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WHEN you have made studies in different views of the cast, or between the making of these varying effects from it, arrange a silver teapot against a piece of coloured satin or other material, and paint it exactly in the same way in monochrome. You are not to seek to convey the sense of colour, except through the just realisation of the relative tones. As I have pointed out to you, a monochrome photograph enables you to distinguish metals and the texture of other materials quite independently of colour, although you may often be able to guess their actual colours by the justness of the tone relations. In this study use more of the stiff or solid white for the silver, for you have yet to get used to managing the stiffer pigments ; and whatever you do, do not retouch the study with any colour when it is dry or tacky. It will be quite time enough to do this when you have had experience and have gained sufficient judgment to retouch your work without losing the sense of oneness; for although you may feel that a few corrections are necessary, you will do more harm than good. You are likely to lose [89] the quality you will have realised by keeping the study all wet together, if you retouch the surface however slightly.

Now, we will imagine that you have neglected to scrape off your paint while the study was wet, and desire to continue with it although it has dried. If the work is only partly dry, and too set to be removed with the palette knife, you had best not continue with that study until it is thoroughly set. It is better to start something else meanwhile.

If, however, it is practically dry, how shall we proceed? First of all, take your "plush mat" and erase some of the dark colour from your shadows and background, right up to and even over the outline, not forgetting to place a thick cardboard immediately behind the canvas, between it and your stretcher. This will give you a firm ground to scrape upon, and will prevent abrasions. Repeated covering of already dark paint will lead to muddiness ; but by erasing somewhat, you will be able to preserve the requisite transparent quality. If, at the same time, the light passages are over-encumbered, use your plush mat so that the scraping undulates across the modelling, from side to side of the study, pressing but slightly on the mat. Any uneven pressure may result in ugly ruts, in which eventuality you had best scrape till the immediately surrounding canvas is altogether bare.

After this preparation, begin again according [90] to the instructions given in the early part of the chapter. I have told you that you may paint two or three times only over the lights without danger of losing freshness, and for this reason it is wise to paint thinly at the start, reserving your full brush until you arrive at what you hope may be the last painting, so as.also to retain as long as possible the grain of your canvas.




Before recommending you to paint in monochrome from the living model, I should advise you at this stage to practise working with your palette at some still-life subject, painting in direct colour à prima, of course after having carefully drawn your study.

I advise you thus because, although I wish you to prepare all your serious work in monochrome, there will be occasions when you will have no opportunity of returning to your work a second time in which case a first monochrome painting be of little use to you. You may have to make a rapid study in colour, perhaps of a passing effect in landscape, the study of a figure in the open, of certain flowers or other perishable objects - even a study for a portrait to be done at one sitting. And it may often occur that in your more serious work some change will be found advisable in a minor part for which you have no time to prepare except by scraping, as well as I in other instances, to which I shall allude later, so that in any case à prima painting must be studied.

[92] Arrange some fruit in a dish against an appropriate background ; draw the subject most carefully in charcoal, and after having blown or brushed away all unnecessary blackness (for the black of the charcoal would destroy all freshness of colour), clean your canvas with bread-for with flowers, flesh, or any delicate subject, you cannot work too cleanly. Some of your contemporaries may tell you that you cannot get any quality in your colour by a clean method-dirt is so often mistaken for tone ! Let, however, the quality you seek be under your own control, and not the result of a slovenly method. Let your dish of fruit consist of apples, an orange or two, bananas, and so on, as well as a few large leaves, all simple forms, not too intricate in drawing. Paint in your background tone, covering the canvas, all but the main subject. Mix up on your palette some of the general colours, the middle tones of the fruit, leaves, and dish, matching the colours and tones as you would match silks or wools, and so cover the rest of the canvas. This time use linseed oil in your pot, and brushes of fair size. Now match the tone of the varying coloured shadows, and paint them; then, the higher lights ; and after that, the broken passages of colour. If, for instance, there is some red in the green or yellow apples, scrape off with your palette knife some of the middle tone colour, over which the clean red is to appear.

From time to time place your canvas against [93] the subject, walk back as far as possible from your work, and compare it with the group in the hand-glass. See that the comparative tone values of the parts are just, and that the whole mass of fruit, &c., is in tone and in colour relation to the background. You will find that in contrast with the brilliant fruit the colour of the background will be considerably modified, as will also be the shadow colours of the fruits themselves by their juxtaposition. Be content only with your work when the apples look eatable, their polished surface not overdone. In other words, see that the high lights are exactly their right tone, and not too light, and that all other lights and light masses are subordinate to what happens to be the highest light or light passages. Make sure that each piece of fruit keeps its place in relation to the rest, and that the whole looks like a mass of fruit, and not a coloured list of separate items.

