composition – arthur wesley dow

composition – arthur wesley dow

Professor of Fine Arts in Teachers College

Columbia University New York City
Formerly Instructor in Art at the Pratt Institute

and Art Students’ League of New York

Author of Theory and Practice of Teaching Art

and The Ipswich Prints




Copyright, 1899, by

Copyright, 191 S, by

All rights reserved, including thai, of

translation into Foreign Languages,

including the Scandinavian





Note. The author gratefully acknowledges the courtesy of
those named below in according him permission to use photo-
graphs of certain paintings and objects of art as illustrations
for this book.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Metropolitan Museum, New York

The National Gallery, London

Musee de Cluny. Paris (J. Lcroy. photographer)

Musee de Sculpture Comparec, Paris

Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, Boston (permission to photo-
graph Japanese paintings)

Mr. Frederick W. Gookin (use of photographs from Kcnzan
and Kano Gyokuraku, made specially for Mr. Gookin,
Boston M. F. A.

Giacomo Brogi, Florence

Fratelll Alinari, Florence

D. Anderson, Rome

W. A. Mansell A Co., London

P. Rothier, Reims, France, and

Kaltenbacher, Amiens, France (the Ruskln photographer)

License to use photographs was also obtained from the
Autotype Fine Art Company, Limited, London (the Michel-
angelo drawing, page Ml. and from Baldwin Coolidge, Boston.





I. Line, Notan, Color 7


II. Japanese materials and brush practice 15

Lines by Masters 17

Brush drawings 19, 96, 99


III. Ways of creating harmony 21

Opposition 21

Transition 22

Subordination 23

Repetition 24

Symmetry 28


IV. Composition in Squares and Circles 33

V. Composition in Rectangles Variation 38

Pottery forms . 42, 43

VI. Landscape Composition 44

VII. Composition in Representation 49


VIII. Harmony-building with Dark-and-Light 53

IX. Two Values, Variations Design 59

Flower compositions 62

Textile patterns and rugs 67

X. Two Values, Landscape and Pictures 69

Spotting, Notan of Pictures 70

Sketches from Nature 73

XI. Two Values Gothic Sculpture, Japanese Design books, Appli-
cations of two values 75

XII. Three Values . 82

Landscape and pictures . 89

NOTAN, continued

Applications, three values

XIII. More than three values

Pen Drawing
Pencil Sketching
Ink Painting

XIV. Color Theory .

Notan of Color …….

Intensity ………

XV. Color derived from Notan …..

XVI. Color schemes from Japanese prints and from textiles
Application to design ……

Copying color from textiles …..


XVII. In Design and Painting ……

Wood Block Printing ……

on paper ……

on cloth ……

Picture Printing …….

Stencilling ……..

Colored Charcoal . ……

Painting in full color ……




. 89






101, 103

102, 105

108, 109

. “3

. 117

116, 117

. 119


IN writing this book my main purpose
is to set forth a way of thinking about
art. The most that such a book can
do is to direct the thoughts, awaken a
sense of power and point to ways of con-
trolling it.

The principles of art teaching here out-
lined might be illustrated in other ways
and with better examples. I hope the
reader will see how each chapter can be
developed into many sets of lessons. The
progressions can be varied, materials
changed, lessons amplified and different
designs chosen, providing there is no
sacrifice of essentials.
The book is based upon my experience
in painting and teaching for more than
twenty years. The first edition of Com-
position was published in 1899. In this
revision I have made many additions
and used new illustrations without de-
parting from theory or principles.
Composition was chosen as a title be-
cause that word expresses the idea upon
which the method here presented is
founded the “putting together” of
lines, masses and colors to make a har-
mony. Design, understood in its broad
sense, is a better word, but popular
usage has restricted it to decoration.
Composition, building up of harmony,
is the fundamental process in all the fine
arts. I hold that art should be approached

through composition rather than through
imitative drawing. The many different
acts and processes combined in a work
of art may be attacked and mastered one
by one, and thereby a power gained to
handle them unconsciously when they
must be used together. If a few elements
can be united harmoniously, a step has
been taken toward further creation.
Only through the appreciations does the
composer recognize a harmony. Hence
the effort to find art-structure resolves
itself into a development of appreciation.
This faculty is a common human pos-
session but may remain inactive. A way
must be found to lay hold upon it and
cause it to grow. A natural method is
that of exercises in progressive order,
first building up very simple harmonies,
then proceeding on to the highest forms
of composition. Such a method of study
includes all kinds of drawing, design
and painting. It offers a means of train-
ing for the creative artist, for the teacher
or for one who studies art for the sake
of culture.

This approach to art through Structure
is absolutely opposed to the time-hon-
ored approach through Imitation. For
a great while we have been teaching
art through imitation of nature and
the “historic styles” -leaving structure
to take care of itself; gathering knowl-

edge of facts but acquiring little power
to use them. This is why so much mod-
ern painting is but picture-writing ; only
story-telling, not art ; and so much archi-
tecture and decoration only dead copies
of conventional motives.
Good drawing results from trained judg-
ment, not from the making of fac-similes
or maps. Train the judgment, and ability
to draw grows naturally. Schools that
follow the imitative or academic way
regard drawing as a preparation for de-
sign, whereas the very opposite is the
logical order design a preparation for

Soon after the time of Leonardo da Vinci
art education was classified into Rep-
resentative (imitative), and Decorative,
with separate schools for each a seri-
ous mistake which has resulted in loss
of public appreciation. Painting, which
is essentially a rhythmic harmony of
colored spaces, became sculptural, an
imitation of modelling. Decoration be-
came trivial, a lifeless copying of styles.
The true relation between design and
representation was lost.
This error is long-lived. An infinite
amount of time is wasted in misdirected
effort because tradition has a strong hold,
and because artists who have never made
a study of education keep to old ruts
when they teach.

This academic system of art-study ig-
nores fundamental structure, hence the
young pupil understands but few phases
of art. Confronted with a Japanese ink
painting, a fresco by Giotto or a Gothic
statue he is unable to recognize their art

value. Indeed he may prefer modern
clever nature-imitation to imaginative
work of any period.

Study of composition of Line, Mass and
Color leads to appreciation of all forms
of art and of the beauty of nature. Draw-
ing of natural objects then becomes a
language of expression. They are drawn
because they are beautiful or because
they are to be used in some art work.
Facility in drawing will come more
quickly in this way than by a dull rou-
tine of imitation with no definite end in

The history of this structural system of
art teaching may be stated in a few
words ; and here I am given the oppo’
tunity to express my indebtedness *’
whose voice is now silent.
An experience of five years ; .ench

schools left me thoroughly (‘…satisfied
with academic theory. I – a search for
something more vital I began a com-
parative study of the art of all nations
and epochs. While pursuing an investi-
gation of Oriental painting and design
at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts I
met the late Professor Ernest F. Fenol-
losa. He was then in charge of the Jap-
anese collections, a considerable por-
tion of which had been gathered by him
in Japan. He was a philosopher and
logician gifted with a brilliant mind of
great analytical power. This, with rare
appreciation, gave him an insight into
the nature of fine art such as few ever

As imperial art commissioner for the Jap- In 1900 I established the Summer School
anese government he had exceptional at Ipswich, Massachusetts, for the pur-
opportunities for a critical knowledge of pose of obtaining a better knowledge of
both Eastern and Western art. He at the relation of art to handicraft and man-
once gave me his cordial support in my ual training. Composition of line, mass
quest, for he also felt the inadequacy of and color was applied to design, land-
modern art teaching. He vigorously ad- scape and very simple hand work in
vocated a radically different idea, based metal, wood-block printing and textiles,
as in music, upon synthetic principles. Parts of 1903 and ’04 were spent in
He believed music to be, in a sense, the Japan, India and Egypt observing the
key to the other fine arts, since its essence native crafts and gathering illustrative
is pure beauty; that space art may be material.

called ” visual music “, and may be stud- In 1904 I became director of fine arts in
ied and criticised from this point of view. Teachers College, Columbia University,
Convinced that this new conception was New York. The art courses are now ar-
a more reasonable approach to art, I ranged in progressive series of synthetic
gave much time to preparing with Pro- exercises in line, dark-and-light and col-
fessor Fenollosa a progressive series of or. Composition is made the basis of all
synthetic exercises. My first experiment work in drawing, painting, designing and
in applying these in teaching was made modelling of house decoration and in-
in 1889 in my Boston classes, with Pro- dustrial arts of normal courses and of
fessor Fenollosa as lecturer on the phi- art training for children,
losophy and history of art. The results After twenty years’ experience in teach-
of the work thus begun attracted the at- ing I find that the principles hold good
tention of some educators, notably Mr. under varying conditions, and produce
Frederic B. Pratt, of that great institution results justifying full confidence,
where a father’s vision has been given They bring to the student, whether de-
form by the sons. Through his personal signer, craftsman, sculptor or painter an
interest and confidence in these struct- increase of creative power ; to the teach-
ural principles, a larger opportunity was er, all this and an educational theory
offered in the art department of Pratt capable of the widest application.
Institute, Brooklyn. Here during vari- To all whose loyal support has given
ous periods, I had charge of classes in impetus and advancement to this work
life drawing, painting, design and nor- to the pupils and friends who have so
mal art ; also of a course for Kindergarten generously furnished examples for illus-
teachers. Professor Fenollosa continued tration I offer most grateful acknowl –
his lectures during the first year. edgments.

The growth of the work and its influence ARTHUR WESLEY DOW

upon art teaching are now well known. New York, 1912




Painting, Music and Poetry are
the principal fine arts. Of these
the first three are called Space arts, and
take the various forms of arranging,
building, constructing, designing, mod-
elling and picture-painting.
In the space arts there are three struct-
ural elements with which harmonies
may be built up :

  1. LINE. The chief element of beauty
    in architecture, sculpture, metal work,
    etching, line design and line drawings.
    Nos. i, 2, 3, 6, 23, 38.

  2. NOTAN. The chief element in illus-
    tration, charcoal drawing, mezzotint,
    Oriental ink painting and architectural
    light and shade. Nos. 5, 59, 60, 61.

  3. COLOR. The chief element in paint-
    ing, Japanese prints, textile design,
    stained glass, embroidery, enamelling
    and pottery decoration. Nos. 8, 9, and
    Chap. XIV.


The term LINE refers to boundaries of
shapes and the interrelations of lines and
spaces. Line-beauty means harmony of
combined lines or the peculiar quality
imparted by special treatment.
The term NOTAN, a Japanese word
meaning “dark, light”, refers to the quan-
tity of light reflected, or the massing of
tones of different values. Notan-beauty
means the harmony resulting from the
combination of dark and light spaces —
whether colored or not – – whether in
buildings, in pictures, or in nature.




No. 3 LINE. Harmony of rhythmic curves. From book
^ of prints by Okumura Masanobu, Japanese, i8th century.

Careful distinction should be made be-
tween NOTAN, an element of universal
beauty, and LIGHT AND SHADOW,
a single fact of external nature.
The term COLOR refers to quality of

These three structural elements are in-
timately related. Good color is depend-
ent upon good notan, and that in turn is
dependent upon good spacing. It seems
reasonable then that a study of art should
begin with line. One should learn to
think in terms of line, and be somewhat
familiar with simple spacing before at-
tempting notan or color. There is danger,
however, of losing interest by dwelling
upon one subject too long. Dark-and-
light massing will reveal the mistakes in
spacing and stimulate to renewed effort.
Color will reveal the weakness of dark-


LINE \ff

‘*: ;prir. fw .




and-light. Very young pupils should
begin with color but the instructor will
take pains to include spacing and notan
in each lesson. In general, however,
the best plan is to take up exercises in
each element in turn; then go back to
them separately and make more detailed
studies ; then combine them, proceeding

toward advanced compositions. What-
ever be the choice of progression, there
must be a thorough grounding in the
elementary relations of space cutting and
simple massings of dark-and-light. This
is essential to successful work in design-
ing, drawing, modelling, painting, archi-
tecture and the crafts.


VenetioLn Lace Two

No. 6

Greek Sculpture

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
B. Coolidge, photo.

Gothic Sculpture


Cathedral of Reims,
” The Visitation ” group








JAPANESE brushes, ink and paper
are to be preferred for exercises in
line drawing, tracing, notan massing
and washes in grays.
Long brushes are best for long continu-
ous lines, short brushes for sharp corners
and broken lines. For lettering, clip the
point of a long line-brush, (see p. 55)


l_m WAfH Various Line -Gru.Ke

prepared with a sizing of glue and alum.
.Unprinted wall paper (lining paper) is
serviceable for practice work. “Bogus”
paper and cover papers can also be used
for line or mass.

Japanese ink must be ground upon the
ink-stone, a slab of slate. Intense black-
ness can be secured immediately by
using only a few drops of water.
Dry the ink stick, and wrap in paper;
never leave it soaking. Ink of good qual-
ity, and a clean stone are essential.
Tools perfected by ages of practice in
line drawing and brush work, afford the
best training for hand and eye. Painting
with the Japanese brush leads directly
to oil painting. If Japanese materials are
not to be obtained or are not desired, the
exercises can be carried on with pencil,
charcoal, water colors, crayons, and even
oil paint.

Japanese paper for artists’ use is made
of the bark of the mulberry tree, and is



For line drawing the brush is held in a
perpendicular position, that it may move
freely in all directions, much like the
etcher’s needle. The brush should be
well charged with ink, then pressed firm-
ly down upon the paper till it spreads to
the width desired for the line.
Draw with the whole hand and arm in
one sweep, not with the fingers. Steady
the hand if necessary by resting the wrist
or end of the little finger on the paper.
Draw very slowly. Expressive line is not

of hoWit> tf* 6rfK

made by mere momentum, but by force
of will controlling the hand. By draw-
ing slowly the line can be watched and
guided as it grows under the brush point.
Slight waverings are not objectionable ;
in fact they often give character to the


Begin with straight lines, remembering
that straightness of direction is the essen-
tial thing, not mere geometric straight-
ness. After some practice with straight

Prit,c -l<nl dt._r, wHl JtfMKTX Bfulk (reduced %.)

lines, try curves; then irregular lines.
Copy brush drawings from Japanese
books, for a study of control of the hand
and quality of touch, No. n, p. 19.
This practice work can be done upon
ordinary paper. The aim of such an
exercise is to put the hand under con-
trol of the will, but too much time should
not be given to mere practice, apart from
design. Quality and power of line are
illustrated in the drawings of masters,
No. 10 and p. 18. These may be copied
later on, for a study of advanced drawing.







Leonardo da Vinci (Louvre)

Michelangelo, drawing

Kano Tanyu, XVII cent, (part of screen, Museum of Fine Kano NaO nobu, XVII cent, (from screen in ink, Museum

Arts, Boston)

of Fine Arts, Boston)





Brush drawings from Japanese Books No. 11


Brush drawing (see pp. 16, 95)




FINE art, by its very name, implies
fine relations. Art study is the at-
tempt to perceive and to create
fine relations of line, mass and color.
This is done by original effort stimulated
by the influence of good examples.
As fine relations (that is, harmony, beau-
ty) can be understood only through the
appreciations, the whole fabric of art
education should be based upon a train-
ing in appreciation. This power cannot
be imparted like information. Artistic
skill cannot be given by dictation or ac-
quired by reading. It does not come by
merely learning to draw, by imitating
nature, or by any process of storing the
mind with facts.

