DOROTHY HARVEY-JONES – The Studio.

From the time when we first entered the School until we left, the studio was a joy.

First of all the Form classes. How well one remembers the time when we sat in three parallel rows, each at our easel, with our pot of water hung rather precariously on a nail (and woe betide the person who upset hers!), to draw and paint apple blossom, Carmine pillars, spindle berries, hips and haws, and Iris berries, each in their season, and in the winter still-life groups. I remember one exciting lesson, when our model was a live black-and-white rabbit! One of Miss Prosser’s lessons was in the art of covering a large sheet of paper with a flat wash. This was none too easy, so often there wasn’t enough colour mixed ready, which resulted in a hard line during the pause to make a fresh mixture.

We were also taught to draw from life, and we sat dotted about the studio and drew each other in our blue pinafores, and once dear old Mrs. Bryant, who helped to weed the grounds with Miss Pinckney, was called in to sit for us. Now it is very difficult to draw from the life, even though the subject be sitting quite still. To get action into figures is a still more difficult proposition. To help us in this we were sent to watch the dancing class, so that we might try and put down impressions of figures in motion. I still possess a sketch-book which has several pages covered with legs (I seldom got beyond legs and arms) which I did during Miss Turner’s dancing class.

Sometimes there were extra classes in the evenings, e.g writing with reed pens, learning the elements of illuminating, illustrated lectures on the history of Art, when we learnt much about the Old Masters.

For the privileged few who were lucky enough to take “Special Drawing,” to wake up on Saturday morning was to wake up to a day of bliss. All Saturday morning was given up to special drawing, and the prospect of games in the afternoon. Who does not remember setting forth with camp-stool and board to sketch the view from No. 1, the Cathedral from Miss Pinckney’s garden, Miss Lucys’ flower border at St. Margaret’s, the “San.” garden, and various parts of the School, often with the sound of the lawn mowers in our ears, and in our brains vague dreams of what the afternoon match would produce? And who can forget those evening sketching classes when we took our picnic supper with us?

Of course it is impossible to disconnect the studio from Miss Prosser. She is in the same relation to it as the fire to the hearth, and without her one cannot picture anything that went on there. No “exams.” harassed the workers in the studio; they were left to peaceful, quiet work, and no genuine effort failed to gain Miss Prosser’s approval. To those of us who draw still, how much we owe to her teaching and to her unerring taste in everything pertaining to art!

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