This general aspect you must try to get at the outset, and preserve, in spite of the finish you may bestow on the parts. The part must always be Subordinate to the whole.

If at the end of the day's work any portion is not satisfactory, scrape it away with the palette knife, evenly taking off the solid paint ; the rest may perhaps be sufficiently wet to enable you to continue the next morning.

If it is winter, put your canvas in a cold place, outside your studio or room, if possible exposed [94] to the air. Thus treated, paint often remains sufficiently wet to enable you to continue the following day.

In almost all instances the first painting on a new canvas dries very slowly, but it will frequently work up-that is, leave the canvas when worked over, and not settle. You might in such instances lay blotting-paper over it to absorb the superfluous oil ; and if that does not answer- for it will largely depend on the texture of your canvas-take off the paint with your palette knife and clean it again with a rag. This being done, paint with greater solidity, with less oil ; a little mastic or amber varnish with the colour may help you to steady it. Many such technical difficulties will require special treatment, and experience alone will enable you to overcome them.

I ought perhaps to tell you that, except for the background and shadows, you might paint all the more solid light passages without a medium, if you wish to complete your study at one sitting.



Now arrange a still-life group (similar to the one to be done in the monochrome) of silver and china on a white cloth, with any other objects that may help to compose the group, and, by way of getting accustomed to the different mediums, put some amber or mastic varnish in your oil-pot, adding to it a little linseed oil. This makes a very fat medium, and may render your silver objects more effective.

In such a group the delicately contrasted whites should make a good study. Be careful to compare the varying qualities of the white and other delicate tints. Note the effect which the high lights on the silver have upon all other tones ; and although the reflections in the shadows on the metal may appear very high in colour, let there be no mistake about their being reflections, both in the quality of their colour and their general tone. You must also look for the alternating warm and the cool tones that may occur throughout the group.

Keep your colour pure. Lay in the whole as before directed, and think less at the outset of the nature of the textures than of the patches of varying [96] light and dark tones. If these are carefully followed, and a tone coloured map, as it were, of the whole mechanically reproduced, the textures will be at least partly realised. Having looked into the glass at your canvas, which is now completely covered and placed by the side of your group, seek to elaborate each object, and if by chance there is any sense of monotony in the work, you will find that by laying on the light of the silver very cleanly and very solidly, you may get greater contrast of tone. Leave your work at intervals, for ten minutes at a time, coming back to it with a fresh eye. It is important at all times, when you are working in colour, to interrupt the work with this object in view. You will more readily appreciate the delicate variations, and become aware of any false sense of colour that may permeate the study.

Try and make this group as finished as you can, even though it may look over-laboured. You are not likely to preserve a desirable freshness with completeness in your early practice, but you must learn to concentrate, and stick at it. You will get into messes often enough, and you must learn how to get out of them. You may be sure that without great determination nothing is achieved that is worth achieving.

If the study is at all promising, leave it intact, and take it up, if you can keep it wet, the next day ; if not, let it dry thoroughly, and then take it up again. Many roads lead to Rome, so on [97] another occasion try a different method. Take up the same group from the same view. Having done it as a whole, you will have learnt something of the relative value of the parts. Make your drawing, and on the bare white canvas complete absolutely each object separately, bearing in mind, while painting it, its relative value to the whole. This is excellent practice, and will best enable you to finish. Experience gained in this way is invaluable : you will see when the study is done whether you have over- or under-stated the value of the tone of any particular part. I should advise you to begin with the object strongest in light and shade, so as to set the key for the whole, and paint it up to full strength, or you will find most likely, when the surroundings and background are painted, that it may look weak.

It is quite possible to complete a picture bit by bit in this way. Many of the students in the École des Beaux Arts in my time began their studies from the nude at the head and worked down to the feet without retouching; and such studies, when completed, were often perfect in the relative value of the parts to the whole.

In this way freshness is preserved and completeness attained ; and for the student who is beginning, it is far less distracting than what I might call the driving of a whole team. With a simple theme, it is better to keep the whole going together, but with a more complicated one, when the colour, tone, and drawing, and many subtleties [98] demand consideration, it is wiser for the beginner to divide up his work in the way here suggested.

When the weather is favourable, go out into the open and paint some simple landscape studies. I shall leave it to others more capable to give you detailed instruction in landscape painting ; but such work will be a pleasant change for you, and I more particularly want you to make value relation in landscape your main objective at this period of your studentship. A few studies of skies also will teach you the importance of a clean method, and will give you greater freedom of handling.




