So far Ruskin has looked at the way things are; recording and observation. Now he looks at the way we’d like them to be; imagination. Great art is not only recording the world out there, but also the way we’d like it to be.

To put it another way, we move from observation to imagination. This section deals with the role of imagination.

Whenever we draw we have the ability to select and interpret the world, we are shaping it to our imagination.

Example: Ehrenbreistein. By J M W Turner.

The richness of colouring and mastery of complicated patterns of aerial perspective are characteristic of Turner’s best works of the 1830s. When John Ruskin saw this painting in 1844, he declared it ‘the finest Turner I have come across for many a day’.

For Ruskin, art should exhibit both truth and beauty; and he felt that Turner achieved this here. The idea of “rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing” might seem a sterile approach, but here it results in “Nature transformed into imagination.”

Turner’s Landscapes: The place of imagination

Throughout his life Ruskin was a champion of the artist JMW Turner.

What Ruskin admired so much in Turner was the way he accurately observed the delicate effects of light on nature, while at the same time he produced paintings of such beauty. In other words, Turner’s ability to be True to Nature and Beauty in his painting.