CXIX. Directions for painting in oil on wood.
CXX. Directions for painting in oil on canvas.
CXXI. Which colours are used for the above purpose.
CXXII. Which oils are used in painting.

Valuable Secrets concerning Arts and Trades:
or Approved Directions, from the best Artists, for the Various Methods...
Printed by Thomas Hubbard,
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Chap. V. Secrets concerning colours & painting.

§ VIII. Preparations of colours of all sorts for oil, water, and crayons.

CXIX. Directions for painting in oil on wood.

Lay, first, one cost of size on the wood; then another of whitening diluted with size; then another again of boiling oil, as mentioned in the above Art. cxvi, When this last is thoroughly dry, you draw your design, and paint as usual.

CXX. Directions for painting in oil on canvas.

1. Chuse a fine and smooth tick or cloth, which nail on a frame. Pass over it first a-coat of size, and when dry, rub it over with a ponce stone to eat off all the knobs and knots. The size which you put first on the cloth is intended to lay down all the threads, and fill up all the small holes, that the colour may not pass through.

2. When the cloth is dry, lay on a coat of simple colour, which may not destroy the others; for example, brown-red, which is a natural earth, full of substance, and lasting. You may mix it, if you like, with a little white lead, it will dry the sooner. To grind this colour, they use nut, or lintseed oil; and, in order to lay it as thin as it is possible, they use a large knife made on purpose.

3. When this colour is dry, you are to rub it again the ponce stone, to render it smoother. Then lay another coat of white lead and charcoal black, to render the ground greyish. In this, as well as in the preceding coats, you must take care to put as little colour as you possibly can, to prevent the cloth from cracking, and for the better preservation of the colours which are to be laid afterwards in painting. For it is proper to observe, that could there be no ground at all laid on the canvas of a picture, previous to the painting of it, and should one paint directly on the bare cloth, without any other preparation at all, the colours would appear much more to their advantage, and preserve their brightness, much longer. A proof of this assertion may be found in the practice of Paul Veronese, and Titian, who used to impregnate their canvas with water colours only, and paint afterwards in oil over that ground. This custom of theirs has not a little contributed to render their pieces more lively and bright, because the ground in water-colour draws and soaks the oil off the colours, which must render them much finer, since the greatest cause of their dulness arises from nothing but the oil with which they are diluted.

4. They therefore, who wish to see their works keep bright and lively, use as little oil as possible, and keep their colours more stiff, mixing a little oil of spike amongst them, which indeed vaporises very soon, but assists in rendering them more fluid and tractable in working.

5. Another cause of the colours not keeping a long while their beauty, is when they are too much tormented on the pallet, as it often happens that painters confuse them in working. Whenever this is the case, they must needs be hurt, as there are many which adulterate, and otherwise corrupt, the others, and spoil the vivacity of their taint. Therefore, we cannot recommend too much to be cautious and clean in employing them, taking care to lay them as distinct; and separate as possible, each by themselves, on the pallet, without mixing them too much with the brush or pencil. Never mingle together those colours which are enemies to each other, as all the blacks are, particularly the lampblack; but as much as possible, try to use them separately by themselves. Nay, when there is an occasion of giving more strength to some parts of a picture, staytill it is dry before you touch it up again, if those colours are obnoxious to the others with which you are to do it. Therefore he shows his judgement in painting, who is not precipitate in laying his colours on his pictures, but lays them thick enough, and covers at several times the carnations, which, in terms of art is called empater.

6. As to what concerns the first laying of grounds on canvas in water colours, it is a method not commonly practised, because they may scale, and cannot be rolled without some difficulty. For this reason, the custom prevails of grounding the canvas with oil colours. But when the canvas is good and very fine, the less colour you can lay on for that purpose, the better. Take care only those colours and oils are good. The lead which some painters use to help their colours to dry the sooner, soon destroys their brightness and beauty.

CXXI. Which colours are used for the above purpose.

1. Though all the different sorts of colours which are used in painting in oil are not fit for that called fresco, yet it is true, however, that (except lime and marble dust, which indeed cannot strictly be called colours) every one of those used in fresco are good in oil. Therefore, without entering into a repetition of those already mentioned in Art. cxiii. we shall content ourselves with making only the following addition to them.

