The freshness that is never absent from Erickson's finished work is the product, as it must be if it is to be repeated again and again, of method and of care. His drawings are not dashed off in five minutes, a cigarette in one hand and

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a large wet brush in the other. Not only is a careful drawing, that takes perhaps fifteen minutes, made from a model wearing the dress, but he also draws the figures in in pencil before using the brush. Certainly, having planned it out to a certain extent beforehand, he works with directness and speed, for those obviously rapid strokes cannot be done slowly. There can be no question, either, of going over a drawing of this kind afterwards and altering or correcting, and that this is so is proved by the use of Indian ink for the blacks.

Of the three drawings here, two were done in Indian ink and colour, while the third, the scene at the bar, was done in Indian ink and red. In the actual method of using the brush, the most notable lesson for any student is the extraordinary variety of line, both in quality and density. To take, for example, the drawing in which the two ladies are ordering luncheon, the strokes which express their coats are done with a brush fully charged with ink, while the coat of the Oriental is done with a dry brush dipped in very diluted ink. The hair and certain parts of the right-hand lady's face are done in the same way, while her chin and eyes and certain accents on her face are done with a wetter brush. The feather on the other woman's hat, particularly where it comes over her cheek, is done with delicate feathery strokes from the point of a wet brush.

Rubber cement is used for getting the clean edge round his drawings, thus avoiding the trouble of having to end a wash to a very straight line. This is always a difficulty, particularly when a wash extends over a large area and has several edges that need attending to before they get dry. You can get over this by taking your washes over your outline and ending them off quite roughly, and, when you have finished the drawing, you can paste strips of white paper so as to form hard white edges for your drawing. This use of a " mask " is often an advantage when you feel your composition might be improved by being cut down, and thereby concentrated, as you can make several experiments in this way before actually sticking the paper down.

The types Erickson draws, from the point of view of a good magazine and the readers it is intended to attract, are the very best. Any more than the style in which he draws them, they would not do for a daily paper, a cheap weekly or for shops and stores. Such advertisements as he has done have, nevertheless, been commissioned, one imagines, because of the types he draws. The cigarettes and silks to which they have referred have gained in cachet because of the people who have been depicted using them. It occurred to some inspired member of the executive of these firms that peeresses, actresses, singers and anonymous but handsome members of the middle classes, smilingly photographed, can add but little distinction to an article which it is obvious they have been paid to enjoy. How much better to depict the cigarette, or the silk, in use in various gay or grand parts of the world among people who present a certain unquestionable distinction !

The men and women that Erickson draws unmistakably belong to the best society. Not to the best society one knows to exist, that, for example, which is found in a secluded but stately home of England, in a university or in a cloister, worlds which it would nevertheless be impossible to include very happily in any drawing which claimed to show fashions. But failing these, Erickson's world is the best, being full of men and women who are healthy, well-bred, beautiful or handsome, beautifully or handsomely dressed, intelligent but not cultured, who laugh happily whether they are smoking in an English country house, playing baccarat at Cannes, shopping in the Champs Elysees or adjusting their skis at St. Moritz. It would take something out of the ordinary, we feel a late quartet of Beethoven, tweeds at the opera, a play by Euripides, sweet champagne, something shall we say ? a little recondite, to take the easy smile from their faces and make them feel, momentarily, a little uncomfortable.

Finally, it must be confessed that Erickson's full genius for fashion drawing cannot possibly be shown in only three examples, however aptly chosen (which these, unfortunately, are not). Perfection, in other artists, in other fashion artists, so often denotes monotony. With Erickson this is doubly avoided.

In the first place his capacity to vary the scene of action is not just limited to four or five easily realised sets, like the Ritz bar, the Theatre Pigalle, the Casino at Monte Carlo, the beach at Biarritz. One feels, on the other hand, that his entire life must be spent in cars and trains, hurrying from one place to another, for there seems to be no end to the variety of the scenes in which he places his figures ; scenes, brilliantly rendered, which it has not occurred to other artists to depict or whose difficulty has deterred them. Thus, to recall only a few from memory, there have been a boxing match in New York, a room in Fez, a cabaret in Seville, a cloakroom, the races at Chantilly, a bullfight, the outside of a theatre at Hoboken, Harry Richman's Club. These scenes, and others like them, have involved, besides their own particular features, a great variety in the types of men that have either been indigenous (as in Fez and Seville), or that have come there as guests (as at the club, the boxing match, or the races), and a still greater variety of gesture and action on the part of men and women alike. This welcome variety of action, arising naturally from scenes that are a little out of the ordinary, is out of the question in conventional settings.

With Erickson monotony has been avoided in another way, at the same time more important and more subtle. His style has never ceased to develop. A year or two ago one thought " This is perfection it can get no better." But it has changed, and it has got better. Now I am equally sure that it could not possibly improve, and that change of any kind would bring deterioration. But from experience I much more certainly know that I am wrong in thinking this, that the true artist is inevitably dissatisfied with any achievement that he has perfectly realised, and that this dissatisfaction must automatically impel him to further

development. Of artists, at any rate, it is true to say that " he who is not getting better is getting worse."

On a note of lofty optimism, therefore, and with Erickson's name still ringing in our ears, let us end. In the last twenty years fashion drawing has changed and developed as no other visual art has done, except the movies. The Academy and the Salon rely for inspiration on traditions whose splendour inevitably dwarfs their feeble imitations. The smaller, more enterprising, galleries reek still of the influence of Picasso, Utrillo, Bracque, Chirico and even of Cezanne. All have felt the weight of too much liberty.

Fashion drawing alone advances, the vigorous limitations of subject and medium being gladly accepted, as Wordsworth accepted the sonnet form, as difficulties to be overcome, not set aside. Changes in taste, smaller houses, a glutted market, have diminished almost to vanishing point the demand for ordinary pictures. For artists who can really draw fashions there is an endless demand, so long as magazines, newspapers and shops continue to exist.

Fashion Drawing Sections

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