Notebook, 1993-

Eastlake's Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters

Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock [One-time President of the Royal Academy], Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters [Formerly titled: Materials for a History of Oil Painting]. Vol. One. New York; Dover Publications, Inc. 1960 [Originally published by Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans in 1847]

Professional Essays -Chiaroscuro Preparations

Transparent Brown
Raw umber and white may be made a very pleasing colour by the light over dark, and dark over light system;--cool, silvery, tender tints are produced by the former process, and [by contrast] a great amount of richness by the latter. The softness which is the result of the scumbling and "flat toning" system, with large brushes, can be agreeably contrasted with pressed, abrupt, crisp touches in lights and in sillons lumineux with the same brushes--as well as by occasional sharpness in shades.

When umber alone has been used in darkest brown shades, and proves to be too opaque a preparation for ultimate deepest shades, it will be found possible to lighten and warm them a little by introducing vermilion and other very warm tints in minute quantity, and without stirring much, in the midst of a quantity of vehicle. This can be finally glazed with a very rich brown, and with more vehicle. In the Rubens system of laying in the deepest shades with a dark transparent brown only, much vehicle should also be used with [p. 330] the colour--if not at first, at last. This system is difficult unless the whole be laid in with the same brown, for otherwise chalky solid lights continue long out of harmony with the rich, brown, diaphanous shades--the eye only tolerates the later when the lights are rich.

For an ordinary brown preparation, not too glazy, raw umber, warmed with a tint composed of Cap. brown, and burnt sienna, will do. This is convenient because of its quick drying before the dust adheres to it, but any brown, not too neutral [sufficiently warm] and not too oily and glazy for the lighter parts, will do.

The thick glossy vehicle used at last [and which is useful for protecting and sealing the work] is not desirable at first, and as a surface to paint upon, for many reasons. Above all, because the colour does not adhere to such a glossy surface, and there is the danger of portions becoming afterwards detached. To obviate this, when painting on such a surface is unavoidable, it is advisable to soften it as much as possible before hand, with a strong essential oil. The Venetian principle of using nothing glossy in the preparation and first paintings, is the safe principle. But they feared not a thick glossy vehicle at last, and especially for depth. [p. 331]



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