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It would be useless to enlarge on the utility of this study : , every person must have experienced either the benefit, or the want, of a knowledge of drawing, at some period or other of his life. In many trades a proper grounding in this art will obviously make a man a more efficient workman, enabling him to perform various manipulations with greater certainty and quickness, and, consequently, to obtain higher wages. But even if, as in the majority of cases, its use is but to sharpen and improve the perceptive faculties generally, a great good will have resulted. In this sense, it will do for the mechanical instrument of the will what logic does for the mind, teaching the hand and eye to work in unison with the judgment: and when these are thus trained to act together, the judgment itself is strengthened and a sense of power induced, giving increased certainty and command to all manual operations.
Our limits will not allow of as complete an illustration of drawing as could be wished, especially as there is a difficulty in the study in the necessity for explanatory engravings, of which the plan of this book will not admit. An abstract of the main features of the system promulgated by the Board of Trade may, however, be given, premising that it has evidently been an endeavour, in framing the course, to give it a thoroughly practical and unambiguous character, leaving nothing to the imagination, and providing full and complete appliances for every stage.
The Department divides the course of elementary drawing for common schools as follows:
First stage - free hand outline-drawing from flat examples ; second-rudiments of geometry as applied to drawing; third — drawing from solid models ; fourththeoretic perspective ; fifth-advanced outline-drawing of ornament and the figure from flat examples and from casts in relief; sixth-shading ; seventh — rudimentary instruction on the theory of colour.
The first second, and third of these divisions may be taught in every school, and by the help of the “ Illustrative Manual” and examples, any schoolmaster may speedily qualify himself to commence the study. In the first stage, a set of twelve sheets of examples, containing
a great variety of rectilinear and curved figures, is issued, accompanied by an illustrative manual, which minutely describes the method of procedure to be adopted in copying each figure. Nothing can be simpler and easier than this first step; the examples follow each other in due order, both of subject and relative difficulty, and have the great advantage, with respect to children, that each figure is a representation of some known object, thereby awakening and keeping alive the interest of the scholar, in a much more effective manner than would be the case if mere abstractions were placed before him, At the same time the objects chosen are such as are either quite flat, or at least do not obviously require the aid of perspective for their correct delineation, it being thought advisable to separate as far as possible, the simple geometrical delineation of figures from that of solid bodies, to represent which properly would be impossible, at this early stage, the pupil as yet knowing nothing of those fundamental facts of perspective, a knowledge of which would be indispensable.
The examples are drawn on a large scale, so that they may be pinned up on a board before the entire class, and the pupils copy them first, with white chalk on a slate or black canvass, the latter being preferable, and afterwards on a sinaller scale with lead pencil on paper. The first few copies chiefly consist of the right-lined letters of the alphabet, such as the letters 1 E H X V etc., the doubled lines of which, and the various angles, are useful exercises on parallels, vertical and horizontal lines, perpendiculars and angles. The various examples will be found, from the first, to suggest many useful geometrical definitions, of which the experienced teacher will know how to avail himself, and explain to his scholars.
The result, with pupils who have gone through this first stage, will be evident in the increased command of hand, which I have no doubt will be perceived in their simultaneous writing exercises—in a juster and more acute perception of the forms, proportions, and dimensions of all objects, whilst a certain facility in imitating natural objects will be the first evidence of, as we have before termed it, the new language acquired. At the conclusion of this stage, proper manuals and text books on geometry, in reference to drawing are provided; and the pupil after going through as much geometry as will at least enable him to understand the various terms and definitions, which occur in drawing and perspective, will next proceed to draw from solid models of simple geometrical forms. At this point of his studies, he enters upon perspective, the most obvious facts of which are, by model-drawing, made familiar to him in an easy and insensible way—so that by degrees, almost as it were intuitively, he acquires such a knowledge and familiar habit of appreciating the various changes in the appearance of solid objects to the eye, that theoretic perspective, which will afterwards be an important consideration, is thereby rendered of easy comprehension. Modeldrawing, hitherto frequently held up by its advocates as the sole method of judicious teaching, will be found, I believe, to occupy its proper position as an essential part of a complete system of instruction, not as hitherto, a substitute for all other modes.
