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Light And Shade

The Art Of Painting - Light And Shade - 4, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
 
 
The reproducing of every kind of texture depends partly on drawing, but mainly on the tone value of their light, half-tone, and shadows. This will be clearly seen in a photograph of flesh, silk, satins, metals, and the like. Colour plays no part here, but tone alone is sufficient to render with the utmost fidelity such textures in the photographic print.
Photography is unwarrantably abused in our day by some painters, and I warn you most seriously about using the camera illegitimately, and so becoming the real camera fiend. But if you would learn the importance of tone value in your art, study photographs (not of your own making) from this point of view, and you will learn many a good lesson both about textures, modelling, and aerial perspective.
As an exercise in aerial perspective draw an interior, carefully contrasting (by the eye-closing method) the relative values of the objects in it, and be satisfied with your drawing (of course a toned one) only when you are, or rather when another person is, able to say that this chair is just so many feet away from the wall, or that other object so far from the chair, and so on.
I take it, of course, that your knowledge of linear perspective is adequate. If the room is lighted from behind you, you will find as a rule that the nearest lights and the nearest shadows are stronger both in tone and colour than the more distant ones, even though their surface colours are unequal.
Do not attempt to paint or draw a figure, or any object, except the setting be that which you wish ultimately to realise. The tone of the setting or background is as much affected by the main object as that object is affected in tone by its setting. They act and react on each other, and the subtle differences thus brought about make all the difference in the quality of your drawing or painting.
Except perhaps in decorative or in imaginary subjects, keep to this rule; and even in the carrying out of such work, be aided by nature's tones wherever it is possible, or your surface quality, its weight (or solidity), will suffer.
To this subject I shall have reason to return in the chapters devoted mainly to painting.
When you have mastered the foregoing lessons and have learned how to apply them, then and then only would I advise you to take up your palette.
Colour has a fatal fascination for us all ; it will not spoil for the keeping. Lay a sure foundation for your house, or the superstructure, which painting is, will be futile and of no avail.



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