Saturday, April 21, 2012

Life at Second Hand: Harold Speed 3

Sketch of Wildflower done in 2009
copyright 2009-2012 Rose Welty

This post is a summary of highlights in Harold Speed's Practice and Science of Drawing, chapter 2 entitled Drawing. You can find the series (to date) on my favorites page.

"Art...enables us to experience life at second hand."
-- Harold Speed

"There is a feeling of being lifted out of one's puny self to something bigger and more stable."
-- Harold Speed

Who doesn't want their drawing to be described by those two statements? I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I remember as a child going to a Degas exhibit (I believe it was at the Huntington Library) and thinking to myself that I could smell the sweat of those ballet rooms, I could hear the sounds. It made me want to learn to draw - it seemed an amazing ability.

" Drawing, then, to be worthy of the name, must be more than what is called accurate. It must present the form of things in a more vivid manner than we ordinarily see them in nature."
-- Harold Speed

Notice that he says *more* than accurate, meaning that accurate drawing is a bare necessity, not a "nice to have." He says to create worthy drawings an artist must be able to select the essential or expressive elements in a subject.

Speed urges the art student to "let your aim be a searching accuracy" - arguing from the lesser to the greater:

"For how can the draughtsman who does not know how to draw accurately the cold, commonplace view of an object, hope to give expression to the subtle differences presented by the same thing seen under the excitement of strong feeling?"
-- Harold Speed


Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

i would just like to say that I am enjoying these Harold Speed posts :)

Rose Welty said...

Glad to hear it Jen - me too. I really enjoy that book!