The power is within the question is
how to reach it and use it.
Increase of power always comes with
exercise. If one uses a little of his appre-
ciative faculty in simple ways, proceed-
ing on gradually to the more difficult
problems, he is in the line of natural
growth. To put together a few straight
lines, creating a harmony of movement
and spacing, calls for exercise of good
judgment and appreciation. Even in
this seemingly limited field great things
are possible ; the proportions of the
Parthenon and Giotto’s Tower can be
reduced to a few straight lines finely re-
lated and spaced.

Effective progress in composition de-
pends upon working with an organized
and definite series of exercises, building
one experience upon another, calling for
cultivated judgment to discern and de-
cide upon finer and finer relations. Little
can be expressed until lines are arranged
in a Space. Spacing is the very ground-
work of Design. Ways of arranging and
spacing I shall call

In my experience these five have been
sufficient :






These names are given to five ways of
creating harmony, all being dependent
upon a great general principle, PROPOR-

I. OPPOSITION. Two lines meeting
form a simple and severe harmony.



PRINCIPLES Examples will be found in Greek door-
OF COMPOSI- wa ys, Egyptian temples and early Re-
naissance architecture ; in plaid design ;
also in landscape where vertical lines
cut the horizon (see pp. 21, 45, 46.)
This principle is used in the straight line
work in squares and rectangles, pp. 32,
33 39. an d m combination with other
principles, pp. 25, 29.


  1. TRANSITION. The arrangement
    thus designated involves a step beyond
    Opposition. Two straight lines meeting
    in opposing directions give an impres-
    sion of abruptness, severity, or even vio-
    lence ; the difference of movement being
    emphasized. If a third line is added, as
    in the sketches below, the opposition is
    softened and an effect of unity and com-
    pleteness produced.

This combination typifies beauty itself
which has been defined as consisting of
elements of difference harmonized by
elements of unity.

A very common example of Transition
is the bracket, No. 15. The straight line
is modified into curves and may be elab-
orated with great complexity of model-

Instead of a drawn line of transition there
may be only a suggestion of one, but the
effect is the same ; a softening of the cor-
ner angle, No. 14 and pp. 58, 60. In pic-
torial art the vignette, in architecture the
capital, are examples of the transition
principle. In design an effect of Transi-
tion may be produced by radiation. (Il-
lustrations below.)

Accidental transitions occur in nature in
the branching of old trees, where the
rhythmic lines are thus unified.

For convenience the suggestions for
class work are grouped together in the


Opposition. Copy the sketches and illus-
trations, enlarged. Design straight-line
arrangements of mouldings, plaids and
rectangular panellings, Nos. 13, 18, 24.
Find examples in nature, and draw in
line, with brush, pen or pencil without a

Transition. Copy the sketches, as be-
fore. Draw a bracket in straight line,
modifying into curved. Design corner
ornaments for panels and book covers ;
metal work for cabinet. No. 18.
Find examples in nature and draw in
line. No. 18.

It is important in all such work to make
a number of sketches from which the
best may be chosen.

  1. SUBORDINATION. Neither of the
    foregoing principles is often found alone
    as the basis of a single work. Transition
    in particular, usually serves to harmo-
    nize the parts of a composition. The prin-
    ciple Subordination is a great construct-
    ive idea not only in the space arts but in
    all the fine arts :

To form a complete group the parts are
attached or related to a single domi-
nating element which determines the
character of the whole.
A tree trunk with its branches is a good

type of this kind of harmony ; unity se-
cured through the relation of principal
and subordinate, even down to the vein-
ings of leaves a multitude of parts or-
ganized into a simple whole.
This way of creating beauty is conspic-
uous in the perfect spacing and line-
rhythm of Salisbury cathedral, St. Ma-
clou of Rouen and the Taj Mahal ; in
Piero della Francesca’s “Resurrection”
and Millet’s “Goose-girl” ; in some By-
zantine design and Persian rugs (see pp.
58,65, 98.)

It governs the distribution of masses in
Dark-and- Light composition, and of
hues in Color schemes.
It appears in poetry (the Odyssey for
example) in the subordination of all parts
to the main idea of the subject. It is used
constructively in musical composition.
Whenever unity is to be evolved from
complexity, confusion reduced to order,
power felt through concentration, or-
ganization, leadership then will be ap-
plied the creative principle called here

In Line Composition the arrangement
by principal and subordinate may be
made in three ways, No. 16 :

  1. By grouping about an axis, as leaf
    relates to stem, branches to trunk.

  2. By radiation, as in flowers, the ro-
    sette, vault ribs, the anthemion.

  3. By size, as in a group of mountain
    peaks, a cathedral with its spire and pin-
    nacles, tree clusters, or Oriental rug with
    centre and border ; p. 65.



Subord.iixo.tion to on. AxiS

HZ If,

Art-interest in any of these lies in the
fineness of relation. A throwing together
of large and small ; mere geometric ra-
diation; or conventional branching can
never be other than commonplace. A
work of fine art constructed upon the
principle of Subordination has all its
parts related by delicate adjustments and
balance of proportions, tone and color.
A change in one member changes the
whole. No. 22.

To discover the meaning and the possi-
bility of expression in this form of com-
position the student may work out a
series of problems as suggested in this


The instructor draws flower or fruit with
stem and leaves. The pupil arranges this
motif in various rectangular spaces (page
25), combining the ist and 3rd forms of
subordination, and using his critical
judgment in a way that is of great value
to the beginner in composition. The pupil

now draws the same or similar subjects
from nature, acquainting himself with
their form and character ; then composes
them in decorative or pictorial panels –
an art-use of representative drawing as
well as exercise in appreciation.
Copy the examples of the 2nd kind of
Subordination, and design original ro-
settes, anthemions, palmettes, thinking
chiefly of the spacing and rhythm.
Find examples in nature ; chimneys and
roofs, boats with masts and sails, or tree
groups. Draw and arrange in spaces.
Nos. 16, 18, 26, 28, 37, 61.
After choosing the best out of many trial
sketches, draw in line with the Japanese
brush. Then, for further improvement
in arrangement, and refinement of line-
quality, trace with brush and ink upon
thin Japanese paper.

  1. REPETITION. This name is given
    to the opposite of Subordination the
    production of beauty by repeating the
    same lines in rhythmical order. The in-
    tervals may be equal, as in pattern, or
    unequal, as in landscape, see below and
    No. 20.



‘ A


Off <






Of all ways of creating harmony this is
the most common, being probably the
oldest form of design. It seems almost
instinctive, perhaps derived from the
rhythms of breathing and walking, or
the movement of ripples and rolling
waves. Marching is but orderly walking,
and the dance, in its primitive form, is
a development of marching. Children
make rows and patterns of sticks or bits
of colored paper, thinking of them as in
animated motion. In early forms of art
the figures march or dance around the
vases, pots and baskets.

ever moving towards the supreme. This
gave the world the verse of Sappho
which Swinburne thought the most beau-
tiful sounds ever produced in language.
From the rude patterns marked with
sticks on Indian bowls and pots, or
painted in earth colors on wigwam and
belt, or woven on blanket, this form of
space art has grown, through the com-
plexities of Egyptian and Peruvian textile
design to the splendor of Byzantine mo-
saic, the jewel patterns of the Moguls,
and Gothic sculpture ; from rock-cut pil-
lars of cave temples to the colonnade of
the Parthenon. (For examples of primi-
tive design see the works of William H.

N? 19 Peruvian

Repetition, be it remembered, is only a
way of putting lines and spaces together,
and does not in itself produce beauty. A
mere row of things has no art-value.
Railroads, fences, blocks of buildings,
This principle of Repetition is the basis and all bad patterns, are, like doggerel
of all music and poetry. The sacred r h ym e, examples of repetition without
dance of the savage is associated with art

the drum and other primitive instru- Repetition in fine spacing, with the in-
ments for marking rhythm ; with the tention of creating a harmony, becomes
chant and mystic song. From such rude a builder of art fabric,
beginnings, from the tomtoms, trumpets
and Pan-pipes of old, music has de-
veloped to the masterpieces of modern i. Borders. Divide a long space by
times through the building of harmony vertical or oblique lines at regular inter-
upon harmony, composition. vals. By connecting the ends of these

From the crude rhythm of the savage, with straight lines, develope many series
like the Australian song ” Eat ; eat ; eat,” of meanders, frets and zigzags. Waves
from the battle cries and folk poems of and scrolls are evolved from these by
barbaric peoples, there has been refine- changing straight to curved line, No.
ment upon refinement of word-music aoa, and p. 56.



  1. Surface pattern. Subdivide a space
    (freehand) into squares, diamonds or tri-
    angles, determining the size of the unit
    desired. This will give a general plan
    for the distribution of figures. In one of
    these spaces compose a simple group in
    straight lines, line and dot, or straight
    and curved, if only geometric pattern be
    desired ; or a floral form for a sprig pat-
    tern. In the composition of this unit the
    principle of Subordination will be re-

As soon as the unit is repeated a new
set of relations will be created, dependent
upon the spacing. A secondary pattern
forms itself out of the background spaces.
Hence the designer must decide whether
the unit is to fill the skeleton square
completely, have a wide margin, or over-




run the square. Repeating the figure in PRINCIPLES
these various ways will determine the ^ MF

best size. The main effort should be
given to producing a fine relation be-
tween one unit and its neighbors and
between pattern and background. All
the best work in Repetition has this re-
fined harmony of spacing. No. 2ob be-
low and pp. 13, 65, 66, 85.
Copy the illustrations of Repetition in
this book, and make original variations
of them. Copy, in line, the units of early
Italian textiles, Oriental rugs or any of
the best examples to be found in mu-
seums or in illustrated art-books. See
“Egg and Dart” from the Parthenon,
p. 30, also pp. 67, 121.
For anatomy and planning of pattern,
see the works of Lewis F. Day.

No. 10


Two Tnocingt ffMt fmt oM petta***


SYMMETRY. The most common and
obvious way of satisfying the desire for
order is to place two equal lines or shapes
in exact balance, as in a gable, windows
each side of a door, or objects on a shelf.
The term Symmetry applies to three-
and four-part groups, or others where
even balance is made, but here it refers
mainly to a two-part arrangement.
Sometimes construction produces Sym-
metry, as in the human body ; ships ;
Greek and Rennaissance architecture ;
furniture ; pottery ; books. Partly from
this cause and partly through imitation,
Symmetry, like Repetition, has come to
be used in cheap and mean design where
no regard is paid to beauty of form.
Japanese art, when influenced by Zen
philosophy, as Okakura Kakuzo tells us
in “The Book of Tea”, avoids symmetry
as uninteresting. In Gothic art, the prod-
uct of richly inventive and imaginative
minds, symmetry was never used in a
commonplace way.

This Principle of Composition when
united to fine spacing, produces, in ar-
chitecture an effect of repose and com-
pleteness ; in design a type of severely


beautiful form, as seen in a Greek vase
or the treasures of the Sho-so-in at Nara
where so much of the older Japanese art
has been preserved.

A few examples of Symmetry are given
here ; the student will readily find others.
Exercises can be easily devised, follow-
ing the steps suggested under other prin-
ciples. See opposite, and Nos. 42, 43.

Principles of Composition, I must re-
peat, are only ways of arranging lines
and shapes ; art is not produced by them
unless they are used in combination with
this general principle, Good Spacing.
They are by no means recipes for art,
and their names are of little consequence.
Appreciation of fineness of relations must
always govern the method and form of
composition. It is possible to use all the
principles here discussed, and to com-
plete all the exercises, without gaining
much, if any, art experience. The main
thing is the striving for the best, the
most harmonious, result that can be ob-
tained. One way to accomplish this is
to compare and choose continually –
making many designs under one subject
and selecting the best.
The great general principle of Propor-
tion needs no special illustration or exer-
cise, because it is so intimate a part of all
other principles and exercises. It may
be studied in every example of supreme
art. It is the foundation of all the finest
work in line and mass. The mystery of
Spacing will be revealed to the mind
that has developed Appreciation.


I ran Escutcheons m-





A. Geometric only, no choice possible, hence no art



Eleven variations of motif B, regular spacing


ii ii




a IE



Four variations of motif C, irregular spacing



A~TER working with the principles
long enough to understand their
nature, and to see what can be
done with them, the student is ready for
problems in composition. Practice in
line arrangement is a preparation for all
kinds of art work, be it design, painting,
sculpture or architecture.
Choose an enclosed area of definite and
regular shape, and break it up into a
harmonious group of smaller areas by
drawing lines. For these elementary ex-
ercises in composition the square and
circle are best because their boundaries
are unchangeable, and attention must
be fixed upon interior lines. Take first the

square, using straight lines of equal thick-
ness drawn with the brush as suggested
in chapter II. The result should be a
harmony of well-cut space, a little musi-
cal theme in straight lines and grouped
areas. Make many trial arrangements,
sketching lightly with charcoal on ” bo-
gus” or lining paper. Select the best,
correct them, and draw with brush and
ink over the charcoal lines. From these
choose the most satisfactory, place thin
Japanese paper over them and trace in
firm black lines, freehand, with the Jap-
anese brush. Avoid hard wiry lines and
all that savors of rule and compass or
laborious pains-taking. Use no measure




Andrea. della-Robbia.



Pompeit,Toinb relief

of any kind ; sizes, shapes and directions
must be decided upon without mechan-
ical aids.

Never try to erase an ink line, if a
mistake occurs begin again.
Tracing, for the art-purpose of improv-
ing proportions and acquiring an ex-
pressive brush-touch, is a most valuable
help to the production of good work.
Architects use tracing-paper for changes
in plans. Japanese artists trace again
and again until satisfied with the quality
of touch and strength of drawing.
Straight line is chosen for elementary
practice because of its simplicity, and be-
cause it prepares for work with curves.
The finest curve is measured by a series
of straight lines in harmonic relations of
rhythm and proportion (p. 42). After
some experience with straight line, cut
areas with curved, geometric, flower,
fruit, landscape or figure.

Equal thickness of line is advisable now,
to fix attention upon direction, touch and
spacing. Variation in width will come
later in notan of line (page 54) and in rep-
resentative drawing (page 51) where tex-
ture and modelling are to be indicated.
The main purpose of this and all exer-
cises in this book is the creation of har-
mony, hence if the result has but a slight
degree of line-beauty it can be considered
a first step in Art.

The examples are chosen from students’
work, from Japanese books, from design,
craft and architecture. They illustrate
various ways of treating squares and cir-
cles according to princioles of composi-

  1. Copy these enlarged, with brush.

  2. Select one, as a theme, and make
    many variations.

  3. Originate new line-schemes in
    squares and circles.






N 2.^ Unit* for wood-block printing’, stencilling- ond.




