|<< PREVIOUS||FIRST||NEXT >>|
|| 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 ||
Designing is the art of delineating or drawing the appearance of natural objects, by lines on a plane surface. Painting may be considered as the same art, so extended as to include coloring, and whatever else is necessary to produce complete or finished resemblances. It is obvious, that if the art of painting was carried to perfection, these resemblances could not be told, at sight, from their originals; since we are supposed to discern objects by the medium of their pictures painted on the retina of the eye, and since a polished mirror gives us every appearance of reality, in the forms reflected from it, though they all proceed from the same plane.
Divisions.--To produce perfect representations of nature, three things must receive attention, and the study of these may be considered as constituting distinct departments in the art of painting. These are, 1. The perspective, by which the outlines of figures are placed on the picture in situations depending on their position in regard to the eye. 2. The chiaro oscuro, or light and shade, by which the prominence and depression of different parts of the piece are made to appear. 3. The coloring, by which the hues and tints of the painting are made conformable to those of the original.
Perspective is the art of delineating the outlines of objects on any given surface, such as paper or canvass, just as they would appear to the eye, if that surface were transparent, and the objects themselves were seen through it from a fixed position. It is the foundation of correctness in painting, and a strict attention to its rules, is indispensable to perfection in the art. The first attempts at drawing have, in all countries, consisted of diagrams and sketches, representing merely the plans, or profiles of objects, without regard to their perspective relations. But a continued attention to their actual appearance or images, combined with the application of a few geometrical and optical principles, has furnished the means of fixing the outlines of objects, in their true situation, on a perspective plane.
If we look through a window at a mass of buildings, or any external objects, and observe that part of the glass to which each object, line, or point, appears opposite, we find that their apparent situation is very different from their real. We find that horizontal lines sometimes appear oblique, or even perpendicular, that circles, in certain situations, look like ellipses, and squares like trapezoids or parallelograms. High objects are seen beneath low ones, and large bodies are exceeded, in apparent magnitude, by small ones. The foundation of all these appearances exists in the rectilinear motion of the rays of light passing from the object to the eye.
Field of Vision.--When the eye is fixed, the rays, entering it from the whole field of vision, constitute a cone, having its apex in the eye. The field presented to the eye, and occupying the base of the cone, cannot well subtend an angle of more than ninety degrees, and we cannot have a convenient and agreeable view of a field occupying more than sixty degrees. Even the most satisfactory views of objects are obtained at such distances as cause them to subtend an angle of thirty or forty degrees. Panoramic views subtend a larger angle than those which have been specified, and of course cannot be taken in by the eye at a single view. It becomes, therefore, necessary to take successive views with the eye, in different directions.
Distance and Foreshortening.--Of objects situated within the field of vision, those necessarily appear largest, caeteris paribus, which are nearest to us, because they subtend a larger angle at the eye. Objects or surfaces situated obliquely in regard to the axis of the eye, are altered in apparent shape by the shortening of their oblique diameters. This is what is technically called foreshortening. If several objects, for example, of equal size, be placed at different distances, and in different positions, the one nearest the eye, as X, will subtend the largest angle, and its comparative length in the picture will be represented by the line AB. The object Y, being further off, subtends a smaller angle, and will be represented by the line AC. The object Z, beingstill further removed, and also foreshortened by its oblique position, will produce an image no longer than from A to D.
A simple instrument may be formed by any person, to represent the effect of distance and of foreshortening in perspective. Let four straight, stiff wires be connected at one end, at A, by a string or socket, which will allow them to diverge. Let a thin, square board, or tin plate, be attached at the other end, at C, by loops at its four corners, through which the wires pass. Let a string of elastic gum be placed around the wires at B, about half way between A and C. The elastic string will represent the picture, the board the object, and the wires the rays passing from the object to the eye at A. If now the board be moved upon the wires toward the eye, the elastic string will be extended, or the picture enlarged. The reverse will happen, if the board be carried away from the place of the eye. The board may also be turned into various oblique positions, and the elastic string will represent the figure produced by the foreshortening.
Definitions.--There are used in perspective a certain number of terms peculiar to the art, definitions of which are necessary to an intelligent use of them.
