Technical Names and Materials Used. Mixing of Tints, and how to Apply Them.
No doubt you are sufficiently acquainted with the general principles of Drawing and Perspective at the time you reach this branch of art work, as to be able to apply them with facility and certainty to the representation, in outline, of a given view or subject. The rules here laid down will place within your reach the power of securing to yourself one of the most delightful and agreeable of accomplishments.
In the production of a painting in Oil Colors, there are certain modes of operation, in introducing a beginner to the practice of the art, the operations are distinguished by the technical names of glazing, impasting, scrambling, and handling.
A Glaze is a thin transparent film of color, laid upon another color to modify the tone, or to aid the effect of the latter, the work thereby appearing distinctly through the layer of glaze, from which it receives a characteristic hue. This process of glazing is effected by diluting proper transparent color with megilp, or other suitable vehicle. Thus diluted, these colors are laid upon portions of the work, either in broad flat tints, or in touches, partially and judiciously distributed. The object is to strengthen shadows, and give warmth or coldness to their hue, to subdue lights that are unduly obtrusive, or to give additional color and tone to those that are deficient in force and richness.
Impasting. In oil painting, the dark shadows, or dark portions of the picture, are painted thinly, while the lights are hud on, or "impasted," with a full pencil and a stiff color. In the lights of the foreground, and of parts not intended to be remote or to "retire," the impasting should be bold and free : while in the more brilliant lights it cannot well be too solid. The palette knife has always been a favorite instrument, of this "impasting," or laying on of color, capable as it is of producing an agreeable brightness on, and of giving an appropriate flatness to, the pigment. A clear and appropriate tint, skillfully swept across a sky by these means, often produce a brilliant and charming effect which is surprising.
Scrumbling, the opposite process to that of glazing, is done by going lightly over the work with an opaque tint, generally produced by an admixture of white. For this purpose a hog-hair brush is used, charged with color but sparingly, and with it the tints are drawn very thinly, and somewhat loosely, over the previous painting, which should, as in the case of glazing, be dry and firm.
The judicious combination of glazing and scrumbling will produce richness, brilliancy and transparency.
Handling. By "handling" is meant the mechanical use of the pencil or brush, exhibiting the artist's power of adopting certain modes and processes in the expression and representation of the different textures of objects, such as foliage, wood, water, etc.
Light. The position of a painter at his easel should be such that his work may receive the light from his left, falling upon it only from the upper part of the window of his room, the lower part being darkened by a piece of green baize. A light proceeding from the north is the best, it being most uniform through the day.
The first thing to be done in painting a landscape is to select a canvas of moderate size, let the design be drawn upon it with a firm and well defined outline. This being done, tint the lower part of the canvas in a clear, warm tone with a mixture of Yellow Ochre and Venetian Red, or with a pale hue of Burnt Sienna, in water colors, mixed with a little ox-gall to make it adhere to the oil ground.
The upper, or sky part of the canvas, being left clear, commence the work lightly about where the horizon will appear, and gradually strengthen the tint as you descend. The sketch being laid in, the painting of the picture may now be commenced.
Have near your easel a slab of ground glass, on which you can prepare your tints to a proper consistency or hue. A set of tints, of the hue of the sky, and for the distances, is now mixed, and you commence with the blue of the sky, working downwards, and securing a proper gradation of color; then follow the distances, mountains, etc. This being done, the work is left to dry. The mode of applying the color to the canvas is chiefly by touches, or puts of the brush in succession, from left to right. The color should be tempered with a proper quantity of vehicle, that it may work crisply, and above all, that it may be laid sparingly upon the canvas.
Short hair brushes are best adapted to painting with little color. In laying on, or "impasting" the lights, the brushes should be rather longer than those used for general painting -such a brush will yield the color more readily. Unless the colors be allowed to harden between the first and second painting, also between the second and third, they will be liable to be rubbed off by the application of the oils and glazing used in the after painting.
When the first painting is dry, the picture should have a damp cloth passed over its surface. Being then wiped dry, let it be rubbed over with a small portion of poppy oil, for this makes the after painting unite with the first. It is a mere moistening of the surface that is required - no excess of oil to remain. All that is not necessary should be removed by the moderate application of a piece of silk or linen.
In the second painting we advance by giving more attention to the details of various objects; their drawing, light and shade, reflected hues, and various tints in coloring are more elaborately made out; the relative distances of objects from the eye are most carefully preserved, and the shadows, which are yet painted thinly and transparently, are carefully united, with half-tints, so as to produce a roundness.
The third, or finished painting, is commenced by wiping and oiling the picture in the manner before described as necessary for the second painting. We then proceed to complete the details of form and color, which were brought forward in the former painting, employing for this purpose delicate touches of glazing and scrambling alternately, not to conceal, but improve and render as perfect as possible what has already been done. Sharp, vigorous touches where the markings of the details require them. These touches must be made with freedom and decision, or they fail in producing the desired effect. They should be of a warm tone, not cold - not grey. In this stage of the work do not attempt too much at one sitting. It is best to allow the colors to dry gently, and to repeat the operation when necessary.
Lastly, a mode of aiding the finish is by passing over a portion of the work with light, delicate tones, which are left only on the projecting touches of texture objects.