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Monochrome Study

The Art Of Painting - Monochrome Study - 3, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
 
 
All light passages enclosed between darker ones appear lighter than they are ; remember this throughout your practice. Now paint your halftones, the tones coming midway between your middle tones and the shadows, in definite shapes and in definite planes, and then impose the lights more thickly so that the solidity of your cast becomes apparent ; and see that the planes occupy their due areas in the map.
Now draw and model the features, and when this is done, brush together lightly the edges of the shadow and half-tones, taking care not to lose the drawing, but rather to correct and supplement it in the process, " lose and find the outline against the background, and maintain in completing the work a sense of the " oneness " which is so essential—the nearest definition of " finish " I can think of.
Let me now explain to you my reasons for recommending this particular method of painting.
On a white ground you could not hope to realise your middle or general tone. Therefore it is well to lay in the background first, and then the general tone aspect of the subject, for the one reacts upon the other. Covering your drawing with a thin coat of the middle tone gives you a field of colour into which to paint.
The actual painting stage really only begins when you paint into paint. Only in this way can your shadows and half-tones melt one into the other. Only in this way can you model round your planes, fusing one into the other—that is, when all is wet together, so that the brushing can assert itself and help the sense of undulation.
Moreover, the laying in of the general tone aspect makes for simplicity and oneness, and enables you with the fewest possible touches to realise the varying planes, and the solidity of your work.
There will be little need to employ more than four or five tones, ranging from the shadows to the bright lights : all subtler shades can be modified in the final brushwork. Let breadth and simplicity be your watchwords.
Although in the foregoing instructions I spoke about your completing the study, you are not likely to be able to finish it to your satisfaction so early in your practice, and in all probability you will need and wish to take up the study again. Then how are we to proceed ? To begin with, if towards the end of your first day's work you see that it is hopeless to finish your attempt, boldly take your large palette knife and sweep off all the paint that will yield to this process, evenly, from top to bottom of your canvas, working from right to left across it. You will find that with the exception of the surface paint so lifted a faint indication of all the varying tones and the general drawing will be left intact for your guidance on the morrow ; and what is equally important, the surface or grain of your canvas will be preserved. Moreover, by taking away the solid paint, the canvas, if placed near a stove or fire, will be dry enough to enable you to resume the work next day. It cannot be said that you are a capable painter until, with practice and all the necessary knowledge at your finger-ends, you are able to complete satisfactorily a passage of painting, such as this study and its background, at a single sitting, while the paint throughout is practically wet and malleable.



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