The Art of Painting.

Scientific American 31, 24.4.1847

(Since the early numbers of this paper have been out of print, there has been a constant demand for them, on account of certain instructions in the arts of painting, plating, galvanism and various other curious arts and interesting experiments. On this account arrangements were made to reprint a few deficient numbers — but the call for remaining numbers was so rapid, that subsequent to the arrangements made with the present publishers, they ascertained that the reprinting of all the deficient numbers would cost at least seven hundred dollars; and therefore thought it more advisable to republish in this volume, some of the articles so much called for, from the first volume, with such revisions and improvements as may appear expedient, We here commence the series on painting, and shall appropriate a part of this 8th page of each number to the reprint of such articles as are most in demand.)

The Art of Painting.

There is something peculiarly fascinating in the art, or at least in the practice of painting, and few it any can be found, who have not a fondness for it. Plain painting appears very simple in its process, and thousands of people, without either instruction or experience in the business, have ruined the appearance of their rooms, doors, carriages, &c., by attempting to paint them, instead of employing a workman to do it. In such cases the amateur usually procures a little paint, ready mixed, at a shop—not considering that no painter can know how to prepare and temper a color properly unless he is acquainted with the state and circumstances of the work to which it is to be applied, — and having borowed a brush for the purpose, he applies the paint with all the skill that nature has given him: he is delighted to see how readily he can produce a change of color, and perhaps succeeds very much to his own' satisfaction; but yet leaves it in a state that will not only readily appear decidedly ridiculous to every beholder who is acquainted with even the first principles of the art, but that will defy the skill of the best painter to make the work look decent ever afterward. To remedy these evils, and enable every reader to indulge himself in the occasional employment of painting for his own amusement or convenience, and to enable ordinary practitioners in the art to attain to higher improvements, and embrace a more extensive knowledge of the various branches, are our main objects in presenting a series of instructive essayS on this interesting art.

To commence with the first principles of painting in its most simple form, we have only to procure a dilute mixture of white clay, red or yellow earth, (called ochres,) or of ground charcoal and water; and spread it over the work to be painted, with a sponge or a bunch of moss or grass. The idea readily occurs, however, that this paint would become more permanent, by the addition of a hate glue, or mucilage of any kind. The art of painting in water colors has been brought to great perfection by means of wellformed brushes of various sizes, and a great variety of fine and beautiful colors, and is much in use for painting walls of rooms, plain or figured; also, panoramic scenery, and a great variety of ornamental work. This painting, when the colors are properly tempered with glue and certain other materials, becomes hard and durable, if not exposed to water or moisture; but it is of no value on work that is exposed to the weather, or that often requires washing. We shall now leave the subject of painting in water colors—to be resumed in a future number—and proceed to the more important subject of plain painting in oil colors, or with paints ground in oil.

The principal paints used in oil painting, are white lead, yellow ochre, chrome yellow, chrome green, French green, red lead, red ochre, Venetian red, vermilion, lake Prussian blue, ultra marine, lampblack and ivory black. There are twenty or more othercolors, diverse from the above and from each other; but theie can hardly be said to be in common use.

Most of these colors can be procured ready ground in oil at the principal paint stores but it is in general, more convenient for the amateur, to procure the colors in a dry state and grind them himself, especially if small quantities only are required. The ordinary mode of grinding paints is to put a small quantity on a smooth stone, with a small quantity of linseed oil sufficient to moisten it, and grind by passing another stone (termed a muller,) over it till it is sufficiently fine for use. In this case a sufficient quantity of oil should be mixed with the paint to render it soft and of convenient consistence to spread readily over the stone, but not so thin as to run off During this process of grinding, the operator should press on the unifier with considerable ' force, moving the muller in circular or other directions at discretion, as will most effectsally reduce the paint to the requisite fineness. When each quantity is sufficiently fine for use, it is removed from the paint stone to the cup or vessel prepared to receive it, by means of a broad but thin and elastic blade; termed a paintknife. This paint stone, however, with the stone muller, and paintknife may be dispensed with; and a piece of planed plank, with a block of wood for a muller and a thin blade of wood for a paintknife, may be conveniently substituted: indeed many of the colors before mentioned, may be simply mixed to the proper consistence with oil, and will answer for common outside painting without grinding. Of this class are Venitian red, yellovv ochre, (commonly known as French yellow,) French green, chrome green, vermillion and lampblack. Paint mills are in general use with those who make a business of painting. When white lead, which is a principal article in house painting,—is to be ground in a mill, it is first pulverised by passing a hand roller over it to crush the lumps: it is then mixed with oil in considerable quantity previous to grinding. In this process the operator usually judges of the consistence of the mixture without regard to weight or ineasure of the ingredients, merely mixing it as stiff as can be conveniently stirred with a stick or spatula; but the usual proportion is three and a half gallons of oil to a hundred pounds of white lead. All other paints are also mixed prior to grinding. For outside painting on bare wood in warm weather, no other ingredient is required than pure linseed oil, with which to mix and dilute the paint. The only rule to be observed in tempering the paint, is to dilute with oil till it will spread freely with the brush.— If a new paint brush is to be used it should be of a short smooth kind called ground brushes; but no new brush is suitable for common painting, till it has been used two or three days on roofs, brick walls, or other coarse work. It is better for a beginner to procure a half worn brush if possible: otherwise he may bind the brush with twine for a third part of its length, thus confining the bristles in a compact form till the brush is worn smooth and soft. The brush should in general be held firmly between the thumb and first finger of the right hand, nut passing between the first and second fingers but in various kinds and positions of work, it is held in a different manner, either in the right or left hand. A painter should be accustomed to work with either hand with equal dexterity. When the brush is dipped in the paint, it should be drawn lightly across the edge of the paintpot or bucket, to remove the redundant paint and prevent its dripping from the brush when filled; or may be gently spatted against the inside of the pot, which will answer the same purpose. Ip painting on wood, the paint should be brushed crosswise and otherwise till it is evenly spread over the work, and then smoothed by being brushed carefully with the grain of the wood. This rule must he particularly observed in painting pannel doors; the pannels are first smoothed: then the beads round the pannels; next the shorter parts of the frame, and lastly the vertical sides and ridges.

(To be continued.)

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