Page:Woman in Art.djvu/201

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Sometimes it takes a long road and the scoring of a long time table, to reach a nearby destination. In such a case the philosophic poet tells why it is so:

"There is a destiny that shapes our ends.
Rough hew them as we may."

It is Destiny writ large. It is the thing the individual is made for and responds to, according to the urge within. Nor does the individual always choose or plan his way, destiny does that.

The life of Helen Hyde illustrates this in a marked degree. Her early girlhood was spent in California with a relative of ample means, and a love for art, a combination that enabled her to be of genuine assistance to the gifted girl in her home. A most unusual environment surrounded the child, from which she gained so much knowledge that it was a wonderful help when she was ready for study in Europe. Two years in Paris were spent under the instruction of Raffael Collin, then a year in Berlin with Skerbina, who helped her to appreciate the beauty and values in landscape painting. In Holland she tarried a long time studying the characteristics of that most individual country, its lights and shadows, its long, level horizon and unbroken distance (save by windmills and mastheads). She noted the outside and inside of its home life and colorful costumes.

A visit to England was not so long; she was nearing home and her accumulated study and knowledge increased her desire to answer the strong urge for self-expression; the work of developing and realizing her individuality.

On her return to San Francisco she was greeted by a Chinatown; a conglomeration of types, colors, and costumes wholly unfamiliar to her before, all of which fascinated her with orientalism and color in which she always delighted. Color abounded—from the gorgeous embroidered mandarin coats on august officials to the tiny tots in rich brocaded stuffs; formal restrictions hedging in any natural buoyancy of spirit and action, the simplicity of childhood was eclipsed. Women with benumbed feet hobbled along in beflowered kimonos, with erect heads wearing the universal black coiffure.

The young artist, fresh from her studies, fell to work with unbounded enthusiasm. The critics were both honest and generous concerning her original work; it was poetic and it was from life. With the etcher's needle she worked with remarkable success, and again the critics applauded. But, turning critic upon herself, she was not satisfied with results, and this is what happened: She took a finished etching of a tiny girl on a door step and studied it with care. It did not please her. It seemed flat, something was wrong, something was lacking.