Archive for October, 2011
Here is the link on Google books to “Elements of Painting with Crayons” by John Russell from 1700s. It is an interesting booklet on 40 pages, especially when you consider when it was written. Do not expect fancy color paintings and be prepared to many spelling errors, most likely due to book digitizing software. Russell explains drawing basics, pastel application, approach to painting portraits and drapery. The last section covers materials and explains how to mix your own pastels.
Here are some excepts that might ignite your curiosity
“When the Student paints immediately from the life it will be most prudent to make a correct Drawing of the Outlines on another paper the size of the Picture he is going to paint which he may trace by the preceding method because erroneous strokes of the sketching Chalk will prevent the Crayons from adhering to the paper.”
“The Student will find the sitting posture with the box of Crayons in his lap the most convenient method for him to paint. The part of the Picture he is immediately painting should be rather below his face for if it is placed too high the arm will be fatigued.”
“Brilliant greens are produced with great difficulty. In Switzerland they have a method of making them far superior to ours. We usually take yellow Oker and after grinding it with spirits mix it with the powder of Prussian blue then temper it with a knife and lay the Crayons on the Chalk without rolling them.”
John Russell (1745 – 1806) was an English painter renowned for his portrait work in oils and pastels, and as a writer and teacher of painting techniques.
His extraordinary facility as a pastel painter brought him a fashionable clientele eager to have him execute their portraits. Russell was renowned for his ability to achieve masterful tonal effects by smudging broad areas. He then accented the painting by applying linear flourishes made with a hard-pointed pastels. Most of the hundreds of works he produced were portraits, although he sometimes depicted genre subjects such as children with animals. Russell’s achievements in the art of pastel were the result of his thorough understanding of its technique and materials. In 1780 he published The Elements of Painting in Crayon, one of a handful of known treatises on pastel written in the 1700s. At the time of its publication, it was considered a cornerstone for understanding pastel medium. Russell also experimented with pastel manufacturing, producing a recipe book for pastel making. In 1788 he was elected as a member of the Royal Academy and further distinguished by being appointed as the Painter for king George III.