The number of models used, then, has been very much reduced, they now consist of a few only of the most obvious and useful forms of lines and geometrical solids; such as a straight wire line, solid cube, pyramid, cylinder, sphere, wire circle, disk, cone, etc.: these with the stand and universal joint, proper for displaying them to the class, form a set of apparatus which may now be procured, at such a reasonable cost, as to be within the reach of the most humble means ;* whilst an accompanying manual, shortly to be issued by the Department, will afford the necessary assistance and information in putting them in use.
Having described the system thus far, I may here say, that to this extent drawing may certainly be taught, in ordinary schools, without the aid of a special master, for, as I have said before, there is nothing up to this point, that
* Public schools may obtain complete sets of the solid models and accompanying stand from the department of science and art at half the cost price, by making proper applications; the cost being £1 13s.; the cost to ordinary schools being £3 128. 6d.
may not be speedily mastered by any person, who will devote some little time and attention to the subject : and it ought to be the case of every teacher in future, to master thoroughly these elements.
The succeeding stages touch more or less on the province of fine art, and will require in the teacher more decided special knowledge—to acquire which, time and study will be necessary : theoretic perspective, it is true, offers no great difficulty, it is a definite study which, by the aid of the necessary works, may soon be mastered in its broad features.
Free hand-drawing from the round, and shading, however, offer greater difficulties : these, to be effectually taught, will demand experience in the teacher, obtainable only by long practice. Here, however, the being in the possession of good copies and examples, will be of great use, and at any rate heneficially supersede the random chance-medley copies, often far too elaborate and difficult, at which, we now so often see unfortunate children labouring with such ill-directed zeal. Besides, the examples in the advanced lists of the department of science and art being beautiful and interesting objects in themselves, will, when properly arranged and kept before the eyes of the pupils in their daily class-rooms, necessarily exert a most beneficial influence on them. Casts from beautiful antique works in sculpture, world-renowned works, for purposes of art as good as the originals in marble, cannot be made familiar as household objects to the young intelligence without powerfully manifesting their refining power, which is a virtual teaching.
Lastly (and of great importance), the subject of colour should be mooted in our schools, and will most appropriately form a part of all art-teaching. Children may soon be taught as much of the laws of colour, as will enable them to avoid those glaring errors which we every day see perpetrated by those who are ignorant of such elementary knowledge; familiar demonstrations, assisted by collections of coloured papers and other aids, will soon render the subject quite familiar. A most excellent and useful little manual on this subject has been prepared for the Department by Richard Redgrave, Esq., R.A., and should be in the hands of every teacher : by the aid of this, and of the coloured diagrams issued along with it, all that is requisite may be accomplished.
From this short sketch of what is doing in the cause of elementary teaching in art by the Board of Trade, it will be seen, that the publications of that department will form the best possible texts in aid of drawing in all its branches ; and the simple practical character which pervades all of them, will, I have no doubt, tend greatly to remove that feeling of uncertainty and dubiousness which has hitherto deterred numbers of intelligent teachers from introducing the study into their schools, though fully alive to its importance.
The teacher should understand the more simple properties of the mechanical powers, and if not equal to the mathematical proofs of them, he should be able to show their application in the tools they are in the habit of using, and in many other things of common life — such as the common steelyard — turning a grindstone-raising water from a well by means of a rope coiling round a cylinder, and the nature of the momentum of bodies — what is meant by the centre of gravity, etc. A skilful teacher, with models of the mechanical powers to assist him, will make this a subject of great interest. For instance, in the lever, assuming that the power multiplied by the distance from the fulcrum equals the weight multiplied by its distance, he might take a rod four feet in length and divide into feet and inches; at one end he fixes a weight, and placing the fulcrum at different distances from the weight, shows how the theory and practice agree, by actually testing cach particular case, showing that the calculated weight produces an equilibrium. This is a sort of proof by testing it in particular cases, and then by a process of induction assuming it to be generally true.
Then instance their own attempts at moving a block of