Baden-Powell Photo Gallery

B-P, the Artist.
At Pax Hill, painting a water-colour

From: William Hillcourt, with Olave Baden-Powell,
Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero, 1964

B-P discusses drawing in Lessons from the Varsity of Life:


I suppose a most common desire in every human being is the wish to express oneself through an art of some sort, whether by writing, poetry, music or acting, drawing or sculpture. Personally I have got lots of amusement, for myself at any rate, through elementary dabbling in most of them.

I like trying to draw. With me drawing a picture is quite an exciting adventures, for I never know how it is going to turn out.

I never learned to draw at school because it was an "extra" and could not be afforded, but I tried to teach myself by studying and copying pictures by artists and noting how they got their effects. I have even picked up ideas from cave drawings of primitive bushmen: if these were crude and untutored at any rate they conveyed the idea of life and action to a remarkable degree.

During most of my life I made a point of writing home weekly wherever I might be, and I knew that my letters were the more welcome when illustrated with sketches, so when I was travelling I often made them up in the form of an illustrated diary in sketch books. Thus now a goodly collection of these which form for me a useful record and a reminder of good times in the past.

I should probably do much better if I took a course of drawing lessons, but it is always difficult to kind time.

I have, however, had some of the best practical instruction since the London Sketch Club elected me as an honorary member. This was many years ago and they presently allowed me to become a working member. So, when I attended their Friday evening sessions, I got the kindest help and criticism from them, and also the inestimable privilege of watching them at work and noting their methods. They included among their members John Hassall, Dudley Hardy, Lawson Wood, Heath Robinson, Harry Rowntree, Starr Wood, Rene Bull, F. Shepherd, and many others.

What a clever, brilliant, and jovial crew they were and are, bless ’em.

My sketching, such as it is, besides giving me a scrapbook record of my travels, and bringing me in money, has taught me to recognise beauties in nature which would otherwise have escaped me.

Soon after my first arrival in India The Graphic offered remuneration for sketches of interest from the front, so I tried my hand at it, and to my surprise and satisfaction I got a cheque for six guineas for the first attempt.

So I didn’t delay to send in more, and this was the beginning of a long and happy connection with that journal. It brought me into personal touch and friendship with Mr. Carmichael Thomas, then proprietor and Editor. Also it brought me into touch with a very useful addition to my slender income as a subaltern and eventually enabled me to take my share in polo and pig-sticking, which would otherwise have been impossible.

From: Robert Baden-Powell, Lessons from the Varsity of Life, 1933

Baden-Powell Photo Gallery:
Early Years and Military Years
Baden-Powell Photo Gallery:
Scouting with Baden-Powell, 1907-1929
Baden-Powell Photo Gallery:
Scouting with Baden-Powell, 1929-1941
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Copyright © Lewis P. Orans, 1997
Last Modified: 10:30 PM on June 8, 1997