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observing, remembering and reasoning in the liveliest way. It is interesting to note how the desire to provide a more complete setting for the scene will sometimes suggest the support of the solidly modelled objects by a background in relief, which shows how vigorously the young mind works when stimulated to activity along natural lines.
The constructional activity of boys which finds a certain outlet in modelling is to some extent balanced by the interest of girls in construction with the needle. Needlecraft is now taught on very different lines from the sewing of old. Large stitches with coloured threads (so that every stitch shows) have taken the place of the small white stitches on a white ground. This is less trying to the eyes, and there is the less need for supervision, since every ill-set stitch cries aloud demanding repentance and reparation. The stitching is not aimless, but is devoted to the making of some article of use so that hemming and seaming have a real value from the first. Variation in the length and direction of alternate stitches produces the effect of pattern, which grows naturally as the article is made and gains greatly in interest as the workmanship improves. So is learned the lesson that good craftsmanship is of itself beautiful, and that added ornament should never outweigh the original construction. After these simple efforts come more complex problems, the making of articles of apparel or of domestic use, and here again by the adaptation of stitches the necessary work provides charming decoration, and the effect is enhanced by the choice of a beautiful colour-scheme. Then follows the making of cords and buttons, patterning of darned work, “patching” as a thing of beauty instead of a blemish, the simple delights of adapting
materials without waste, and of finding unexpected ways of attaining desired ends. In all this the element of choice is ever present with the constant exercise of judgment, and freedom of choice develops individual powers and personal tastes. The use of beautiful colour in common things is also encouraged, so that by oft-repeated experiment the girls may learn the laws that govern it, and thus develop that cultivated taste which wars against all forms of ugliness.
The response to such teaching is wonderful, and there are not wanting instances in which young minds which seemed indifferent to all appeal have opened of their own accord under the influence of the beauty born of craftsmanship.
Basketry is another craft which is being used to attain the same end. Here too there is great scope for judgment in the choice of weave, of shape, of pattern, and of colour. There is the same need of steady control and of persistent effort, and, in the end, the same delight in the thing made because it fulfils its purpose and fulfils it beautifully.
For both boys and girls the drawing of natural forms and of objects of use has generally superseded drawing from copies and from geometric models, while memory-drawing is gradually taking its rightful place. Object-drawing progresses from the single object to the group, and from groups to their surroundings, and so to the chief parts of rooms and of houses. This leads to more important constructional work and so towards an intelligent interest in architecture. This particular goal is also approached in many boys' schools by way of measured drawing. From very ordinary beginnings the boys pass to drawings of simple furniture, joiner's work and iron-work, and so to parts of buildings. This affords further proof of the need for cultivating a complete grasp of the matter in hand, so that every part may bear its due relation to the whole.
Geometrical work also serves another purpose, for though used largely to induce habits of neatness and accuracy it has been turned to account as an aid to the teaching of colour. By using the simplest forms, and colouring the alternate spaces, the sense of pattern is produced, and from this, by encouraging experiment and by showing the comparative effect of various colours when placed together, boys can be encouraged to give free play to their real feeling for colour, and they will produce effects as varied as they are beautiful. Beginning with nothing more than red and blue, a class of some twenty, after quite a short time of practice, has been known to produce a set of drawings of great richness and variety, with no two alike and with not a bad one among them.
Another notable feature is the teaching of lettering. The decay of good handwriting on the one hand, and on the other the need of good lettering for both public and private purposes, has caused a reaction in favour of a clear and well-formed script, so that there has been quite a renaissance in this direction. Since it is but right that beautiful thoughts should be expressed in beautiful words, it is equally fitting that the visible form of the words should be equally beautiful, and if we read the finest literature in our schools to cultivate high thought and fitting language, the teacher of drawing is fully justified in teaching the use of fine lettering. Many hundreds of young people are learning to despise the abominable scrawls which disgrace our notebooks and make our letters an offence to our friends, and though at first the effort to produce a clear and worthy script is slow, yet it has been shown that with practice a finely-formed and delightfully clear script can be produced as swiftly as a hasty and illegible scribble.
Drawing in a good Secondary School to-day means an appeal to the mind through the eye (always the readiest way), the natural development of observation, memory and reasoning power, and the ultimate formation of a sound judgment. It means also a keen interest in and appreciation of all natural structure and of the beauty that springs from it, as well as delight in all good craftsmanship and honest effort.
If there is indeed a "new teaching ” of drawing in Elementary and Secondary Schools it would be strange indeed if Schools of Art had no share in it. Of late it has been rather the fashion to deride our Schools of Art, and to speak of them as though they were in utter darkness, yet the truth is that most of the movements for the better and livelier teaching of drawing, of design, and of craftsmanship, have had their origin in these same schools. Even the
Even the very critics themselves have in many cases owed their own enlightenment to the schools they take such pleasure in decrying.
The great cause of the trouble was the old method of administration, whereby the unhappy Art Master was compelled to earn the grant for the maintenance of the school by preparing the greatest possible number of students for examinations of a fixed type, and by producing as many “works” of a certain standard as could be completed in one year. The Art Master of individuality had to revolt or become a fossil ! Happily all this is a thing of the past. If a master has ideas he is now free to work them out, and as a result the teaching in many Schools of Art is full of life
The key-note of the old teaching was laborious reproduction. Everything was copied. Ornament was copied, models were copied, the human figure was copied, designs were copied. When the student had made so many copies that he instinctively reproduced the things he had copied so often, his training was complete. This blind copying was the fruitful parent of all sorts of errors. It did not even produce accuracy, for the mind of the student, intent on reproducing details, failed to grasp his subject as a whole, and so he became a kind of artistic Peter Pan, for he continued to see things with the child's eye and never grew up.
The key-note of the best teaching to-day is the development of the mind of the student, so that not only shall his powers be trained but he himself shall be inspired to put forth the very best that is in him. To this end he is encouraged to seek for and to discover the reasons for all he sees and for all that he is asked to do, so that, with full understanding of his object and of the means of attaining it, he may exert his whole force without haste and without waste.
Formerly the student's first efforts were directed to copying a piece of flat ornament and a group of geometric models. Careful instruction was given as to the readiest way of making the copy, but such instruction inevitably degenerated into the giving of recipes or formulæ. Now the same student is given a plant or other natural form which he is encouraged to examine so that he may understand its habit of growth, its structure, and the use and meaning of its parts; then, linking together his mental notes, he builds up the plant, making it grow as it ought and seeking to give it the same qualities as had excited his interest and admiration. Criticism on his work is not now a mere