in snow scenes. Lighting up the scene, too, with blue limelights and
blue mediums cannot fail to make the whole exceedingly effective.
Where practicable, moreover, a warm light in the church windows
would add greatly to the general effect.
And here I have a suggestion to make that where it is not possible
to obtain the use of a limelight and it is required to cast a powerful
blue light on any particular part of a scene, a chemist's bottle, with
a strong light behind it, will answer the purpose for either sun,
moon or firelight. These bottles can easily be procured and of any
The effect of falling snow is produced by means of white paper cut
up into small pieces. Three or four persons, stationed in the flies or
on ladders at the side of the stage, have baskets filled with the cut
paper which they throw out as far as they are able, the pieces floating
gradually down in quite a natural manner.
There is a material called frost, to be had at theatrical wardrobe
shops, which has a very pretty effect in a small theatre, though of no
SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING. 87
use in a large one where the snow is painted. Rub over the parts that
are to be operated upon with clean flour paste. Then, taking some of
the frost in the hand, throw it on while the paste is wet and it will
adhere. Hold a piece of board underneath the place to catch falling
pieces of frost and prevent waste. This frost must be very carefully
handled as it is really thin glass, and if some of it were to get into
your eyes, serious consequences might ensue. To protect the hands
also the use of gloves is recommended.
88 SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING.
When it is required to form a grove, cut wood, grotto, ravine, rocky
glen, or any subject consisting of a series of broken arches, cut cloths
have several advantages over wings and borders. Wings, with much
profile are very expensive, and it is difficult to join them to the borders,
since they must be painted separately. In place of them, then, have a
pair of wings and aborder painted on a full-sized cloth, and when finished
cut out all the middle part, which you can easily do (the material being
canvas), and in the most elaborate manner, perforating between the
leaves, &c, which it would be impossible to do with profile wood. What
has been cut out can be used for covering set pieces. The cloth being all
cut out, lay it on the stage face downwards, and cover it with some very
open network which you must fix to the cloth with thin glue, all round
the outline and perforated parts. Use rather a small brush and see
that all the points are glued to the cloth, which is easily done by passing
some glue over the back of the net, when it will sink through the
meshes and cause the net to stick firmly to the cloth. All being quite
dry, let the cloth be taken up, and it will hang and roll up as well as if
it were all canvas.
The nets can be had in all colours and ready for use. Bluish grey
is the best kind to have, and when the opening in the cloth is wider
than 15 feet, it will be necessary to join a piece to both sides so as not
to have any seam in the centre. The net work will never be seen by
the audience ; indeed, I have had four cloths, one behind the other
with net in each, and it has not been observed, but rather helped the
effect by giving a sort of atmosphere to the scene.
SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING. 8g
DISTEMPER PAINTING AS APPLIED TO
The manifest superiority of this style of painting over all others for
decorative work is sufficiently obvious. The speed with which it can
be executed, the ease with which the colours can be laid in, a single
coat sufficing, its perfect freedom from any injurious or disagreeable
smell when finished, the rapidity with which it dries, are some of the
points in which its excellence consists. It can be used, too, on almost
any material, whether silk, calico, both glazed and unbleached, canvas,
wood or paper. Suppose some silk banners were wanted inscribed
with mottos or words of welcome. No preparation would be necessary
and the work could be at once proceeded with. Half-and-half size
should now be used with the colour, which latter ought not to be too
thin ; and flat hog's-hair tools will be the best brushes to employ.
Glazed calico can be also painted on without any preparation. Can-
vas and unbleached calico, however, must be prepared as explained in
a former portion of this work. But whatever be the material that is to
be painted on, it must be strained out either on a flat wall or on a frame
which can be made by any carpenter.
The kind of paper mostly used for distemper painting is that called
lining paper, which is sold in rolls at the paperhangers, and is very
inexpensive. As there are various qualities of it, you should select a
tolerably good one for ordinary purposes and the best for special ones.
Strain your paper as just now directed, gluing down the edges. The
top one should be glued down first, and when that has adhered, strain
downwards and proceed with the bottom edge and then with the side
ones. Should the paper not be wide enough for your purpose, join
two pieces together, laying them down on a table so that they may be
90 SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING.
joined smoothly and without wrinkles. When dry, strain as before ;
and when the glued edges are also dry after the straining, take
some hot half-and-half size, and size all over your paper so as to have
a pleasant ground to work upon. Now rule a line all round the paper
a little way from the edge, but within the glued part, so that when the
picture is finished you may be able with a penknife to cut it clean away.
I will next suppose a panel is required to be adorned with some
design such as a wheatsheaf, a pair of doves, a beehive, a bunch or
basket of flowers, a wreath of roses, or any other suitable subject of
the above kind. First draw out the panel and a style too, if wanted.
