As Landscape Painting is one of the most favourite branches of the art, so it is one of the easiest; for, while keeping the general outline of a view, We can allow ourselves much latitude in details; we may make our trees more full in leaf, our rocks more moss-grown, our rivers more clear, and either bathe our scene in the golden light of sunset, or make it solemn with " dark driving clouds," without in anyway affecting the truthfulness of the scene:
The hints which we will give shall apply to any style of landscape.
The sky is always put in first, beginning with the blue of the sky, and working downwards with the various tints, be they golden or gray, according to the aspect you have chosen. In a clear unclouded sky, the blue is deepest above our heads, and melts off to the horizon, till it becomes a tender gray. Ultramarine and white is the purest sky tint, and a little black and vermilion combined with it, gives the most beautiful grays. Clouds are painted over the clear sky with deeper shades of gray, or with a little umber mixed with it; their bright edges are put on after the work is dry, and may be pure white or some flesh-coloured tint, according to the reflection of the sun. Lay the colour on sparingly with one of the larger brushes, in touches or pats, from left to right, beginning from the left-hand corner of the picture. The distances are put in with the gray sky tints, but a little darker in tone. The sky and distance should be softened with a large brush, and allowed to dry before proceeding to the other parts.
Trees, if thin of leaf, and showing much light through them, should be painted over the sky, otherwise they may be laid in at once, in masses of light and shade, and the leaves made over them when dry, with little touches of the brush, and rather thicker colour. There are many different "touches" for foliage, and it requires a little practice to get the habit of doing it well; some, with a tine brush with plenty of colour in it, make a kind of little loop, as if they were going to write the letters O or C; this leaves an oval, full touch. Sometimes a brush is crushed flat upon the colour, and stabbed on the painting, this leaves a star-like touch. Or an old hog or flat sable brush, with the hairs worn, and of different lengths, is used for a jagged foliage. These various touches may be pointed up and corrected by a tine brush. The receding parts of ths foliage and the leaves that come against the sky, are painted with thin, transparent colour, with a small tool; the light touches with opaque tints. Foliage should not be made of too glaring a green. A good set of tints is made of blue, raw sienna, and white, blue and burnt sienna : and for light touches, raw sienna and white, or Naples yellow alone; for the dark shadows no blue is needed; shades of black and raw and burnt sienna give a warm olive tone. The lights may be glazed with sienna and a little blue to enrich them. You may produce the rough bark of near trees by painting the trunks rather dark, and putting over rugged, uneven touches of lightish gray, with a very full brush, and glazing it when dry with black and burnt sienna. For trees which are at some distance, and whose foliage appeals of a grayish yellow cast, use black, Naples yellow, and white; for very distant trees, add the French blue and a little light red, to give the atmospheric tint. The foreground must be painted with stronger colours, larger brushes, and bolder touches. For stalks of grass and weeds, a fine-pointed brush is used, and jerked upwards, which gives a spirited touch. For flat rocks or stones the lights are sometimes put on with the palette knife, the colour being taken on the knife, and laid upon the picture, in the manner (to use a homely simile) of spreading bread and butter; but as a nervous hand would most likely fail in this, the brush is the safest for a beginner. The foreground shadows should be glazed with rich tones of browns and olives. When the painting is finished to your mind, by touching upon it here and there (though you must be careful not to do too much, and spoil the spirit of it), you may scumble the distances; and the sky, if too blue, with white alone, or a gray tint; this gives a misty softness to the "whole, and brings it to a conclusion.
We have thus given a few general rules for landscape painting, which is all we can do, nature's tints being innumerable. Try on your palette different combinations of colour, and you may find out same beautiful tints yourself; and if you see any peculiar light or shade in your walks, try and discover the colours it is composed of - indeed, a painter should be always Looking out for effects, always trying to learn something fresh from Nature herself, and every day the study will become more interesting.
We must not forget to give some directions for cleaning up, on which all your comfort in painting depends, if not much of the beauty of the picture. Never leave your tools uncleaned till next day ; the paint will dry on the palette, and the oil in the brushes, and soon quite spoil them. Take up, on the knife, all the bits of pure colour you have to spare, and lay them on a plate; pour over them as much cold water as will cover them, and they will keep several days soft and workable. Scrape off the palette all the waste colour and oil; wipe it with a rag; pour on it some linseed oil, in which clean all the colour out of the brushes, wiping them, now and then, with a rag; dip them in clean oil, which is to remain in them. Wipe the dirty oil off the palette; put a little fresh on it, and rub it clean and dry. Be careful to keep it, and also the brushes, from dust. If some days are likely to elapse between your paintings, clean the brushes with spirits of turpentine, and dip them into olive oil, they may then be left for a fortnight without getting stiff, or "tacky" - the turpentine must be all wiped from them, or it will eat away the hair. Wash the hog tools in soap and water - warm is best - dry them by rubbing lightly and quickly over a cloth. After using oils or varnish, wipe the mouth of the bottles, to prevent the corks sticking fast; wipe the tubes, too. after using, that they may screw properly. All this may be speedily done with plenty of rags (old stockings make the best) and a newspaper underneath, with very slight soiling of the fingers.
Having now carried you through the practical part, we will speak of the subjects most suitable for the pencil. The various branches of art are divided as follows: The historical, or grand style, which includes historical, classical, and Scriptural subjects; this is the highest branch, and few can hope to arrive at excellence in it; as it not only requires a thorough knowledge of anatomy, but a fertile and well-stored mind.
Portrait painting is a delightful field for the pencil, and affords more pleasure than almost any other branch. Moreover, it is not much more difficult to copy a head from nature than from another painting Persuade some friend who is good-natured enough to submit to be caricatured, or made hideous for the first few trials, to sit to you, and you will soon find it become easy. An old person's face, with strongly-marked features, is the best study - children and young people are more troublesome as to expression.
Landscape, which includes Marine subjects, is a most popular style, and on a small scale, one of the most suitable for ladies.