. Good composers are always
associating their colors in great groups; binding their forms together
by encompassing lines, and securing, by various dexterities of
expedient, what they themselves call "breadth:" that is to say, a large
gathering of each kind of thing into one place; light being gathered to
light, darkness to darkness, and color to color. If, however, this be
done by introducing false lights or false colors, it is absurd and
monstrous; the skill of a painter consists in obtaining breadth by
rational arrangement of his objects, not by forced or wanton treatment
of them. It is an easy matter to paint one thing all white, and another
all black or brown; but not an easy matter to assemble all the
circumstances which will naturally produce white in one place, and brown
in another. Generally speaking, however, breadth will result in
sufficient degree from fidelity of study: Nature is always broad; and if
you paint her colors in true relations, you will paint them in majestic
masses. If you find your work look broken and scattered, it is, in all
probability, not only ill composed, but untrue.

233. The opposite quality to breadth, that of division or scattering of
light and color, has a certain contrasting charm, and is occasionally
introduced with exquisite effect by good composers.[70] Still it is
never the mere scattering, but the order discernible through this
scattering, which is the real source of pleasure; not the mere
multitude, but the constellation of multitude. The broken lights in the
work of a good painter wander like flocks upon the hills, not
unshepherded, speaking of life and peace: the broken lights of a bad
painter fall like hailstones, and are capable only of mischief, leaving
it to be wished they were also of dissolution.


234. This last law is not, strictly speaking, so much one of composition
as of truth, but it must guide composition, and is properly, therefore,
to be stated in this place.

Good drawing is, as we have seen, an _abstract_ of natural facts; you
cannot represent all that you would, but must continually be falling
short, whether you will or no, of the force, or quantity, of Nature.
Now, suppose that your means and time do not admit of your giving the
depth of color in the scene, and that you are obliged to paint it paler.
If you paint all the colors proportionately paler, as if an equal
quantity of tint had been washed away from each of them, you still
obtain a harmonious, though not an equally forcible, statement of
natural fact. But if you take away the colors unequally, and leave some
tints nearly as deep as they are in Nature, while others are much
subdued, you have no longer a true statement. You cannot say to the
observer, "Fancy all those colors a little deeper, and you will have the
actual fact." However he adds in imagination, or takes away, something
is sure to be still wrong. The picture is out of harmony.

235. It will happen, however, much more frequently, that you have to
darken the whole system of colors, than to make them paler. You
remember, in your first studies of color from Nature, you were to leave
the passages of light which were too bright to be imitated, as white
paper. But, in completing the picture, it becomes necessary to put color
into them; and then the other colors must be made darker, in some fixed
relation to them. If you deepen all proportionately, though the whole
scene is darker than reality, it is only as if you were looking at the
reality in a lower light: but if, while you darken some of the tints,
you leave others undarkened, the picture is out of harmony, and will not
give the impression of truth.

236. It is not, indeed, possible to deepen _all_ the colors so much as
to relieve the lights in their natural degree, you would merely sink
most of your colors, if you tried to do so, into a broad mass of
blackness: but it is quite possible to lower them harmoniously, and yet
more in some parts of the picture than in others, so as to allow you to
show the light you want in a visible relief. In well-harmonized pictures
this is done by gradually deepening the tone of the picture towards the
lighter parts of it, without materially lowering it in the very dark
parts; the tendency in such pictures being, of course, to include large
masses of middle tints. But the principal point to be observed in doing
this, is to deepen the individual tints without dirtying or obscuring
them. It is easy to lower the tone of the picture by washing it over
with gray or brown; and easy to see the effect of the landscape, when
its colors are thus universally polluted with black, by using the black
convex mirror, one of the most pestilent inventions for falsifying
Nature and degrading art which ever was put into an artist's hand.[71]
For the thing required is not to darken pale yellow by mixing gray with
it, but to deepen the pure yellow; not to darken crimson by mixing black
with it, but by making it deeper and richer crimson: and thus the
required effect could only be seen in Nature, if you had pieces of glass
of the color of every object in your landscape, and of every minor hue
that made up those colors, and then could see the real landscape through
this deep gorgeousness of the varied glass. You cannot do this with
glass, but you can do it for yourself as you work; that is to say, you
can put deep blue for pale blue, deep gold for pale gold, and so on, in
the proportion you need; and then you may paint as forcibly as you
choose, but your work will still be in the manner of Titian, not of
Caravaggio or Spagnoletto, or any other of the black slaves of

237. Supposing those scales of color, which I told you to prepare in
order to show you the relations of color to gray, were quite accurately
made, and numerous enough, you would have nothing more to do, in order
to obtain a deeper tone in any given mass of color, than to substitute
for each of its hues the hue as many degrees deeper in the scale as you
wanted, that is to say, if you wanted to deepen the whole two degrees,
substituting for the yellow No. 5 the yellow No. 7, and for the red No.
9 the red No. 11, and so on: but the hues of any object in Nature are
far too numerous, and their degrees too subtle, to admit of so
mechanical a process. Still, you may see the principle of the whole
matter clearly by taking a group of colors out of your scale, arranging
them prettily, and then washing them all over with gray: that represents
the treatment of Nature by the black mirror. Then arrange the same group
of colors, with the tints five or six degrees deeper in the scale; and
that will represent the treatment of Nature by Titian.

238. You can only, however, feel your way fully to the right of the
thing by working from Nature.

The best subject on which to begin a piece of study of this kind is a
good thick tree trunk, seen against blue sky with some white clouds in
it. Paint the clouds in true and tenderly gradated white; then give the
sky a bold full blue, bringing them well out; then paint the trunk and
leaves grandly dark against all, but in such glowing dark green and
brown as you see they will bear. Afterwards proceed to more complicated
studies, matching the colors carefully first by your old method; then
deepening each color with its own tint, and being careful, above all
things, to keep truth of equal change when the colors are connected with
each other, as in dark and light sides of the same object. Much more
aspect and sense of harmony are gained by the precision with which you
observe the relation of colors in dark sides and light sides, and the
influence of modifying reflections, than by mere accuracy of added depth
in independent colors.

239. This harmony of tone, as it is generally called, is the most
important of those which the artist has to regard. But there are all
kinds of harmonies in a picture, according to its mode of production.
There is even a harmony of touch. If you paint one part of it very
rapidly and forcibly, and another part slowly and delicately, each
division of the picture may be right separately, but they will not agree
together: the whole will be effectless and valueless, out of harmony.
Similarly, if you paint one part of it by a yellow light in a warm day,
and another by a gray light in a cold day, though both may have been
sunlight, and both may be well toned, and have their relative shadows
truly cast, neither will look like light; they will destroy each other's
power, by being out of harmony. These are only broad and definable
instances of discordance; but there is an extent of harmony in all good
work much too subtle for definition; depending on the draughtsman's
carrying everything he draws up to just the balancing and harmonious
point, in finish, and color, and depth of tone, and intensity of moral
feeling, and style of touch, all considered at once; and never allowing
himself to lean too emphatically on detached parts, or exalt one thing
at the expense of another, or feel acutely in one place and coldly in
another. If you have got some of Cruikshank's etchings, you will be
able, I think, to feel the nature of harmonious treatment in a simple
kind, by comparing them with any of Richter's illustrations to the
numerous German story-books lately published at Christmas, with all the
German stories spoiled. Cruikshank's work is often incomplete in
character and poor in incident, but, as drawing, it is _perfect_ in
harmony. The pure and simple effects of daylight which he gets by his
thorough mastery of treatment in this respect, are quite unrivaled, as
far as I know, by any other work executed with so few touches. His
vignettes to Grimm's German stories, already recommended, are the most
remarkable in this quality. Richter's illustrations, on the contrary,
are of a very high stamp as respects understanding of human character,
with infinite playfulness and tenderness of fancy; but, as drawings,
they are almost unendurably out of harmony, violent blacks in one place
being continually opposed to trenchant white in another; and, as is
almost sure to be the case with bad harmonists, the local color hardly
felt anywhere. All German work is apt to be out of harmony, in
consequence of its too frequent conditions of affectation, and its
willful refusals of fact; as well as by reason of a feverish kind of
excitement, which dwells violently on particular points, and makes all
the lines of thought in the picture to stand on end, as it were, like a
cat's fur electrified; while good work is always as quiet as a couchant
leopard, and as strong.

