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 - Negative Lights & Shades

The negative shade of every colour is best prepared by a hue exactly opposite to its light. The negative light of each colour may be obtained by a mechanical means. A colour placed on one side of a semi-diaphanous substance, thin ivory for instance, will give its negative light on the opposite side--that is, the medium of warm white though which it is seen makes the real colour appear lighter and cooler in a just proportion. Intense orange yellow, [deep chrome] seen through this transparent medium, gives for its light a warm, light rose colour; vermilion gives a cold light rose colour; lake, a very cold light rose or purple colour; light red, a light purplish; burnt sienna, a light purplish grey; brown, a light grey; or, all these light colours being given, the other colours are their depths or multiples. Blue gives a comparatively warm light grey, light green a light greenish grey.

These colours are generally found together in nature. Thus when the sky is nearest to blue [for when the clouds are coloured it is no longer a pure blue], the clouds, with their warmish light grey, represent the same harmony which the above experiment gives, and which would be agreeable in a drapery. Green leaves give their negative light in their under colourless parts, and give as they change their tints also the colours that harmonize with green, such as brown, warm and cool, light yellowish brown, &c. A rose gives a cool light like the warm colours above mentioned, being most coloured in its reflexions, where the colour is multiplied into its real strength.

These things are easily arrived at with the more positive colours, but the colourist is shown most in balancing and adjusting with equal nicety those which are the most nameless. Any common colour, [p. 317] such as the tone of the ground or rock, a tree, &c., has its true negative light and its true shade. A picture that is full of exquisite harmonies of this kind, even to the most undefined subdivisions of the colours, is highly finished; and this is one of the highest excellences of oil painting, because it is an excellence peculiar to this art. [pp. 316-318]



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