2. White lead; this colour is made with lead which you bury. Several years after, this lead turns into some sorts of ftakes, which are of a very fine white. Though this white exists in painting, and is in positive use, it has always, however, a very bad quality, which the oil corrects a little, when you grind it on the stone.

3. Ceruse, or flake white; this is a sort of rust gathered from lead, but of a coarser nature than the other.

4. Massicot; there are two sorts of this colour. The one is yellow, and the other is white. It is made with calcined lead.

5. Orpine, otherwise auripigment. It is used calcined and non-calcined. - To calcine it, they put it in an iron box, or in a pot well stopped. But few either calcine it, or even use it at all, as the fumes are mortal, and it is very dangerous to use it.

6. Black lead. This comes from lead mines. They make very little use of it, because it is a bad colour of itself, besides that it is a great enemy to the others.

7. Cinnabar, or vermilion. This colour is drawn from the mines where they gather quicksilver. As it is a mineral, it is the reason why it does not resist the impression of the air, nor the injuries of the weather.

8. Lake. This colour, which is an artificial made one, is composed with cochineal, or with scarlet flocks; or again, Brasil wood, and some other sorts of woods. There are several sorts of lake made. It does not stand the weather.

9. Blue verditure and green verditure. It is very seldom used in any other works but landscapes.

10. Indigo. This colour is generally used for making skies, or draperies; when properly used, it keeps its beauty a great while you must not mix it with too great a quantity of oil, but lay it a little thick and, dark, because it discharges very much. They use it with great success diluted with gum-water. It is a good colour for the composition of greens.

11. Brown-pink, otherwise called stil-de-grain. This colour is drawn from what is called French berries, which they soak and boil, then mix the result with vine-wood ashes, or calcined white chalk, to give it a proper considence. When this is done, it must be strained through a very fine cloth.

12. Lamp-black. This is a bad colour, but handy to paint black draperies.

13. Ivory-black. This black is made indifferently with common bones, as well as ivory, burnt. Appelles discovered this sort of black, if we believe Pliny, Book xxxv. Chap. v.

14. Verdigrise. This is the most pernicious of all the colours, and capable to ruin a whole picture, if there were never so little in the colour with which the canvas is first impregnated. It is however of a very agreeable look. They sometimes calcine it to prevent its malignant effect; but it is as dangerous to use it that way as orpine; and it is an undoubted truth that, however well prepared as it may be, it must be employed alone by itself, for it would spoil all the colours with which it may be mixed. The chief reason why they use, it is, that it dries very much, and for that purpose the mix a little of it with the blacks, which can never dry without some assistance of that kind.

N. B. You must be very careful never to use, for other colours, the pencils with which you shall have laid any verdigrise.

15. There are again some other sorts of compound colours, which are never used but in oil.

CXXII. Which oils are used in painting.

1. The best oils which are used in painting are those of nut and lintseed. To render the colours more fluid, and spread more easily under the pencil, they use also oil of spike. This oil absorbs itself in the canvas, and leaves the colours without any gloss. They use it also for cleaning pictures; but you must take care it should not carry the colours away with it. It is made with the flowers of a plant called Spikenard or Lavender Spike.

2. There is another oil drawn from Melezian-rosin, firs, &c. wherefore it is called Oil of Turpentine. This sort of oil is also very good for touching up pictures; but it is chiefly good for mixing with ultramarine, and the different sorts of smalts, because it serves to make them spread with more facility, and evaporates almost immediately. When you make use of this oil, the less there is of any other oil in the colour, the better, as they all serve only to make it turn yellow.

3. There are other oils again which are denominated siccative oils, because they serve to dry up the others the sooner. These are many in number and species. One sort is nothing but the oil of nut, boiled with gold litharage and a whole onion peeled, which is taken off after boiling; this onion serving only to exsiccate the greasy parts of the oil, and to clarify it. Another sort is made with azure in powder, or smalt, boiled in oil of nut. When the whole has boiled, you must let it settle, and then skim off the top. It is fittest for diluting the white and such of the other colours as you want to preserve purest and neatest.

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