       *       *       *       *       *

240. I have now stated to you all the laws of composition which occur to
me as capable of being illustrated or defined; but there are multitudes
of others which, in the present state of my knowledge, I cannot define,
and others which I never hope to define; and these the most important,
and connected with the deepest powers of the art. I hope, when I have
thought of them more, to be able to explain some of the laws which
relate to nobleness and ignobleness; that ignobleness especially which
we commonly call "vulgarity" and which, in its essence, is one of the
most curious subjects of inquiry connected with human feeling. Others I
never hope to explain, laws of expression, bearing simply on simple
matters; but, for that very reason, more influential than any others.
These are, from the first, as inexplicable as our bodily sensations are;
it being just as impossible, I think, to show, finally, why one
succession of musical notes[73] shall be lofty and pathetic, and such as
might have been sung by Casella to Dante, and why another succession is
base and ridiculous, and would be fit only for the reasonably good ear
of Bottom, as to explain why we like sweetness, and dislike bitterness.
The best part of every great work is always inexplicable: it is good
because it is good; and innocently gracious, opening as the green of the
earth, or falling as the dew of heaven.

241. But though you cannot explain them, you may always render yourself
more and more sensitive to these higher qualities by the discipline
which you generally give to your character, and this especially with
regard to the choice of incidents; a kind of composition in some sort
easier than the artistical arrangements of lines and colors, but in
every sort nobler, because addressed to deeper feelings.

242. For instance, in the "Datur Hora Quieti," the last vignette to
Rogers's Poems, the plow in the foreground has three purposes. The first
purpose is to meet the stream of sunlight on the river, and make it
brighter by opposition; but any dark object whatever would have done
this. Its second purpose is, by its two arms, to repeat the cadence of
the group of the two ships, and thus give a greater expression of
repose; but two sitting figures would have done this. Its third and
chief, or pathetic, purpose is, as it lies abandoned in the furrow (the
vessels also being moored, and having their sails down), to be a type of
human labor closed with the close of day. The parts of it on which the
hand leans are brought most clearly into sight; and they are the chief
dark of the picture, because the tillage of the ground is required of
man as a punishment: but they make the soft light of the setting sun
brighter, because rest is sweetest after toil. These thoughts may never
occur to us as we glance carelessly at the design; and yet their under
current assuredly affects the feelings, and increases, as the painter
meant it should, the impression of melancholy, and of peace.

243. Again, in the "Lancaster Sands," which is one of the plates I have
marked as most desirable for your possession: the stream of light which
falls from the setting sun on the advancing tide stands similarly in
need of some force of near object to relieve its brightness. But the
incident which Turner has here adopted is the swoop of an angry sea-gull
at a dog, who yelps at it, drawing back as the wave rises over his
feet, and the bird shrieks within a foot of his face. Its unexpected
boldness is a type of the anger of its ocean element, and warns us of
the sea's advance just as surely as the abandoned plow told us of the
ceased labor of the day.

244. It is not, however, so much in the selection of single incidents of
this kind, as in the feeling which regulates the arrangement of the
whole subject, that the mind of a great composer is known. A single
incident may be suggested by a felicitous chance, as a pretty motto
might be for the heading of a chapter. But the great composers so
arrange _all_ their designs that one incident illustrates another, just
as one color relieves another. Perhaps the "Heysham," of the Yorkshire
series, which, as to its locality, may be considered a companion to the
last drawing we have spoken of, the "Lancaster Sands," presents as
interesting an example as we could find of Turner's feeling in this
respect. The subject is a simple north-country village, on the shore of
Morecambe Bay; not in the common sense a picturesque village; there are
no pretty bow-windows, or red roofs, or rocky steps of entrance to the
rustic doors, or quaint gables; nothing but a single street of thatched
and chiefly clay-built cottages, ranged in a somewhat monotonous line,
the roofs so green with moss that at first we hardly discern the houses
from the fields and trees. The village street is closed at the end by a
wooden gate, indicating the little traffic there is on the road through
it, and giving it something the look of a large farmstead, in which a
right of way lies through the yard. The road which leads to this gate is
full of ruts, and winds down a bad bit of hill between two broken banks
of moor ground, succeeding immediately to the few inclosures which
surround the village; they can hardly be called gardens: but a decayed
fragment or two of fencing fill the gaps in the bank; a clothes-line,
with some clothes on it, striped blue and red, and a smock-frock, is
stretched between the trunks of some stunted willows; a _very_ small
haystack and pig-sty being seen at the back of the cottage beyond. An
empty, two-wheeled, lumbering cart, drawn by a pair of horses with huge
wooden collars, the driver sitting lazily in the sun, sideways on the
leader, is going slowly home along the rough road, it being about
country dinner-time. At the end of the village there is a better house,
with three chimneys and a dormer window in its roof, and the roof is of
stone shingle instead of thatch, but very rough. This house is no doubt
the clergyman's: there is some smoke from one of its chimneys, none from
any other in the village; this smoke is from the lowest chimney at the
back, evidently that of the kitchen, and it is rather thick, the fire
not having been long lighted. A few hundred yards from the clergyman's
house, nearer the shore, is the church, discernible from the cottages
only by its low two-arched belfry, a little neater than one would expect
in such a village; perhaps lately built by the Puseyite incumbent:[74]
and beyond the church, close to the sea, are two fragments of a border
war-tower, standing on their circular mound, worn on its brow deep into
edges and furrows by the feet of the village children. On the bank of
moor, which forms the foreground, are a few cows, the carter's dog
barking at a vixenish one: the milkmaid is feeding another, a gentle
white one, which turns its head to her, expectant of a handful of fresh
hay, which she has brought for it in her blue apron, fastened up round
her waist; she stands with her pail on her head, evidently the village
coquette, for she has a neat bodice, and pretty striped petticoat under
the blue apron, and red stockings. Nearer us, the cowherd, bare-footed,
stands on a piece of the limestone rock (for the ground is thistly and
not pleasurable to bare feet);--whether boy or girl we are not sure: it
may be a boy, with a girl's worn-out bonnet on, or a girl with a pair of
ragged trousers on; probably the first, as the old bonnet is evidently
useful to keep the sun out of our eyes when we are looking for strayed
cows among the moorland hollows, and helps us at present to watch
(holding the bonnet's edge down) the quarrel of the vixenish cow with
the dog, which, leaning on our long stick, we allow to proceed without
any interference. A little to the right the hay is being got in, of
which the milkmaid has just taken her apronful to the white cow; but the
hay is very thin, and cannot well be raked up because of the rocks; we
must glean it like corn, hence the smallness of our stack behind the
willows; and a woman is pressing a bundle of it hard together, kneeling
against the rock's edge, to carry it safely to the hay-cart without
dropping any. Beyond the village is a rocky hill, deep set with
brushwood, a square crag or two of limestone emerging here and there,
with pleasant turf on their brows, heaved in russet and mossy mounds
against the sky, which, clear and calm, and as golden as the moss,
stretches down behind it towards the sea. A single cottage just shows
its roof over the edge of the hill, looking seawards: perhaps one of the
village shepherds is a sea captain now, and may have built it there,
that his mother may first see the sails of his ship whenever it runs
into the bay. Then under the hill, and beyond the border tower, is the
blue sea itself, the waves flowing in over the sand in long curved lines
slowly; shadows of cloud, and gleams of shallow water on white sand
alternating--miles away; but no sail is visible, not one fisher-boat on
the beach, not one dark speck on the quiet horizon. Beyond all are the
Cumberland mountains, clear in the sun, with rosy light on all their

