This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
The most brilliant lights may be made in the darkest shadows, or any part completely erased, at will, by using stale soft breadcrumb rolled up to a point in the fingers. Sometimes the pointed rubber stump is found convenient when bread is not at hand. The masses of light in the landscape are treated by spreading in the same way a very delicate tint over the whole surface, and then removing the highest lights with bread. The accents and details are then put in with a point, as before explained. Sometimes a piece of chamois skin is preferred to a rag in removing superfluous charcoal.
In making large studies of heads, where careful finish is required, the stump is used. The charcoal is laid on in parallel lines as for landscapes, but should be rubbed with a large paper stump until the flat tone is attained. The smaller stumps are used in finishing small parts, and it is necessary to keep them as clean as possible, so as not to smear the drawing. Stumps when much blackened may be cleaned off with bread. In finishing, the charcoal is used cut to a fine point, for details, and sharp accents. Hatching sometimes is employed in the finishing of charcoal heads that are worked with the stump, but it is not considered good style, and is therefore avoided by the best artists.
The means for effacing charcoal are the following:- A rather large cotton rag, with which one may dust off a large section or the whole of a drawing; a rough woollen rag, which pressed lightly on the drawing will make the part just a shade lighter. A piece of chamois skin may be used as a stump. The ringer of an old glove turned inside out will admirably answer the purpose. The fingers, and occasionally the palm of the hand, may be used in the taking out the most delicate lights. If these means do not suffice to remove the charcoal one may have recourse to bread or to soft india rubber, but never use rubber of the gritty sort. Charcoal drawings are fixed by means of a specially prepared liquid which is commonly blown on to the drawing through an atomiser or blow-tube of glass. But this method is slow and imperfect, and it is preferable to spread the liquid evenly on the back of the paper with a large flat brush. It should just penetrate the paper so as to barely moisten the charcoal. It should then be dried rapidly in the sun or before a fire.
Landscape, Drawn in Charcoal without use of the Stump. By G. Allemand.
The student should not expect to do much with charcoal in landscape until after he has studied for some time from the human figure. In no mode of working does an accurate perception of relations of lines and of tints count for so much as in this, and the training necessary to give such accuracy of perception is not to be got in landscape drawing with charcoal, unless, indeed, one has for teacher an artist of quite exceptional talent and experience.
You can hide an ugly view from your window and still keep the light by painting in water-colours on thin muslin, with which you can cover the glass. Some artists cover the lower panes with Japanese paper panels, obscuring the view to the height of the eye and concentrating the light in the upper part of the window for the benefit of their work. To keep the light from diffusing itself over the ceiling a screen of dark, unglazed stuff is hinged to the upper part of the window-frame and held suspended at the proper angle by a cord from the ceiling. The screen should be as wide as the window itself and long enough to reach out over the easel or table where you work.
Never try to work when you are thinking of something else. The only room your mind can have for ideas is for such as apply to your labour. When others crowd them out, stop work, and give the newer subject of interest a chance.
A little sketch-book does not take up much room in the pocket, and a pencil is easily kept sharpened. They should be your companions wherever you go, for you cannot tell what useful or interesting memorandum they may enable you to jot down.
The Fencing Master. Charcoal Study By Jules Stewart.
By a Former Pupil of Carolus Duran.
The student who would be a portrait painter should give his attention first of all to character; arrangement and colour may be attended to in the second place, and least important of all is execution. It is of little consequence in what key he paints, whether high or low, or whether he paints thinly or heavily. The essential quality - that which will last - is Character. The first and fundamental part of the work is the drawing. Drawing means, properly, the location of forms. The way in which one line connects with another is of comparatively slight consequence; but the lines should bound accurately proportioned spaces or planes - that is the essential part of drawing. Given a head in full light, the masses of dark represented by the hair, eyes, and mouth should be of their true relative proportions and properly distanced one from another. Presuming that the painter has located hair, eyes, mouth, nostrils, chin, ears, and has surrounded the head by an outline dividing it from the background, he has the fundamental part of the portrait - the drawing. Let him now fill in the masses thus indicated with colour generally true to the colour of the sitter - if a blonde, in fair tints; if a brunette, in darker. Let hair and eyes be put in broadly of their natural colours, the drapery painted of its general tone, the background massed in; he will already have on his canvas what, in its genera] aspect, will give a true impression of the intended portrait. It is important that this should be satisfactorily attained before the work is carried any farther. If mistakes are visible, the work should be scraped off and begun over again. However tempting it may be to proceed to details of face or dress, the temptation should be resisted until this "ebauche" has been made true and just. The more pains an artist gives to this part of his work, the more able he will become, and the stronger and the more satisfactory will be his painting.
As a head proceeds toward completion, after the first painting, it becomes necessary to seek for rotundity, for the modelling of planes into one another, and for the careful location of detail. As much of this as is necessary; but I would ask the student to be very careful not to go too far, so as not to lose or weaken the essential character of his portrait.
Another thing that I would advise him to be careful about is to keep his colours pure. The carnations especially should be kept clear, and the lights frank. My palette, partly for this reason, and partly because of the many-hued satins and other stuffs now worn, is rather larger than is necessary for a student. It is laid thus: - Silver White, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium, English Vermilion, Brun Rouge, Light Rose Madder, Capucine Madder, Dark Rose Madder, Mauve, Emerald Green, Vert Emeraude (not the same thing as "emerald green," though the name is simply the
French of it), Cobalt, Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Brun de Bruxelles, Ivory Black.
In painting a head, for the flesh I find the following much shorter list all that is necessary: - White, Brun Rouge, Yellow Ochre, Umber, Cobalt, the madders. To this the student may add what he finds essential for the hair and drapery, and so form a palette of his own. He should have one or two sable brushes for drawing, and a dozen or more bristle brushes, varying from a quarter of an inch to an inch in width. Canvas that is neither very rough nor very smooth is the best. For the first painting, I have on the edge of my palette a cup of turpentine with which to mix the colours as I find it necessary; later, I use a mixture of four-fifths of boiled linseed oil and one-fifth of siccative of Courtray.
But I would finish as I have begun, by emphasising the all-importance of a carefully constructed drawing. The student will do well to spend three or four hours upon this drawing in charcoal, though an artist of experience may dispense with it and lay in his head directly with the brush. This done, the planes should be distinguished by laying in their general tones of colour. All after that is but the adding of necessary detail, in doing which the student should be constantly on the alert to avoid diminishing the scrength of what he has already accomplished.
J. Carroll Beckwith.