View Full Version : Chp1 The Practice And Science Of Drawing

10-17-2006, 03:42 PM
To get us started:


The best things in an artist's work are so much a matter of intuition, that there is much to be said for the point of view that would altogether discourage intellectual inquiry into artistic phenomena on the part of the artist. Intuitions are shy things and apt to disappear if looked into too closely. And there is undoubtedly a danger that too much knowledge and training may supplant the natural intuitive feeling of a student, leaving only a cold knowledge of the means of expression in its place. For the artist, if he has the right stuff in him, has a consciousness, in doing his best work, of something, as Ruskin has said, "not in him but through him." He has been, as it were, but the agent through which it has found expression.

Cool! First paragraph. Can't wait to read more. I'll be back soon. N

10-18-2006, 05:49 PM
So Nickel, how have you been doing? Has anyone else joined in yet?

I read both the preface and the introduction.

The preface has some interesting points.

Speed praises the method of teaching drawing that has the student draw basic forms such as cylinders, cubes and spheres. (I was taught that this was an invention of Cezanne, but it isn’t hard to believe that variations were around earlier. Does anyone know of anything?) After simple shapes, plaster casts, and finally heads and figures.

After training and training for accuracy, the student goes to study “the masters” by drawing in the museums and finds that the masters aren’t always “accurate”. Speed wants us to consider why the masters may have chosen not to be “accurate”.

As for the Introduction-

Ok, I’m going to have to hold my breath through this part about “intuition”. I’m sure that I have my moments of intuition and whim as much as anybody, but, I am “cringing” as I read this. LOL. Either I’m a confirmed rational classicist, or I’ve seen intuition put to terrible use!

I suspect that Harold was a good old fashioned romantic!

My book has a lovely drawing of “Boreas” and another called “April”!

The section about “Art for Art’s Sake” vs. “Art for the subject’s sake” was interesting.

I'm looking forward to hearing from the rest of you!:thumbsup:


10-18-2006, 06:05 PM
Hi Barb, now you know, lol, when you talk about old fashion romantics, you got my ear!
I'll be back a little later with some comments from the other side ;)
I do try really hard to be understanding of a confirmed rational classicist. :)

10-18-2006, 07:16 PM
ROFL!!!!! Well, I'll hang in there! I'm sure that being part of a group should help me get through some of this. It is good to hear different points of view and think of why people might come to those conclusions! I've been told that this is a really helpful book, so I'm looking forward to more!


10-19-2006, 01:02 PM
Well I sure hope I have a few members to back me up here.
Started reading and couldn't stop last night.

Again, to think when this was written, what was going on in the art world?
Something must have been bugging Speed about what he was seeing.
Not just what he wasn't doing himself.

Sort of, this book relates a little or maybe a lot to a past thread
here in the classical forum about " is art story telling?" or something like
that was asked.

The way I'm reading this book, well I don't think Speed would agree that
art is story telling.

I think he thinks art is more than story telling.
Or at least a very good artist does more than tell a story.

And I don't think he thinks perfect drawing is the answer to good art.
Beening good technically won't make you an artist. :eek:
I think he thinks it's more, but, he thinks artists should be as good
technically as can be acquired.

So I'm looking to see when he will cover how to draw clouds.
Just kidding :p
I'll stop here for now.

10-19-2006, 01:05 PM
Just thinking, maybe, what is the opinion? Should we do a thread for each chapter? It seemed like a good idea yesterday. I don't know if I got my chapters confused. ;) Forgive me if I did. It's fairly normal if you know me for
me to be this way.

10-19-2006, 11:05 PM
I think that you are right. I have read things written by other artists from about the same time making some of the same complaints. I suspect that what we now call the modern movement was an attempt to correct these problems.

I suspect that it’s good to try to understand why people went in the direction that they did.

Still, when I consider the general idea of how artschools should train students, I suspect that I would rather have everyone achieve a certain technical expertise, even if many student’s artwork was a bit lacking the emotional impact. I have a sense that a certain level of technical knowledge is the first rung of the ladder.

The debate about whether or not art should tell stories is another issue that I have seen people from this time discuss. I have seen wonderful work that fits both catagories, though I am becoming more and more fond of work that tells stories!

I’m really looking forward to hearing what the rest of you think! It would be great to hear more reactions and ideas!

Barb :cat:

10-19-2006, 11:08 PM
Nickel - I think that it's a good idea to have new threads. What if you, announce the chapter (and title) you are going to read next before starting a new thread? That would let people know what to expect. It would help us stay together with all the different editions, if you give us the title.

Barb Solomon:cat:

10-28-2006, 06:29 PM
well I am coming in a little later but I read the preface and intro today and up to part of chapter 3....

comments on the preface - The metaphore of the stream of art is interesting though I don't agree with his concept of an advance. I think good art is timeless so none is "left behind" really: all have a place inder the sun. I'd use the word deepening of art rather than advance of art but I may be a bit of a prig.

concerning the intro - I am tickled by his description of intuition being shy.