245. I should think the reader cannot but feel the kind of harmony there
is in this composition; the entire purpose of the painter to give us the
impression of wild, yet gentle, country life, monotonous as the
succession of the noiseless waves, patient and enduring as the rocks;
but peaceful, and full of health and quiet hope, and sanctified by the
pure mountain air and baptismal dew of heaven, falling softly between
days of toil and nights of innocence.

246. All noble composition of this kind can be reached only by
instinct; you cannot set yourself to arrange such a subject; you may see
it, and seize it, at all times, but never laboriously invent it. And
your power of discerning what is best in expression, among natural
subjects, depends wholly on the temper in which you keep your own mind;
above all, on your living so much alone as to allow it to become acutely
sensitive in its own stillness. The noisy life of modern days is wholly
incompatible with any true perception of natural beauty. If you go down
into Cumberland by the railroad, live in some frequented hotel, and
explore the hills with merry companions, however much you may enjoy your
tour or their conversation, depend upon it you will never choose so much
as one pictorial subject rightly; you will not see into the depth of
any. But take knapsack and stick, walk towards the hills by short day's
journeys,--ten or twelve miles a day--taking a week from some
starting-place sixty or seventy miles away: sleep at the pretty little
wayside inns, or the rough village ones; then take the hills as they
tempt you, following glen or shore as your eye glances or your heart
guides, wholly scornful of local fame or fashion, and of everything
which it is the ordinary traveler's duty to see, or pride to do. Never
force yourself to admire anything when you are not in the humor; but
never force yourself away from what you feel to be lovely, in search of
anything better; and gradually the deeper scenes of the natural world
will unfold themselves to you in still increasing fullness of passionate
power; and your difficulty will be no more to seek or to compose
subjects, but only to choose one from among the multitude of melodious
thoughts with which you will be haunted, thoughts which will of course
be noble or original in proportion to your own depth of character and
general power of mind; for it is not so much by the consideration you
give to any single drawing, as by the previous discipline of your powers
of thought, that the character of your composition will be determined.
Simplicity of life will make you sensitive to the refinement and modesty
of scenery, just as inordinate excitement and pomp of daily life will
make you enjoy coarse colors and affected forms. Habits of patient
comparison and accurate judgment will make your art precious, as they
will make your actions wise; and every increase of noble enthusiasm in
your living spirit will be measured by the reflection of its light upon
the works of your hands.--Faithfully yours,

                                                          J. RUSKIN.


  [41] I give Rossetti this pre-eminence, because, though the leading
    Pre-Raphaelites have all about equal power over color in the
    abstract, Rossetti and Holman Hunt are distinguished above the rest
    for rendering color under effects of light; and of these two,
    Rossetti composes with richer fancy, and with a deeper sense of
    beauty, Hunt's stern realism leading him continually into harshness.
    Rossetti's carelessness, to do him justice, is only in water-color,
    never in oil.

  [42] All the degradation of art which was brought about, after the
    rise of the Dutch school, by asphaltum, yellow varnish, and brown
    trees would have been prevented, if only painters had been forced to
    work in dead color. Any color will do for some people, if it is
    browned and shining; but fallacy in dead color is detected on the
    instant. I even believe that whenever a painter begins to _wish_
    that he could touch any portion of his work with gum, he is going

    It is necessary, however, in this matter, carefully to distinguish
    between translucency and luster. Translucency, though, as I have
    said above, a dangerous temptation, is, in its place, beautiful; but
    luster or _shininess_ is always, in painting, a defect. Nay, one of
    my best painter-friends (the "best" being understood to attach to
    both divisions of that awkward compound word,) tried the other day
    to persuade me that luster was an ignobleness in anything; and it
    was only the fear of treason to ladies' eyes, and to mountain
    streams, and to morning dew, which kept me from yielding the point
    to him. One is apt always to generalize too quickly in such matters;
    but there can be no question that luster is destructive of
    loveliness in color, as it is of intelligibility in form. Whatever
    may be the pride of a young beauty in the knowledge that her eyes
    shine (though perhaps even eyes are most beautiful in dimness), she
    would be sorry if her cheeks did; and which of us would wish to
    polish a rose?

  [43] But not shiny or greasy. Bristol board, or hot-pressed
    imperial, or gray paper that feels slightly adhesive to the hand, is
    best. Coarse, gritty, and sandy papers are fit only for blotters and
    blunderers; no good draughtsman would lay a line on them. Turner
    worked much on a thin tough paper, dead in surface; rolling up his
    sketches in tight bundles that would go deep into his pockets.

  [44] I insist upon this unalterability of color the more because I
    address you as a beginner, or an amateur: a great artist can
    sometimes get out of a difficulty with credit, or repent without
    confession. Yet even Titian's alterations usually show as stains on
    his work.

  [45] It is, I think, a piece of affectation to try to work with few
    colors: it saves time to have enough tints prepared without mixing,
    and you may at once allow yourself these twenty-four. If you arrange
    them in your color-box in the order I have set them down, you will
    always easily put your finger on the one you want.

    Cobalt         Smalt                  Antwerb blue     Prussian blue
    Black          Gamboge                Emerald green    Hooker's green
    Lemon yellow   Cadmium yellow         Yellow ocher     Roman ocher
    Raw sienna     Burnt sienna           Light red        Indian red
    Mars orange    Extract of vermilion   Carmine          Violet carmine
    Brown madder   Burnt umber            Vandyke brown    Sepia

    Antwerp blue and Prussian blue are not very permanent colors, but
    you need not care much about permanence in your work as yet, and
    they are both beautiful; while Indigo is marked by Field as more
    fugitive still, and is very ugly. Hooker's green is a mixed color,
    put in the box merely to save you loss of time in mixing gamboge and
    Prussian blue. No. 1 is the best tint of it. Violet carmine is a
    noble color for laying broken shadows with, to be worked into
    afterwards with other colors.

