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Gustav Stickley (ed.) / The craftsman
Vol. XIV, Number 4 (July 1908)

Smith, Pamela Colman
Should the art student think?,   pp. 417-419 PDF (1.0 MB)


Page 417


SHOULD THE ART STUDENT THINK? BY
PAMELA COLMAN SMITH
LL you students who are just beT"nning your work in
an Art School. Stop-think! First make sure in
your own mind what end you wish to work for. Do
you know? Perhaps you have not decided. You
will leave all that to the time when you have learned
to draw and leave the school-a crippled tool-ready
to bezin your serious work and have a studio-and
all the rest of it. Do not wait till then! Put in a corner of your mind
an idea-such as, "I wish to paint portraits." Just keep that idea
in the corner, and do not forget that it is there. Call it up sometimes
and review your work in front of it. Thus-" Am I working at the
right beginning for this branch of art? Am I studying the laces of
all the people I see-trying to find out their character-imagining
how I should paint them if I were to do so? Am I trying to show
more of their character than appears on the surface ? Can I see it?
No. But how shall I find it ?' Look for it.
   When you see a portrait of an historical person, note the dress, the
type of face; see if you can trace the character in the face; note
the pose, for often pose will date a picture as correctly as the hair or
clothes. Remember the date, if the picture is dated; if not, place it in
your mind as second half of the fourteenth century, or first half of
the eighteenth, and so on. If you are not sure of the period, make a
pencil sketch and take it with you to some reference library. Once
a week make a point of looking up all the clothes you have seen (or
wish to draw in some composition, perhaps). Some day when you
may have a novel to illustrate and a character to portray, you will
remember, "Oh, yes, a dress of the kind worn by so and so in the por-
trait by so and so-that type-or-no! Somewhat more lively."
   Go and see all the plays you can. For the stage is a great school-
or should be-to the illustrator-as well as to others. First watch
the simple forms of joy, of fear, of sorrow; look at the position taken
by the whole body, then the face-but that can come afterward.
   As an exercise draw a composition of fear or sadness, or great
sorrow, quite simply, do not bother about details now, but in a few
lines tell your story. Then show it to any one of your friends, or
family, or fellow students, and ask them if they can tell you what it
is meant to portray. You will soon get to know how to make it tell
its tale. After you have found how to tell a simple story, put in more
details, the face, and indicate the dress. Next time you go to the play
look at the clothes, hat, cloak, armor, belt, sword, dagger, rings, boots,
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