Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Practice and Science of Drawing

The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed was recently the 14th most popular book (ie downloaded) on the The Project Gutenberg site. It's currently 22nd. That's not bad considering it's a book about drawing!

Lately, in despair at the quality of a lot of the books which are now being published I've started looking at books published in the past - as either used books or e-books. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is processing and digitising.

It can be downloaded in a variety of formats for both reading onscreen and on e-readers. (That's when I found out that Adobe Digital Reader which can read epub files is only available in the USA - like so many other of the nifty tweaks on the Adobe site!) I'm reading it onscree in html format.

Harold Speed (1872-1957) was an English artist, who studied at the Royal Academy Schools and subsequently became a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Artists. His portraits of contemporaries are in the National Portrait Gallery.
A portrait and landscape painter, and writer on art. Initially studying architecture at the Royal College of Art in 1887, he turned to painting, and won a gold medal for life school studies in 1890. He continued his training at the Royal Academy Schools from 1891 to 1896, where in 1893 he was awarded a gold medal and a travelling scholarship that took him to Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. He exhibited his work at the Royal Academy for fifty years from 1893, and became a Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters 1895. He was the author of a number of books on art including The Science and Practice of Drawing (1913), The Science and Practice of Oil Painting (1924) and What is the Good of Art? (1936).
Bio of Harold Speed, National Portrait Gallery
To my mind it's an example of a drawing book of the sort that used to be written. Consider how it approaches the task of drawing figures - from the basics of teaching people to draw - rather than the simplified 'how to draw eyes' or 'how to draw hair' which is the sort of dumbed down version which all too often appears in art instruction books today. I wouldn't mind the latter if enough emphasis was given to the basics of drawing - but that simply doesn't happen. Which is why I shall continue to highlight older books on this blog and Making A Mark Reviews

Plate L.
FROM A DRAWING IN RED CHALK BY HOLBEIN IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM PRINT ROOM
Note how every bit of variety is sought for, the difference in the eyes and on either side of the mouth, etc.

The contents cover the following

The Practice and Science of Drawing

CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION
II. DRAWING
III. VISION
IV. LINE DRAWING
V. MASS DRAWING
VI. THE ACADEMIC AND CONVENTIONAL
VII. THE STUDY OF DRAWING
VIII. LINE DRAWING: PRACTICAL
IX. MASS DRAWING: PRACTICAL
X. RHYTHM
XI. RHYTHM: VARIETY OF LINE
XII. RHYTHM: UNITY OF LINE
XIII. RHYTHM: VARIETY OF MASS
XIV. RHYTHM: UNITY OF MASS
XV. RHYTHM: BALANCE
XVI. RHYTHM: PROPORTION
XVII. PORTRAIT DRAWING
XVIII. THE VISUAL MEMORY
XIX. PROCEDURE
XX. MATERIALS
XXI. CONCLUSION

APPENDIX

INDEX

I certainly don't agree with everything it says but it's interesting to browse and there are some great quotes - starting with the opening paragraph of the Preface!
Permit me in the first place to anticipate the disappointment of any student who opens this book with the idea of finding "wrinkles" on how to draw faces, trees, clouds, or what not, short cuts to excellence in drawing, or any of the tricks so popular with the drawing masters of our grandmothers and still dearly loved by a large number of people. No good can come of such methods, for there are no short cuts to excellence. But help of a very practical kind it is the aim of the following pages to give; although it may be necessary to make a greater call upon the intelligence of the student than these Victorian methods attempted
Preface
Project Gutemburg

Project Gutemburg aims to digitize and archive cultural works to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks." Founded in 1971, it is the oldest digital library and relies on volunteers to help create the eBooks. The books are all ones which are in the public domain. The catalogue is updated on a nightly basis. These are the links to different bookshelves (topic areas).

This is the Art Bookshelf - listing all books about art.

You can also search the database for author name, title, language or words in the full text of the eBook

4 comments:

pencilscribbles said...

Thank you for posting info on PRACTICE & SCIENCE OF DRAWING, Katherine.

I am always looking for good books on drawing, and never knew about this author or text. I have downloaded it and started reading.

Alex

eLIZabeth Floyd said...

I love this book! I read it last year and am now reading his book on oil painting.

EH said...

Absolutely cool! Thanks a lot Katherine

Terry Krysak said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, I downloaded it and just started going through it. Great book.

I downloaded Adobe Digital Editions (epub Reader) link below no problem. Did not use it because it asked for Adobe ID after install.
http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/

However after that discovered that Firefox has a epub file reader add-on which works great, much more simple. I was then able to open the downloaded epub file from my computer using Firefox.
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/45281

Hope this helps.



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