    If you wish to take up coloring seriously you had better get Field's
    "Chromatography" at once; only do not attend to anything it says
    about principles or harmonies of color; but only to its statements
    of practical serviceableness in pigments, and of their operations on
    each other when mixed, etc.

  [46] A more methodical, though under general circumstances uselessly
    prolix way, is to cut a square hole, some half an inch wide, in the
    sheet of cardboard, and a series of small circular holes in a slip
    of cardboard an inch wide. Pass the slip over the square opening,
    and match each color beside one of the circular openings. You will
    thus have no occasion to wash any of the colors away. But the first
    rough method is generally all you want, as, after a little practice,
    you only need to _look_ at the hue through the opening in order to
    be able to transfer it to your drawing at once.

  [47] If colors were twenty times as costly as they are, we should
    have many more good painters. If I were Chancellor of the Exchequer
    I would lay a tax of twenty shillings a cake on all colors except
    black, Prussian blue, Vandyke brown, and Chinese white, which I
    would leave for students. I don't say this jestingly; I believe such
    a tax would do more to advance real art than a great many schools of

  [48] I say _modern_, because Titian's quiet way of blending colors,
    which is the perfectly right one, is not understood now by any
    artist. The best color we reach is got by stippling; but this is not
    quite right.

  [49] See Note 6 in Appendix I.

  [50] The worst general character that color can possibly have is a
    prevalent tendency to a dirty yellowish green, like that of a
    decaying heap of vegetables; this color is _accurately_ indicative
    of decline or paralysis in missal-painting.

  [51] That is to say, local color inherent in the object. The
    gradations of color in the various shadows belonging to various
    lights exhibit form, and therefore no one but a colorist can ever
    draw _forms_ perfectly (see Modern Painters, vol. iv. chap. iii. at
    the end); but all notions of explaining form by superimposed color,
    as in architectural moldings, are absurd. Color adorns form, but
    does not interpret it. An apple is prettier because it is striped,
    but it does not look a bit rounder; and a cheek is prettier because
    it is flushed, but you would see the form of the cheek bone better
    if it were not. Color may, indeed, detach one shape from another, as
    in grounding a bas-relief, but it always diminishes the appearance
    of projection, and whether you put blue, purple, red, yellow, or
    green, for your ground, the bas-relief will be just as clearly or
    just as imperfectly relieved, as long as the colors are of equal
    depth. The blue ground will not retire the hundredth part of an inch
    more than the red one.

  [52] See, however, at the close of this letter, the notice of one
    more point connected with the management of color, under the head
    "Law of Harmony."

  [53] See farther, on this subject, Modern Painters, vol. iv. chap.
    viii. § 6.

  [54] See Note 7 in Appendix I.

  [55] "In general, throughout Nature, reflection and repetition are
    peaceful things, associated with the idea of quiet succession in
    events; that one day should be like another day, or one history the
    repetition of another history, being more or less results of
    quietness, while dissimilarity and non-succession are results of
    interference and disquietude. Thus, though an echo actually
    increases the quantity of sound heard, its repetition of the note or
    syllable gives an idea of calmness attainable in no other way; hence
    also the feeling of calm given to a landscape by the voice of a

  [56] This is obscure in the rude wood-cut, the masts being so
    delicate that they are confused among the lines of reflection. In
    the original they have orange light upon them, relieved against
    purple behind.

  [57] The cost of art in getting a bridge level is _always_ lost, for
    you must get up to the height of the central arch at any rate, and
    you only can make the whole bridge level by putting the hill farther
    back, and pretending to have got rid of it when you have not, but
    have only wasted money in building an unnecessary embankment. Of
    course, the bridge should not be difficultly or dangerously steep,
    but the necessary slope, whatever it may be, should be in the bridge
    itself, as far as the bridge can take it, and not pushed aside into
    the approach, as in our Waterloo road; the only rational excuse for
    doing which is that when the slope must be long it is inconvenient
    to put on a drag at the top of the bridge, and that any restiveness
    of the horse is more dangerous on the bridge than on the embankment.
    To this I answer: first, it is not more dangerous in reality, though
    it looks so, for the bridge is always guarded by an effective
    parapet, but the embankment is sure to have no parapet, or only a
    useless rail; and secondly, that it is better to have the slope on
    the bridge and make the roadway wide in proportion, so as to be
    quite safe, because a little waste of space on the river is no loss,
    but your wide embankment at the side loses good ground; and so my
    picturesque bridges are right as well as beautiful, and I hope to
    see them built again some day instead of the frightful
    straight-backed things which we fancy are fine, and accept from the
    pontifical rigidities of the engineering mind.

  [58] I cannot waste space here by reprinting what I have said in
    other books; but the reader ought, if possible, to refer to the
    notices of this part of our subject in Modern Painters, vol. iv.
    chap xvii.; and Stones of Venice, vol. iii. chap. i. § 8.

  [59] If you happen to be reading at this part of the book, without
    having gone through any previous practice, turn back to the sketch
    of the ramification of stone pine, Fig. 4, p. 17, and examine the
    curves of its boughs one by one, trying them by the conditions here
    stated under the heads A and B.

  [60] The reader, I hope, observes always that every line in these
    figures is itself one of varying curvature, and cannot be drawn by

  [61] I hope the reader understands that these wood-cuts are merely
    facsimiles of the sketches I make at the side of my paper to
    illustrate my meaning as I write--often sadly scrawled if I want to
    get on to something else. This one is really a little too careless;
    but it would take more time and trouble to make a proper drawing of
    so odd a boat than the matter is worth. It will answer the purpose
    well enough as it is.

  [62] Imperfect vegetable form I consider that which is in its nature
    dependent, as in runners and climbers; or which is susceptible of
    continual injury without materially losing the power of giving
    pleasure by its aspect, as in the case of the smaller grasses. I
    have not, of course, space here to explain these minor distinctions,
    but the laws above stated apply to all the more important trees and
    shrubs likely to be familiar to the student.

  [63] There is a very tender lesson of this kind in the shadows of
    leaves upon the ground; shadows which are the most likely of all to
    attract attention, by their pretty play and change. If you examine
    them, you will find that the shadows do not take the forms of the
    leaves, but that, through each interstice, the light falls, at a
    little distance, in the form of a round or oval spot; that is to
    say, it produces the image of the sun itself, cast either vertically
    or obliquely, in circle or ellipse according to the slope of the
    ground. Of course the sun's rays produce the same effect, when they
    fall through any small aperture: but the openings between leaves are
    the only ones likely to show it to an ordinary observer, or to
    attract his attention to it by its frequency, and lead him to think
    what this type may signify respecting the greater Sun; and how it
    may show us that, even when the opening through which the earth
    receives light is too small to let us see the Sun Himself, the ray
    of light that enters, if it comes straight from Him, will still bear
    with it His image.

  [64] In the smaller figure (32), it will be seen that this
    interruption is caused by a cart coming down to the water's edge;
    and this object is serviceable as beginning another system of curves
    leading out of the picture on the right, but so obscurely drawn as
    not to be easily represented in outline. As it is unnecessary to the
    explanation of our point here, it has been omitted in the larger
    diagram, the direction of the curve it begins being indicated by the
    dashes only.

  [65] Both in the Sketches in Flanders and Germany.