The description of the student apporoaching his vision as a child using adult skills to convey it is very true and something to strive for. The goal must be clear and ones vision attended and maintained

I don't agree that beauty is meerly a state of mind....beauty like truth is tangible yet I do agree that the deeper beauty is greater than the beautiful object. and that from this fact flows the need to attend to BOTH the matter and manner of expression

on chapter one I thought his comment on music being the purest form of rhythmic expression interesting....

10-28-2006, 06:29 PM
Hi, I'm fairly new to the forum. I like this idea. Currently I'm still printing out chapt 1. BTW, I've always felt that you need technical know-how before you can control what you're doing.

10-28-2006, 11:24 PM
azulparsnip - Welcome! Thanks for joining in! You aren’t too late at all!

I like your description of beauty!

There are some sorts of art that seem to have been made with a child’s imagination and the skills of a great “craftsman”. Thanks for pointing this out!

rabidfox - Welcome! It does seem as if not having enough technical knowledge is more likely to be a problem than someone being “too exact”. I find myself wondering what was happening in Harold Speed’s time for him to feel the way that he did.

It's really enjoyable to see people notice different aspects of Speed's book! It really makes me think about the book differently! It adds another whole dimension!

Are there anymore "Speedster's" out there lurker? Join us! We would love to hear from you!:)

Barb Solomon:cat:

10-29-2006, 09:14 PM
Hi ya, here is a link to chapter 2:


Welcome rabidfox and azulparsnip! What lovely artists names you both have.:)

I go by Nickel, I give my 2 cents worth times 2 with 1 left over as a back up.

Azulparsnip, I found it interesting too that he notes music as the most purest form of rhythmic expression . Maybe if we look back to prehistory, man hummed before he drew????

Rabidfox, Technical know how is interesting, when you get to chapter 2 he writes on this. Will be interested in knowing more of your thoughts on this.

Barb, I like Speedsters.

Sam Cree
11-01-2006, 08:45 PM
Ok, I’m going to have to hold my breath through this part about “intuition”. I’m sure that I have my moments of intuition and whim as much as anybody, but, I am “cringing” as I read this. LOL. Either I’m a confirmed rational classicist, or I’ve seen intuition put to terrible use!

I suspect that Harold was a good old fashioned romantic!


Barb, I'm late to this discussion, so forgive me if I'm jumping in with inappropriate comments at the wrong time (too late).

But, having read both of Speed's books, the one point that seems to be paramount with him is that first the student *must* learn to draw and paint accurately, once that is accomplished, he *must* go beyond accuracy and give something of himself to his work, to take it beyond the commonplace. I believe that to have been one of his main themes as a teacher.

11-01-2006, 09:55 PM
Hi Sam! It’s great that you’ve joined us!

Don’t worry! I think that you are right about my over reacting! I did find in the next chapter that HS does believe that an artist must develop the basics.

HS was familiar with such a different school situation than what I went through.

I know that the argument that was used when I was a student against spending too much time on technical painting and for studying abstraction was built on ideas that said “too technical” was “cold and unexpressive”.

The similarities are making me react! LOL! :)

I have found quite a few interesting thoughts from Harold Speed, so I can see why you like the book!

Barb Solomon:cat:

Precious Mazie
11-01-2006, 09:58 PM
Hi, hope it is still ok to join.

I enjoyed reading the first chapter and the intro. It is very hard to put into words what the difference between what is not art...Screaming...and with rhythm and feeling it becomes art....Singing. He is not saying good or bad art but that with the addition of thought and feeling something becomes art. I think that is an eye opening thought. And that we have an inner almost instinctual concept of what is essential for "art".
I think that may be where "I don't know if its art but I know what I like." And why the "golden mean" seems to be universally pleasing. We are in a magic age when we can go on the internet and see art from around the world and be influenced by art from every age and every culture. I myself have a huge collection of paintings and sculpture on my computer that I can look at anytime I please that I would never have been able to afford to go see in person. I can study and be inspired by.

Loved reading everyones ideas!

Sam Cree
11-01-2006, 10:15 PM
Barb, when I was an art major in college back in the 60's, they didn't actually teach anything in the studio courses I attended, not even use of materials or color theory. I think they were afraid of not being perceived as "cutting edge" or something, but the reasoning I suppose they deluded the public with went along the lines of the idea that they didn't want to interfere with originality. Thinking back on it, that art school was something of a waste of time...one could have stayed at home and learned nothing without wasting so much of their parents money!

The end result was that I left art entirely until late in life...the last five or six years. But I am glad to be back. I'm lucky to have found a guy who is an expert in academic work running a small school near my home, a true master IMO. I'm also pretty grateful for this forum.

BTW, I first heard of Speed in this forum...asked my instructor about the guy...he said yes, get Speed and read him.

11-01-2006, 11:28 PM
Hi Debby! Thanks for joining in!:wave:

It is wonderful having these computers! We can go to the Louvre to sketch without leaving home! :angel: :angel: :angel:

Sam - Yup, some of those profs were still around when I went to school in the early eighties!:lol: Your story sounds all too familiar. I've ended up studying on my own through books!

Reading what others think, does add a lot!

Barb Solomon:cat: