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Crayon Portraiture








To many who know nothing about the art of crayon portraiture, the
mastery of it not only seems very difficult, but almost unattainable.
In fact, any work of art of whatever description, which in its
execution is beyond the knowledge or comprehension of the spectator, is
to him a thing of almost supernatural character. Of course, this is
more decided when the subject portrayed carries our thoughts beyond the
realms of visible things.

But the making of crayon portraits is not within the reach alone of the
trained artist who follows it as a profession. I claim that any one who
can learn to write can learn to draw, and that any one who can learn to
draw can learn to make crayon portraits. Making them over a
photograph, that is, an enlargement, is a comparatively simple matter,
as it does not require as much knowledge of drawing as do free-hand
crayons. But you must not suppose that, because the photographic
enlargement gives you the drawing in line and an indistinct impression
of the form in light and shade, you are not required to draw at all in
making a crayon portrait over such an enlargement. Some knowledge of
drawing is necessary, though not a perfect knowledge.

Many people err in supposing that only the exceptionally skilled can
produce the human features in life-like form upon the crayon paper.
While recognizing great differences in natural aptitude for drawing in
different persons, just as those who use the pen differ widely in their
skill, some being able to write with almost mechanical perfection of
form, I still hold that any one who is able to draw at all can succeed
in producing creditable crayon portraits; and the lack of great skill
as a draughtsman, should neither discourage a student nor debar him
from undertaking to make crayon portraits (over enlargements, at
least), either as an amateur or professional. To make a crayon from
life undoubtably requires considerable talent and some education as an
artist; but photography, in recent times, has made such advances from
the old fashioned daguerreotype to the dry plate process and
instantaneous exposure, and such developments have recently been made
in the field of enlargements and in photographic papers, that it is now
possible for anyone, who will carefully follow the plain instructions
given in the following pages, to make a good crayon portrait by the aid
of the different kinds of enlargements. These place in his hands a
perfect reproduction of what he wishes to make; and care and close
attention to details will insure the rest.

The student, however, must have courage. I tell my pupils not to be
afraid to work freely; that if they spoil their work beyond their
ability to redeem it, I can always fix it up and restore it for them;
and that they should go ahead confidently. The reader may say that he
has no teacher to help him out of his difficulty; but he must remember
that he has the photographic enlargement as a sure guide, and that
whenever he fears he is losing the outline, he can see at once what he
is doing, by holding the enlargement against the light with its back
towards him. My experience as a teacher has shown me that pupils, as a
rule, are timid, especially that class which works mostly on
enlargements, resulting from the fear of losing the outline and from
lack of a thorough knowledge of drawing. I especially urge the
necessity for boldness and freedom in execution. As an expert in
chirography can read character in handwriting, so the artist's public
will judge him from his work. If he is, in fact, weak and timid, these
traits will find expression in what he puts on paper. Let courage,
then, be an important part of your equipment, if you would succeed in
doing good crayon work.





Next: Photographic Enlargements




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