The original object is that which is made the subject of the picture.
Original planes or lines are the surfaces or lines of original objects.
The point of view is the situation of the eye.
The point of sight is the point in the perspective plane which is nearest to the eye. As far as the picture is concerned, these two points coincide, so that some authors have used them indiscriminately one for the other. The point of sight is also called the centre of the picture.
A visual ray is a line from the object to the eye. If the object is a point, there is but one visual ray; if it is a line, the visual rays form a triangle; if it is a square, they form a pyramid; if a circle, a cone, &c. The principal visual ray is that from the nearest point in the picture, or point of sight.
The perspective plane is the surface on which the picture is delineated; or, it is the transparent surface through which we suppose objects to be viewed.
The directing plane is a plane supposed to pass through the eye of the spectator, parallel to the perspective plane.
The ground plane is the earth, or the plane surface on which the spectator and objects are situated.
The horizon, or horizontal plane, is one parallel to the ground plane, and at the height of the spectator's eye.
The horizontal line is the intersection of the picture or perspective plane with the horizontal plane.
The ground line is the intersection of the perspective plane with the ground plane; or, it is the line on which the picture is supposed to stand.
The perpendicular is a line on the perspective plane, drawn through the point of sight, perpendicular to the ground line and horizontal line.
The points of distance are points on the perspective plane, set off from the point of sight, sometimes on the horizontal line, and sometimes on the perpendicular, at the same distance from the point of sight, that the eye is supposed to be at, from the perspective plane.
To render the foregoing definitions more obvious, a diagram is introduced, in which the several planes are supposed to be visible, and themselves, or a part of each of them, seen in perspective. X is the eye of a spectator, or point of view. ST, the original object. XT, and XS, visual rays. XY, the principal visual ray. ABOP, the picture, or part of the perspective plane. VW, the image of the original object in the picture, or perspective plane. D, the point of sight, or centre of the picture. HNRQ, the ground plane. IKLM, the horizon or horizontal plane. AB, the ground line, or bottom of the picture. FG, the horizontal line. CE, the perpendicular. E, a point of distance. Other points of distance would be at F and G, if equally distant from D with X or E.
The vanishing point of the image of a right line is the point in which a line parallel to it, passing through the eye, cuts the perspective plane. Lines which in the original are parallel, in the picture converge to the same vanishing point. Thus the parallel railings of a bridge, or the parallel rows of windows in a building, all appear to converge to the same point. All lines which are perpendicular to the perspective plane, have for their vanishing point the centre of the picture.
A great number of problems, founded on the principles of perspective, are to be found in works on that science, and constitute an interesting study. But in practice, artists find it convenient to resort to some more direct and compendious method of obtaining the perspective situation of objects, without the trouble of mensuration.
Instrumental Perspective.--The geometrical rules usually laid down for drawing in perspective, suppose a previous knowledge of the real distances, magnitudes, and relative positions of all the objects that are introduced into the picture. But, in many cases, a person may be so situated, that this knowledge cannot be obtained; and in many cases, likewise, the labor, which this method requires, is troublesome and discouraging. Dr. Priestley has described a method of drawing objects in true perspective, without moving from the place in which they are viewed. It consists simply in taking observations of the various points of an object, so as to determine their elevation above the horizon, and their declination from a perpendicular.
Mechanical Perspective.--To avoid wholly the delay and trouble of computation, artists frequently make use, in practice, of some mechanical method of perspective drawing, by which the outlines of objects can be obtained with expedition, and sufficient correctness. Thus the camera obscura, and camera lucida, cast upon paper a perspective image, which can be immediately traced. A method of drawing by squares is likewise easily practised. For this purpose, the paper, or surface which is to receive the picture, is divided by pencil lines into a certain, number of squares. A small frame, of corresponding size, is divided into a like number of squares by threads, or by lines drawn upon glass. This frame is placed perpendicularly between the eye and the object, and kept at a stationary distance from the eye, which is also fixed. The outlines and parts of objects which appear in particular squares of the frame, are transferred to corresponding ones on the paper, and in this way the principal points of the perspective view may be obtained.