  [66] If you happen to meet with the plate of Dürer's representing a
    coat-of-arms with a skull in the shield, note the value given to the
    concave curves and sharp point of the helmet by the convex leafage
    carried round it in front; and the use of the blank white part of
    the shield in opposing the rich folds of the dress.

  [67] Turner hardly ever, as far as I remember, allows a strong light
    to oppose a full dark, without some intervening tint. His suns never
    set behind dark mountains without a film of cloud above the
    mountain's edge.

  [68]       "A prudent chief not always must display
              His powers in equal ranks and fair array,
              But with the occasion and the place comply,
              Conceal his force; nay, seem sometimes to fly.
              Those oft are stratagems which errors seem,
              Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream."

                                                  _Essay on Criticism._

  [69] I am describing from an MS., _circa_ 1300, of Gregory's
    Decretalia, in my own possession.

  [70] One of the most wonderful compositions of Tintoret in Venice,
    is little more than a field of subdued crimson, spotted with flakes
    of scattered gold. The upper clouds in the most beautiful skies owe
    great part of their power to infinitude of divisions; order being
    marked through this division.

  [71] I fully believe that the strange gray gloom, accompanied by
    considerable power of effect, which prevails in modern French art,
    must be owing to the use of this mischievous instrument; the French
    landscape always gives me the idea of Nature seen carelessly in the
    dark mirror, and painted coarsely, but scientifically, through the
    veil of its perversion.

  [72] Various other parts of this subject are entered into,
    especially in their bearing on the ideal of painting, in Modern
    Painters, vol. iv. chap. iii.

  [73] In all the best arrangements of color, the delight occasioned
    by their mode of succession is entirely inexplicable, nor can it be
    reasoned about; we like it just as we like an air in music, but
    cannot reason any refractory person into liking it, if they do not:
    and yet there is distinctly a right and a wrong in it, and a good
    taste and bad taste respecting it, as also in music.

  [74] "Puseyism" was unknown in the days when this drawing was made;
    but the kindly and helpful influences of what may be called
    ecclesiastical sentiment, which, in a morbidly exaggerated
    condition, forms one of the principal elements of "Puseyism,"--I use
    this word regretfully, no other existing which will serve for
    it,--had been known and felt in our wild northern districts long




  NOTE 1, p. 42.--"_Principle of the stereoscope._"

247. I am sorry to find a notion current among artists, that they can,
in some degree, imitate in a picture the effect of the stereoscope, by
confusion of lines. There are indeed one or two artifices by which, as
stated in the text, an appearance of retirement or projection may be
obtained, so that they partly supply the place of the stereoscopic
effect, but they do not imitate that effect. The principle of the human
sight is simply this:--by means of our two eyes we literally see
everything from two places at once; and, by calculated combination, in
the brain, of the facts of form so seen, we arrive at conclusions
respecting the distance and shape of the object, which we could not
otherwise have reached. But it is just as vain to hope to paint at once
the two views of the object as seen from these two places, though only
an inch and a half distant from each other, as it would be if they were
a mile and a half distant from each other. With the right eye you see
one view of a given object, relieved against one part of the distance;
with the left eye you see another view of it, relieved against another
part of the distance. You may paint whichever of those views you please;
you cannot paint both. Hold your finger upright, between you and this
page of the book, about six inches from your eyes, and three from the
book; shut the right eye, and hide the words "inches from," in the
second line above this, with your finger; you will then see "six" on one
side of it, and "your," on the other. Now shut the left eye and open the
right without moving your finger, and you will see "inches," but not
"six." You may paint the finger with "inches" beyond it, or with "six"
beyond it, but not with both. And this principle holds for any object
and any distance. You might just as well try to paint St. Paul's at once
from both ends of London Bridge as to realize any stereoscopic effect in
a picture.

  NOTE 2, p. 59.--"_Dark lines turned to the light._"

248. It ought to have been farther observed, that the inclosure of the
light by future shadow is by no means the only reason for the dark lines
which great masters often thus introduce. It constantly happens that a
local color will show its own darkness most on the light side, by
projecting into and against masses of light in that direction; and then
the painter will indicate this future force of the mass by his dark
touch. Both the monk's head in Fig. 11 and dog in Fig. 20 are dark
towards the light for this reason.

  NOTE 3, p. 98.--"_Softness of reflections._"

249. I have not quite insisted enough on the extreme care which is
necessary in giving the tender evanescence of the edges of the
reflections, when the water is in the least agitated; nor on the
decision with which you may reverse the object, when the water is quite
calm. Most drawing of reflections is at once confused and hard; but
Nature's is at once intelligible and tender. Generally, at the edge of
the water, you ought not to see where reality ceases and reflection
begins; as the image loses itself you ought to keep all its subtle and
varied veracities, with the most exquisite softening of its edge.
Practice as much as you can from the reflections of ships in calm
water, following out all the reversed rigging, and taking, if anything,
more pains with the reflection than with the ship.

  NOTE 4, p. 100.--"_Where the reflection is darkest, you will see
     through the water best._"

250. For this reason it often happens that if the water be shallow, and
you are looking steeply down into it, the reflection of objects on the
bank will consist simply of pieces of the bottom seen clearly through
the water, and relieved by flashes of light, which are the reflection of
the sky. Thus you may have to draw the reflected dark shape of a bush:
but, inside of that shape, you must not draw the leaves of the bush, but
the stones under the water; and, outside of this dark reflection, the
blue or white of the sky, with no stones visible.

  NOTE 5, p. 101.--"_Approach streams with reverence._"

251. I have hardly said anything about waves of torrents or waterfalls,
as I do not consider them subjects for beginners to practice upon; but,
as many of our younger artists are almost breaking their hearts over
them, it may be well to state at once that it is physically impossible
to draw a running torrent quite rightly, the luster of its currents and
whiteness of its foam being dependent on intensities of light which art
has not at its command. This also is to be observed, that most young
painters make their defeat certain by attempting to draw running water,
which is a lustrous object in rapid motion, without ever trying their
strength on a lustrous object standing still. Let them break a coarse
green-glass bottle into a great many bits, and try to paint those, with
all their undulations and edges of fracture, as they lie still on the
table; if they cannot, of course they need not try the rushing crystal
and foaming fracture of the stream. If they can manage the glass bottle,
let them next buy a fragment or two of yellow fire-opal; it is quite a
common and cheap mineral, and presents, as closely as anything can, the
milky bloom and color of a torrent wave: and if they can conquer the
opal, they may at last have some chance with the stream, as far as the
stream is in any wise possible. But, as I have just said, the bright
parts of it are _not_ possible, and ought, as much as may be, to be
avoided in choosing subjects. A great deal more may, however, be done
than any artist has done yet, in painting the gradual disappearance and
lovely coloring of stones seen through clear and calm water.

Students living in towns may make great progress in rock-drawing by
frequently and faithfully drawing broken edges of common roofing slates,
of their real size.

  NOTE 6, p. 125.--"_Nature's economy of color._"

252. I heard it wisely objected to this statement, the other day, by a
young lady, that it was not through economy that Nature did not color
deep down in the flower bells, but because "she had not light enough
there to see to paint with." This may be true; but it is certainly not
for want of light that, when she is laying the dark spots on a foxglove,
she will not use any more purple than she has got already on the bell,
but takes out the color all round the spot, and concentrates it in the

  NOTE 7, p. 138.--"_The law of repetition._"

253. The reader may perhaps recollect a very beautiful picture of
Vandyck's in the Manchester Exhibition, representing three children in
court dresses of rich black and red. The law in question was amusingly
illustrated, in the lower corner of that picture, by the introduction of
two crows, in a similar color of court dress, having jet black feathers
and bright red beaks.