Then draw diagonals from one corner to the other, and the point in
which these cross each other is the true centre of the panel, no matter
whether it be square or oblong. Now sketch in your design with
drawing charcoal, and when finished, draw it in with indelible brown
ink which can be obtained at the artists' colourman's. Now mix the
ground colour, which should be some tint that will set off the design,
and let the style colour also set oft the panel one and harmonize with
the whole. Lay in the ground first of all, and then paint the design
from the palette. Next lay in the style, and after that the moulding
or border which divides the style from the panel, and lastly the outer
SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING.
The panel I have just been speaking of would look all the better if
corner ornaments were added, and these can be pounced on by a
method which I am now going to explain. Making use of the corner
ornament for the purpose of illustrating this mode of executing decora-
tive work, mark the size of it on a square piece of lining paper, (see
Example I in Diagram 41). Rule a line from corner to corner, and
draw half your ornament as in the example with a clear firm outline.
Then fold the paper along the diagonal line, with the drawing out-
wards. Lay the folded paper down on some two or three thicknesses
of soft cloth, calico or canvas, and, with a pin, prick holes pretty close
92 SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING.
to each other through the folded paper all along the outline. On un-
folding the paper it will be found that both halves of the ornament
have been pricked. Follow this plan for any other ornament ; but for
centre ones, let the folding be made through the centre perpendicularly.
The piece of paper thus prepared is what is called a pounce, and when
an ornament or design of any kind has to be repeated several times,
this is the best and quickest plan to follow. In the case of ornamental
borders, the pounce might be repeated many times all round a room.
It must be borne in mind that the paper should in every case be larger
than the pricked outline of the pounce, otherwise, in rubbing the
pounce bag over it, the ground colour on which the pounce is, as it
were, to be printed, would be liable to become smeared by the bag.
The pouncing is managed as follows : â€” If the ornament be a centre
one or form part of the frame of any design, rule a perpendicular line
for the centre much longer than would seem to be required, and then
a horizontal line to which the ornament is to be joined, as in the ex-
ample. On the pounce also a perpendicular centre line must be ruled
all across the paper, from edge to edge, and then a horizontal one in
the same manner. Now lay the pounce on the centre of the panel or
frame, so that the perpendicular line A A and the horizontal line B B
shall fit the corresponding lines of the pounce at the edges of the
paper at A A and B B. Having got the pounce into its right position
take the pounce bag and rub it all over the holes in the pounce, dabbing
them a little occasionally. Now take off the pounce and it will be
found that the outline of the ornamental design has been transferred
to the panel or frame. When a corner ornament is required, continue
the horizontal line till it crosses the perpendicular one for the side of
the frame or panel ; then make corresponding lines on the pounce and
proceed as before.
If a running ornament is to be made either for a border or cornice,
have a line struck either for the bottom or top of the pounce, and then
pounce one length of the ornament. That being finished, shift the
pounce on to the right and fold the paper at the left end of the pounce
till you come to that part of the ornament which should join the right
SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING. 93
end of what has already been pounced. After seeing that it fits, lay
down the folded part and pounce as before.
Here is now another instance of the many uses to which pouncing
can be applied. Suppose an entire panel has to be filled in with an
ornamental design and a series of panels are required which are pre-
cisely the same. One quarter of the design need only be drawn, and
in the following way : â€” Find the centre of the panel as before, and then
divide it by a perpendicular and a horizontal line. Draw one
quarter of the ornament only on the panel itself, and when it is
correct, lightly flog off the false lines, going over the corrected lines
afterwards with a piece of soft drawing charcoal. Now take a piece
of lining paper, slightly larger than half the panel, and damp it all over
with a little water, using a pound brush for the purpose. Then, with
the help of an assistant, lay it evenly over one half of the panel, al-
lowing for a margin all round the paper. Now press it on to the
drawing with a wet pound brush, and on taking it off again, the draw-
ing will be found printed on the paper. When this is dry, fold the
paper at the perpendicular divisional line, and prick it along the outline
as before. Unfold the paper and you will have one half of the orna-
ment. Pounce this on the bottom half of the panel and then, turning
your pounce upwards and taking care that it joins the half already
pounced, pounce the other half and your panel is complete.
Pouncing can be applied to scene painting quite as extensively as to
decoration, if not more so. Should a number of equal sized capitals
and bases to pilasters, for instance, be wanted for a scene, one pounce
of the base and one of the capital would serve for them all.
If a running ornament in gold, a scroll for example, is desired on a
coloured ground, the latter should be laid in first, and then the orna-
ment pounced on it and afterwards painted. Pouncing can be applied
to banners made either of silk or of glazed calico. When the ground
on which the pounce is to be transferred is dark, the pounce bag should
be filled with powdered chalk.
The use of paper in decorative work offers great facilities to the
artist, as it enables him to paint at a convenient height, either when
94 SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING.
sitting or standing ; and his painting or drawing can be cut off when
finished and pasted up wherever it may be required. Trophies, de-
vices, quotations from Holy Scripture, Shakespeare, &c, can all be
painted on this simple material and cut out afterwards close along the
outline or near to it only. Whenever these are pasted on the surface of
any wall or otherwise, the pot from which the ground colour of the
wall was taken must be put by to be used when the pasting is finished
to colour in the ground, so as to connect the paper with what is already
done on the wall.