Ginghams, plaids, embroidery, sten-

  1. Panelling, window sashes, leading
    for glass, inlaid wood, mosaic, enamel
    on metal.

  2. Incised lines in wood, clay or metal,
    low relief modelling.

Study of the principle precedes applica-
tion in all cases. It is true that the limi-

tations of material must be recognized
in making designs for special purposes.
The substance or surface for which the
design is intended will itself suggest the
handling ; but material teaches us noth-
ing about the finer relationships. First
study the art of design ; develop capac-
ity by exercise of the inventive and
appreciative faculties ; then consider the
applications in craft or profession.






IN the search for finer relations there
must be every opportunity for choice ;
the better the choice, the finer the art.
The square and circle allow choice only
as to interior divisions, but the rectangle
is capable of infinite variation in its
boundary lines.

The scientific mind has sought, by anal-
ysis of many masterpieces, to discover
a set of perfect proportions, and to re-
duce them to mathematical form, for
example, 3 : 5, or 4 : 7.
The secret of spacing in Greek art has
been looked for in the “golden mean”,
viz : height is to length as length is to the
sum of height and length. Doubtless
such formulae were useful for ordinary
work, but the finest things were certainly
the product of feeling and trained judg-
ment, not of mathematics. Art resists
everything that interferes with free choice
and personal decision; art knows no

Poverty of ideas is no characteristic of
the artist; his mind is ever striving to
express itself in new ways.
The personal choice of proportions, tones
and colors stamps the work with indi-
viduality. A master in art is always
intensely individual, and what he does
is an expression of his own peculiar
The beauty of proportion in your rec-

tangle is measured by your feeling for
fine relations, not by any formula what-
ever. No work has art-value unless it
reflects the personality of its author.
What everybody can do easily, or by
rule, cannot be art.

The study of Variation tends to lead the
mind away from the conventional and
humdrum, toward original and individ-
ual expression. Variation has no place
in academic courses of art teaching, but
in composition it is a most important

The masters of music have shown the
infinite possibilities of variation the
same theme appearing again and again
with new beauty, different quality and
complex accompaniment. Even so can
lines, masses and colors be wrought into
musical harmonies and endlessly varied.
The Japanese color print exemplifies
this, each copy of the same subject being
varied in shade or hue or disposition of
masses to suit the restless inventive en-
ergy of its author. In old Italian textiles
the same pattern appears repeatedly, but
varied in size, proportion, dark-and-light
and color. In times when art is deca-
dent, the designers and painters lack in-
ventive power and merely imitate nature
or the creations of others. Then comes
Realism, conventionality, and the death
of art.

Some experience in choice of proportions
and the cutting of rectangular spaces
may be gained from the following


  1. Design some simple theme in verti-
    cal and horizontal lines and arrange it
    in several rectangles of the same size,
    varying the spacing in each, No. aga.

  2. Compose a straight-line theme in


Contact with the best works of art is an
essential part of art education, for from
them comes power and the stimulus to
create. The student hears and reads
much that passes for art criticism but is
only talk about the subject of a picture,
the derivation and meaning of a design,
or the accuracy of a drawing. These

several rectangles of different proper- minor points have their place in discuss-

tions, No. agb.
3. Choose the best and trace with brush
and ink.

In the first case there is variation of in-
terior lines only ; in the second all lines
are changed. This exercise admits of
great expansion, according to age of
pupils and limits of time.



ing the literary and scientific sides of a
masterpiece; they relate to art only
superficially, and give no key to the per-
ception of fine quality.
The most important fact about a great
creative work is that it is beautiful ; and
the best way to see this is to study the
art-structure of it, the way it is built up
as Line, Notan, Color, the principle of
composition which it exemplifies. See
what a master has done with the very
problem you are trying to work out.
This method of approach will involve a
new classification of the world’s art, cut-
ting across the historical, topical and
geographical lines of development. The
instructor in composition will illustrate
each step with many examples differing
as to time, locality, material and subject,
but alike in art-structure.
Museum collections might be used for a
series of progressive studies based upon
composition ; taking up one principle at
a time and seeking illustrations in a
group of wide range, a picture, sculp-
ture, architecture, Gothic carving, metal
work, old textile, bit of pottery, Japanese






The beauty of simple spacing is found in Venetian palace fagade, divides the whole

things great and small, from a cathedral space into two ; one of these is divided

tower to a cupboard shelf. again into recesses with shelves or slid-

The campanile of the Duomo of Florence ing doors ; the other is for pictures (kake-

(No. 30) designed by that master of ar- mono), not more than three of which are

chitecture and painting, Giotto, is a rec- hung at a time. No. 31, C shows three

tangular composition
of exceeding beauty.
Its charm lies chiefly
in its delicately har-
monized proportions
on a straight – line
scheme. It is visual
music in terms of line
and space. The areas
are largest at the top,
growing gradually
smaller in each of the
stories downward.
The graceful mould-
ings, the window tra-
cery, the many colors
of marble and por-
phyry are but enrich-
ments of the splendid
main lines.
The Ca’ d’Oro of Venice

of these sets of shelves. The Japanese
publish books with hundreds of designs
for this little recess. The fertility of in-
vention combined with feeling for good
spacing, even in such a simple bit of
craft, is characteristic of the Japanese.
Their design books, from which I have
copied many examples for this volume,
are very useful to the student of art.
Style, in furniture, is a matter of good
spacing, rather than of period or person.
The best designs are very simple, –
finely balanced compositions of a few
straight lines (No. 31, D).
Book covers with their lettering and dec-
orations, and book pages with or without
illustrations are examples of space cut-
ting, good or commonplace according
to the designer’s feeling for line-beauty.
In the early days of printing the two

(No. 31, A) pages of an open book were considered
presents this rectangular beauty in an en- together as a single rectangular space,
tirely different way. First, a vertical line Into this the type was to be set with the

divides the facade into two unequal but
balanced proportions ; each of these is
again divided by horizontal lines and by
windows and balconies into smaller
spaces, the whole making a perfect har-
mony each part related to, and affected
by every other part.
The tokonoma of a Japanese room (No.

utmost care as to proportion and margin.

The few examples given here show how
varied are the applications of a single
principle. The study of these will suggest
a field for research. If possible the student
should work from the objects themselves

31, B) is arranged in a similar rectangu- or from large photographs; and from the
lar scheme. A vertical line, as in the original Japanese design books. These




op~t cs*~v

I ( | * I i % i t * 4





No. 31








tracings are given for purposes of com-

  1. Copy the examples, without meas-
    uring. An attempt to copy brings the
    pupil’s mind into contact with that of a
    superior, and lets him see how difficult it
    is to reach the master’s perfection. Copy-
    ing as a means of improving one’s style
    is the opposite of copying as a substitute
    for original work.

  2. After making the best possible cop-
    ies, invent original variations of these
    themes, keeping the same general plan
    but changing the sizes.

FORMS. Makers of modern commer-
cial ware usually leave beauty of line
out of account, thinking only of utility,
of the piece of pottery as a feeding-dish,
or as a costly and showy object. The
glaring white glaze, harsh colors and
clumsy shapes of common table-ware
must be endured until there is sufficient
public appreciation to demand something
better; yet even this is less offensive
than the kind that pretends to be art-
bad in line and glittering with false

Pottery, like other craft-products, is truly
useful when it represents the best work-
manship, combined with feeling for
shape, tone, texture and color, in a
word, fine art.

Such quality is found, to mention only
a few cases, in some of the “peasant
wares”; in the best Japanese pottery,
ancient and modern ; in Chinese, espec-

ially of the Sung period (A. D. 960-1280) ;
in Moorish, Persian, Rhodian and Greek.
When each maker tried to improve upon
older models, and had the taste and
inventive genius to do it, the art grew to
supreme excellence ; even fragments of
such handicraft are now precious.
The difference between the contours of
a really great piece of pottery and an
ordinary one may seem very slight, but
in just this little difference lies the art.


One good way to stimulate invention in
composing pottery shapes is to evolve
them from rectangles. In the straight
line there is strength ; a curve is measured
by a series of straight lines connected in
rhythm. No. 323. This principle is rec-
ognized in blocking out a freehand draw-
ing, a process often misunderstood and

Curved profiles are only variations of
rectangular forms, for example the bowl
in No. 32 b.

Change the height and a series of new
shapes will result. As the top and bot-
tom lines remain the same we have to
compare the curved sides only.
Another effect (c) comes from varying


the width ; and still another (d) by chan-
ging both height and width.
In No. 33 are students’ drawings of pot-
tery profiles evolved from rectangles.
For brushwork, in this exercise, it is well
to indicate the lines of the rectangle in
pale red, the pottery in black. Make
many sketches, select the best profiles,
improve them by tracing in ink, and com-
pare with historic pieces.
Drawing from the finest examples of
pottery, and making original variations
of the forms, will aid in drawing from
the cast or the nude, because of the inti-
mate study of the character of curves.

FLOWERS and other forms as LINE-
MOTIVES’. The rectangular space may
be subdivided, as was the square, by a
simple line-motif, flower, fruit, still life,
animal or figure, following some Prin-
ciple of Composition. In chapter III,
under Subordination, an exercise was
suggested and illustrated; it could be
taken up again at this point, with new
subjects, for a study of Variation. As rect-
angular compositions will be found un-
der Notan and Color, it is not necessary
to consider them further here as pure
line, except in the case of Landscape,
to which a special chapter is given.

No33 Pottery forms

derived from rectangles






THE modern arbitrary division of
Painting into Representative and
Decorative has put composition
into the background and brought for-
ward nature-imitation as a substitute.
The picture-painter is led to think of like-
ness to nature as to the most desirable
quality for his work, and the designer
talks of “conventionalizing”; both judg-
ing their art by a standard of Realism
rather than of Beauty.
In the world’s art epochs there was no
such division. Every work of space-art
was regarded as primarily an arrange-
ment, with Beauty as its raison d’etre.
Even a portrait was first of all a com-
position, with the facts and the truth
subordinate to the greater idea of
aesthetic structure. Training in the fund-
amental principles of Composition gave
the artists a wide field they were at
once architects, sculptors, decorators and

Following this thought of the oneness of
art, we find that the picture, the plan, and
the pattern are alike in the sense that each
is a group of synthetically related spaces.
Abstract design is, as it were, the primer
of painting, in which principles of Com-
position appear in a clear and definite
form. In the picture they are not so ob-
vious, being found in complex interre-
lations and concealed under detail.

The designer and picture-painter start
in the same way. Each has before him
a blank space on which he sketches out
the main lines of his composition. This
may be called his Line-idea, and on it
hinges the excellence of the whole, for no
delicacy of tone, or harmony of color can
remedy a bad proportion. A picture, then,
may be said to be in its beginning actu-
ally a pattern of lines. Could the art stu-
dent have this fact in view at the outset,
it would save him much time and anx-
iety. Nature will not teach him compo-
sition. The sphinx is not more silent
than she on this point. He must learn
the secret as Giotto and della Francesca
and Kanawoka and Turner learned it,
by the study of art itself in the works of
the masters, and by continual creative
effort. If students could have a thorough
training in the elements of their profes-
sion they would not fall into the error of
supposing that such a universal idea as
Beauty of Line could be compressed into
a few cases like the “triangle,” “bird’s-
wing,” “line of beauty,” or “scroll orna-
ment,” nor would they take these notions
as a kind of receipt for composing the
lines of pictures.

Insistence upon the placing of Compo-
sition above Representation must not be
considered as any undervaluation of the
latter. The art student must learn to


represent nature’s forms, colors and ef-
fects ; must know the properties of pig-
ments and how to handle brushes and
materials. He may have to study the
sciences of perspective and anatomy.
More or less of this knowledge and skill
will be required in his career, but they
are only helps to art, not substitutes for
it, and I believe that if he begins with
Composition, that is, with a study of art
itself, he will acquire these naturally, as
he feels the need of them.
Returning now to the thought that the
picture and the abstract design are much
alike in structure, let us see how some of
the simple spacings may be illustrated
by landscape.

Looking out from a grove we notice that
the trees, vertical straight lines, cut hor-
izontal lines, an arrangement in Oppo-
sition and Repetition making a pattern
in rectangular spaces. Compare the ging-
ham and landscape on page 22. This is
a common effect in nature, to be trans-
lated into terms of art as suggested in the
following exercise.



No. 34 is a landscape reduced to its main
lines, all detail being omitted.
Make an enlarged copy of this, or design
a similar one. Then, in the attempt to
find the best proportion and the best way
of setting the subject upon canvas or
paper, arrange this in rectangles of vary-
ing shape, some nearly square, others
tall, others long and narrow horizontally
as in No. 35. To bring the whole land-
scape into all these will not, of course, be
possible, but in each the essential lines
must be retained.

Draw in ink after preliminary studies
with pencil or charcoal, correcting errors
by tracing.

Then find in nature other similar sub-
jects; sketch and vary in the same way.







Hiroshig’e (traced fr.n. a colored. f>ri a t)

No. 36

5kefc/i of p<vrt of middk doTance -L’Hivtr’ by Puvn J

t, wtiit<

The art of landscape painting is a special has constructed a wood interior on a line-
subject, not to be treated at length here, plan resembling that of Puvis. So the

but I believe that the true way to ap-
proach it is through these or similar ex-

First study the art, then apply it, whether
to landscape or any other kind of expres-

Great architects and designers were not
the only ones to use this simple line-idea;

mere doing of the work recommended
here will be of little value if the only
thought is to get over the ground, or if
the mind is intent upon names rather
than principles. The doing of it well,
with an artistic purpose in mind, is the
true way to develop the creative facul-



the masters of pictorial art have based Leaving now the rectangular scheme,
upon it some of their best work; (opposite take any landscape that has good ele-
page). ments, reduce it to a few main lines and

These tracings from a variety of compo- strive to present it in the most beautiful
sitions, old and new (No. 36), show that way for example one from No. 61, or
this combination was chosen either to one drawn by the instructor, or even a
express certain qualities and emotions, tracing from a photograph. Remember
-majesty, solemnity, peace, repose, that the aim is not to represent a place,
(Puvis de Chavannes) or because such nor to get good drawing now ; put those
a space division was suited to tone- thoughts out of the mind and try only to
effects (Whistler’s Battersea Bridge), cut a space finely by landscape shapes ;
or to color schemes (Hiroshige). These the various lines in your subject combine
should be copied exactly in pencil, then
drawn enlarged. Find other examples in
museums, illustrated books, or photo-
graphs, and draw in the same way.
The student must, however, be warned
against mistaking a mere geometric com-
bination of lines for an aesthetic combi-
nation. There is no special virtue in a

to enclose spaces, and the art in your
composition will lie in placing these
spaces in good relations to each other.
Here must come in the personal influ-
ence of the instructor, which is, after
all, the very core of all art teaching.
He can bring the pupils up to the height
of his own appreciation, and perhaps
no farther. The best of systems is
valueless without this personal artistic

rectangular scheme or any other in it-
self ; it is the treatment of it that makes
it art or not art. Many a commonplace guidance.

architect has designed a tower similar At this stage of landscape composition,
to Giotto’s, and many a dauber of oil paint the idea of Grouping (Subordination) can






be brought in, as a help in arranging
sizes and shapes. There is a certain
beauty in a contrast of large and small.
It is the opposite of Monotony. For in-
stance, compare a street where there is
variety in the sizes of buildings and trees,
with another of rows of dull ugly blocks.
Ranges of hills, spires and pinnacles,
clumps of large and small trees, clusters
of haystacks, illustrate this idea in land-


To discover the best arrangement, and
to get the utmost experience in line and

space composition, the landscape should
be set into several boundaries of differing
proportions, as in Chapter V, and as
shown in the examples, keeping the es-
sential lines of the subject, but varying
them to fit the boundary. For instance,
a tree may be made taller in a high ver-
tical space than in a low horizontal
space, (No. 37 below).
After working out this exercise the pupil
may draw a landscape from nature and
treat it in the same way. Let him rigor-
ously exclude detail, drawing only the
outlines of objects.