254. Since the first edition of this work was published, I have
ascertained that there are two series of engravings from the Bible
drawings mentioned in the list at p. 50. One of these is inferior to the
other, and in many respects false to the drawing; the "Jericho," for
instance, in the false series, has common bushes instead of palm trees
in the middle distance. The original plates may be had at almost any
respectable printseller's; and ordinary impressions, whether of these or
any other plates mentioned in the list at p. 50, will be quite as useful
as proofs: but, in buying Liber Studiorum, it is always well to get the
best impressions that can be had, and if possible impressions of the
original plates, published by Turner. In case these are not to be had,
the copies which are in course of publication by Mr. Lupton (4 Keppel
Street, Russell Square) are good and serviceable; but no others are of
any use.--[Note of 1857.]

I have placed in the hands of Mr. Ward (Working Men's College) some
photographs from the etchings made by Turner for the Liber; the original
etchings being now unobtainable, except by fortunate accident. I have
selected the subjects carefully from my own collection of the etchings;
and though some of the more subtle qualities of line are lost in the
photographs, the student will find these proofs the best lessons in
pen-drawing accessible to him.--[Note of 1859]



255. The worst danger by far, to which a solitary student is exposed, is
that of liking things that he should not. It is not so much his
difficulties, as his tastes, which he must set himself to conquer: and
although, under the guidance of a master, many works of art may be made
instructive, which are only of partial excellence (the good and bad of
them being duly distinguished), his safeguard, as long as he studies
alone, will be in allowing himself to possess only things, in their way,
so free from faults, that nothing he copies in them can seriously
mislead him, and to contemplate only those works of art which he knows
to be either perfect or noble in their errors. I will therefore set
down, in clear order, the names of the masters whom you may safely
admire, and a few of the books which you may safely possess. In these
days of cheap illustration, the danger is always rather of your
possessing too much than too little. It may admit of some question, how
far the looking at bad art may set off and illustrate the characters of
the good; but, on the whole, I believe it is best to live always on
quite wholesome food, and that our enjoyment of it will never be made
more acute by feeding on ashes; though it may be well sometimes to taste
the ashes, in order to know the bitterness of them. Of course the works
of the great masters can only be serviceable to the student after he has
made considerable progress himself. It only wastes the time and dulls
the feelings of young persons, to drag them through picture galleries;
at least, unless they themselves wish to look at particular pictures.
Generally, young people only care to enter a picture gallery when there
is a chance of getting leave to run a race to the other end of it; and
they had better do that in the garden below. If, however, they have any
real enjoyment of pictures, and want to look at this one or that, the
principal point is never to disturb them in looking at what interests
them, and never to make them look at what does not. Nothing is of the
least use to young people (nor, by the way, of much use to old ones),
but what interests them; and therefore, though it is of great importance
to put nothing but good art into their possession, yet, when they are
passing through great houses or galleries, they should be allowed to
look precisely at what pleases them: if it is not useful to them as art,
it will be in some other way; and the healthiest way in which art can
interest them is when they look at it, not as art, but because it
represents something they like in Nature. If a boy has had his heart
filled by the life of some great man, and goes up thirstily to a Vandyck
portrait of him, to see what he was like, that is the wholesomest way in
which he can begin the study of portraiture; if he loves mountains, and
dwells on a Turner drawing because he sees in it a likeness to a
Yorkshire scar or an Alpine pass, that is the wholesomest way in which
he can begin the study of landscape; and if a girl's mind is filled with
dreams of angels and saints, and she pauses before an Angelico because
she thinks it must surely be like heaven, that is the right way for her
to begin the study of religious art.

256. When, however, the student has made some definite progress, and
every picture becomes really a guide to him, false or true, in his own
work, it is of great importance that he should never look, with even
partial admiration, at bad art; and then, if the reader is willing to
trust me in the matter, the following advice will be useful to him. In
which, with his permission, I will quit the indirect and return to the
epistolary address, as being the more convenient.

  First, in Galleries of Pictures:

1. You may look, with trust in their being always right, at Titian,
Veronese, Tintoret, Giorgione, John Bellini, and Velasquez; the
authenticity of the picture being of course established for you by
proper authority.

2. You may look with admiration, admitting, however, question of right
and wrong,[75] at Van Eyck, Holbein, Perugino, Francia, Angelico,
Leonardo da Vinci, Correggio, Vandyck, Rembrandt, Reynolds,
Gainsborough, Turner, and the modern Pre-Raphaelites.[76] You had better
look at no other painters than these, for you run a chance, otherwise,
of being led far off the road, or into grievous faults, by some of the
other great ones, as Michael Angelo, Raphael, and Rubens; and of being,
besides, corrupted in taste by the base ones, as Murillo, Salvator,
Claude, Gaspar Poussin, Teniers, and such others. You may look, however,
for examples of evil, with safe universality of reprobation, being sure
that everything you see is bad, at Domenichino, the Carracci, Bronzino,
and the figure pieces of Salvator.

Among those named for study under question, you cannot look too much at,
nor grow too enthusiastically fond of, Angelico, Correggio, Reynolds,
Turner, and the Pre-Raphaelites; but, if you find yourself getting
especially fond of any of the others, leave off looking at them, for you
must be going wrong some way or other. If, for instance, you begin to
like Rembrandt or Leonardo especially, you are losing your feeling for
color; if you like Van Eyck or Perugino especially, you must be getting
too fond of rigid detail; and if you like Vandyck or Gainsborough
especially, you must be too much attracted by gentlemanly flimsiness.

257. Secondly, of published, or otherwise multiplied, art, such as you
may be able to get yourself, or to see at private houses or in shops,
the works of the following masters are the most desirable, after the
Turners, Rembrandts, and Dürers, which I have asked you to get first:

  1. Samuel Prout.[77]

All his published lithographic sketches are of the greatest value,
wholly unrivaled in power of composition, and in love and feeling of
architectural subject. His somewhat mannered linear execution, though
not to be imitated in your own sketches from Nature, may be occasionally
copied, for discipline's sake, with great advantage: it will give you a
peculiar steadiness of hand, not quickly attainable in any other way;
and there is no fear of your getting into any faultful mannerism as long
as you carry out the different modes of more delicate study above

If you are interested in architecture, and wish to make it your chief
study, you should draw much from photographs of it; and then from the
architecture itself, with the same completion of detail and gradation,
only keeping the shadows of due paleness,--in photographs they are
always about four times as dark as they ought to be,--and treat
buildings with as much care and love as artists do their rock
foregrounds, drawing all the moss, and weeds, and stains upon them. But
if, without caring to understand architecture, you merely want the
picturesque character of it, and to be able to sketch it fast, you
cannot do better than take Prout for your exclusive master; only do not
think that you are copying Prout by drawing straight lines with dots at
the end of them. Get first his "Rhine," and draw the subjects that have
most hills, and least architecture in them, with chalk on smooth paper,
till you can lay on his broad flat tints, and get his gradations of
light, which are very wonderful; then take up the architectural subjects
in the "Rhine," and draw again and again the groups of figures, etc., in
his "Microcosm," and "Lessons on Light and Shadow." After that, proceed
to copy the grand subjects in the "Sketches in Flanders and Germany;" or
"in Switzerland and Italy," if you cannot get the Flanders; but the
Switzerland is very far inferior. Then work from Nature, not trying to
Proutize Nature, by breaking smooth buildings into rough ones, but only
drawing _what you see_, with Prout's simple method and firm lines. Don't
copy his colored works. They are good, but not at all equal to his chalk
and pencil drawings; and you will become a mere imitator, and a very
feeble imitator, if you use color at all in Prout's method. I have not
space to explain why this is so, it would take a long piece of
reasoning; trust me for the statement.

