A Plea for Outline Drawing for Little Children

John Duncan
1903 The Elementary School Teacher  
WHEN we who are now adults were little folks at school, we were set to draw ornaments from the flat in outline with a hard pencil. First we were allowed to sketch the design in loosely and lightly, but the moment came when we had to lay all experiment aside and draw it in boldly and carefully with a hard and unswerving line; "lining in," it was called. The painful memory of it clings to us yet. We were next initiated into the mysteries of light and shade. A plaster of Paris cast was put up
more » ... ast was put up before us to be copied from. The cast was often soiled so that it was with difficulty we could make out the real shadows from the seeming ones. We had often to determine the place of the high light by wetting the prominent parts. Our drawings thus were executed with difficulty, and were, as you see, partly ideal, as we attempted to carry the gradations of light and shade farther than our eyesight or the condition of the cast would properly allow. Many of the drawings, when this was pushed to an extreme, came to resemble polished metal rather than.plaster of Paris. Success in this art meant further promotion to "still life "to color; the painting of pots and pans and vegetables. When we reached this happy point, we looked upon ourselves as fullfledged artists. The full sum of our ambition, however, was to paint a portrait. From a potato or cabbage to a human face was hardly a step at all. Our sitter had but to dehumanize himself or herself, banish all movement, and with it expression, which is but the movement of the face, reduce himself to still life, and we knew how to deal with him. Our education never aimed at more than this. Outside of school hours we made little irregular excursions into the country to sketch from nature, but this was not recognized as part of the school work, and it never amounted to much in any case.
doi:10.1086/453238 fatcat:qmsxhocdvrbi5gn7p2de55hwki