This is especially intended for young ladies, who, in the occupation of painting upon wood, find just as agreeable and remunerative diversion as the tedious, sense-dulling work of embroidery.
General Preliminaries. The first essential requirement to paint upon wood is, without a doubt, practice in drawing.
One is easily inclined, inasmuch as there is no self-inventive gift employed in connection with it, to consider painting on wood as a purely mechanical work, because the design is traced and transferred upon wood, by means of tracing paper; yet there remains, up to this easy beginning, the further embellishment entirely to the free hand, and it is just here that difficulties meet the painter unskilled in the art of drawing.
The difficult point in wood painting lies in the conscientious, artistic execution; the more pains taken in that direction, the stronger the lines of beauty and harmony in coloring, the more certain it is to obtain something excellent in this work.
The simplest design, when correctly and cleanly painted, has a more agreeable effect upon the observer than the most beautiful pattern that has been faultily produced through a series of shortcomings.
Requisites. The possession of a good and complete set of instruments, in a measure, assists in the success of the work. The following utensils are used in wood painting: Lead Pencils, (Faber's B, HB, HH), a pen knife, a lead pencil file, an eraser, a horn protractor upon which to rest the compass upon round articles, a ruler, a square, a porcelain palette with six cells, several good fine and coarse water-color brushes on handles with metal ferrules, several sheets of extra fine tracing paper or cloth; the latter is more expensive than the paper, but far more durable, in such cases where the drawing is gone over again. For the drawing of fine outlines, pens (Gillott's crowquill pens are best); for heavier outlines or large designs goosequills are best. It is desirable to possess a complete outfit of drawing materials, of which the following are indispensable: A drawing pen, a compass with pen and pencil pieces.
The Colors. It is advisable to use only the genuine India ink, as the ordinary India ink nearly always discolors the soft tints that are painted over it, which sometimes spoils the entire work. The ordinary water-colors, not the covering or Gouache colors are to be used. The prepared wood just as readily takes the Gouache and covering colors, as a large number of designs of natural flowers show, yet this method should not be indulged in, for this reason, because it completely covers the texture of the wood, thereby giving the art critic an opportunity to censure.
Since wood painting is mostly an imitation of inlaid wood work - mosaic - as a rule the preference should be given to the application of the fitting colors to the stained wood tones. Who does not possess a complete outfit of colors, ought at least secure the following: sepia, dark sepia, burnt sienna, light ochre, dark vermilion, carmine, cobalt blue, Indian red, olive green, Roman brown, lampblack and white.
The best colors are the Dusseldorf (Schonfeld or Winsor & Newton's) moist water-colors, in metal tubes or porcelain pans. Gold and silver is generally painted from shells, this is to be used sparingly, and is polished when the work is finished with a steel instrument, a knitting-needle., glove buttoner, or an agate burnisher. Red gold has a dark effect, retreating; green gold, on the other hand, stands out and has a light appearance. Blacklead is to be had in lumps, and is most effective for bright or red ornamentations. Bronze powder is prepared with a little gum water. The possession of a magnifying glass is of importance in going over the work when finished, and subjecting the same to a severe scrutiny. It also greatly assists in the correction of faults that may have crept in.
Transferring the Drawing upon Wood. A design should be chosen that corresponds with the size and shape of the wood article. A design is seldom spoiled by extending the outer lines, yet we should be cautioned against the reverse case, in trying to force a large design upon a small space by omitting the outer lines that serve as a frame.
Enlarging and Reducing Designs. If a design is to be brought within the compass of another, reduced or enlarged, take a proportional divider, or draw a net of equal squares, the original or a drawing of the same with a lead pencil, in proportion required for the wood surface, which are numbered. In each square exactly the same parts are drawn from the design which are contained in the corresponding square on the wood.
The Divisions of the Wood Surface. At the beginning of the work, the surface to be painted is divided by distinct pencil lines into halves, quarters, sixths, etc., just as the design admits of; these lines serve as a starting point for the traced design to be placed upon this, where halves, quarters, etc., must fit exactly into these. The measuring is done by means of a compass or a strip of paper the length of the object, which gives the center point by cutting the same in two. In painting round articles, such as lamp plates, table tops, etc., a sheet of paper of the exact size is cut out This is folded once, in halves and quarters, as the case may be. It is spread upon the surface of the article, then prick through the creases where they cross each other. To avoid injury to the center of a round wooden plate by the repeated application of a compass, a horn protractor is fastened to the center with thumb tacks, which leaves the center transparent, upon which the compass may be applied with considerable pressure. In the absence of a compass with an extension where large circles are required, a strip of pasteboard is substituted; this is fastened to the center by a needle. For every cross line a hole is made into the strip, the pencil is inserted and drawn around by moving the strip in a circular motion.