Indirect Fixation (the fixative applied to the back of the paper). — The fixing of Charcoal Drawing, when the work is finished, needs very great care. There have been many preparations employed up to this time; but we must confess that none of them give a positively good result. You may suspect quackery in all those inventors who claim complete success on this point. The first fixative employed was that of Durozier, used especially by painters on glass. It sets the drawing well and is well enough for sketches on pasteboard, etc. ; but it gives to the paper a very disagreeable yellow tone which destroys its eflfect ; above all, it hurts an effect of light. Moreover, in passing over the paper, it gives
a shiny look to the drawing, which takes away the principal charm of Charcoal Drawing, that dead tone which gives its value and its harmony.
The other fixatives, those of M. Rouget, M. Berville, etc., being of nearly the same composition, give about the same result, in spite of the claims of their inventors; but the fixative Meusnier, adopted by Allonge and his pupils, who prefer it to all others, has the advantage of being suitable for direct fixation without the necessity of cleaning the apparatus during the work, a disagreeable operation of which we shall speak presently. As to the manner of fixing the drawing, it is the opinion generally adopted and the only true one, that Charcoal Drawings fixed on the back of the paper, are always the most permanent.[*] This is besides the most convenient and rapid method. You pour the preparation into a cup or a saucer, and then by the aid of a flat brush, which you will fill with the fixative by dipping it into the liquid, you moisten your drawing on the wrong side, holding the same by the cross piece at the back. When the drawing is well covered with the fixative, you must dry it as rapidly as possible, in the sun in summer, and not far from the fire in winter. The fixative, drying rapidly, catches the charcoal dust on the paper, makes it adhere and, so to say, sets it in the drawing. . We point out the use of the cup as most economical ; but, if you don't care for that, you can pour the liquid on the back of your drawing and spread it everywhere, equally, with the brush. But in this way you lose a great deal Of your fixative and the drawing is no better set.
* The superiority of the fixative Measnior is incontestible ; its only inconvenience is the strong odor which characterizes it ; to avoid this, it will be well to fix your drawing near an open window and to keep the bottle well corked when it is not in use. This fixative can be obtained from any color merchant or dealer in artistic materials.
Direct Fixation (the fixative applied to the drawing itself). — Artists generally use for this purpose, and wrongly, we think, the blowing apparatus Rouget. We regret not to be of the opinion with regard to it of M. Maxime Lalanne, and these are the reasons which make us judge it diflferently. In the first place, direct fixation is far from giving, instantaneously, the promised result. You must repeat the operation several times and, for this, you must wait each time until the paper dries, to obtain the same permanent setting that you get by indirect fixation.
Then the use of this apparatus is not easy, because it must be cleaned every time it is used; otherwise it gets dirty and the capillary tube, which is the base of the invention, becomes choked up. And, if you blow too quickly or if you bring the instrument too near the drawing, the atomization is not complete — a jet of the liquid may strike the drawing, dragging along with it the charcoal and making a smutch impossible to retouch, and in one minute you may lose the work of several hours. Lastly, blowing by the mouth being necessarily irregular, you can never obtain an absolute regularity of the vapor. You must give up this instrument above all in sketching from nature.
It results from what we have just said, that direct fixation ought never to be employed except when it is indispensable, that is to say, when you wish to fix a design on cloth, silk, etc.; for a sketch prepared for painting or for screens, fans, and the like.
In that case, the best apparatus is that used in medicine for the atomization of mineral waters, obtained by the atomizer of rubber, invented by Galand. We know that this instrument is more expensive than that of Rouget but it is much less fragile, and gives so much better results, that it is good economy to employ it. Then, the wind not being given by the mouth but by two balls pressed alternately, the atomizing tube does not become choked, and thus you avoid the cleaning, a tiresome operation, especially when working from nature.
Material for the Country
It is well to reduce, as much as possible, your material for outdoor work, for you never know, in starting, if the view which charms you will be near home or if you will be obliged to make a long tramp before finding it. It is a good habit to work on your lap, and thereby get rid of the field easel, which, in spite of all the ingenuity of the manufacturers, is always heavy enough to tire you.
But you will do well always to have a campstool, for, in sitting on the ground,[*] you are often troubled by the horizon, which then appears above your eye, or by the first planes, to which you can not give sufficient preponderance. If you wish to make careful studies or harmonious drawings, it is well to provide yourself with an umbrella; for, if you are sketching in the open country in the sunshine, no matter what vigor you may give to your drawing, it will always appear gray ; you work it up and you are surprised, on returning to your atelier, to find that you have made a drawing extremely black, recalling the touch of the crayons of Conte or of the lithographic pencil ; the planes have no longer their relative values and your design has the fault of harshness, an unpardonable fault in Charcoal Drawing.
* From time to time, the artist should stoop, to assure himself that the lines of the landscape which he has found harmonious when viewed sUinding, will present the same rhythm when he has altered the perspective point of view, by sitting down.*' — The Landscape Artist in the Fields by F. Henriet.
As to all those boxes for Charcoal Drawing, made like the field boxes for oil painting, and in general all apparatus of this sort, be careful not to embarrass yourself with them. A few charcoal crayons, a stomp, two or three spills, the snuff-box with the bread-crumb, an eraser — all these can be put in your pocket, and it is just because this.piode of drawing is the least troublesome that it is the most agreeable. There is only the box for the frame that appears to us really useful. This is a sort of open box, which has neither top nor bottom and in which you can fasten the frames of stretched paper by means of copper clamps. Get the lightest boxes possible. By the help of a little strap on the handle you can carry the little tin can holding the fixative, and in the same way you can fasten the camp-stool and the umbrella.