We now come to painting. Begin on porcelain by a plate, and on earthenware by a tile. If the pupil has had no practice either in water colors or in oils - if, in a word, has no idea as yet of setting a palette, undertake first a monochrome, that is to say, a painting done with one color only, heightened by one or two other tones.
Monochromes are made in the following tints: Grisailles, green, blue-green, blue, violet of iron, carmine, purple capucine red, sepia, red brown, bitumen.
Deep red brown and violet of iron are the two colors easiest to be used.
Grisaille Monochrome: Light grey No. 1, touched up with brown grey.
Greys Nos. 1 and 2; mix a little carmine No. 1 to warm up the tints.
On porcelain the bodies of cupids are often done in grisaille, with a little carmine at the extremities.
Green - Emerald-stone green and deep green.
Blue-green - Blue-green, touched up with the same color.
Blue - Deep ultramarine; dark blue; permanent white. Or common blue, shaded with itself; any other blue would spoil it.
Violet of Iron - Violet of iron, and the same with a grey tint.
Carmine - Light carmine A; deep carmine No. 3.
Purple - Deep purple, strengthened by the same tint placed at the second firing.
Capucine Red - Capucine red: orange red; sepia. Or orange yellow and capucine red in juxtaposition; the capucine red touched up with red brown.
Sepia - Sepia touched up with the same shade.
Red Brown - Orange yellow for light and distant tints; the foreground deep red brown. Or deep red brown heightened with bitumen. Or else deep red brown and sepia.
Bitumen - Yellow brown; brown No. 3 bitumen; brown No. 4 or 17.
The design having been traced on to the porcelain or china, you take the tube of color and uncork it with care. Squeezing out the color from the extreme bottom of the tube, you set about the tenth part of its contents on your glass palette, which should be extremely clean. Grind it with the palette knife, (of steel or of ivory, according to the color), for about a minute.
Sketching In. Is done with the finest pointed of your brushes, dipped lightly into the little bottle of spirits of lavender, then filled with a little of the color taken from the edge of the lump, turning the brush meanwhile between your fingers to get a fine point. It is better still to work with the color diluted with water, and with the addition of a little dextrine, which gives it the advantage of resisting the oils. Indicate lightly the nose, the mouth, the lachrymals a little, as well as between the fingers. It will be useless to efface this sketch.
You will then begin to paint the head, taking a larger brush to spread the color broadly and quickly. Still very little medium. Put a rather light local tint; while the color is still wet deepen the tone beneath the arch of the eyebrows, the cheeks, the extremity of the chin, and the parts to be shaded, taking care meanwhile to leave out the bright lights, or those reflected, which should remain of the first tint, in order that the shadows may give an appearance of roundness. Take next a small dabber, with a flat top, and holding it perpendicularly, dabble lightly before the color has time to dry. Soften and mix well the two tints, keeping them distinct the while.
Do the hair after the flesh tints have been laid on, toning the locks more or less. Here, however, no more dabber; on the contrary, the strokes of the brush must appear and mark the hair.
Pass on to the drapery, and wash in broadly the principal shadows with a still larger brush. It will be effective to preserve the white of the porcelain or china for the lights of the draperies. In the first painting, spirits of lavender are used, so that the color may dry less quickly. You must not be afraid to paint the drapery with large strokes of the brush, the effect is all the better for it. Above all, let there be no harsh or dry marks; in painting there are no marks, but shadows and lights.
Before retouching, the painting must be allowed to dry, and the medium to evaporate, and you must not work again on it unless, lightly placing the tip of your finger on the painting, you feel scarcely any dampness left; some, however, must remain, for the color would easily be removed by retouching, if it were in a pulverized state. The dessication can be hastened by heating, either at a lamp of spirits of wine, or in an oven; but you must wait until the work is quite cold again before resuming.
The first painting must be taken great care of, and kept very clean. While it is drying, it should be placed out of the reach of dust and damp; if it be a plaque, place it in a flat box with a proper lid to it, shutting hermetically.
M. Lacroix's colors being perfectly well prepared, we will not dwell upon the disadvantages offered by the former badly ground colors. The inexperienced beginner used to put too much 'fat,' or too much spirits of lavender. In the former case the painting crazed in the firing; it was lost. With too much spirits of lavender the colors ran; fled in the firing. Therefore there must be no excess, but the three mediums must be used with management and discretion.
When you retouch your painting, before the first firing, you must model by retouching with flat tints, and you must do it very soberly, very lightly, not to remove what is underneath; work almost dry, that is, without much soaking the brush in the spirits of turpentine. If the color does not spread easily, the brush is wetted with the least possible quantity of oil of turpentine, a drop of which has been poured on the palette. Spirits of lavender are of no use for this second performance.
To finish the monochrome completely, it is necessary to stipple the shadows, using very little rectified spirits of turpentine. If the beginner will master thoroughly the shadows of the original, she will not find it more difficult to paint in monochrome than to reproduce a drawing either in black chalk or in stump; the brush will take the place of the stump or chalk: the only difficulty that can arise being in the use of the mediums, and in the lack of time for allowing the painting to dry.
I repeat it again, for it is of great importance, that with the colors of M. Lacroix one can work almost dry, once the palette has been set.
When the work is finished, it is submitted to the firing, either at home, (by the Gabelle process), or at a decorators. According to the result obtained, the parts which lack vigor are retouched.
In general few raised lights or reliefs are employed. Yet in accessories, they heighten advantageously the brilliancy of the painting. The paint for raised lights is taken from the palette in a particular way; the brush must lift up a lump of color at the point, that it may be laid on the easier. Raised lights are placed on small flowers, on jewelry, pearl necklaces, etc. A fight in the eye is often marked with permanent white, but it should be used in great moderation, and placed at the second firing.
Photographs from casts, medals, bas-reliefs, afford excellent models for copying in monochrome painting. Copies of photographs on oval plaques are done with red brown, heightened with bitumen. Raphael's female figures on plaques for sconces, are copied in light grey, retouched with brown grey, on a ground of very light carmine No. 1.