  2. John Lewis.

His sketches in Spain, lithographed by himself, are very valuable. Get
them, if you can, and also some engravings (about eight or ten, I think,
altogether) of wild beasts, executed by his own hand a long time ago;
they are very precious in every way. The series of the "Alhambra" is
rather slight, and few of the subjects are lithographed by himself;
still it is well worth having.

But let _no_ lithographic work come into the house, if you can help it,
nor even look at any, except Prout's, and those sketches of Lewis's.

  3. George Cruikshank.

If you ever happen to meet with the two volumes of "Grimm's German
Stories," which were illustrated by him long ago, pounce upon them
instantly; the etchings in them are the finest things, next to
Rembrandt's, that, as far as I know, have been done since etching was
invented. You cannot look at them too much, nor copy them too often.

All his works are very valuable, though disagreeable when they touch on
the worst vulgarities of modern life; and often much spoiled by a
curiously mistaken type of face, divided so as to give too much to the
mouth and eyes and leave too little for forehead, the eyes being set
about two thirds up, instead of at half the height of the head. But his
manner of work is always right; and his tragic power, though rarely
developed, and warped by habits of caricature, is, in reality, as great
as his grotesque power.

There is no fear of his hurting your taste, as long as your principal
work lies among art of so totally different a character as most of that
which I Have recommended to you; and you may, therefore, get great good
by copying almost anything of his that may come in your way; except only
his illustrations, lately published, to "Cinderella," and "Jack and the
Bean-stalk," and "Tom Thumb," which are much overlabored, and confused
in line. You should get them, but do not copy them.

  4. Alfred Rethel.

I only know two publications by him; one, the "Dance of Death," with
text by Reinick, published in Leipsic, but to be had now of any London
bookseller for the sum, I believe, of eighteen pence, and containing six
plates full of instructive character; the other, of two plates only,
"Death the Avenger," and "Death the Friend." These two are far superior
to the "Todtentanz," and, if you can get them, will be enough in
themselves to show all that Rethel can teach you. If you dislike ghastly
subjects, get "Death the Friend" only.

  5. Bewick.

The execution of the plumage in Bewick's birds is the most masterly
thing ever yet done in wood-cutting; it is worked just as Paul Veronese
would have worked in wood, had he taken to it. His vignettes, though too
coarse in execution, and vulgar in types of form, to be good copies,
show, nevertheless, intellectual power of the highest order; and there
are pieces of sentiment in them, either pathetic or satirical, which
have never since been equaled in illustrations of this simple kind; the
bitter intensity of the feeling being just like that which characterizes
some of the leading Pre-Raphaelites. Bewick is the Burns of painting.

  6. Blake.

The "Book of Job," engraved by himself, is of the highest rank in
certain characters of imagination and expression; in the mode of
obtaining certain effects of light it will also be a very useful example
to you. In expressing conditions of glaring and flickering light, Blake
is greater than Rembrandt.

  7. Richter.

I have already told you what to guard against in looking at his works. I
am a little doubtful whether I have done well in including them in this
catalogue at all; but the imaginations in them are so lovely and
numberless, that I must risk, for their sake, the chance of hurting you
a little in judgment of style. If you want to make presents of
story-books to children, his are the best you can now get; but his most
beautiful work, as far as I know, is his series of Illustrations to the
Lord's Prayer.

  8. Rossetti.

An edition of Tennyson, lately published, contains wood-cuts from
drawings by Rossetti and other chief Pre-Raphaelite masters. They are
terribly spoiled in the cutting, and generally the best part, the
expression of feature, _entirely_ lost;[78] still they are full of
instruction, and cannot be studied too closely. But observe, respecting
these wood-cuts, that if you have been in the habit of looking at much
spurious work, in which sentiment, action, and style are borrowed or
artificial, you will assuredly be offended at first by all genuine work,
which is intense in feeling. Genuine art, which is merely art, such as
Veronese's or Titian's, may not offend you, though the chances are that
you will not care about it; but genuine works of feeling, such as "Maud"
or "Aurora Leigh" in poetry, or the grand Pre-Raphaelite designs in
painting, are sure to offend you: and if you cease to work hard, and
persist in looking at vicious and false art, they will continue to
offend you. It will be well, therefore, to have one type of entirely
false art, in order to know what to guard against. Flaxman's outlines to
Dante contain, I think, examples of almost every kind of falsehood and
feebleness which it is possible for a trained artist, not base in
thought, to commit or admit, both in design and execution. Base or
degraded choice of subject, such as you will constantly find in Teniers
and others of the Dutch painters, I need not, I hope, warn you against;
you will simply turn away from it in disgust; while mere bad or feeble
drawing, which makes mistakes in every direction at once, cannot teach
you the particular sort of educated fallacy in question. But, in these
designs of Flaxman's, you have gentlemanly feeling, and fair knowledge
of anatomy, and firm setting down of lines, all applied in the
foolishest and worst possible way; you cannot have a more finished
example of learned error, amiable want of meaning, and bad drawing with
a steady hand.[79] Retzsch's outlines have more real material in them
than Flaxman's, occasionally showing true fancy and power; in artistic
principle they are nearly as bad, and in taste, worse. All outlines from
statuary, as given in works on classical art, will be very hurtful to
you if you in the least like them; and _nearly_ all finished line
engravings. Some particular prints I could name which possess
instructive qualities, but it would take too long to distinguish them,
and the best way is to avoid line engravings of figures altogether.[80]
If you happen to be a rich person, possessing quantities of them, and if
you are fond of the large finished prints from Raphael, Correggio, etc.,
it is wholly impossible that you can make any progress in knowledge of
real art till you have sold them all,--or burnt them, which would be a
greater benefit to the world. I hope that, some day, true and noble
engravings will be made from the few pictures of the great schools,
which the restorations undertaken by the modern managers of foreign
galleries may leave us; but the existing engravings have nothing
whatever in common with the good in the works they profess to represent,
and, if you like them, you like in the originals of them hardly anything
but their errors.