Perspectographs.--Various instruments have been invented, under the name of perspectographs, to be used in obtaining the points and outlines of original objects. They commonly consist of a fixed part, perforated with a small hole in the point of view, and a movable part situated in the perspective plane, and capable of traversing any part of it. This movable part may consist of any minute substance, or, which is better, a movable point may be obtained by the intersection of two threads. Any points in the perspective plane may thus be found, and transferred to the picture, by bringing the part of the instrument which contains them, into contact with the paper.
A simple and very useful perspectograph may be made by erecting a pane of glass, upon one end of a board, or short table, and an eye-piece with an aperture for the eye to look through at the other end.[A] The eye-piece is to be fixed at any convenient distance, and the object is to be viewed from it, through the pane of glass. The outlines, as they appear, are traced upon the glass with a stick of wax sharpened like a crayon, and they may be afterwards rendered very plain, and transferable, by sprinkling them with any black powder.
The geometrical and mechanical methods which have been described, will enable a person not previously conversant with the art, to obtain correct perspective representations of any object. But by long practice, in drawing from nature, a certain tact is acquired by painters, which enables them, by the accuracy of the eye and judgement alone, to make correct views of objects, without the aid of any computation or mechanical process. Thus miniature painters produce the nicest resemblance of the human countenance, in any position, with no other guide, than the faculty obtained by experience, of estimating the exact shape and proportion, which each part of the original should bear upon the picture.
[A] No method fixes the eye so effectually, as to rest the teeth upon a solid or fixed body.
Projections.--The projections of a body, are the different modes by which it may be delineated on a plane surface. That which has already been described, is called the scenographic projection, and represents objects as they actually appear to the eye, at limited distances. The orthographic projection represents objects as they would appear to the eye at an infinite distance, the rays which proceed from them being parallel, instead of converging. The shadow, which a body casts in the rays of the sun, may be considered as an orthographic projection. In this projection, lines which are parallel in the original, are parallel in the picture, and do not converge to any vanishing point. Their comparative length, also, is not affected by difference of apparent distance. The orthographic projection is much used in delineating buildings, machinery, &c, because those parts of the drawing which are not foreshortened, maintain their true relative size, so that measures can be taken from them. The following figures represent the scenographic (Fig. 13) and orthographic (Fig. 14) projections of a cube. In addition to these, the term ichnographic projection is sometimes used to express the horizontal delineation, or ground plan, of an object. A bird's eye view is a scenographic or orthographic projection, taken from an elevated point in the air, from which the eye is supposed to look down upon the objects.
Isometrical Perspective.--This name has been introduced by Professor Farrish, to express a kind of drawing peculiarly convenient in delineations of machinery, and bodies of regular figure. It is a species of orthographic projection, in which three planes, at right angles with each other, appear similar and equal. An idea of it may be formed, by supposing a cube to be so placed, that one of its angles will appear in the centre, while its outline will be a true hexagon. In this projection, the sides of the cube appear equal, and all sections of the cube parallel to either side, will also be equal. All right angles are represented by angles of sixty degrees, or the supplement of sixty degrees. All circles parallel to either of the three planes, will be represented by similar ellipses. Figures not parallel to either of the planes, may be calculated by easy rules. It is therefore the easiest and most expressive kind of drawing for the wheelwork, axles, and regular frames of machinery; for philosophical instruments, and for many architectural designs.[A] The subjoined figure (Fig. 15) is an isometrical view of a cube, with circles inscribed on its sides, and the axes of those circles projecting a short way.
[A] For the principles of isometrical drawing, see the Cambridge Philosophical Transactions; or Gregory's Mathematics for Practical Men, p. 179.
Next to correct perspective, the most important circumstance in painting, is the correct distribution of light and shade. To the skilful management of these, we are indebted for the strength and liveliness of pictures, and what is technically called their relief, or the elevation which certain parts appear to assume above the plane upon which the picture is made.
Light and Shade.--Light and shade, as they appear to us upon natural objects, are the consequences of the rectilinear motion of the rays cast upon them by luminous bodies. If an object be exposed to the rays of the sun, or of a single lamp or candle, those parts or surfaces which are presented directly to these rays, become strongly illuminated, and acquire a lighter cast, approaching to white. Those surfaces, which stand obliquely to the light, receive less of the rays, and of course have a deeper tinge. Those, lastly, which are averted from the light, and receive no rays but such as are reflected to them from other objects, acquire a very dark shade, approaching, when contrasted with the others, towards black.
