The Art of Painting. Landscape Painting.

Scientific American 36, 29.5.1847

(Continued from No. 35.)

We shall not, in this place, give the theoretic and systematic rules of perspective drawing, as usually taught in the schools, and which tends, invariably, to check, if not destroy a natural taste for drawing and painting; but arrange our instructions in such a manner that the learner will be amused with the task and encouraged to proceed. A complete apparatus for this art required nothing less than all the different pigments and colors, and all the variety of paint brushes and pencils that are used or known; but as no artist has ever hitherto obtained or possessed an apparatus complete, we shall be content to commence with some very simple preparation. With a small quantity of each, of lampblack, Prussian blue, Venetian red, chrome yellow and white lead, ground in oil, and two or three hair pencils, an artist will produce a very fair picture. These, and a great variety of other colors, may be found ready ground and put up in vials and tin-foil tubes, at the artists' finding stores: but the amateur may readily grind and prepare them for himself; and may prepare either cotton cloth stretched and sized as described in out last, or paint on pieces of board, prepared by a ground coat of white, or light stone colored paint. It may be well for him to practice copying from other painted pictured, if such may be readily obtained; otherwise, he may copy from nature, selecting such views or objects as are most simple and easy of imitation. The outlines of the view or picture may be sketched first with a pencil, consisting of a pointed piece of chalk or charcoal, attached to the end of a small round stick, about ten inches long. With regard to perspective in drawing, the learner has only to observe the relative proportion and position which one object bears to another. For example: if three trees stand at different distances, the first being 20 feet, the secon 40 and the thirs 60 feet from the artist, then the height of the first will appear double to that of the second, and equal to three of that of the third, as is illustrated in the engraving at the head of this article, ny which it is shewn that the height of the third trees stand on a level, yet the artist, in drawing the representation of them, must place the foot of the third as high on the picture, as the point B on the first; so that a line drawn from the foot of the first to that of the third, will appear on a bold angle with the horizon. The practitioner who draws from nature will compare the apparent size of one object with that of another, that he may give each its proper apparent size on the picture. In most cases, however, the principal grounds, such as sky, clouds, water and land, are painted and allowed to dry, before the trees, buildings, and other particular objects are drawn. In coloring a picture, it is better to endeavor to imitate the natural appearance of natural objects, than to imitate the paintings of even celebrated artists. On this account it is not unfrequently the case, that the production of self taught artists, far surpass in excellence those of regular bred artists who have studied with the most popular Italian masters. The form and size of the principal subjects of a picture may generally be painted of a plain medium color at first, and afterwards brightened with a brighter color, in the direction of the supposed principal light, and shaded on the opposite side. In coloring distant lands, the lights and shades, (or as they are often termed, heightening and shading,) are applied immediately, and incorporated or blended with the medium ground-color before it is dry. But less distant objects, may be heightened and shaded to better advantage after the ground color is dry. Another important rule to be observed in this art, is that of coloring objects more or less bold in proportion to their distance. For example: two brick houses may appear in the view, one of them but a few rods, and the other a mile distant. When properly painted, an ordinary observer would not discover any difference in the coloring of the two: yet the artist well knows that the distant house has less than one fourth of the depth of colorin, that is presented in the other. By a judicious application of this rule, in graduating the colors, as well as the size of objects, the eye of the spectator is deceived, and he is led to believe that a part of the painted surface is absolutely further distant from the eye than other parts.

A beginner in the art of drawing landscape views, will sometimes fins it difficult to measure the relative proportions of distant objects, by the eye alone, but may readily prepare an instrument similar to tat represented in the above cut, (the plan of which was furnished us by Mr. J. Emery, of Bucksport, Me.) This sextant may be ten or twelve inches in lenght, made of wood, or of stout pasteboard merely, with a scale of inches on the curved part. It has a small upright projection at A, through which is a small orifice; another upright or projecting pin at B, and a third at C. The upright at C is moveable, being fixed on a sliding clasp, which may be moved to the right or left on the arc. This instrument may be used in either a horizontal or vertical position; and when the practitioner would observe the visual height of a distant object, he has only to bring the orifice A to his eye, raise the sextant till the pin B ranges with the bottom of the object, and remove the sliding clasp C till the pin ranges with the top thereof: the inches on the scale, between the projecting pins, will shew the height that the object is to be drawan. By a similar process, the visual breadth of an object or the distance between the two objects, may be readily ascertained.

(To be continued.)

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