A very pretty effect might be produced in the following way : â€” Let
each side of the room represent a frame of rustic trellis-work, over
which trails a vine with its richly coloured leaves and fruit and its
graceful tendrils, all painted in their natural colours. Through this
framework the spectator is supposed to look out upon a landscape,
lake, sea, or mountain view. A summer-house or garden pavilion
would also look well if painted in this style. An entire apartment
could be papered with lining paper by a paper-hanger, and, when dry,
sized with half-and-half size.
It now only remains for me to mention the use distemper painting
might be put to in illuminating large scrolls, ornaments and lettering
which could not conveniently be executed in the ordinary way, on
account of their size. The gilding also which generally forms a part
of such ornamental work might be easily executed by means of the
madong and metal before described.
J sh ^jcoumpl
SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING. g5
As flower painting enters so largely into the composition of decorative
designs, I now purpose offering a few hints of a practical nature on the
easiest and quickest method of executing work of that kind.
I will suppose a border of roses is wanted, with a blue ribbon twisted
round it as in the accompanying sketch, and that it is to be placed at
such a height from the eye as to render fineness of detail quite indis-
tinguishable. Begin by making a pounce of the outline ; then lay in
the ground colour of the border and pounce the outline on it.
Now mix in pots a set of colours sufficient to paint the whole border
with. For the roses, mix, as a ground colour, damp lake and white ;
and for the light, damp lake and more white than before. Next mix a
shadow colour of damp lake and a very little white, and also a greyish
shadow colour, not so dark as the preceding, of damp lake, white and
a very little ultramarine. Now mix a deeper shadow colour of damp
lake, vermilion and a very little white indeed, and for the deepest
markings, damp lake alone mixed with rather strong glue size and a
As a ground colour for the green leaves, mix a little green lake, a
little light ochre and white ; for the first shadow colour, green lake,
Dutch pink, and a little drop black and white ; for the second sha-
dow colour, the same with less white and more black and green lake ;
for the light, white, a little green lake, emerald green and lemon
chrome ; for the dark marking colour, brown lake, burnt sienna and a
little Vandyke brown.
For the ribbon, mix, as a ground colour, ultramarine, a very little
verditer and white ; for the first shadow colour, azure blue and white ;
g6 SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING.
for- the second shadow colour, azure blue, a little indigo and ultra-
marine and white ; for the inside of the ribbon, ultramarine, a little
damp lake and white, lighter than the dark shadow colour.
Commence the colouring by laying in the ground colour and filling
in the outline, first of the green leaves and then of the roses ; after
which lay in the inside of the ribbon and the ground colour of it as in
Example I. Next paint the first shadows of each colour in their pro-
per forms as in Example 2 ; then the lights of each colour, also in
their proper forms, as in Example 3 ; the dark shadows in like manner
as in Example 4 ; and the grey shadow of the roses as in Example 5.
Now finish with the dark crimson marking of the roses, and the dark
brown marking of the green leaves. It will now be found that quite
enough has been done to produce an effective border of roses, more
effective, indeed, than an elaborately painted one would be.
Festoons and garlands of flowers can be executed in a similar man-
ner ; and when the flowers are near the eye, or a centre-piece or group
of flowers is wanted, they can be elaborated to any extent after having
been painted up to the same mark as in Example 5.
y-., L,3r,ajrrivle, .
SCENE PAINTING AND DISTEMPER PAINTING.
Before bidding my readers farewell, I will again impress upon them
the great need of care and attention in the study of scene painting,
and at once disabuse their minds of the popular notion that scene
painting is nothing but a mass of daubs, and that anyone can under-
take it without the slightest trouble or experience. On the contrary,
I think this book will prove that there is a great deal to learn, but at
the same time, nothing but what devotion and study can overcome on
the part of those who are desirous of practising a most delightful art.
It is pleasant to be able to record the names of De Loutherbourg,
David Roberts and Clarkson Stanneld in the list of professional scene
painters, and it has been my privilege to have heard David Roberts speak
of "the delight with which he used to lookback on his scene painting
days, and of the great use they had been to him in his after career."
I have also been given to understand that Clarkson Stanneld has
experienced quite as much pleasure in listening to the public applause
bestowed upon a scene of his in a theatre as in hearing the most lavish
praises awarded him for any of his grandest academical pictures.
It is a source of gratification to know that scene painting maintains
a high character in our own day, but to keep that up assiduous and
attentive study is of the greatest necessity. Indeed, scene painting
requires more care and finish now-a-days than formerly, in conse-
quence of the more brilliant light now thrown upon it by means of
gas and other kinds of artificial light, as well as on account of the
general use of opera glasses.
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