From the final chapter of Robert Fawcett On the Art of Drawing:
"...a short discussion on the value of photography is pertinent here. As an illustrator I am all too conscious of the way photography has been abused, to the point where many illustrators are afraid to put pencil to paper without first photographing their subject exhaustively. Too often, as a result, they allow photography to use them, instead of them using it, in the way they might use any other studio materials."
"I have observed that illustration is more akin to the theatre than to painting and the value of lighting for dramatic effect in both the theatre and illustration cannot be overestimated. Photography can capture this in a way nothing else can equal. Imagine, if you will, a model sitting for hours under the hot lights necessary for a particular dramatic situation, perspiring and uncomfortable (and incidentally running up a bill for fees perhaps out of proportion to the job in hand)."
"In regard to models, the artist in industry is in competition with the photographer in more than one sense. Model fees are high, but the photographer can get his results in an hour. Economically, photography as an aid to the illustrator is necessary if only to allow him to compete on more or less equal terms."
"I would like to have avoided this discussion of photography in a book devoted to the purer aspects of drawing. But it would have been artificial to ignore it, especially since even many painters employ photography these days. Another of the best French painters of our times did not even trouble to take his own pictures, but painted largely from post cards bought at the local shop. And this was a fine painter, whose pictures, although they might be characterized as post-cardy in subject and concept, were never photographic. He used them simply as a point of departure."
"So much, I think, for photography. There is no contradiction here with anything we have discussed up to this time. We talk about it now simply because this chapter on illustration is about an applied art form, graphic art for industry. This is an entirely different subject, with its own conditions, its own taboos, its own peculiar problems. Most European schools devoted to fine arts shun this subject, while many American schools include elaborate courses on it. The European idea is, I think, commendable but unrealistic."
"The American way is typical of a society which places too little value on abstract learning, and which puts too great an emphasis on practicality."
"One who illustrates should give it his best. His stature as an artist is beyond his control, so he will be better for not pondering too much about it."
"But the technique of his craft is not only under his control, it is also possible of development, so the wise worker will concentrate upon it. If he fails to reach out and develop as an artist, if he remains a technician that, of course, is sad, except that I cannot feel that he would have been a better artist with less craft."
"Draftsmanship, or good drawing, will always be the basis of the artist's craft."
* My Robert Fawcett Flickr set.
* Thanks to Tom Watson and Brian Postman for contributing scans to today's post!