This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Set your palette in such a way that an artist, by looking at the mere complexion, as it were, of the colours there prepared, might know at a glance that the subject was fair or dark for whom it was set. When this is in readiness to begin work, and the well-drawn head is on the canvas before you, "laid in" with a flat wash of turpentine, burnt Sienna, and black, take your brush well filled with pigment and "block in," with as large a vision as you are capable of, the dominant effect of colour.
Having already done some of the work on the palette by carefully setting it in key with the subject, this lifting of the tints from the palette to the canvas may be clone with more deliberation than is generally supposed. A cool head is very necessary; so whatever will tend to keep the mind in good working order is of itself valuable; and nothing will contribute more to this than a well-ordered palette. Confusion here means confusion of the canvas. Perhaps no better proof of this can be found than in the appearance, after a few hours' work, of the palette of an experienced painter and that of the tyro.
The tendency in the beginner to paint in a grey, colourless key must be guarded against. This tendency comes as much from the lack of a good system of setting the palette as it does from want of colour instinct in the student. The excitement and confusion of mind incident to searching "all over" for the right combination of hues finally destroys the susceptibilities by over-fatiguing them. The tone also becomes deadened by an over-combination of tints.
The fewer colours used to secure a certain tone, the more active and brilliant the tone is likely to be; and it is a good practice to experiment in this way. Try to reach the actual tone you desire by employing as few pigments as possible to give it in its fulness.
Very often several more tints than are actually necessary enter into the production of some given tone - only, however, to its detriment.
Directness in this, as in other things, is an element of power. The great painters were powerful from the splendid knowledge they possessed of the resources of the palette. On that square or oval piece of board lay, lurking, tones that move the soul, the purer, the more powerful. Resonance, tenderness, gaiety, and gloom lie side by side. The very action of manipulation may bring into existence new combinations that entrance. The artist drags his brush across these colours, and light springs out of darkness, or day sinks into night.
Wonderful hints, stimulating to the imagination, new revelations of the possibilities of colour are disclosed to the earnest searcher. Force and subtlety, delicacy and vigour are all within the range. It would seem that every aspect and mood of nature that affects the mind may somehow be expressed, after securing the forms of things, through this medium of colour, so line, elusive, intangible, and yet so real.
Casting in Plaster: A Demonstration.
Appearance of the finished mould (in four pieces) after the removal of the clay model.