This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
A Demonstration By Mr. A. Praga
"Yes, I am quite ready for our Demonstra-tion," said Mr. Praga to a representative of Arts & Crafts who called by appointment at the Grey House, the artist's quaint residence in Hornton Street, by Kensington High Street. "Our model is posed, waiting for us, you see," he continued, glancing at the young lady enthroned on the dais, and seating himself at a small easel with a drawing board attached. On a little table to his left (see page 166) were arranged all the implements used in his delicate art - a tiny box of water-colours, a sheaf of fine red-sable brushes, a steel eraser, pointed and sharp, to scrape any portion of the picture that might become too dark, and to pick out high lights; a little vase of very weak gum-water (made from the whitest gum arabic) and a magnifying-glass. He caught the writer's glance as it fell upon the last-named implement and said: "You must not suppose I use a magnifying-glass in painting. On the contrary, I strongly disapprove of such a thing. A magnifying-glass should be used by a miniature-painter only as a means of verification - never as an aid to his work. "This sheet of ivory I am going to paint on is a No. 3; it gives a good medium-size miniature, with an oval of 2 5/8 in. by 2 1/8 in. It is secured, you see, to the board by drawing pins. As our picture is to be an oval, I will take this oval locket-glass and rule round it, with a hard lead-pencil, to indicate the boundary - so. That is the only purpose for which a lead-pencil should ever be suffered to touch the ivory. The lead-pencil should never be used on the ivory for the sketch; the marks, however fine, would be sure to work up through the colour in the form of grit.
"By drawing in the oval at once, we see the best position for placing the head. It always looks well to place the head high, with the chin about equi-distant in the oval.
"'Does that apply also to children?' you ask. Yes. You ' think it should be lower in their case, and in the case of any undersized sitter?' Well, with the mere head and shoulders, I do not believe it helps to suggest the natural height of the sitter, one way or the other. It is only when you include below the waist that that counts.
"Afterwards, we shall have to cut this oval out with a pair of scissors. That is very simple, for the ivory is hardly thicker than a heavy sheet of paper. All the same, there is a proper way of doing it - so as to avoid cutting through the grain of the ivory, which I shall explain; but that will come later. You ask, 'Would it not be better to cut it before painting on it, in case of an accident?' There is no occasion for any accident. I have never had one. Still, some miniature-painters have the ivory cut for them at the artist's material shop - it only costs 3d. or 6d. to do so.
Mr. Praga Criticising the Work of a Pupil at his School of Miniature Painting.
"I should say a few words about the selection of the ivory. That is quite an important matter. You must be sure that it is perfectly smooth, and that the ivory is quite free from streaks, scratches, saw-marks, or blemishes of any kind. A good way to test it is to hold it up to the light, grainways, and scrutinise it thoroughlv, turning it from side to side. There are various tints of ivory for miniature-painting, ranging from cold white - it should be avoided - to warm, darkish cream, which sometimes may be chosen with advantage for a dark complexion. But a light creamy tint is generally best for all purposes, and it is the only safe tint for a fair skin.
Mr. Praga Giving A Demonstration In Miniature Painting Before His School
"One special reason, by the way, that I would not have the oval cut out of the ivory until the painting is finished is that it is convenient to use the margins for experimenting with the flesh-tints - to see just how they would look in the actual picture. Some artists indulge in an ivory palette, and experiment with their tints upon that; but an ivory palette is an expensive addition to one's outfit, and I do not think it is necessary. The small china palette to the left of my easel answers every purpose.
"Now, as to colours. They should be the very best you can get. One can afford to buy the best, one uses so little of them. A few quarter-size cakes should last a miniature-painter almost a lifetime. Here is my palette: -
"Blue-black, warm sepia, yellow ochre or Roman ochre (frequently both), brown madder, rose madder, or rose doree (sparingly), carnation, scarlet-vermilion (very sparingly), cobalt, cerulean (chiefly in background), and 'fair complexion.' "
" ' Fair complexion ' ? "
"Yes, it is one of Harding's miniature tints. 1 find it very useful in place of light red," said Mr. Praga. "It has a brighter and a fresher colour. Mixed with cobalt it makes a beautiful neutral tint. I do not advocate reliance on ready-mixed tints,' he continued, " but my palette would not be complete without Harding's 'fair complexion,' 'shadow colour,' and 'auburn,' which is very useful for hair.
"This first stage of our miniature is a sort of map of the forms of the head and bust, you will observe," said Mr. Praga, indicating the. sketch upon the ivory.
While he had been talking he had been busy drawing, with a medium-size brush (about a "No. 3"), using light red and cobalt (Fig. 1). He remarked that at this stage "fair complexion" may with advantage be substituted for light red. "This we may consider to be the first stage of our portrait," he said, "and while you are having it photographed the model may take a rest."