No. 37 A Landscape in three




IN academic art teaching representa-
tion is the starting-point. This means
that one must first of all “learn to
draw”, as power in art is thought to be
based upon ability to represent accurate-
ly and truthfully either nature’s facts or
historic ornament. I use the word “aca-
demic” to define all teaching founded
upon representation. The theory may be
summed up in two points :

  1. Store the mind with facts, to be used
    in creative work later on.

  2. Technique is best acquired by the
    practice of object and figure drawing.
    The first is a purely scientific process, a
    gathering up of data, with no thought of
    harmony or originality ; hence drawing
    with such an end in view is not strictly
    art-work. Nor does the artist need to
    lumber up his mind ; nature is his store-
    house of facts. The second point has
    more reason, but when the aim is for mere
    accuracy, only a limited amount of skill
    is acquired and that often hardly more
    than nice workmanship not art-skill.
    The powerful drawing of the masters
    is largely derived from other masters,
    not from copying nature. It is an inter-
    pretation with the purpose of attaining
    a high standard. Such drawing aims to
    express character and quality in an indi-
    vidual way a thing quite different from

Nature-drawing, wrongly placed and
misunderstood, has become a fetich in
our modern teaching. Our art critics talk
of “just” rendering, “true” values, “con-
scientious” painting and the like; terms
that belong to morals, not art, and could
not be applied to Architecture, Music or
Poetry. These stock-phrases are a part
of that tradition of the elders that eight-
eenth century academism still lingering.
Representation has but a small place in
the art of the world. This is roughly
shown in the two lists below :

Architecture Furniture.
Wood carving.

Modelling, mouldings and pattern.
Metal work.
Inlay, mosaic, etc.
Geometric design, including
Egyptian, Peruvian and Savage.
Ginghams, plaids and much textile

Mohammedan art (one great division)


Painting and Sculpture of
Figures, Portraits, Animals,
Flowers, Still Life,
Landscape Painting.




The nature-imitators hold that accurate
representation is a virtue of highest or-
der and to be attained in the beginning.
It is undeniably serviceable, but to start
with it is to begin at the wrong end. It is
not the province of the landscape paint-
er, for example, to represent so much to-
pography, but to express an emotion;
and this he must do by art. His art will
be manifest in his composition; in his
placing of his trees, hills and houses in
synthetic relations to each other and to
the space-boundary. Here is the strength
of George Inness; to this he gave his chief
effort. He omits detail, and rarely does
more than indicate forms.
This relation among the parts of a com-
position is what we call Beauty, and it
begins to exist with the first few lines
drawn. Even the student may express a
little of it as he feels it, and the attempt
to embody it in lines on paper will surely
lead to a desire to know more fully the
character and shapes of things, to seek
a knowledge of drawing with enthusi-
asm and pleasure.

These things are said, not against nature-
drawing I should advise more rather
than less but against putting it in the
wrong place.

The main difference between Academic
and Structural (Analytic and Synthetic)
is not in the things done, but in the rea-
son for doing them, and the time for
them. All processes are good in their
proper places.

The relation of representative drawing
to a synthetic scheme is this : One uses
the facts of nature to express an idea or

emotion. The figures, animals, flowers
or objects are chosen for the sake of
presenting some great historical or relig-
ious thought as in della Francesca’s An-
nunciation (No. 36), for decoration of an
architectural space (Reims capital, No.
38), because the landscape has special
beauty as in Hiroshige’s print (No. 8), or
because the objects have form and color
suggesting a high order of harmony, as
in Chinese and Japanese paintings of
flowers, or Leonardo’s drawings of in-
sects and reptiles.

Another reason for drawing is found in
the use of the shapes or hues in design.
Desire to express an idea awakens inter-
est in the means. Observation is keen,
close application is an easy task, every
sense is alert to accomplish the under-
taking. This is quite different from draw-
ing anything and everything for practice

Mere accuracy has no art-value what-
ever. Some of the most pathetic things
in the world are the pictures or statues
whose only virtue is accuracy. The bare
truth may be a deadly commonplace.
Pupils should look for character; that
includes all truth and all beauty. It leads
one to seek for the best handling and to
value power in expression above success
in drawing.

Composition is the greatest aid to repre-
sentation because it cultivates judgment
as to relations of space and mass. Com-
position does not invite departure from
nature’s truth, or encourage inaccuracies
of any kind it helps one to draw in a
finer way.

No 38







A~] there is no one word in English Our etching and book illustration have

to express the idea contained in long felt the effect of contact with Japa-

the phrase ” dark-and-light,” I nese classic painting, though the influence

have adopted the Japanese word ” no- came indirectly through the Ukiyoye

tan ” (dark, light). It seems fitting that color prints and books,

we should borrow this art-term from a Such names as Kakei, Chinese of the Sung

people who have revealed to us so much dynasty (p. 96), Soga Shubun,the Chinese

of this kind of beauty. ” Chiaroscuro ” who founded a school in Japan in the

has a similar but more limited meaning, fifteenth century (p. 17), Sesshu, one of

Still narrower are the ordinary studio the greatest painters of all time (p. 97),

terms ” light-and-shade,” ” shading,” Sotan, Soami, Motonobu, Tanyu are now

“spotting,” “effect” that convey little placed with Titian, Giorgione (p. 51),

idea of special harmony-building, but Rembrandt, Turner, Corot and Whistler,

refer usually to representation. The works of Oriental masters who felt

Notan, while including all that these the power and mystery of Notan are be-

words connote, has a fuller meaning as a coming known through the reproduc-

name for a great universal manifestation tions that the Japanese are publishing,

of beauty. and through precious examples in our

Darks and lights in harmonic relations own museums and collections. This ii|”

-this is Notan the second structural one of the forces tending to uproot our

element of space-art ; p. 7. traditional scientific art teaching which

The Orientals rarely represent shadows ; does not recognize Dark-and-Light as

they seem to regard them as of slight worthy of special attention,

interest mere fleeting effects or acci- Appreciation of Notan and power to cre-

dents. They prefer to model by line ate with it can be gained, as in the case

rather than by shading. They recognize of Line, by definite study through pro-

Notan as a vital and distinct element of gressive exercises. At the outset a fun-

the art of painting. damental fact must be understood, that

The Buddhist priest-painters of the Zen synthetically related masses of dark and

sect discarded color, and for ages painted light convey an impression of beauty

in ink, so mastering tone-relations as to entirely independent of meaning, for

attract the admiration and profoundly example, geometric patterns or blotty

influence the art of the western world, ink sketches by Dutch and Japanese.



When this occurs accidentally in na-
ture, say a grove of dark trees on a light
hillside, or a pile of buildings against
the morning sky, we at once feel the
charm and call the effect “picturesque.”
The quality which makes the natural
scene a good subject for a picture is like
musical harmony. It is the “visual mu-
sic” that the Japanese so love in the
rough ink paintings of their masters
where there is but a hint of facts (pp. 97,
99) a classic style which is the out-
ward expression of a fine appreciation,
and whose origin and practice are ad-
mirably set forth in ” The Book of Tea.”
Recognition of Notan as an individual
element will simplify the difficulties of
tone-composition and open the way for
growth in power

NOTAN OF LINE. As long as the
lines of a design are kept of uniform
width, the beauty is limited to propor-
tion of areas and quality of touch, but
widen some of the lines, and at once ap-
pears a new grace, Dark-and-Light.
The textile designers who are restricted
to straight lines, have recourse to this
principle. They widen lines, vary their
depth of tone, glorify them with color,
and show that what seems a narrow
field is really one of wide range.


Choose some of the previous geometric
line patterns, and widen certain of the
lines, as illustrated in the plate. Incident-
ally this will give good brush practice,
as the lines are to be drawn at one stroke.
Push the point of the brush down to the ^40 Nota.n of Line


required width, then draw the line. Try
a large number of arrangements, set
them up in a row and pick out the best.
In choosing and criticising, remember
that every part of a work of art has some-
thing to say. If one part is made so
prominent that the others have no rea-
son for being there, the art is gone. So in
this case ; if one line asserts itself to the
detriment of the others, there is discord.
There may be many or few lines, but
each must have its part in the whole.
In a word, wholeness is essential to beau-
ty ; it distinguishes Music from Noise.

LETTERING. When forming part of
an artistic composition, in books, posters,
manuscripts, illuminations, etc., letter-
ing should be classed as Notan of Line.
Obviously the spacing of masses of let-
ters has first consideration, and is usu-
ally a simple problem in rectangular com-
position. The effect is a tone or group of
tones more or less complicated according
to sizes of letters, thickness of their lines
and width of spaces between and around
them. I have found the reed-pen and
the Japanese brush (clipped) the best in-
plements for students’ lettering (see be-

low). Having suggested that Lettering,
including Printing, as an art, is a prob-
lem in composition of line and notan, it
seems hardly worth while to introduce
special exercises here. Johnston has
treated this subject exhaustively; the
reader is referred to his book ” Writing,
Illuminating and Lettering,” to Walter
Crane’s and other good books on let-
tering. Compare fine printing, old and
new, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic writ-
ing, and ancient manuscripts and in-
scriptions Egyptian, Greek, and Me-


Japanese brushes clipped, for lettering N-41




J !

: :|: :(: .1:





3, 3.

Ar&Mc bcnltr

Repetition, p. 24, and variation in two values, p. 67


Landscape compositions by HOKUSAI, three values, pp. 76, 82, 114







**!* Z*S


^L Wor< i

EK VASE f.e-



DARK-AND-LIGHT has not been
considered in school curricula, ex-
cept in its limited application to
representation. The study of “light and
shade” has for its aim, not the creation
of a beautiful idea in terms of contrasting
masses of light and dark, but merely the
accurate rendering of certain facts of nat-
ure, hence is a scientific rather than
an artistic exercise The pupil who be-
gins in this way will be embarrassed in
advanced work by lack of experience
in arranging and differentiating tones.
Worse than that, it tends to cut him off
from the appreciation of one whole class
of great works of art. As in the case of
Line, so again in this is manifest the
narrowness and weakness of the scheme
of nature-imitating as a foundation for
art education. The Realistic standard
always tends to the decay of art.
The student in an academic school, feel-
ing the necessity for a knowledge of

Line melts into Tone through the clus-
tering of many lines. Direct study of
tone-intervals begins with composition
in two values the simplest form of
Notan. There may be several starting-
points; one might begin by blotting ink
or charcoal upon paper, by copying the
darks and lights from photographs of
masterpieces, or by making scales. Ex-
perience has shown that the straight-line
design and the flat black ink wash are
most satisfactory for earlier exercises in
two values. Instead of black and white,
or black and gray, one might use two
grays of different values, or two values
of one color ( say light blue and dark
blue) according to need.
The aim being to understand Notan as
something by which harmony may be
created, it is best to avoid Representa-
tion at first. Notan must not be con-
founded with Light and Shade, Model-

Dark-and-Light when he begins to make linger anything that refers to imitation
original compositions, has usually but of natural objects.

one resource, that of sketching the “spot-
ting” as he calls it, of good designs and
pictures an excellent practice if fol-
lowed intelligently. His difficulties may
be overcome (i) by seeing that Notan is
an element distinct from Line or Color ;
(2) by attempting its mastery in progres-
sive stages leading to appreciation.

The beginner may imagine that not much
can be done with flat black against flat
white, but let him examine the decorative
design of the world. He will find the black
and white check and patterns derived
from it, in old velvets of Japan, in the
woven and printed textiles of all nations,
in marble floors, inlaid boxes and archi-




tectural ornament. The use of these two
simple tones is as universal as Art itself.
They appear in the black vine on the
white marble floor of the Church of the
Miracoli at Venice ; on the wall of the
Arabian Mosque, and the frieze of the
Chinese temple. They have come into
favor on book covers and page borders.
Aubrey Beardsley went scarcely beyond
them. R. Anning Bell and other artists
have boldly carried them into pictorial
work in the illustration of children’s

nese brush, short and thick, is best for
this work. Nos. 43 and 44.
Pupils should be warned against mis-
taking mere inventive action for art. The
teacher must guide the young mind to
perceive the difference between creating
beautiful patterns, and mere fantastic

Those gifted with little aesthetic percep-
tion may go far astray in following the
two-tone idea. It is very easy and some-
what fascinating to darken parts of de-
signs with black ink. The late poster


These facts will show the beginner that craze showed to what depth of vulgarity
no terms are too simple for artistic this can be carried. The pupil must be
genius to use. Moreover a limited field
often stimulates to greater inventive

taught that all two-tone arrangements
are not fine, and that the very purpose
activity. of this exercise is so to develop his ap-

preciation that he may be able to tell the
difference between the good, the corn-
Choose a simple line-design fine in pro- monplace, and the ugly. His only guides

portion, and add to it this new kind of
beauty, as much of it as can be ex-
pressed by the extremes of Notan, black
against white. It is apparent that we
cannot reduce Dark-and-Light to sim-
pler terms than these two values.
The principle of Variation comes into
this exercise with special force, for each
line-design admits of several Notan ar-
rangements. The student should be given
at first a subject with few lines. Let him
use one of his own (chapter V), or draw
one from the instructor’s sketch, but the
essential point is to have his design as
good as possible in space-proportion be-
fore adding the ink.

Make several tracings, then darken cer-
tain spaces with black. A round Japa-

must be his own innate taste, and
instructor’s experience.


P .J , r .




Japanese design for ” ramma ” (frieze) Fret-saw work


Flowers, having great variety of line
and proportion, are valuable, as well
as convenient subjects for elementary
composition. Their forms and colors
have furnished themes for painters and
sculptors since the beginning of Art, and
the treatment has ranged from abstrac-
tions to extreme realism; from refine-
ments of lotus-derived friezes to poppy
and rose wall papers of the present time.
In the exercise here suggested, there is
no intention of making a design to apply
to anything as decoration, hence there
need be no question as to the amount of
nature’s truth to be introduced. The
flower may be rendered realistically, as

page 23.) A small spray in the middle of
a big oblong, or disconnected groups of
flowers, cannot be called compositions;
all the lines and areas must be related
one to another by connections and plac-
ings, so as to form a beautiful whole.
Not a picture of a flower is sought,
that can be left to the botanist but rather
an irregular pattern of lines and spaces,
something far beyond the mere drawing
of a flower from nature, and laying an
oblong over it, or vice versa.


