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 v
sible 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.