This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
In Ross Turner's manual of water-colour painting, which, unfortunately, has long been out of print, we find the following useful hints, based on his own excellent practice: - "The colour should be applied pure and direct to the surface of the paper (not mixed on the palette). Immediately when applied to the paper your judgment (after some experience) will tell you how this colour will dry out. If too strong, take up a brushful of water and dilute the still flowing colour on your paper; if too feeble, too cool, or too warm, correct it in the same way by washing into it the needed shades. To give an example: - A strong red is obtained by painting bright red on the paper direct. Should it be necessary to make this tone deeper, wash in with the red colour some warm sepia; if a cooler shade is desired, some new blue or ivory black,, until the tone on the paper looks much deeper than it is intended to look when dry.
"The effect of dry colour on the paper should be studied, rather than the colour as it appears when wet. Try to get the large masses of your colour strong and pure. The lighter tones will be easily made by contrast with the darker masses of colour. When the first wash is on, follow each tone as it recedes from the first object. Keep the study harmonious and the colour in masses.
"Details may be indicated with a strong, pure colour. In detail work, put in first of all the largest masses, when their forms and positions are indicated, and then take those next largest, etc, and last of all bring everything together by the finer lines or figures.
"If the principal washes of colour are correct in tone and value, details will often be suggested that could not be obtained by other means; but if they are false or weak in colour, no amount of work or stippling will ever make them right.
"The student is advised to divide a subject for an out-of-doors study into three parts: I. The ground (separated into various parts, fore and middle ground, distance, &c). 2. What comes from the ground (trees, foliage, buildings, &c). 3. The sky. Consider these divisions as large, simple masses of colour.
"A hard, stiff outline is likely to spoil a flower study; the outline should be treated in a broad, free manner, avoiding lines as much as possible. In painting a flower petal try using the side of the brush; in laying on the colour, should the edge be too much broken or ragged, a touch here and there will make it sufficiently definite. In fact, many flowers, if treated in masses, reed no outline at all, but should be allowed to run together while the colours are wet. Effects of this nature, although calling for much practice and skill in the manipulation of the washes, give most admirable effects if well managed.
"Large-leaved flowers are best for study, being for one thing more ornamental in character, and for that reason better adapted to water-colour work, as well as demanding broader treatment than smaller flowers. Arrange the objects against a plain background of some light-toned material, light and shade strongly determined, with enough foliage to give a contrast; always try to make a composition in the simplest form, and represent the character of each flower. It will be better if the student take separate examples of a flower, and paint a number of studies.
"In many flowers, especially those having red tones for the local colour, a bluish tone is apparent in those parts in shade. The use of blue, in such tones, generally produces colours not in harmony with the true colour of the flower, often inclining too much toward a cold, disagreeable purple, which in most cases deadens the colours of the entire study. If black is used instead, as the basis for the tone, the effect will be much truer, and more agreeable to the eye. The cool grey of the black, in contrast with the transparent warm colours in the light, will produce the bluish effect desired."
Spatter-Work, much used in lithography and often to enhance the effect of a pen drawing for "process" reproduction, is susceptible of charming effects by itself. Many persons who make use of it simply charge a rather stiff tooth-brush with India ink, and drawing it across a fine-tooth comb discharge the ink in minute specks upon the paper placed beneath. This simple apparatus, with the addition of a few stencils, is sufficient for rough work on a rather large scale; but it is an improvement to employ a piece of very fine wire netting, such as is used for window and fire screens, instead of the comb. The dots thus produced are smaller and much more regular. Stencils and the parts cut from them will both be found useful, the latter as overlays. The stencils may be cut out of paper, which will afterward have to be coated with hard varnish, to render it durable and washable, and to prevent it absorbing the ink. Or they may be cut from very thin plates of copper or brass. With a little ingenuity it will sometimes be possible to make a single stencil and the parts cut from it do the work of several. Supposing that a group of objects is all of a dark tone against the background, a single stencil will preserve the background from the spatter, which will be applied lightly to give a general tone (that of the lightest objects) all over the group. From the paper or brass removed in making the stencil, the forms of these lightest objects will have been cut, and as soon as the first coat of spatter is dry, these are reinserted in their places, making practically another stencil, which exposes everything except the lightest objects and the background. This can be repeated for the next darker objects in the group, and so on until the picture is completed. It is possible to get simple gradations by using more or less pressure in rubbing the brush against the wire screen; inks of several colours may be used, and with a little judgment may be very prettily blended, making any required olives, greys, and other broken tones. A. J. F.
AN excellent test of his work may be suggested to the student who can be trusted with a camera. We say advisedly "trusted," for there is nothing more detrimental for the young painter than to copy, with its inevitable exaggerations, a photograph from nature.
Let him first make a drawing or colour sketch - preferably the latter - and then take a photograph of the identical subject, making the picture plane within the same limits, as nearly as possible. On comparing the two, there will be many surprises in store for him, agreeable and otherwise; the latter, because he will see how clumsy his drawing of the structural forms is when placed beside the faithful transcript made by the camera; his granite rocks 1 look like dumplings beside these hard, time-polished boulders traced by the sun; while the seams and sears which mark their weather-beaten sides, so full of significance to the geologist, are merely meaningless lines mapped out upon a formless surface in his sketch.
Of course, this will be most discouraging, but it will teach him much. In the first place, his compensation will be a certain grace gained by the suggestions in his sketch, where he has chosen the beautiful and ignored the ugly details in what lay before him. The photograph copied all both good and bad, and the artist who in turn copies the photograph is apt to assimilate as much of one as the other - perhaps more of the latter - and will surely be betrayed by the false aerial perspective and violent foreshortening, which will distinguish the disguised copy from the intelligent work of the freehand draughtsman. Another cause of misrepresentation in the photograph is the confusing distortion of values, consequent upon the tendency of certain light colours to register themselves as dark, and of others of dark complexion to assume under this influence a paler tint, untrue to nature. Lastly, it may cause him to lay aside his camera in despair, and this is something gained at once; for far more artistic is even a faulty sketch from nature, with a grain of truth in it and some beauty, than the most careful representation of the same natural facts when copied from a photograph. M. B. F.
Study In Charcoal By J. Carroll Beckwith.