The distribution of light and shade upon any object, is always proportionate and correspondent to its shape. An even or plane surface, exposed to the sun's rays, will be equally illuminated throughout, since whatever be its position, its parts will all make a similar angle with the rays. But uneven or irregular surfaces will be unequally illuminated, the prominent parts receiving most light, and the depressed portions most shade, an effect which will be increased, if the light falls obliquely or sideways. If the irregularities of surface be sharp and strong, the changes from light to shade will be sudden, and the contrast great. On the other hand, if they are smooth and rounded, the transition will be soft and gradual.
Association.--As bodies are never seen, except when they are illuminated, the manner in which light and shade are distributed upon them, forms by association a part of our ideas of their shape. Painters have learned to imitate this arrangement of light and shade, by varying the quantity and intensity of their coloring substances, so as to produce in the mind the same associations of shape from a plane surface, as would arise from the falling of light on the original object itself. This art constitutes what is technically called the chiaro oscuro, from the Italian words signifying clear and obscure. Next to perspective, it is the most important part of painting, and there are many cases in which perspective alone would wholy fail to convey to us a correct idea of the form of objects, were it not assisted by appropriate insertion of lights and shades. Thus a circle, a sphere, and a cone, viewed vertically, may all have the same perspective outline; but their difference of figure becomes apparent, as soon as we consider their distribution of light and shade.
Direction of Light.--The most distinct perceptions of shape are produced when the light falls in one direction, e.g., when it is received immediately from the sun, or from a single window or candle. The distinctness of an object is always impaired, when it is situated between cross lights, or when it is illuminated by a variety of windows or candles on different sides of the room. An object may even be so surrounded with lights, that it shall be impossible to discover its exact shape. Its outline indeed will be discernible, but the equal illumination on all sides, will exclude the existence of shadow, and of course we shall lose the power of appreciating the comparative distance of its parts from the eye. In most paintings, we find that the principal mass of light falls in one direction. An oblique or a sideway direction, is most common, though a front, and even a back light, is managed to produce very striking effects. Painters also exercise their skill with the introduction of cross lights, from different windows, or lamps; but the successful execution of a piece of this sort is more difficult, than with a single light.
Reflected Light.--Owing to the reflection which takes place from all terrestrial bodies, we find that objects, in most situations, have not only a principal or direct light, but also a secondary or reflected one. Hence the darkest part of globular and cylindrical bodies, is not that which is most remote from the original light. This part receives from the reflection of objects beyond it, a faint illumination, so that the darkest part will be found between it and the part on which the light directly falls. See the sphere represented, Fig. 16.
Sharp lights, or such as are intense and sudden, indicate polished surfaces, and are employed to represent them. Where they are accompanied by very deep shades, they express great elevation above the common surface. Faint lights, on the contrary, imply a dull surface, obscure illumination, or small elevation.
Expression of Shape.--Light and shade are not adequate, in all cases, to give us a certain indication of the forms of bodies. Surfaces which appear concave in one direction of the light, may appear convex, if the light is introduced from the opposite side. In contemplating an undulating object, like a curtain, or its picture upon paper hangings, we are often at a loss to distinguish the elevated, from the depressed portions; and by a little effort of the imagination, we can persuade ourselves that a particular part is at one time elevated, and at another, depressed. Cameos and intaglios may be mistaken for each other, and any of the figures (Figs. 16, 17, 18) may appear prominent or depressed, in the same part, by reversing the direction in which the light is supposed to strike upon them.
In cases of this sort, our final ideas of shape are derived, not only from the object itself, but from its relations with contiguous objects.
Eyes of a Portrait.--The influence which the association of contiguous objects has upon our ideas, is strikingly exemplified in the eyes of a portrait. We estimate the direction of the eyes, not only from the position of the ball in regard to the eyBlids, but also from the relative position of the remaining features of the face. Dr. Wollaston has shown, that the same eyes in a picture, which look at us, may be made to appear averted from us, if we apply new features to the lower half of the face. In the following figures, (19 and 20,) the eyes are the same, and their apparent direction depends on the other features of the face.