The instructor chooses one of the best
flower compositions done under Line, or
draws a flower in large firm outlines on
the blackboard, avoiding confusing de-
tail, and giving the character as simply
as possible. The pupil first copies the

in some Japanese design, or reduced to instructor’s drawing, then he decides up-

an abstraction as in the Greek, with-
out in the least affecting the purpose in
view, namely, the setting of floral lines
into a space in a fine way forming a
line-scheme on which may be played
many notan-variations.

on the shape into which to compose this
subject a square or rectangle will be
best for the beginner. He makes several
trial arrangements roughly, with pencil
or charcoal. Having chosen the best of
these, he improves and refines them, first

It is essential that the space should be on his trial paper, and later by tracing
cut by the main lines. (Subordination, with brush and ink on thin Japanese


paper. Effort must be concentrated on
the arrangement, not on botanical cor-

Many line compositions can be derived
from one flower subject, but each of these
can in turn be made the source of a great
variety of designs by carrying the exer-
cise farther, into the field of Dark-and-
Light. Paint certain of the areas black,
and at once a whole new series sug-
gests itself, from a single line design.
To the beauty of the line is added the
beauty of opposing and intermingling
masses of black and white ; see below
and p. 64.

In this part of the exercise the arrange-
ment of shapes of light with shapes of

dark, occupies the attention, rather than
shading, or the rendering of shadows.
Hence the flowers and leaves and stems,
or parts of them, may be black or white,
according to the feeling of the student.
Let him choose out of his several draw-
ings those which he considers best. The
instructor can then criticise, pointing out
the best and the worst, and explaining
why they are so. A mere aimless or
mechanical blackening of paper, without
effort to arrange, will result in nothing
of importance.

The examples show the variety of effects
produced by flowers of different shapes,
and the beauty resulting from schemes
of Dark-and- Light in two values.



Flower compositions, p. 62.

6 4


Noun variations on lines of fine old textiles, see p. 67

Rug designs in two values, see p. 67



A line-scheme underlies every notan
composition, and a notan-scheme under-
lies every color composition. The three
elements have the closest relation one
to another. For purposes of study, how-
ever, it is necessary to isolate each ele-
ment, and even the separate principles
of each.

In the present instance, Notan can be
separated from Line by taking a line-
design of acknowledged excellence and
making many Notan variations of it;
being sure of beauty of line, the only
problem is to create beauty of tone.
As this brings in historic art, let me
note that the works of the past are best
used, in teaching, as illustrations of com-
position, (p. 40).

While the knowledge of a ” style ” may
have a commercial value, it has no art-
value unless the designer can make
original and fine variations of it, not

The first essential is to appreciate the
quality of historic examples, hence the
student should work from the objects
themselves, from photographic copies,
from tracings, or from casts. The com-
monplace lithographic plates and rude
wood cuts in some books of design are
useless for our purpose. They give no
hint of the original. If the actual paint-
ing on an Egyptian mummy case is com-
pared with a page of one of these books,
the poor quality of the latter is instantly
apparent. Chinese and Japanese ” orna-

ment” in most of such books is of a
flamboyant and decadent sort.
The facsimile copies of Greek vases usu-
ally belong in this same category


Choose a textile of the best period, say
Italian of the XVth or XVIth century ;
copy or trace the line and play upon this
several notan-schemes of two values.
You will at once discover how superb
the spacing is in these designs, but your
main thought is the creation of new dark-
and-light ideas upon the fine old pattern ;
p. 65.

The Oriental rug affords an excellent
line-scheme for practice in notan. As
composition it is a combination of two
principles Subordination and Repetition.
Copying a part or the whole of some
good rug in line and color is the best
way to become aquainted with the spac-
ing, motives and quality. Then design
a rug with border and centre, the shapes
to be pure inventions or symbols. Bor-
der and centre must differ, and there are
many ways of doing this even in two
values, for instance :
Border : Black figures on white ground.
Centre :White figures on black ground.
Border : White figures on black ground.
Centre : Black figures on white ground.
Border: Small figures.
Centre : One large figure.
The illustrations, pp. 65, 66, give some
idea of the possibilities of tone-com-
position in textiles and rugs. The exercise
points to one good way of using museum
collections and art books.







EIDSCAPE is a good subject for still life tends to put attention upon facts
notan-composition, to be treated rather than upon experience in struct-
at first as a design, afterward as a ure. It does not help one to appreciate
picture. Its irregular spacings contrast tone-values in pictures. Such drawing
well with the symmetries of pattern, and is worth while as pure representation
when tones are played over them the ef- and the discipline of it contributes to
fects are new and strange, stimulating mastery of technique, but it is absurd to
to further research into the mysteries of prescribe this or life drawing as a train-
tone. Such an exercise leads to the ap- ing for the landscape painter. Its influ-
preciation of landscape pictures, and is ence is only indirect, for modeling is of
an introduction to pencil and charcoal secondary importance in Painting, the
sketching from nature, to monotypes and art of two dimensions,
etching. When a painter works for roundness and
Notan in landscape, a harmony of tone- solidity he enters the province of his
relations, must not be mistaken for light- brother the sculptor. In typical paint –
and-shadow which is only one effect or ings, like Giotto’s frescoes at Assisi, Ma-
accident. Like all other facts of external saccio’s “Tribute Money,” Piero della
nature, light-and-shadow must be ex- Francesca’s work at Arezzo, the compo-
pressed in art-form. The student under sitions of the Vivarini, the Bellini and
the spell of the academic dictum “Paint Titian, and even the Strozzi portrait by
what you see and as you see it ” feels Raphael, the modelling is subordinate to
that he must put down every accidental the greater elements of proportion and
shadow “just as it is in nature” or be dark-and-light.

false to himself and false to art. He finds In a mural painting extreme roundness
later that accurate record is good and is a fatal defect, as illustrated in the
right in studies or sketches but may be Pantheon at Paris, where Puvis de Cha-
wrong in a picture or illustration. No vannes and his contemporaries have put
accidents enter into pictures, but every pictorial designs upon the walls. Puvis
line, light, and dark must be part of a created a mosaic of colored spaces in-
deliberate design. tended to beautify the wall ; charm of col-
Light-and-shade is a term referring to or and tone, poetry and illusion of land-
modelling or imitation of solidity ; the scape possess the beholder long before he
study of it by drawing white casts and even thinks of the special subjects. The



other painters made their figures stand of a great many two-value arrangements
out in solid modelling, replacing compo-
sition with sculpturesque realities. From
these you turn away unsatisfied
I am not arguing for the entire omission
of shadows and modelling they have
their place but am insisting that flat of different proportions; then vary each
relations of tone and color are of first im- of these in two values.

No. 47,

but not all such will be fine. Strive for
harmony rather than number, variety or
strangeness. Compare your set and se-
lect the best.
2. Compose the landscape into borders

portance ; they are the structural frame,
while gradation and shading are the
finish. To begin with rounding up forms
in light and shade, especially in land-
scape, is to reverse the natural order,
ignore structure, and confuse the mind.
The academic system has adopted the
word ” decorate ” for flat tone relations
and non-sculpturesque effects, as if ev-
erything not standing out in full relief
must belong to decoration. This use of
the word is misleading to the student; we
do not speak of music and poetry as “dec-
orative”. Lines, tones and colors may
be used to decorate something, but they
may be simply beautiful in themselves,
in which case they are no more decora-
tive than music. This word should be
dropped from the art vocabulary.


Choose a landscape with a variety of

large and small spaces.

i. Compose this within a border (see

Chap. VI.) and when the spacing is good

trace with the brush on several sheets of

Japanese paper.

Next try the effect of painting certain

spaces black, or dark gray, or some dark

color like blue. The other spaces may

be left white, or painted light gray or

The illustrations, No. 47, make clear
these two ways of working. The student
may use the examples given here, then
sketch his own subjects from nature.


When the art student sketches the mas-
ses of dark-and-light in pictures, the
” Spotting” as he calls it, he is studying
Notan of two values, but in an aimless
way. He is hunting for some rule or
secret scheme of shading, an ” orna-
ment,” “bird’s wing,” a “line;” vain
search, for no two works can have the
same plan, each has its own individual
line and tone.

On the other hand much can be learned
by studying the masters’ plans of com-
position, not to imitate but to appreci-
ate the harmony. One good way to
accomplish this is to sketch in the mass-
ing, in two values. Choose a number of
masterpieces, ancient and modern, and
blot in the darks in broad flat tones. This
will reveal the general notan-scheme of
each picture (pp. 71, 72).


with light color. Landscapes are capable The student is now ready for original



Compositions by various
ters . reduced to two tones .



work with landscape, still life or figures.
Sketching from nature with brush and
ink is a means of interpreting sub-
jects in a very broad way, obliging
one to select and reject, to keep only
the essentials. It cultivates apprecia-
tion of texture and character and brings
out the power of doing much with
little, of making a few vigorous strokes
convey impressions of form and com-
plexity. It leads to oil painting where

the brush-touch must be charged with
meaning; it is of direct practical value
in illustration as such sketches are
effective and easily reproduced. It is
almost the only method for painting
on pottery, as the absorbent glaze
admits of no gradation, emendation or
erasure ; the touch must be decisive
and characterful. Examples of brush-
sketching from nature are given in
No. 48 on opposite page.

Massing in two values. r. Corot , Daabigny *i Hokttsai



No 48 Sketches from rvxturs two values



Gothic Scu.l|>tuu-e

of (>liotion o^tvvo values.

NOTAN -T- valuta Su.bordinatien caul
Variation of u moti| Repetition




SCULPTURE, a line-art, when de-
signed to enrich architectural spa-
ces, may have the aid of notan in
the form of relief and shadow. The range
of tone is narrow and the field seems lim-
ited, but the masters have shown that the
creative imagination knows no bounds.
They have expressed every emotion-
divine calm, serenity, excitement, fury,
horror ; and effects of light, atmosphere,

The pediment and metopes of the Greek
temple owed as much to notan as to line ;
we can infer from the restorations what
the original scheme was. Greek archi-
tecture, however, did not admit of exten-
sive enrichment with sculpture; there
were few spaces to fill, and those not ad-
vantageous as to position, shape or light-
ing. As the temple evolved into the
Christian church, the new forms of build-
ing and the new story to tell called for
sculpture. Through Byzantine and Ro-
manesque it took a fresh start, pushing
upward and outward until it flowered
abundantly in Gothic. Although the
church selected the themes, the sculptor
might interpret form and facial expres-
sion as his imagination directed, and
compose his groups as he chose. Old
conventions were abandoned ; the artist

might now seek motifs in his own mind
or in nature. The result of this liberation
of individual creative power was great
art. The Gothic designer used notan
with dramatic invention and magical
strangeness. The French cathedrals of
the best period (XI to XIV century) not-
ably Paris, Chartres, Amiens and Reims,
show how sculptural traditions were
boldly broken and the most daring ef-
fects accomplished without forgetting the
character of stone or the architectural
requirements. The stone-cutter was an
artist as long as his restraint was self-
imposed as long as he held to unity
of the whole composition and kept de-
tails in their own place as long as he
carved harmonies, not mere stories ; pp.
8, ii, 29, 51, 52.

The masterpieces of Gothic sculpture
may be studied from photographs and
from reproductions published by the Mu-
see de Sculpture Comparee, Paris.
Sketch in the masses with brush and ink
in two values. Draw freely, at arm’s
length, on gray or low-toned paper, ob-
serving the character of shapes of dark ;
No. 49, opposite. New avenues of tone-
thought will now open, through appre-
ciation of the power and beauty of the
stone cutter’s art of the middle-ages.



Japanese Ramma, Fret-saw work, p. 80

JAPANESE DESIGN BOOKS modelling and nature-imitation are sub-
ordinate. As in pre-Renaissance times

If time had preserved for us the sketches in Europe, the education of the Japanese
of Pheidias, of the architect of St. Mark’s, artist was founded upon composition,
of the great designers of the early ages, Thorough grounding in fundamental
we should know how these creators principles of spacing, rhythm and notan,
planned the line and mass, the simple gave him the utmost freedom in design,
structural schemes of their immortal He loved nature and went to her for his
works. In later days when paper was subjects, not to imitate. The winding
common, artists’ drawings were in a less brook with wild iris ( above ) the wave
perishable form and many can now be and spray, the landscape, No. 51, were
seen in our museums. Some have been to him themes for art to be translated into
published and are fairly within reach, terms of line or dark-and-light or color,
though often in costly editions. But Jap- They are so much material out of which
anese art comes to the aid of the student
of composition with abundant material
sketch books, design books, drawings
and color prints. The learner should
seek for genuine works of the best peri- student of composition are those with col-
ods, avoiding modern bad reproductions, lections of designs for lacquer, wood,
imitations, carelessly re-cut blocks, crude metal and pottery, the Ukiyo-ye books
colors, and all the hasty and common- of figures, birds, flowers and landscape,
place stuff prepared by dealers for the and the books by Kano artists, with brush-
foreign market. sketches of compositions by masters.
The Japanese knew no division into Rep- It was a common practice with the Jap-
resentative and Decorative; they thought anese to divide a page into sections of
of painting as the art of two dimensions, equal size and place a different design in
the art of rhythm and harmony, in which each section, p. 55. This is of great im-


may be fashioned a harmonious line-

system or a sparkling web of black and


The Japanese books of most value to the

Japanese Kamma Fret-saw work, p So


No. 50

Japanese design for
embroidered kimono



No. 51. Japanese landscape compositions for color printing;

7 8


No. 52. Japanese botanical work. Each page a composition in two values



portance to the student for it illustrates
at once the principles of space-filling and
notan, and gives an idea of the infinite
possibilities of artistic invention.
I have reproduced examples from the
three classes of books mentioned above,
selected in this case for their brilliancy
of notan. Let the student copy them

the student some clues for original re-
search and experiment.
PRINTING. Florets, seals, initial letters,
page ornaments, illustrations, posters,
end papers, drawn in black, gray or
one color.

TEXTILES. Blue and white towels,
quilts, etc., woven or printed, lace, em-

enlarged, then make original designs of broidery, rugs, pages 9, 65, 66.

similar motives. Good reproductions of
many Japanese design books can now
be obtained at low prices. They are
very stimulating, for they point to the best
way of studying nature and of translating
her beauty into the language of art ; pp.
57, 62, 64, 70 79-



The Structural method of art study places
principle before application. Much ap-
preciation of notan could be gained from
any one of the subjects just considered,
for example, textiles, but the tenden-
cy would be to think of tone as belonging
specially to textiles. The same can be
said of Line as it appears in casts, the
human form, or historic ornament. At-
tention is centred upon the particular
case, and the larger view is lost. It is bet-
ter to gain a knowledge of line, mass and
color as the material out of which to
create ; and to become acquainted with
principles of harmony-building, before
undertaking definite applications. This
gives fuller control, and enhances the
worker’s powers of invention.
Applications of two values are number-
less ; I will mention a few of them to give

KERAMICS. One color on a ground of
different value, as blue and white, No. 54;
or black on gray.

