Chapman, J.G. (John Gadsby), 1808-1889. / The American drawing-book: a manual for the amateur, and basis of study for the professional artist: especially adapted to the use of public and private schools, as well as home instruction.
(1870 [1873 printing])
Chapter VII. [Studying and sketching from nature.], pp. 169-208
SKETCHING AND STUDYING extent, give it intelligible expression, its practical value and service rest in the reserve of higher capacity, only attainable by severer study. The one, therefore, leading more directly to that great highway of art, by which excellence is most surely reached, and capacity in the other more cer- tainly, advantageously, and naturally, following as a result, leave little doubt upon which the greater reliance should be placed as a beginning. 2. However true it is, that a certain degree of aptness in sketching may be often found pre- ceding more substantial acquirernents, especially in cases of active sensibility to artistic impulse (not unfrequently thus first developing the inclination of genius), it can lead of itself but a very little way to excellence. This faculty, therefore, should never be overrated as a reliance, nor suffered to mislead to habits of superficial observation, or carelessness of manner, to which it has a tendency, unless resrained and directed by judicious cultivation. 3. The value of careful study, and drawing from nature, consists, not so much in the produc- Lion of an elaborate work, as in the familiarity thereby obtained with the object of imitation. It is this familiarity ~vith the truths of nature, stored upon the memory in continued accessions, that forms in time the reliable capital of the artist, upon which he may draw with confidence in all emergencies. It is this strength that fortifies him, not only in the truthful imitation of realities before him, and in their absence directs to available expedients; but, quickening and sustaining the imagination, emboldens its flight-secures it against the errors of inconsistency, and renders the language of art as easy and fluent as if traced by a poetic or historic pen. herein lies the commonly-considered mysterious power which guides a ~ hand, impressed upon all that emanates from it-from the faintest impromptu sketch to the most finished work; while he, who tiolds no such reserve, may attempt in vain to disguise the doubt and feebleness which embam'rass all his efforts. 4. It should not be imagined, however, that in the importance attached to the closer and more minute study of nature, the practice of sketching should be disregarded or neglected. Capacity in each may be most happily cultivated together. It is by the habit of sketching that the eye and mind are made sensitive, while more careful study secures such advantages to available results. Both should be trained together, in quickness of perception, in aptness to the discovery of beauty and effectiveness in nature, and in forming conclusions with rapidity and decision: while the hand receives an equal training in obedience to their direction, following and recording their impulse almost instinctively; wasting no time or effort in trembling indecision, but aiming so directly at
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