Although landscape work appears very difficult, young pupils are fond of it and, as they have already, in their illustrative drawings, made attempts at representing earth and sky, the lessons on landscape drawing come as a welcome- help.
First lessons in landscape drawing must necessarily be treated in quite a different way from any lessons that have been taken up hitherto. They are intended chiefly to make the pupils observe the appearance of trees and the earth in relation to the sky, and also to show them how to use charcoal, chalk, and coloured crayons to represent what they have observed.
The best time to begin these lessons is in the winter after the first snow has fallen and covered up all the distracting, if delightful, details of paths, grass, and flowers.
The first lesson may consist of covering the lower part of a 8″ by 9″ sheet of drawing paper with chalk to represent the snow-covered earth, leaving the colour of the paper for the sky, and putting in a line of distant trees with zigzag strokes of charcoal applied so lightly that the result is a tone of gray.
At first some pupils will be found to draw the distant trees quite detached from the earth and looking more like a caterpillar in the sky than a line of real woods. A short discussion on the ways of trees will call the attention of the least observant member of the class to the fact that trees grow out of the earth and do not float in the sky. Fortunate is the teacher who can let his class observe the distant woods from the school-room windows and note the smooth line of the snow-covered earth against the gray mass of trees, the irregular tops of which are seen against the pale wintry sky.
Landscapes, such as the Winter Sunsets, which were drawn by Form I pupils with coloured crayons, can be used in the making of blotters, calendars, and booklets for Christmas. It is a very hopeless landscape in which a small composition cannot be found which will look well when cut out, edged with a firm crayon line, and mounted on a suitable background.
Christmas booklets made of drawing paper or paper of a heavier weight, with one of these small landscapes mounted on the outside of each and a Christmas verse written on the inside in the pupil’s best writing, make souvenirs that it delights him to take home and present to his parents as his own work.
WINTER SUNSET LANDSCAPE WITH COLOURED CRAYONS
For each pupil, a box of coloured crayons and a sheet of drawing paper.
As a preparation for such a lesson there should be careful observation of the colours seen in the western sky and of the appearance of the snow-covered earth at sunset time.
After a short discussion with the class regarding the appearance of the sky just after the sun has disappeared, the teacher, holding a sheet of drawing paper with one hand against the black-board where all can see it, draws a blue crayon line dividing the paper into two spacesall above the line for sky, all below for snow-covered earth. He also shows the class by chalk lines on the board that this line might be made to represent level land, a hillside, or rolling country.
The pupils place their papers the long way across on their desks with the rough right side up, and each, selecting the blue crayon, draws the line which will best represent the landscape he wishes to depict. Then with the blue crayon held very loosely under his hand, he puts a faint blue line across the top edge of the upper space. A faint yellow tone is blended into the blue; next, a faint orange tone is carried down to the blue line, deepening as it reaches it and faintly tinging both the yellow and the blue above. Lastly, the red crayon is put on in the same way, faintly tinging the three colours already applied and deepening into a few irregular lines of crimson at the spot where the sun is supposed to have just disappeared.
Before each colour is applied by the pupils, the teacher shows, on a sheet of paper held against the black-board, how this is done, and also that the crayon must be held very lightly and carried back and forth in a slanting direction across the paper to get an even tone. As the pupils work, he must go among them, carrying his paper with him to show those who are putting the colour on too heavily how it may best be managed. Those also who are making even bands or stripes of colour must be shown how to lay the crayon on so as to get the irridescent effect of one colour showing through another.
The sky being completed, the distant trees are now put in, starting in the blue line and extending a short distance up into the sky. For the line of woods, a light zigzag stroke of blue, which turns to a violet against the red orange of the sky, is used. If this is too bright, a faint tone of gray may be put over it with the black crayon. In the bottom of the low mass of woods the blue tone is strengthened and is then extended below the trees, to represent the appearance of the snow in the distance. The blue tone is made gradually fainter as it comes toward the bottom of the paper, disappearing altogether about two thirds of the distance down from the trees.
Even though in this lesson the teacher has drawn the landscape little by little before the pupils, in order to show them the proper handling of the crayons, it will be found that in very few cases, if any, has his drawing been copied. In every other lesson outlined here, the pupil’s own thought has been developed and, having had this previous training in expression, each will be intent on working out his own idea in the landscape lesson. It will probably be necessary, however, to have one or two lessons in making sunset skies without the landscape, before the class will have gained control of the medium.
In this, as in all other drawing lessons, the teacher should guard against cultivating an imitation Of his own work.