METAL. Perforated sheet metal ; metal
for corners, fixtures, etc., pp. 25, 58.
WOOD. Fret saw work, inlay ; pp. 62, 76,


Examples of applications are given be-
low, No. 53, and on opposite page.




CLEAR black against clear white The word “values” refers to harmony of

is a strong contrast ; even the best tone -structure ; the value of a mass is its

of such work has some harshness, degree of light or dark in relation to its

despite a sparkling brilliancy. A tone of neighbors,

gray, midway between these two ex- EXERCISE

tremes, changes their relations and opens The student comes now to a new exercise

up a whole new field for creative activ- of judgment in determining the middle

ity. Now we must think of different de- value between black and white, or be-

grees of Notan, the “value” of one tween light and dark gray. He has to

tone against another. This simple set mix this tone, and decide when it is of the

of three notes is the basis of the mezzo- right depth ; here, for the first time, he

tint, aquatint, charcoal sketch and wash begins to paint.

drawing. The old masters drew on gray For this painting-exercise will be needed

paper with black and white. white dishes in which to mix the ink

From three, it is an easy step to many tones, and flat Japanese (ha-ke) brushes,

values, and in these refinements of Notan The best paper is Japanese, well sized,

lies the true meaning of the word ” val- The thin coating of glue keeps the edge

ues.” That property of painted shapes, of the wash from drying before the brush

whereby they “take their places” one can take it up.

beyond another in a picture, is aerial The first difficulty is the laying of a flat
perspective, not values. It is a desirable wash ; this requires dexterity and much
quality of Representation, and often be- practice. Paper must be stretched or
comes a kind of deception most agreeable thumb-tacked perfectly smooth; ink-
to the mind unappreciative of art. Those stone, dishes and brushes must be clean,
who have little perception of harmonies For a beginning take a simple line pat-
of tone and color, wish to see objects tern; decide which parts shall be white ;
“stand out” in the picture “as if they then wash a middle tone of gray over the
were real.’ rest. When dry, paint in the black
Whistler protested against this, holding spaces.

that the portrait painter is not an artist The reason for keeping a tone flat is that

unless he can give the opposite effect; the value of a whole space can be judged

that a portrait that stands out beyond its better ; if it is sloppy and uneven it loses

frame is bad. force and interest. In beginners’ work,


and in design, flatness is necessary, but
in picture-painting purely flat tones
would rarely be used.

The next step is to mix three values, light,
medium and dark, in three white dishes.
The intervals can be tested by painting
the spaces of a simple scale. This need
not have an outline, as three
brush-strokes will suffice.
Apply these tones to a design ;
make several arrangements,
for the effect, and to discover
the possibilities in three values.
The subjects might be the same
as in notan of two values, pages
63 68. The examples below
illustrate the method and re-




suits. See scale, p. 88, also p. 9.
In addition to original composition, the
student should copy from masterpieces
of design and pictorial art, translating
them into three values.


For three-value studies one may use
ink, charcoal or oil paint. The two latter
are particularly suitable for landscape
designs and illustrative work. Char-
coal should be used lightly and very
freely. It gives effects of vibration, at-
mosphere, envelope and light, but the
handling requires special study and
much practice.

The first few exercises in charcoal land-
scape may be in flat tones ( see No. 55,
page 85 ), and the student may find it well
to make a scale of three values in this
medium; he must learn however to
feel outlines without drawing them,
and to handle charcoal firmly but

Cover the paper with a very sketchy tone
of soft charcoal ; pass over it lightly with
a paper stump or piece of cotton cloth.
Be careful not to grind the black into the
paper, making an opaque smoky tone.
Charcoal paper is made rough, to let the



warm white shine between the little
particles of black that lie upon the points
of the surface.

When a luminous middle-gray is ob-
tained, sketch in the darks with soft char-
coal and take out the lights with bread
or rubber ; this effect is like a mezzotint,
Nos. 55, 57, and p. 57.
After the principle of three values has
been demonstrated, and the student can
appreciate definite intervals of tone, the
instructor should allow great freedom in
execution, not even limiting to three notes
but adding one or two others if necessary
to good expression.

For oil painting, mix the three tones in
quantity sufficient to paint several stud-
ies. Ivory Black and Burnt Sienna will
give a good neutral gray. For the color
of blue china or the Abruzzi towels, use
Prussian Blue, Black and White. Opin-
ions differ as to the use of diluting medi-
ums, and sizes of brushes, for oil painting.
I should advise thinning the color with
linseed oil and turpentine (half and half),
and using large flat bristle brushes. Can-
vas should be fairly rough in texture. If
the surface to be painted on is smooth,
either wood, pasteboard, or canvas,
prepare a ground with thick paint, leav-
ing brush-marks. ~

Use of the principle of three values in
out- door sketching and in illustration,
has been explained above. There is one
application, among others, that should
be made by the student at this point
composition of a book-page.

The usual illustrated page is an arrange-
ment in three tones, white paper, gray
type, dark picture. The value to the pub-
lisher depends quite as much upon the
picturesque effect of the illustration as
upon its drawing. Size and placing, dis-
position of type, amount of margin, are
matters of Line Composition ; but choice
of type, and the tone of the illustration
belong to Notan Composition. Hence
the student will gain much from design-
ing pages, in ink, charcoal or oil, using as
pictures the copies from masters, or orig-
inal studies. Picture, title, initial letter,
and body of type must be so composed
that the result will be effective and har-
monious, No. 58.

Reference should be made to examples
of early printing, to the works of William
Morris, and to the best modern printing.

Japanese drawing, effect of three value*






“THE WOLD AFLOAT” by John Sell Cotman

“ST. JOHN’S RIVER” by William Morris Hunt




Scales of 5 and 7 values (see p. 89 opposite)




E^E, Notan, Color the elements
by which the whole visible world
is apprehended, may or may
not be used as the language of art.
Like speech, this three-fold language
may voice noble emotions in poetic
style, or may subserve the vulgar and
the humdrum. Art-language must be
in art-form ; a number of facts, or an
incident, accurately described in paint
and color may have no more connec-
tion with art than a similar set of
written statements just plain prose.
There is no art unless the statements
are bound together in certain subtle re-
lations which we call beauty. When

SCALE. At this point construct a scale
introducing more delicate relations of
tone, and involving finer judgment as to

A scale of white, black and three grays
(a) will be best for beginning, to be
followed by a scale of seven values
(b). See page 88. These may be made
with Japanese ink, water color, charcoal
or oil ; but not with pencil as it has not
depth enough.

The values here are only approximate ;
perfect accuracy cannot be pbtained by
the half-tone process.

Choose a textile, or any design with a

beauty enters, the parts cease to have variety of spaces, and try notan-effects
separate existence, but are melted to- with tones from the scale. The object is
gether in a unit. to discover a fine notan-scheme of values,
Advanced composition is only a working and by using the scale one is assured of
out of simple elements into more complex definite intervals. If the notes are mixed
and difficult interrelations. If the picture
has figures and landscape, the lines of
each run in such directions, intersect and
interweave in such ways as to form a
musical movement. The tones and col-
ors are arranged to enrich one another.
A noble subject requires noble pictorial of dark-and-light does not depend upon
style. fixed intervals, nor will the composer ad-
Experience of tone-harmony in two and here to any scale in his original creative
three values brings appreciation of no- work.

tan-structure and lays a solid foundation Some results of this exercise are shown

for advanced work. in No. 58, page 91.


in quantity, they may be tried upon a
half-dozen tracings at once, from which
the best should be chosen.
Remember that the scale-work is only
an exercise to help toward clarity of tone,
and to encourage invention. Harmony



After some experience in handling five
or seven tones, the student can undertake
original composition. For a beginning
pure landscape may be best, taking some
of the subjects previously used.
Follow this with landscape and figures ;
groups of figures with landscape back-
ground ; figures in interiors ; and portrait

Compose for a book-page, using one
light gray value to represent the effect of
type, as in No. 58, opposite.
Paint very freely, without too much
thought of scales and intervals. Let gra-
dations enter where needed for finer ef-
fect. Study the work of the best illustra-
tors, noting the tone-scheme and the
placing upon the page.


Etching, pen drawing and pencil sketch-
ing are line-arts. The needle, pen and
lead pencil are tools for drawing lines,
and there is much reason in Whistler’s
contention that tone and shading should
not be attempted with them. The tool
always gives character to work, and the
best results are obtained when the pos-
sibilities of tools and materials are fully
appreciated. If a sharp point is used in
drawing, it will produce pure line, whose
quality may reach any degree of excel-
lence. Whistler, in his etchings, worked
for the highest type of line-beauty ; shad-
ows and tones were felt, but not ex-
On the other hand the artist is not subject

to restrictions and fixed laws. He can-
not allow even a master to interfere with
his freedom; there is no ” thou shalt ” and
” thou shalt not ” in art. Admitting the
value of all the arguments for restricting
the use of the needle to line only, the artist
observes that clustering of lines inevita-
bly produces tone and suggests massing
(notan of line, page 54) that this effect
is developed in rich gradations by wip-
ing the etching-plate in the process of
printing. Etchers are thus tempted to
use tone, and many masters, from Rem-
brandt down, have worked in tone more
often than in line.


is a dry, hard process but one of great
value in modern illustration owing to the
ease with which it may be reproduced.
It need not be as inartistic as it usually
appears; observation of pen work will
show that, aside from faults in composi-
tion, failure in interest lies largely in the
handling. Perhaps one pen only is used,
and all textures treated alike, whereas
every texture should have its own char-
acteristic handling; cross hatching or any
uniform system of shading with the pen
is deadly. Study the rendering ; suggest
surface-quality rather than imitate or
elaborate ; use a variety of pens. Johns-
ton has shown with what art the reed
pen may be employed in lettering and
illuminating. In comparison with the
Japanese brush, the ordinary pen is a
clumsy tool, but nevertheless it is capable
of much more than is usually gotten with



Variation ofatcVtile. motif , , i>

No. ?8

.. ! m J,M,,


sacrifice. _

Compositions in more than three values
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York


No. 59

” THE PIRATE SHIP ” Composition in four values, Teachers College, New York

” HARRY MAYNE’S HOUSE” from nature, five values, Ipswich Summer School of Art



  • ‘ t..- Ml k ji* _ j, ., .aWWW” 1.*’. ‘ –


No. 60

r* ” \ I ‘



it ; and the reed pen closely approaches
the brush as a line-implement.
The brush may be used as a pen, values
and massing being obtained by blots and
clustering of lines. Two examples are
given below; see also pp. 7, 9, 19.


Much that has been said of etching and
pen drawing is equally true of the hard
lead pencil; but the soft pencil has many
of the qualities of charcoal. It may
even be made to resemble the ink wash.
The most successful pencil work is
that in which line is the main thing,

shading being only suggested. These
darks, whether meant for shadows, lo-
cal tone, or color, will form a ” spotting ”
to which is largely due the interest of the

If shading is attempted, the tones, wheth-
er gray or dark, are made by laying lines
side by side, not by cross-hatching or
going over twice. A pencil sketch must
be off-hand, premier coup, brilliant and
characterful. Two examples are given
as hints for handling, No. 60. It is not
possible here to discuss pencil, pen or
etching, at length; they are only touched
upon in their relation to composition of
line and notan.






INK PAINTING of the world-story, of the Nativity, the

Supreme excellence in the use of ink was Passion, and the joys of heaven,
attained by the Chinese and Japanese Some of these priest-artists of the Zen,
masters. Impressionism is by no means Mokkei, Kakei, Bayen in China; Shubun,
a modern art (except as to color-vibra- Sesshu in Japan, rank with the great
tions) for suggestiveness was highly painters of all time. They, and such
prized in China a thousand years ago. pupils as Sesson, Soami, Motonobu and
The painter expected the beholder to ere- Tanyu, were classic leaders who have
ate with him, in a sense, therefore he put given us the purest types of the art of
upon paper the fewest possible lines and ink-painting. To them we look for the
tones; just enough to cause form, texture truly artistic interpretation of nature; for
and effect to be felt. Every brush-touch dramatic, mysterious, elusive tone-har-
must be full-charged with meaning, and mony; for supreme skill in brush-work,
useless detail eliminated. Put together
all the good points in such a method, and
you have the qualities of the highest art;
for what more do we require of the mas-
ter than simplicity, unity, powerful hand-
ling, and that mysterious force that lays
hold upon the imagination.
Why the Buddhist priests of the Zen sect
became painters, and why they chose
monochrome are questions involving a
knowledge of the doctrines of Buddhism
and of the Zen philosophy. It is suffi-
cient to say here that contemplation of
the powers and existences of external
nature, with a spiritual interpretation
of them, was the main occupation of
Zen thought. Nature’s lessons could be
learned by bringing the soul to her, and
letting it behold itself as in a mirror; the
teaching could be passed on to others by
means of art mainly the art of land-

Japanese sketch of the massing in a painting
by an old master

scape painting. Religious emotion was
the spring of art-power in the East, as it
was in the West. Landscape painting
as religious art, has its parallel in Greek

Ink-painting is both an art and a craft;
it has refinements and possibilities that
can be realized only by working with a
Japanese artist. He starts with a paper
of low tone it may be its natural state,

and Gothic sculpture, in Italian painting or he may wash it over with thin ink


Japanese ink painting by SESSHU, XV. cent
From the original in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


No. 61

Detail oi painting by SESSHU, showing quality of brush stroke



No. 62. AN IPSWICH HILL. Ink painting by Arthur W. Dow

9 8

and color. Into this atmospheric under-
tone he plays gradations, sharp-edged
strokes, drops of black, and vibrating
washes, only touching upon forms, but
clearly marking planes of aerial perspec-
tive. No. 61.




It is not possible for us to attain perfect
mastery of Japanese materials and meth-
ods, but the study will train in appre-
ciation of tone -composition, and in bet-
ter handling of our own water color
and oil. Good photogravures may now
be obtained; in some cases the stu-
dent may copy from originals in our

For experiments in ink-painting I recom-
mend the Japanese paper called “toshi.”

If this is not within reach, a good sub-
stitute may be made by sizing manila
paper with a thin solution of alum. Jap-
anese paper should be wet, and pasted,
by the edges, upon a board. Manila pa-
per, after wetting, may be tacked upon a
stretcher. Japanese ink and ink -stone,
(Chapter II) round and flat brushes, soft
charcoal, and a set of white dishes will
be needed. Sketch in the subject lightly
with the charcoal, dust it off and draw
the main lines with pale thin vermilion
water color. Wash in the broad masses,
relying upon strengthening by many
overtones. Put in the darks last, being
very careful that they are not too sharp-
edged. No. 62.