The reason, why the eyes of a portrait appear to follow us, in all parts of the room, is simply, that the relative position of the features cannot change, so that if the picture appears to look at us once, it must appear to look at us always. If we move to one side of a portrait, the change, which happens, is unlike that which would take place in a bust, or living face. The picture is merely foreshortened, so that we see a narrower image of a face, but it is still that of a face looking at us. And if the canvass be transparent, the same effect takes place from the back of the picture.
Shadows.--Shadows are cast in the direction opposite to that by which we suppose the light to enter, and their introduction in pictures, always heightens the effect. A painted object is relieved, or raised from the surface, by the expression of light and shade on itself. But the relief is greatly increased, if the shadow which it makes on the ground, or other surface, be also introduced. Shadows are commonly softened off at the edge, or terminate gradually. When, however, the light is strong, or the shadow very near to the object, its termination is more abrupt.
Aerial Perspective.--This name is given by painters, to the mode of producing the effect of distance, by a diminution in the distinctness and brightness of objects, according to their remoteness from the eye, and the condition of the medium through which they are seen. It is well known that distant objects appear indistinct, and of a grayish or blueish tinge, from the effect produced by the intervening atmosphere. Their indistinctness is increased, if the atmosphere is hazy. Their appearance is also modified by the degree of their illumination, and by the character of the light which falls on them. The painter, therefore, finds it necessary to consider the depth of atmosphere which is interposed between him and his object, the condition of this atmosphere, and the quantity and color of the light which falls on it, and on the object. A want of attention to these circumstances, gives rise to the defect called hardness in painting.
By the aid of perspective, and the chiaro oscuro alone, very good representations of objects may be obtained. All our common engravings, wood cuts, drawings in Indian ink, in black crayons, &c., derive their expressiveness from these only. But a still nearer approach to the appearance of Nature, is made by the employment of colors analogous to those which are found to exist in the objects represented.
Colors.--From the science of optics, we learn that the solar beam is divisible into seven primary colors, white being the mixture, and black the privation of all of them. These colors are, violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red.[A] Three of these are capable of producing all the rest, by their intermixture and degree, viz., blue, red, and yellow.
The color belonging to different natural objects, was supposed, by Newton, to be occasioned by a power which their surfaces possess, to reflect certain rays, while they absorb all the rest. This power is so infinitely diversified in Nature, that we find not only every kind of primary ray reflected, but likewise every posible tint, and intermediate grade, which can be produced by the admixture of two or more original colors. To represent these various hues, it is necessary that the painter should possess coloring substances analogous to them all, or capable of producing them all by mixture, and that he should apply them in such a manner, that the true color may remain distinct, independently of the lights and shades necessary to place the objects in relief.
Shades.--In a colored painting of an object which has any rotundity of form, there are usually, at least three tints, or degrees of color. These are the light, the middle tint, and the shade. Of these, the middle tint is the one which represents the true color of the object, and occupies an intermediate situation between the light and shade. Thus in the painting of a red fruit, for instance the cherry, the middle tint is vermilion, or some similar color, being that which the surface of the fruit would have, if it were perfectly flat. The part of the fruit nearest the light, has a very bright color, partaking of white, while the remote parts are shaded with lake or some darker red. In like manner, a yellow fruit, like the lemon, has not only the true color of the rind, but is lightened at the top with straw color or white, and shaded with brown toward the edges. It is necessary that the colors used for dark shading, should be in some degree correspondent with the middle tint, and not diametrically opposite to it. Thus, in single objects, yellow cannot be shaded with blue, nor red with green.
[A] Dr. Wollaston found the spectrum, formed in looking through a prism at a narrow line of light, to consist of four colors, red, green, blue, and violet, with a narrow stripe of yellow. The three simple colors, red, green, and violet, may produce yellow, by the admixture of red and green; crimson, by red and violet; blue, by green and violet; and white by the combination of all three.
