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Mural Painting

The Art Of Painting - Mural Painting - 2, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
 
 
Although many attempt it, one can hardly dogmatise on the forms of design admissible. The pedant, if he had his way, would rule out of court even the great works of Raphael, Paolo Veronese, and Titian themselves ; for by him the law is laid down that only figures or groups on one plane are orthodox. This would confine all decorations to processional or kindred subjects that could be treated in this manner. Fortunately, however, these purists do not always get their way. Theorists may go to extremes, but the man who does the work will be wise to digest the theories and take a middle course of his own choosing. Designs should undoubtedly harmonise with the architectural character of their setting, and in appearance be sufficiently flat, or unrelieved, and not detach themselves from the wall or make a hole or holes in it. There are no rules that will guide us with regard to scale, which only the size and nature of a panel can determine ; but the pattern should be so decoratively disposed as to make its intention clear at a glance, even from a distance, and be made up of dark flat masses of drapery or other incidents, and not depend overmuch on chiaroscuro for its blots of light and dark.
A running frieze simplifies for us the question of scale. Generally, in such cases, the heads should approach very nearly the upper limits, as with the Parthenon frieze, the most perfect example of the kind.
Realism is entirely incongruous. Rather is a degree of conventionalism and severity to be favoured ; for what is fitting in an easel picture should not be looked for in mural work. In a classic building, a classic spirit and calm is called for ; in a Gothic, something of the quaintness of Gothic forms ; in a Renaissance, an echo of the age.
The point of sight chosen should in almost all cases be placed longitudinally in the centre of the panel ; the height of the horizon high or low according to the level of the panel with the eye.
By the time, however, that you are commissioned to decorate a public building, you will have gone further than this manual can take you. In the meantime these few hints may smooth your way and advance you one step in the direction of decorative designing, and emphasise the significance of the study of architectural forms.



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