This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
The first practice should be in the manipulation of flat washes. Separate studies of flat blue sky tones may be first made, with broad transparent washes over the clear paper. This will be found much more difficult than might be supposed, as the colour will, even with the most careful handling, show a tendency to form spots or run into streaks, which nothing can remove. Plenty of water should be mixed with the colours, and the exact tone of the blue wash found by experimenting on a separate sheet of paper. A piece of thick white blotting-paper should always be kept ready to take up any superfluous drops of colour, or to remedy mistakes. A large round camel's-hair brush is most serviceable for such washes, and with this the flow of colour is steadily guided in long, sweeping strokes, across and downward, toward the horizon line; it is, in fact, better to let the local tone of the sky run lightly over this line, where it forms a useful grey tint later, melting into and softening the foliage greens in the extreme distance.
Very necessary it is, and very difficult too, to keep this sky tone clear and fresh, exerting as it does a more or less dominating influence upon the whole landscape; for if the sky be dull and flat in colour, thus losing its charm of transparency, no amount of brilliancy in the foreground washes will make the picture interesting.
And now, in regard to the painting of clouds, let me say, with a humility taught by experience, that there is no subject in nature more difficult to render successfully, and yet nothing which is so apparently easy to the uninitiated. A cloud is not the soft, cottony, shapeless mass the amateur " dashes in " so carelessly when sketching; on the contrary, each cloud has not only its own individuality of form and colour, but to the true artist it may reveal a certain character and sentiment which will inspire the painter to become an interpreter of nature rather than a copyist. A whole field of dramatic possibilities lies in the disposition and colouring of clouds in their relation to the earth beneath.
The same features of landscape seen in combination with different aspects of sky may be made to suggest a scene of peace or of turmoil, to radiate gladness or. depress with melancholy. Heavy, threatening clouds may appear darkly ominous of coming storm; or again, ragged and torn, scattered irregularly over the sky, with glimpses of clear blue shining through, these clouds hint of tempest past. Such are some of the available themes suggested by the different cloud forms as a subject for water-colour study in the hands of an artist.
M. B. Fowler. (To be continued.)
Preliminary Studyfor A Painting. By Bruce Crane.