258. Finally, your judgment will be, of course, much affected by your
taste in literature. Indeed, I know many persons who have the purest
taste in literature, and yet false taste in art, and it is a phenomenon
which puzzles me not a little; but I have never known any one with false
taste in books, and true taste in pictures. It is also of the greatest
importance to you, not only for art's sake, but for all kinds of sake,
in these days of book deluge, to keep out of the salt swamps of
literature, and live on a little rocky island of your own, with a spring
and a lake in it, pure and good. I cannot, of course, suggest the choice
of your library to you: every several mind needs different books; but
there are some books which we all need, and assuredly, if you read
Homer,[81] Plato, Æschylus, Herodotus, Dante,[82] Shakspeare, and
Spenser, as much as you ought, you will not require wide enlargement of
shelves to right and left of them for purposes of perpetual study. Among
modern books avoid generally magazine and review literature. Sometimes
it may contain a useful abridgment or a wholesome piece of criticism;
but the chances are ten to one it will either waste your time or mislead
you. If you want to understand any subject whatever, read the best book
upon it you can hear of: not a review of the book. If you don't like the
first book you try, seek for another; but do not hope ever to understand
the subject without pains, by a reviewer's help. Avoid especially that
class of literature which has a knowing tone; it is the most poisonous
of all. Every good book, or piece of book, is full of admiration and
awe; it may contain firm assertion or stern satire, but it never sneers
coldly, nor asserts haughtily, and it always leads you to reverence or
love something with your whole heart. It is not always easy to
distinguish the satire of the venomous race of books from the satire of
the noble and pure ones; but in general you may notice that the
cold-blooded, Crustacean and Batrachian books will sneer at sentiment;
and the warm-blooded, human books, at sin. Then, in general, the more
you can restrain your serious reading to reflective or lyric poetry,
history, and natural history, avoiding fiction and the drama, the
healthier your mind will become. Of modern poetry, keep to Scott,
Wordsworth, Keats, Crabbe, Tennyson, the two Brownings, Thomas Hood,
Lowell, Longfellow, and Coventry Patmore, whose "Angel in the House" is
a most finished piece of writing, and the sweetest analysis we possess
of quiet modern domestic feeling; while Mrs. Browning's "Aurora Leigh"
is, as far as I know, the greatest poem which the century has produced
in any language. Cast Coleridge at once aside, as sickly and useless;
and Shelley, as shallow and verbose; Byron, until your taste is fully
formed, and you are able to discern the magnificence in him from the
wrong. Never read bad or common poetry, nor write any poetry yourself;
there is, perhaps, rather too much than too little in the world already.

259. Of reflective prose, read chiefly Bacon, Johnson, and Helps.
Carlyle is hardly to be named as a writer for "beginners," because his
teaching, though to some of us vitally necessary, may to others be
hurtful. If you understand and like him, read him; if he offends you,
you are not yet ready for him, and perhaps may never be so; at all
events, give him up, as you would sea-bathing if you found it hurt you,
till you are stronger. Of fiction, read "Sir Charles Grandison," Scott's
novels, Miss Edgeworth's, and, if you are a young lady, Madame de
Genlis', the French Miss Edgeworth; making these, I mean, your constant
companions. Of course you must, or will, read other books for amusement
once or twice; but you will find that these have an element of
perpetuity in them, existing in nothing else of their kind; while their
peculiar quietness and repose of manner will also be of the greatest
value in teaching you to feel the same characters in art. Read little at
a time, trying to feel interest in little things, and reading not so
much for the sake of the story as to get acquainted with the pleasant
people into whose company these writers bring you. A common book will
often give you much amusement, but it is only a noble book which will
give you dear friends. Remember, also, that it is of less importance to
you in your earlier years, that the books you read should be clever than
that they should be right. I do not mean oppressively or repulsively
instructive; but that the thoughts they express should be just, and the
feelings they excite generous. It is not necessary for you to read the
wittiest or the most suggestive books: it is better, in general, to hear
what is already known, and may be simply said. Much of the literature of
the present day, though good to be read by persons of ripe age, has a
tendency to agitate rather than confirm, and leaves its readers too
frequently in a helpless or hopeless indignation, the worst possible
state into which the mind of youth can be thrown. It may, indeed, become
necessary for you, as you advance in life, to set your hand to things
that need to be altered in the world, or apply your heart chiefly to
what must be pitied in it, or condemned; but, for a young person, the
safest temper is one of reverence, and the safest place one of
obscurity. Certainly at present, and perhaps through all your life, your
teachers are wisest when they make you content in quiet virtue, and that
literature and art are best for you which point out, in common life, and
in familiar things, the objects for hopeful labor, and for humble love.


  [75] I do not mean necessarily to imply inferiority of rank in
    saying that this second class of painters have questionable
    qualities. The greatest men have often many faults, and sometimes
    their faults are a part of their greatness; but such men are not, of
    course, to be looked upon by the student with absolute implicitness
    of faith.

  [76] Including, under this term, John Lewis, and William Hunt of the
    Old Water-color, who, take him all in all, is the best painter of
    still life, I believe, that ever existed.

  [77] The order in which I place these masters does not in the least
    imply superiority or inferiority. I wrote their names down as they
    occurred to me; putting Rossetti's last because what I had to say of
    him was connected with other subjects; and one or another will
    appear to you great, or be found by you useful, according to the
    kind of subjects you are studying.

  [78] This is especially the case in the St. Cecily, Rossetti's first
    illustration to the "Palace of Art," which would have been the best
    in the book had it been well engraved. The whole work should be
    taken up again, and done by line engraving, perfectly; and wholly
    from Pre-Raphaelite designs, with which no other modern work can
    bear the least comparison.

  [79] The praise I have given incidentally to Flaxman's sculpture in
    the "Seven Lamps," and elsewhere, refers wholly to his studies from
    Nature, and simple groups in marble, which were always good and
    interesting. Still, I have overrated him, even in this respect; and
    it is generally to be remembered that, in speaking of artists whose
    works I cannot be supposed to have specially studied, the errors I
    fall into will always be on the side of praise. For, of course,
    praise is most likely to be given when the thing praised is above
    one's knowledge; and, therefore, as our knowledge increases, such
    things may be found less praiseworthy than we thought. But blame can
    only be justly given when the thing blamed is below one's level of
    sight; and, practically, I never do blame anything until I have got
    well past it, and am certain that there is demonstrable falsehood in
    it. I believe, therefore, all my blame to be wholly trust-worthy,
    having never yet had occasion to repent of one depreciatory word
    that I have ever written, while I have often found that, with
    respect to things I had not time to study closely, I was led too far
    by sudden admiration, helped, perhaps, by peculiar associations, or
    other deceptive accidents; and this the more, because I never care
    to check an expression of delight, thinking the chances are, that,
    even if mistaken, it will do more good than harm; but I weigh every
    word of blame with scrupulous caution. I have sometimes erased a
    strong passage of blame from second editions of my books; but this
    was only when I found it offended the reader without convincing him,
    never because I repented of it myself.

  [80] Large line engravings, I mean, in which the lines, as such, are
    conspicuous. Small vignettes in line are often beautiful in figures
    no less than landscape; as, for instance, those from Stothard's
    drawings in Rogers's Italy; and, therefore, I have just recommended
    the vignettes to Tennyson to be done by line engraving.

  [81] Chapman's, if not the original.

  [82] Gary's or Cayley's, if not the original. I do not know which
    are the best translations of Plato. Herodotus and Æschylus can only
    be read in the original. It may seem strange that I name books like
    these for "beginners:" but all the greatest books contain food for
    all ages; and an intelligent and rightly bred youth or girl ought to
    enjoy much, even in Plato, by the time they are fifteen or sixteen.

       *       *       *       *       *


Page 58: 'Thus, the outline a and the outline d.' 'd' replaced by 'b.'

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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.