Note These two sketches and one on p. 96 are
from a XVIIth century Japanese book





COLOR, with its infinity of rela-
tions, is baffling ; its finer harmo-
nies, like those of music, can be
grasped by the appreciations only, not
by reasoning or analysis. Color, in art,
is a subject not well understood as yet,
and there are violent differences of opin-
ion among artists, teachers and critics,
as to what constitutes good color-instruc-
tion. The most that I can do here is to
outline a simple method of study. The

under guidance, examples of acknowl-
edged excellence, like Japanese prints,
Oriental rugs, and reproductions of mas-
terpieces. Contact with these, even
looking at them (if the pupil is taught
what to look for), will strengthen the
powers of color perception. In schools
where the art periods are short and
few, this may be the only method pos-
sible. (See p. 13 and chap. XVI.)
For those who intend to use color in cre-

usual advice of the academic painter to ative work a certain amount of theory is
” keep trying,” is discouraging to the be- indispensable, as it simplifies the subject
ginner and increases his confusion ; it is and opens up a few definite lines of re-
not in accord with good sense either, for search. The word ” theory ” has become
the other arts are not attacked through a kind of academic bugbear, yet Leon-
timid and aimless experiment. An artist ardo da Vinci said that the painter who
may say that a certain group of colors is works without a theory is like the sailor
a harmony ; the pupil cannot see it, but who goes to sea without a compass,
he takes the master’s word for it. The Well-ordered thought is as necessary in
artist is not teaching successfully unless art as in any other field. Theory is a
he points the way to appreciation, how- help to clear thinking and gives direction
ever hard or long it may be. and purpose to practice.
A systematic study of line and tone is Color, however complicated, may be re-
very profitable, as we have seen ; I be- duced to three simple elements :

lieve that color may be approached in
like manner, and I shall attempt now to
relate the treatment of the color-element
(chapter I) to that of the other two, and
to give some results of personal experi-
Those who have but little time for work

HUE, as yellow, blue-green,
NOTAN (or Value), as dark red,

light red,

INTENSITY (or Bright-to-gray-
ness) as intense blue, dull blue.
Color harmony depends upon adjust-
ments in this three-fold nature. If a col-

in color, can spend it best in copying, or-scheme is discordant, the fault may


be discovered in, wrong selection of
hues or weak values, or ill-matched in-
tensities, or all three. This simple clas-
sification reduces the perplexities that
beset the student, by showing him where
to look for the cause of failure. The
words ” Value ” and ” Chroma ” are used
in this connection by Albert H. Munsell,
to whose book “A Color Notation” the
reader is referred for a very convincing
exposition of color theory.
Mr. Munsell has invented a photometer
to measure values of light and color, and
has prepared scales, spheres, charts and
pigments for school use.
My own experiments in making circles
of hues and scales of notan and inten-










thinking, in an orderly way, about the
three dimensions of color.

HUE. To judge of the effect of one hue
upon another, arrange the whole five,
Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, in a
circle making them equal in value and

equal in degree of brightness, thus elim-
sities, were based upon the old theory mating notan and intensity. In the cen-
– Red, Blue and Yellow as primaries, tre of the circle (N) paint a note of middle
Green, Orange and Violet as seconda-
ries, etc. At that time (1890) the progres-
sion from bright to gray was not recog-
nized as a distinct element of color, but

in art-educational works difference of

value, chosen from the scale, p. 88. Then
paint the other divisions R, Y, G, B, P
with the five hues. When this is well
done if the circle were photographed
upon a color-blind plate, the result
intensity was confused with dark-and- would be a flat tone of middle gray,
light; spectra for school use contained No pigment is of the exact quality needed;
hues in violent contrast as to brilliancy red that is neither yellow-red nor purple-
and value. red can be mixed from Vermilion and

Science determined long since that the Crimson ; Prussian Blue is greenish, New
fundamental color impressions are not Blue is reddish ; some pigments are too
red, blue and yellow, but Red, Green and light, others too dark. This exercise re-
Violet-blue. Mr. Munsell adopts these quires study of great importance to the
and two secondaries, Yellow and Purple painter, giving him a better acquaintance
– five hues in all as the basis of all with his materials.

color expression in art. This seems very Next, make a circle of intermediates, No.
simple and quite sufficient for working 63, by mixing adjoining hues; this gives
out all problems in color scheming. five more notes yellow-red, green-

Note. Experiments as outlined below, yellow, blue-green, purple-blue, red-pur-
are intended only to set the student pie. Bear in mind that these circles are





only statements of relations, of the same
use as a scale. The question now is of
the art-use of them, of composing a har-
mony with them.

APPLICATION. Choose a line-design,
and paint the spaces with colors from
the second circle. The effect will be
peculiar because there are no differences
of dark-and-light or intensity ; the only
harmony possible comes from interplay
of hues, a kind of iridescence and vi-
bration ; see opposite page.
Colors that stand opposite in circle as
blue, yellow-red ; or red, blue-green –
will, if placed side by side, increase each
other’s power and produce violent con-
trast. Opposition of Color is analogous
to Opposition of Line (page 21) and Op-
position of Notan (black and white). To
unite these extremes of difference, bring
in a third hue related to each, for ex-
ample, red, green-yellow, blue-green;
yellow, yellow-red, purple-blue. This
is the principle of Transition (page 22) ;
see also page 82, three values.
Practice in composing with few and sim-
ple elements, of deciding when contrast-
ing colors are of equal value, or equal
intensity, is of direct use in art. The land-
scape painter opposes the whole sky to
the whole ground ; he wants a vibration
of color in each, without disturbing the
values; the designer in stained glass
sometimes desires to fill a space with ir-
idescent color, perhaps as a background
for figures.

The student may, if he likes, use black
with these colors, producing a very bril-
liant effect like a Cairo window ; but here

the hues are measured against black,
rather than against each other.
In No. 63 are shown two experiments in
composing with HUE.

NOTAN of COLOR. Draw in outline
six scales, as shown in the diagram.
Paint N in white, black and three grays
(see page 88). In the spaces marked (a)
paint each of the five hues red, yellow,
green, blue and purple, middle value and
equal intensity.





























Scales in three valu for exercises in Notan of Color

Next, paint a lighter value (b) and a
darker (c) making a notan-scale of each
hue, light red, middle red, dark red,
etc. Observe that intensity diminishes
toward light and dark.
If the intermediates, yellow-red, green-
yellow and the rest, are also arranged
in this way from light to dark, you will
have a set of notes for application in

APPLICATION. A line design may
now be colored from one of the scales,
say Blue. Hue and Intensity being
eliminated, the whole effort is centred
upon notan of color. This is an exercise
in three values (page 83) using color in-
stead of neutral gray. No. 64, p. 105.



SCALE of 10 HUES and NEUTRAL. M,ddie Value

More applications can be made than in APPLICATION. Arrange these notes COLOR

the case of Hue; historic art is full of them, in a line design. As Hue and Notan are (EORY

Dutch tiles, Japanese prints and blue tow- eliminated, the only harmony will be

els, Abruzzi towels, American blue quilts, that of bright points floating in grayish

etc., are examples of harmony built up tones (No. 65). Other hues may be scaled

with several values of one hue. and tested in like manner.

With two hues innumerable variations Combine two hues in one design, all val-

are possible. Japanese prints of the ” red ues equal, adding contrast of hue to

and green” period are compositions in contrast of intensity.

light yellow-red, middle green, black, Examples abound in painting. To cite

and white. Other examples can be easily a few : the element of intensity gives

found in the world’s art. The student breadth and tonal harmonies in stained

should apply the scale-notes to his own glass, Persian rugs, Cazin’s foregrounds,

designs, not using, at this stage, more the prints of Harunobu, Kiyonaga and

than two hues, with perhaps black and Shunsho.



INTENSITY. Color varies not only in INTENSITY. In all color -schemes

hue and value, but in intensity, ranging these three will be found in combination,

from bright to gray. Every painter Analysis of a few compositions will be

knows that a brilliant bit of color, set in worth while ; for example, the print, No.

grayer tones of the same or neighboring 69, p. 124, and the print and textile, page

hues, will illuminate the whole group, 13. Note (i) the number of hues ; (2)

a distinguished and elusive harmony, the number of values of each hue, whether

The fire opal has a single point of intense dark, light or medium ; (3) the degrees

scarlet, melting into pearl ; the clear of intensity of each hue, whether very

evening sky is like this when from the bright, bright, medium or dull; (4) the

sunken sun the red-orange light grades quantity of each color and its distribu-

away through yellow and green to steel- tion in the design ; (5) the amount and

gray. effect of black, white and neutral gray.

This rarely beautiful quality of color can For a simple exercise in composition the

be better understood by isolating it and student might color a line design in sev-

testing it in designs (as has been done eral ways, using three hues, varying the

with each principle, from Line onward; dark-and-light distribution and the quan-

see page 21). tity of bright and gray tones.

Paint a scale with one hue, say Vermil- Follow this with other designs in color,

ion, keeping each space of the same val- -flower panels, repeating patterns, fig-

ue, but grading the intensity down to ures in costume, and landscape. A little

neutral gray. of this kind of work will cultivate good





judgment as to color relations, and will
stimulate invention. Color Theory does
not ensure harmony but is a help toward
it, as it shows where balance and ad-
justment are needed.
Note. It is next to impossible to repro-
duce colors with perfect accuracy, and
even if the hues, values and intensities
could be exactly copied, it is doubtful if
the inks would remain absolutely un-

changed for a great length of time. The
plates of Color Theory here shown are
intended only as statements of the fun-
damental color-relations. They are not
scientifically accurate, nor do they need
to be, they are to be used in art, not in
science. Their purpose is to show the
pupil how to study color, how to make
scales and apply them in art, rather than
to furnish a standard to be copied.

1 THE GUND ALOW ” study in three values. See p. 82




ONE approach to Color may be z. Leaves middle yellow-green
through Notan, either before or 2. Flower middle red-yellow
after studying color theory. By 3. Background light yellow
clustering lines tone is produced (page Add to ist dish a yellow green (Prussian
54) ; by tingeing neutral grays Color is Blue and Gamboge); to the 2nd Ver-
produced. In monochrome itself fine milion and Gamboge ; to the 3rd Raw
relations of notan will suggest color. Sienna. Paint these notes upon the de-
Japanese ink painters enhance the har- sign. (See opposite page.)
monies of tone-composition by mingling Make a half dozen tracings of the same
slight quantities of hue with the ink. design. As each one is painted add
Faint washes of yellow in foregrounds, more color to the washes until the last
of green in foliage, of blue in sea and one has a very small quantity of gray,
sky, of red and other colors in buildings The result is a series in which color
and costumes, convey impressions of full grows gradually from neutrals. No. 66.
color-keys. Next, use bright and gray tones of the
Etchers and lithographers often add a same hue, an effect like faded rugs and
few touches of color not only as a con- age-stained Japanese prints,
trast to the grays, but to cause the behold- Dulling colors with gray may not bar-
er to imagine the whole color-scheme. monize them. One who appreciates fine
The effect of modifying neutrals with hue quality is not deceived by those who
may be observed in the following ” antique ” rugs or prints with coffee and
EXERCISE chemicals. A design poor in proportion,
Prepare a set of three gray washes, light, weak in notan and harsh in color can-
medium, and dark (page 83) in three not be saved by toning the faults are
white dishes. Japanese ink will not mix only a little less apparent,
with our water colors ; use Ivory Black

with a touch of Burnt Sienna to bring it ONE HUE and NEUTRALS. An-
to neutrality. other approach to color, from notan,
Having settled upon a color arrange- is through substitution of hues for grays,
ment for some simple design, mix a small This might (in a short course) follow ex-
quantity of color into each dish. ercises in five or more values (page 89.)
Suppose the subject to be a tulip panel Referring now to the scales of five and
in three values : seven values, for application to a design,



substitute a hue for one of these grays,
carefully keeping the value. If the sub-
ject be a variation of a Coptic textile,
a warm red or yellow-green may be
chosen ; for a flower panel, bright yellow,
yellow-red or emerald green. Excel-
lence in result will depend upon distri-
bution of the one hue among neutral

Examples are many; two kinds only
need be mentioned now, American In-
dian pottery, and landscapes in black,
gray and vermilion red from Hokusai’s
“Mangwa,” (p. 57.)

VALUES. The next step would be to
replace two grays with two values of
one hue, making scales like these :
White White

Light green Light purple

Middle green Middle gray

Dark gray Dark purple

Black Black

chances for invention and variation.
With at least ten hues to choose from
R, YR, Y, GY, G, BG, B, PB, P, RP each
one of which might have perhaps four
degrees of intensity (from very bright to
dull) the student has material to com-
pose in any key. Two typical scales are
given below :
Two hues White

Light yellow

Middle gray

Dark green

Three hues White

Light yellow

Middle gray-green

Dark gray-purple


Will the exercises in the foregoing chap-
ters ensure a harmony ? No, they are
only helps to a better understanding of
color. Harmony depends upon (a) good

Follow by eliminating all the grays, and line design, (b) choice of hues, (c) quan-

the scale might be like this :


Light blue-green

Middle blue-green

Dark blue-green


Choice of color will depend upon the
nature of the design.
The medium may be crayon, wash,
opaque water color or oil paint.

TWO and THREE HUES. If two

tity of each, (d) a dominating color, (e)
notan values, (f) fine relations of inten-
sity, (g) quality of surface, (h) handling.
All these in perfect synthesis will be
found in the works of the greatest mas-
ters. It is also true that simple harmo-
nies are not difficult to realize, as is
witnessed by primitive art and the best
work of students.

With practice in the ways suggested
here, two other things are necessary,
advice from an experienced and appre-

hues are introduced the complexity will ciative instructor, and acquaintance with
be greater, but there will be more fine examples of color.