Tone.--Pictures differ from each other in the respective depth of color, which pervades the whole piece. The word tone, borrowed from the art of music, signifies, in painting, the peculiar cast, or governing hue, which a picture, or a color, possesses. Thus, if dark masses of color, with feeble lights, predominate, the piece has a deep or low tone; while, if the reverse exists, a bright or light tone is produced. It is essential to harmony that a picture should have the same tone throughout, or that its lights and shades should correspond in their intensity to the tone which governs the whole.
Harmony.--When different objects are grouped together in the same view, each one possesses two kinds of color, the original color, and the adventitious. The original color, often called among painters the local color, is that which belongs to the object itself, independent of situation. The adventitious color, is that which is reflected upon it from neighboring objects, and which, of course, depends upon situation. For example, the color of the human face is that which we call flesh color, and, if painted alone, may be represented by the shades of that color. If, however, it is surrounded by a purple drapery, it receives a purplish tinge, and requires to be so represented. In like manner, a yellow dress communicates to it a yellowish cast, &c. An attention to this adventitious coloring, combined with a uniformity of tone, constitutes the basis of what is technically called harmony in painting. Harmony requires that strong and glaring colors should never be forcibly contrasted with each other, but that each object should partake at its edges of a certain portion of the color which predominates in objects near to it. This rule not only produces effects most grateful to the eye, but an observance of it gives, in fact, the only true representation of Nature.
Contrast.--Colors are divided, by painters, into the warm and the cold. Warm colors are those in which red and yellow predominate. Cold colors are blue, gray, and others allied to them. Neutral colors are intermediate tints, or mixtures. Of the various pigments or coloring substances, which painters employ, none have the genuine brilliancy of the prismatic rays; and all fall short of the hues produced by Nature in living objects. The petal of a flower, the feather of a bird, and the wing of an insect, are tinged with a richness and splendor, which no factitious colors can equal. Painters can only approach, when necessary, towards the brightness of natural colors, by availing themselves of the effect of contrast, and by heightening one color by the introduction of others, which prepare the eye for its more perfect and favorable reception.
Remarks.--The power of giving true representations of objects, is derived, originally, from an attentive study of the colors and appearance which they actually exhibit in Nature; afterwards from a comparison of the success of different artists, and an attention to the means they have employed. What belongs to the philosophical part of painting, can hardly be said to extend beyond the correct imitation of Nature. But the inventive part, the design and composition of great pieces, such as have not necessarily any originals in Nature, requires not only philosophic accuracy, and practical skill, but also demands original genius, strength and fertility of imagination, and a strong perception of sublimity and beauty, whether natural or moral. To paint a portrait or landscape from Nature, requires no more than a faculty of correct imitation. But to express on the canvass a scene of history or of fiction, to create forms of ideal beauty exceeding the realities of life, and to express, by attitudes and lineaments, passions, which tell the events they accompany,--this excellence is attained by few; it is not to be taught by any rules of art, but, like poetry and eloquence, it is within the reach of those only, whom a strong and exclusive interest in the pursuit has qualified to feel deeply, and to express powerfully.
Note.--For the modes of painting in water, oil, fresco, &c, also for coloring substances, see Chapter VI.
WORKS OF REFERENCE.--MALTON'S Treatise on Perspective, fol. 1779;--PRIESTLEY'S Introduction to Perspective, 8vo. 1770;--WOOD'S Lectures on Perspective, with an Apparatus, 1809;--BLUNT'S Essay on Mechanical Drawing, 4to. 1811;--SOPWITH'S Treatise on Isometrical Drawing, 8vo. 1835;--LUCAS'S Progressive Drawing Book, Baltimore, 1827;--BURNET, on Light and Shade, 4to. 1827;--BURNET, on Coloring, 4to. 1827;--VALLEE, Traité de la Science du Dessin, 4to. Paris, 1821;--MILLIN, Dictionnaire de Beaux Arts, 3 tom. 8vo. 1806;--ELMES'S Dictionary of Fine Arts, 8vo. 1806;--Works of Sir J. REYNOLDS,--OPIE,--FUSELI,--BARRY,--WEST,--DE PILES, &c. &c.
|<< PREVIOUS||FIRST||NEXT >>|
|| 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 ||