In Alstona painting photography and paint-ing may be combined to make a charming picture by those who have no technical knowledge of art. The photograph forms the outline from which, by means of skilful painting, a picture with the opalescent effect of a painting upon ivory may be produced.
The photograph to be painted is first fixed on to a slightly convex glass, and having been rendered transparent by a special treatment, the more important and delicately marked features, eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair, lips, jewellery and ornaments, flowers and feathers, and the pattern of lace are painted upon it in transparent paint or in light washes of colour.
A second glass is then fixed behind the first-thus sandwiching the photograph between them-and on this glass is painted the rest of the picture, flesh tints, robes and drapery, and background. The two are then permanently secured in place by means of a gummed paper binding before being suitably framed.
A pair of convex glasses, costing 8d. for cabinet size.
A bottle of Alstona adhesive.
A bottle of Alstona clearine; and
A bottle of Alstona preservative, costing from 1s. to 1s. 6d. each, according to size.
Three sable brushes of varying sizes, costing from 5d. to 1s. each.
A sheet of parchment, 2d.
A roll of gummed paper, 1d.
A wooden extractor, 3d. or 6d., according to size.
A sixpenny wooden palette.
A palette knife, 8d.
Oil paints, and, last, the photograph which is to be transformed into an Alstona picture.
This photograph, which must be printed on albuminised paper, may be of any subject preferred. If the subject chosen is from a picture hanging in one of the public galleries, it is a good plan to visit it and make careful notes of every detail of the colouring, so that one's painting may resemble the original work of art as closely as may be.
Before beginning the actual painting, there is much to be done in preparing the photograph. It must first of all be fixed on to a convex glass, and then cleared, so that it becomes quite transparent. This done, it only remains to coat the back of it with preservative, and it is ready to be painted.
The photograph must first of all be laid on the glass, and carefully fitted to produce the best possible effect. If the glass is round or oval, and the finished picture intended to fit a miniature frame, while the photograph is of the ordinary oblong carte-de-visite shape, care must be exercised to place the photograph so that the head comes in the right position in the glass, not too high up or too low down.
This point decided, run a pencil round the photograph as the glass lies upon it, and proceed to trim it with a pair of scissors a quarter of an inch smaller than the pencil line, in order to leave a margin for clear glass all round beyond the photograph: This is necessary in all Alstona painting to allow for the expansion of the photograph when wetted later, and also to leave a sufficient margin for binding.
To stick the photograph on to the glass, take the bottle of Royal adhesive, one convex glass, a wooden extractor, two dishes of water-one boiling, one just tepid-a piece of parchment cut a little larger than the photograph, and a piece of linen rag.
Now place the bottle of adhesive, the parchment, and the extractor in the dish of boiling water, and immerse the photograph in the dish of tepid water. Let it remain there while washing the convex glass with warm water and linen rag.
The photograph should now be placed face upwards on the glass, and held under warm, running water, smoothing it with the fingers that it may become quite pliable and expand to its fullest extent.
Remove the photograph from the glass, and drain both picture and glass thoroughly. Pour about a teaspoonful of adhesive-supposing that the picture is of cabinet size-on the concave, or inside, of the glass, and spread it evenly all over the surface.
Now squeeze the parchment out of the boiling water, and place it at the back of the photograph, swiftly smoothing it with the fingers to protect it while the superfluous adhesive is being squeezed out from between the photograph and the glass with the.help of the extractor, in order that the photograph may adhere to the glass without wrinkles or air bubbles.
To do this hold the photograph and glass down flat on the table with the left hand, and, with the wooden extractor in the right hand, work from the centre top of the picture to the edge, passing the extractor over the same place several times in succession. With each succeeding sweep lower the line taken by the extractor only by a fraction of the extractor's width, so that when the bottom of the picture is reached, and the sweep is made from the centre bottom of the edge, every part of that half of the picture will have been travelled over several times.
Now turn the picture round, and work over the remaining half in exactly the same way. Should the adhesive have been too dry to run readily pour a little hot water over the parchment, which will re-soften it, and then it can easily be extracted.
Great care must be exercised in removing the parchment when the adhesive has been extracted, lest the photograph come away too.
While the photograph is still moist, wash the back of it gently and evenly with a piece of damp linen to remove any superfluous adhesive from the back. Leave it to dry slowly in a cool place; no artificial heat is required.
The parchment can be used many times if washed after use in clean water.
When the photograph is dry it must be cleared with Royal clearine to make it quite transparent. A small quantity of the clearine must be poured on to it and rubbed in evenly with the fingers. The photograph should then be allowed to stand all night. Never hurry the clearing process, for the photograph must become absolutely transparent, as though drawn on the glass, in order to be painted satisfactorily.
When the picture has become quite transparent wipe off any superfluous clearine with a piece of dry linen rag, leaving it slightly moist, and then apply preservative -three or four drops is ample for a picture of cabinet size. Rub this over the back of the photograph with the finger to obtain an even surface, for the photograph should preserve this state of slight moisture throughout the painting process, the preservative forming a transparent film over the back of the photograph, upon which the colours are laid.
Leave the photograph exposed to the air for a day, to allow the preservative to penetrate the picture. It is then ready to be painted.
It is essential that a good light should fall on the picture whilst it is being painted, and the work is best carried on facing a window. Put a sheet of white cardboard on the table or desk, and place the picture on this.
See that the front of the glass is clean and bright before beginning work; if any hard medium remains on the face of the glass it can be removed with a little turpentine. No turpentine must be used for diluting paint's in Alstona painting, but a little clearine may be kept on the palette for this purpose; and a little clearine may also be applied on a rag to remove any painting which needs obliteration.
Keep carefully within the outlines of the picture, for it is essential that they should remain undisturbed.
The oil colours used for Alstona painting should be of good quality and made by a reliable firm. Those commonly in use are as follows:
1, carmine; 2, vermilion; 3, crimson lake; 4, Venetian red; 5, burnt ochre; 6, ultramarine; 7, cobalt; 8, burnt sienna; 9, raw sienna; 10, chrome yellow, No. 1; 11, chrome yellow, No. 2; 12, Naples yellow; 13, burnt umber; 14, Vandyke brown; 15, ivory black; 16, flake white.
Squeeze out a little of each upon the palette, with a double quantity of flake white. These colours may be toned and shaded in two or three degrees with the admixture of white or other colours as required.
The colours surround the palette, placed an inch or two apart, and the various shades required are mixed together with the palette knife on the centre of the palette as they are needed. A little clearine is used to moisten the colours in place of turpentine.
For the beginner who often finds herself with but little idea of how to obtain the various subtle and delicate gradations of colour chosen for her colour scheme, a list of the various shades that are most often required will be given in the subsequent article on Alstona painting. To be continued.
The two glasses, seen side by side, before being fastened together to make a framed Alstona picture