BEFORE we take painting from the model, let me have a little chat with you about the necessity of training your imaginative faculties and cultivating your sense of arrangement.

Although we are concerned mainly here with painting as a craft, a knowledge of painting alone will not suffice to equip you for the profession of painter, which you may wish to adopt. There is much more to learn if you would be, as you should, many-sided. The student too often assumes that the power to compose or arrange with effect will come at his bidding, for to him it appears to be so easily done by others.

We do not get stronger by watching other men lift weights. Nor are weights lifted or pictures composed, either at the beginning or at any time, without effort.

Good composition calls for a far higher mental capacity than mere painting, which in itself is difficult enough. And by neglecting to cultivate our imaginative faculties whilst we are young, we incur some danger of losing them altogether.

[100]When in the course of your reading you come across a pictorial episode, visualise it and sketch the scene as it strikes you. There are, nowadays, so many beautiful illustrations to be seen; you may well learn, from some of them, how figures are grouped, and how accessories are placed to complete the pictorial arrangement. Such mental notes, added to your unceasing practice, will greatly increase the facility with which you will be enabled to arrange and compose artistically.

When visiting a picture or sculpture gallery, take a sketch-book with you. Your memory will not suffice to recall the results of your analysis of compositions. Study particularly the placing of heads, half and full length portraits and figures, and the main structural lines and colour masses of decorative designs. Mark the arrangement of light and shade (chiaroscuro) in Dutch and Spanish pictures, which have such fine technical qualities, and when anything strikes you as particularly beautiful, draw it, and in drawing it search for the secret of its beauty.

Here are a few hints for your guidance in placing your own studies.

You have already been advised, when placing a head on a canvas about 24 inches by 20, to mark the chin about the centre of the canvas. When the head is facing you, it should be placed fairly centrally. When the face is looking either to the right or left, let there be a greater space in front than behind it; and keep your heads high up. [101]There is distinct loss of dignity when a figure seems to be slipping down behind its frame; nor does one expect to chase the subject of a picture round the edges of the canvas. That modern trick has ceased either to surprise or fascinate, and it smacks much of the unsteady Kodak.

All pictures should be decorative-that quality need not be exclusively reserved for what are known as decorative pictures-and there should be just accident enough in their arrangement for them not to appear obviously arranged.


"Artistic inequalities" is an expression to remember. I will endeavour to explain it with a set of negative rules. No two quantities-where it is possible to avoid such repetitions, should be equal in value, either of groups, colour-masses, or spacing.

Figures or groups should not be the same width across as the spaces between them and the edges of the frame ; nor should the horizon be centrally placed nor a figure, or any part of its outline, just touch another outline. It should either cut the other boldly through, or sensibly avoid it.

Figures should not be "haloed" by repeating forms above them either by cloud shapes, trees, hills, or other incidents or markings. Nor should they be placed back to back ; nor be grouped in equal numbers.

[102] The confusion which results from ignoring these simple rules is made evident in the accompanying diagram.

In architectural decoration, symmetry is not necessarily objectionable. The element of accident is rarely called for in formal designs.

In Fig. 19 we have the perpendicular lines of the columns running into the outline of the head and so enclosing it, carried on again by the drapery folds and the straight leg. We also see horizontals found in a line with the eyes, mouth, chin, and so on-limbs cut through at the joint- the bent leg, conducting the eye into the angle of the canvas-a curved marking in the columns, recalling the top line of the head-cloud forms echoing the head itself-the arm and leg making [103] between them something in the nature of a parallelogram. Any one of these faults might well tend to confuse or check the sense of detachment and simplicity.

Many concavities should be avoided, as well as "double action," such as the two hands of a figure separately occupied, unless the subject demands it.

Such difficulties as these will crop up re-peatedly in the making of compositions, and where it becomes impossible to steer clear of them, a judicious use of light and shade may often help to render them harmless. But should your composition, or any part of it, appear weak, apply such negative laws to it. They may assist you in discovering the source of weakness.

I would draw your attention to two compositions of Michelangelo which form part of the ceiling decoration of the Sistine Chapel, that should make manifest to you the capacity of line and massing in the hands of a great master.

[104]In the "Creation of Adam," mark the sense of dawning life in the figure of Adam. The sweep forward of the Creator, supported by figures that foreshadow the creation of Eve and her children, and the great curves of the folds that enclose this on-moving group-how satisfying is the fulness of those convex forms !

In the "Raising of the Brazen Serpent" pen-dentive, the bodies and limbs fitted and dovetailed in the foreground group suggest, besides a writhing mass, a consummate orchestration of lines which has never been equalled or approached.



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