IN the quest for harmony, what better slight quantity of charcoal over the sur-
course could be taken than to copy face, very lightly ; wipe it off with cha-
harmonies ? Nothing so sharpens mois or cotton rag, leaving little points of
color perception as contact with the best black in the hollows of the paper,
examples. The attempt to reach a mas- Isolate the desired color-passage, by cut-
ter’s style, peculiar color-feeling, refine- ting an opening in a sheet of white paper
ments of tone and methods of handling, and laying it upon the face of the print,
brings both knowledge and appreciation. Copy with washes of water color. If the
For ordinary use Japanese prints are print is age-stained, tone your char-
most convenient and inspiring color- coal paper with Raw Sienna and Ivory
models. Black.

the best of these the color has a peculiar be found anywhere in the range of Japa-
bloom due to the process of printing from nese color-printing, from Okumura Ma-
wood blocks. The paper is pressed upon sanobu in the middle of the XVIIIth
forms cut on the flat side of a’ board ; the century to modern days, but the rarity
grain of the wood, the rough surface of and great value of early prints puts them
the “baren” with which the paper is out of reach of those who have not access
rubbed down, and the fibrous texture of to museum collections. I can mention
the paper combine to make a luminous here but a few names, with which the
vibrating tone. Particles of color lie upon student is most likely to meet:
the tops of silken filaments, allowing the Torii Kiyonobu and his fellows of the
undertone of the paper to shine through, “red-and-green period” ( first half of the
– precisely the quality sought by paint- XVIIIth century ) ; Harunobu, Koriusai,
ers in using a rough canvas and thin Kiyonaga and Shunsho, who worked in
washes, or thick color put on with small sunny yellows and reds, pearly greens
brushes. In the print the vibration is not and pale purples, often most cleverly op-
obvious, but the effect is that of color over posed with transparent black and cool
which floats a thin golden envelope. silvery grays ; then Utamaro and Toyo-
Ordinary charcoal paper is good for cop- kuni I., strong but less fine,
ies, as it has a roughness that aids in Among XlXth century men Hiroshige
producing atmospheric tones. Rub a (page 13) and Hokusai are preeminent



as colorists. Both have strongly influ- some of the early editions have been kept
enced Occidental painters. in albums in store houses, and the color

Hiroshige designed series after series of has not changed. Experience and appre-
prints, scenes famous for their beauty ciation are after all the only safeguards,
or historic interest ; stations on the two
great highways, the Tokaido and the
Kisokaido; effects of wind, rain, snow
and twilight; flowers, birds, and a few

figures. He would recompose the same
series again and again in different size

APPLICATION. Having made the
copy of the color-scheme, apply the same
colors to several tracings of one design,
(No. 67). One of the things taught by this

and color-scheme. His design is full of exercise is that distribution and propor-

delightful surprises; his artistic power
and inventiveness are astonishing. A

tion of color affect harmonic relations-
Colors that harmonize as they stand in

prodigious amount of work is signed by the print may seem discordant when used

his name ; some critics hold that there
was a second, and even a third Hiroshi-
ge, but Fenollosa believed in one only,
whose manner naturally varied during
a long life (1790 1858).
Hokusai’s color is strange and imagina-
tive ; sometimes delicate almost to neu-

in different quantities ; they will surely
be so if the design is badly spaced. With
a good design, and correct judgment as
to hue, notan and intensity, the chances
are that each variation will be satisfac-
Copies from Hiroshige are of special

trality, sometimes startling and daring, value to the landscape painter. These
His pupils Hokkei, Hokuju and the rest may be made in oil as a study of quality

are more gentle.

The figure prints most commonly seen
are by Kunisada (Toyokuni II), Kuni-
yoshi and other pupils of Toyokuni I.,
and Keisai Yeisen. Here, as in most
Japanese figure prints, color effects are
produced by skilful combinations of pat-
terns upon costumes. Every kind of
color-key is possible, by this means,
with infinite variations ; impressionist
painting with wood blocks.
The student is warned that poor prints
abound, impressions from worn-out
blocks, cheap modern reprints, and imi-
tations. Bright, fresh color, however,
need not be taken to mean imitation ;

and vibration. The procedure is a little
different from the preceding. It is better,
in oil painting, to copy whole prints.
Over the surface of a large rough canvas
scrub a thin gray, of the color of the paper
of the print. Draw the design in a few
vigorous lines, omitting all details. Paint
in, at arm’s length, the principal color
notes, not covering the whole surface
or filling in outlines. Mix colors before-
hand, taking time to copy each hue and
value exactly. The painting, with each
color ready upon the palette, should be
swift and vigorous. Place the print above
the canvas ; stand while painting ; make
comparisons at a distance.


Copying Japanese prints is recommend-
ed for practice in color ; it does not re-
place nature-painting or original design,
though it will be a help to both.

The exercises described above may be
taken with textiles. Beauty of color in the
finest of these is due to good composition,
the softening of dust and age-stain, and
the atmospheric envelope caused by re-
flection of light from the minute points of
the web. For some kinds of textile the
charcoal paper, as above, may be useful ;
for others, gray paper and wax crayons.

The latter are excellent for copying rugs
and can be used in original designs for

As to models, work from originals in mu-
seums, Persian carpets and rugs, Coptic
and Peruvian tapestries, mediaeval tap-
estries, Italian, Spanish and French tex-
tiles Xlllth to XVIIIth centuries, etc. In
the ” rag- fairs” of Europe, and in antique
shops, one may find scraps of the woven
and printed stuffs of the best periods.
The South Kensington Museum has
published colored reproductions of tex-
tiles. Art libraries will “have Fischbach’s,
Mumford’s, the Kelekian Collection and
others in full color.




THE test of any system of art-study
lies in what you can do with it.
Harmony-building has been the
theme of the foregoing pages, with pro-
gressive exercises in structural line, dark-
and-light and color. The product should
be power, power to appreciate, power
to do something worth while. Practice
in simple harmonies gives control of the

Applications of structural principles are
many ; I can mention and illustrate but
a few:

The art of wood block printing has been
practised for ages in Oriental countries.
Our word “calico” is from the name of
more complex relations, and enables one an Indian town, Calicut, whence printed
to create with freedom in any field of art. patterns were brought to England. The
Such training is the best foundation for older Indian designs, now very rare, had
work in design, architecture, the crafts, great beauty of line and color,
painting, sculpture and teaching. After These ancient cotton prints are used by
this should come special training; for the the Japanese for outer coverings of pieces
designer, architect, craftsman, study of of precious pottery, first a silk brocade
historic styles, severe drill in drawing bag, then one of Indian calico envelop-
(freehand and mechanical), knowledge
of materials ; for the painter and sculptor,
long practice in drawing and modelling,
acquirement of technique ; for the teach-
er, drill in drawing, painting, designing
and modelling, study of educational prin-
ciples, knowledge of school conditions

and public needs, practice teaching.
In a word, first cultivate the mind, set
the thoughts in order, utilize the power
within ; then the eye and the hand can
be trained effectively, with a definite end
in view. The usual way, in our systems
of art-instruction, is to put drill first, leav-
ing thought and appreciation out of ac-

ing a wooden box in which is the bowl
wrapped in plain cotton cloth.
The process of wood block printing is
very simple, and in my opinion of special
educational value. After observation of
the craft in India in 1904 I determined
to introduce it into art courses both
for adults and children. The method is
outlined below :

  1. Design the pattern in pencil or ink.

  2. Draw the unit, with attention to its
    shape and proportions and the ef-
    fect when repeated.

  3. Paste this face down upon a wood
    block; pine, gum wood, or a hard
    wood of close grain.


3E 3:

M f



k ” ‘ Coli ‘ ” ” ‘


  1. Cut away the white spaces, clear-
    ing with a gouge. As the block is
    to be used as a stamp, the corners
    and all outside the design, must be

  2. Printing. Lay a piece of felt upon
    a slate, or upon a glass, pour a few
    drops of mucilage upon the felt, and
    mix with it either common water
    color, or dry color. Distribute this
    evenly with a flat bristle brush.
    Make a large pad, say 22 x 28 or
    14 x 20, by tacking cambric upon a
    drawing board. Under the cam-
    bric should be one thickness of

PRINTING on PAPER. A slightly
rough absorbent surface prints well.
Wrapping paper can be found in many
colors, tones and textures, and is inex-
pensive. Damp paper will give clear-
cut impressions.

Lay the paper upon the large pad; charge
the block upon the small pad, and stamp
the pattern. If the impression is poor,
the cause may be: (a) Face of block
is not level ; rub it upon a sheet of fine
sand-paper; (b) large pad is uneven; (c)
paper is wrinkled or is too glossy; (d)
color is too thick or too wet. Practice
will overcome these small difficulties.

effects are obtained with dyes, but their
manipulation is not easy, and their per-
manence is doubtful unless one has expert
knowledge of the processes of dyeing.
The most convenient medium for the

student is oil color thinned with turpen-
tine (to which may be added a very little
acetic acid and oil of wintergreen). This,
when dry, is permanent and can be
washed, but not with hot water or
strong soap.

With the design in fixed form upon the
block, effort can be concentrated upon
the make-up of the pattern, and the col-
or-harmony. By cutting a block for each
color the designer may vary the schemes
almost to infinity. Where choices are
many and corrections easy, invention
can have free play.

Examples of students’ printing on paper
are given on page zai.

PICTURE PRINTING is a more diffi-
cult, but fascinating form of this art-craft.
Here must be gradation, transparent and
vibrating color, atmospheric over-tone
binding all together. For these qualities
the Japanese process is best, with its per-
fected tools and methods. In theory it is
very simple: The outline is drawn in ink
upon thin paper, and the sheet pasted
face down upon the flat side of a board;
the block is then engraved with a knife
and gouges, the drawing being left in re-
lief; the paper is removed from the lines
with a damp cloth, and the block charged
with ink. Dry black mixed with mucil-
age and water, or any black water color
will answer. For charging, the Japanese
use a thick short brush, a round bristle
brush will serve the purpose. When
ink is scrubbed evenly over the whole
surface, the block is ready for printing.
A sheet of Japanese paper, slightly damp-




or combination. Stencilling is often done
without sufficient knowledge of the craft.
The student should understand that a
stencil is simply a piece of perforated
water proof paper or metal to be laid
upon paper or cloth and scrubbed over
with a thick brush charged with color;
long openings must be bridged with
“ties,” and all openings must be so
shaped that their edges will remain flat
when the brush passes over them.

ened, is laid upon the block and rubbed
gently with a circular pad called a
“baren.” This wonderful instrument
draws the ink up into the paper, giving
a clear rich soft line.
The baren is made of a leaf of bamboo
stretched over a saucer-like disk of
pasteboard, within which is coiled a
braided fibre-mat.

If the block has been properly cleared,
and the baren is moved in level sweeps,
the paper will not be soiled by ink be-
tween the lines. After printing a num-
ber of outlines the colors are painted
upon them and color-blocks engraved.
It is possible to have several colors upon
the same board, if widely separated. Ac-
curate registry is obtained by two marks
at the top of the board and one at the
side. The paper must be kept of the
same degree of moisture, otherwise it
will shrink and the last impressions will
be out of register. Stencil units are usually large, offer-

Dry colors mixed with water and a little ing good opportunities for Subordination
mucilage, or better still, common water (page 23), Symmetry, and Proportion
colors, may be used. No. 69 is a reproduc-
tion of a print made in the Japanese way.
(In 1895 I exhibited at the Boston Mu-
seum of Fine Arts a collection of my
wood block prints. Professor Fenollosa
wrote the introduction to the catalogue,
discussing the possibilities, for color and
design, of this method, then new to
America. In “Modern Art” for July, wound with string to within an inch of
1896, 1 described the process in full, with the end.

illustrations, one in color.) Colors may be, oil thinned with tur-

pentine ; dyes ; or dry colors ground on a

STENCILLING, like wood block print- slab with water and mucilage. Charge
ing, invites variation of rhythm and col- the brush with thin, thoroughly mixed


(page 28). A unit must- not only be com-
plete in itself but must harmonize with
itself in Repetition (pp. 36, 66).
Stencils may be cut upon thick manila
paper which is then coated with shellac;
or upon oiled paper. If stencil brushes
cannot be obtained one may use a
common, round, house-painter’s brush,

pigment ; if there is too much it will lems of technique in advanced painting,

scrape off under the edges of the stencil They will be mentioned to show the unity

and spoil the print. of the progressive series, to suggest to

Unprinted wall paper (“lining paper”) the student some lines of research and

is cheap and very satisfactory for sten- experiment, and to help him in choosing

cilling. It should be tinted with a thin his field of art- work,
solution of color to which a little mucilage
has been added. Use a large flat brush
about four inches wide, applying the
color with rapid vertical and horizontal




WATER COLOR. This medium is
used in many different ways : as a thin
transparent stain, like the work of David
Cox, Cotman, De Wint ; as a combina-
tion of opaque color and wash, with
which J. M. W. Turner painted air, dis-

further development of the method de- tance, infinity, the play of light over the
scribed in Chapter XIII (see also page
113). Lay in the picture in light values
of charcoal, remembering that the color-
washes will darken every tone. Too
much rubbing with the stump gives mud-
diness, too little charcoal may weaken

world; as flat wash filling in outlines,
like the drawings of Millet and Boutet
de Monvel ; as the modern Dutch use it,
in opaque pastel-like strokes on gray
paper, or scrubbed in with a bristle
brush ; as premier coup painting with no

the values and you will have a “wash- outline (both drawing and painting) like

out.” When the notan-scheme is right, much Japanese work,

the drawing may be fixed. It can be In all these, line is the basis, whether

colored without fixing if the stump has actually drawn, as by Millet and Rem-

been used. brandt, or felt, as by the Japanese and

Color is applied in thin washes allowing Turner. The best painting has form and
the charcoal texture to shine through.
Notan plays the larger part, furnishing
the structure of the composition and giv-
ing a harmonic basis for the color. If the

character in every brush-touch.

hues are well-chosen, the result should
be a harmony of atmospheric depth, with
soft but glowing colors.

book devoted to the study of art-structure
not much space can be given to compar-
ison of mediums, or to professional prob-

OIL COLOR. Instruction in oil paint-
ing is usually limited to what might be
called drawing in paint. Of course the
student must know his pigments, how to
obtain hues and values by mixing, how
to use brushes, how to sketch in, and all
the elementary details, but this is but
a beginning. Expression of an idea or
emotion depends upon appreciation of
art structure ; the point is not so much



how to paint, as how to paint well.
Artists often say that it matters not how
you get an effect, if you only get it. This
is misleading ; it does matter, the great-
est painters get their effects in a fine

Methods of handling oil color may be
reduced to two general classes : (a) the
paint is used thin, as a wash, on a pre-
pared canvas, or (b) it is put on in thick
opaque touches. In either case the aim
is the same to paint for depth, vibra-
tion, illusion of light and color. If brush
strokes are to be left intact, each of them
must have shape and meaning, that is,
line ; if color is put on in a thin wash,
then its value, gradation, hue and texture
are the main points, and these belong
to structural harmony.
Mural painting is the highest form of the
art, demanding perfect mastery of Com-
position. The subject takes visible form
in terms of Line ; then is added the mys-
tery, the dramatic counter-play of Notan,
and the illumination of Color. The cre-
ative spirit moves onward absorbing in
its march all drawing, perspective, anat-
omy, principles of design, color theory
everything contributing to Power.


I have not attempted to overthrow old
systems, but have pointed out their faults
while trying to present a consistent
scheme of art study. The intention has
been to reveal the sources of power; to
show the student how to look within for
the greatest help; to teach him not to
depend on externals, not to lean too much
on anything or anybody.
Each subject has been treated sugges-
tively rather than exhaustively, pointing
out ways of enlargement and wide ap-
plication. If some subjects have seemed
to receive rather scant attention it is not
because I am indifferent to them, but
because I did not wish to depart from the
special theme of the book ; some of these
will be considered in future writings.
The book will have accomplished its pur-
pose if I have made clear the character
and meaning of art structure if the stu-
dent can see that out of a harmony of
two lines may grow a Parthenon pedi-
ment or a Sorbonne hemicycle; out of
the rude dish of the Zuni a Sung tea-
bowl, out of the totem-pole a Michelan-
gelo’s ” Moses ” ; that anything in art is
possible when freedom is given to the
divine gift APPRECIATION