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 - Glazing System

To give full effect to the glazing system [especially with the old substantial vehicle] it is necessary that the preparation should be more or less solid, and freely handled. In Bassan the lights on flesh and other objects were sometimes impinged with much of the local colour in an advanced state of the work, and after all had been laid in chiaroscuro and glazed. In this way it is always possible to prevent a woolly effect, and to restore something of a sparkling appearance by inserting bright rough touches, and toning them afterwards. Schiavone is a great master in all that relates to colour, brilliancy, and vivacity of execution.

The glazing system [the thick vehicle being always understood to be used] has various conditions, [p. 370] some relating to colour, some to surface and texture, some to chiaroscuro.

In color the first principle of the glazing system is warmth, and the second broken hues.

The neutrality which the latter seems to involve [as distinguished from positive and gaudy colouring] is still made compatible with warmth by contriving that the cold colours shall be neutralized by warm ones, and the [too] warm and positive by cool or neutral, rather than by cold hues.

In this system of neutralizing and breaking, the application of the exactly opposite [transparent] tints is to be attended to, and as the preparation does not consist of one uniform tint but of cool half-lights of reddish, greenish, bluish, purplish, &c., so the superadded tonings should be varied constantly to antagonize the under-painting. We thus find in draperies of Venetian pictures a nameless colour produced, although we might easily call it red, rose-colour, &c. --the bluest tints are toned with orange, the greenish with lake, the violently red not with a positive green but with an olive, umbry colour; orange the same, the olive inclining more to grey. Blue is toned with rich brown [dark orange] slightly, and has the same warm colour both for its intense darks and, on a light scale, for its lights.

In general, the colour which should be used to neutralize another, is that of the high light and shadow of the colour to be neutralized. Thus [p. 371] a vivid, crude blue is toned by its opposite, a rich brown, [the depth or darkness of the brown depending of course on the tint of the blue which it duly balances]; a rich transparent brown might be the shadow of this blue, and white, a little embrowned or gilded, would be the true light. A vivid and crude green is toned by a reddish brown--that same colour in its deep transparent state is the fit shadow for the green, and white, embrowned or reddened, would be the true light. The bluer the green the more the light would incline to orange, but it is to be remembered that two positive or strong colours can hardly come together--when the green is strong, then light is comparatively colourless. The opposite of orange is strictly blue, but, on the same principle, as the orange is strong and positive the opposite should be comparatively neutral, a dusky, greyish, umbry tint is the fittest depth for orange. Blue is strictly a half-tint, not a shade-tint, the opposite, of course, is therefore to be recognized in its half-tints, which are sometimes in Venetian pictures of the neutral character above described. The reflex shadows of all colours are warm; and the lights of orange are not its opposite, but only lesser degrees of orange--that is, yellow.

So with regard to yellow--its opposite, purple, belongs neither to the shade nor to the light, but only to the half-light, and there requires not to be positive, but rather to be a greyish depth. Its lights are only lesser degrees of yellow. [p. 372]

So with regard to red--its opposite, green, belongs neither to the shade nor to the light, but only to the half-light. The neutral half-light of red is as usual not positive, but is rather an umbry depth.

The opposite of a positive colour is a negative one, but which is still opposite in the quality of tint also.

The opposite of bright red is pearl colour
The opposite of bright orange is grey
The opposite of bright yellow is purplish grey
The opposite of bright green is reddish brown
The opposite of purple is yellow brown
The opposite of blue is orange brown
The opposite of warm colours is in their half-lights
The opposite of cold colours is in their shadows and lights

The lights and shadows of warm colours differ from those colours only in degree.



The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only. The contents of this site may not be reproduced in any form without proper reference to Text, Author, Publisher, and Date of Publication [and page #s when suitable].