How to Paint Marine Painting?

Marine Painting

by Carmichael, J. W., 1799 or 1800-1868; Published in 1880.

In offering to the public the following lessons on Marine Painting in Oil, the author has considered himself writing for the instruction of not only those who desire to study- Marine Painting exclusively, but also of others, who, already skilled to some extent, may wish to acquire a partial knowl- edge of this department of art. As to every student, a certain modicum of knowledge is necessary before he can make any tolerable attempt at the imitation of nature — it is endeavored to convey this information by means of keys referring directly to the cuts, a method whereby the in- structions may be most accurately followed out. The au- thor's hope is that students who may avail themselves of these lessons will apply them as early as possible to practice after nature with a view to working only according to her dictates. For the strictly practical character of the work, therefore, the author offers no apology, as he feels that he presents to the learner the readiest approach with which he is acquainted to that command of the means of the art which must eventually give him the power of setting forth every aspect of sea and sky.

J. H. Carmjchael.

Marine Painting in Oil

Marine Paintings for Sale >>

Marine painting



In Marine painting so much of the interest of the sub* . jeets depends on the aspects of the sky and the water, that artists devoting themselves to this branch of art must study with the closest observation the endless changes, as well as the settled phenomena of both. In a landscape, the sky or a piece of water may be the weak part of the picture, but if these be redeemed by the merits of the objects and locality, their faults are overlooked. When, however, the sea and the sky are the cause of the incident forming the point of the subject, the artist having only light and shade as his means of expression, his story must be in a great measure written in the shapes of the clouds and the forms of the sea. Thus, in order to facilitate a ready manipulation, attention is recommended to the tints given in the different keys, as by such means any appearance of the sea or sky may be at once described with the brush. Every hue assumed by Nature will be met by the colors herein recommended; but as few persons see Nature precisely alike, practice may suggest other combinations when the student finds himself strong enough to be independent.
As the surface of the sea and every object borne on it are at times in violent agitation, it is not only necessary to describe the movement, but also the changes of form incident to the movement, and hence the utility of a knowledge , of forms and their changes to the Marine painter more than to the painter of landscapes or quiescent forms. And every worthy and striking incident should be recorded as rapidly as possible; for the artist may occupy for twelve months the same position without a second time seeing the same combination. The constant observation of objects in motion will enable the eye to determine their relative distances, and assist the hand to describe these distances either by the gradation of lines or colors. This continual exertion of the memory constitutes in the mind a storehouse of material which at any time may be drawn upon for the construction of the most ample composititions; and the phases of nature are infinite, insomuch that the student need not address himself for guidance to the works of others, but study directly from nature as the only source of originality. To whatever forms his attention may be addressed, though the object be net new to him he will draw it with care, if he be earnest in his practice ; and if his memory has been disciplined, he will draw the form with rapidity and accuracy, but to this end the eye, the hand, and the memory must be always exercised together. Copyists, and those who tread in the footsteps of others who have preceded them, are contented with their efforts of imitation, and very often their labors are the results of along course of anxious instruction. But how continually do we find such aspirants outstripped by the humble genius whose only studio is the free school on the " glad waters" amid the ever shifting scenery of a stormy sky. The essays of the latter will be all original, but the other will never make a forward step on his own account.
In working imaginative compositions from Marine material, the entire process is based upon the appeal to nature through the impressions of the memory, and in proportion as these are redundant and accurate will the result be successful.
If the student love the art he will also love the labor, and strengthen his hand by constant practice and his observation by continual exercise. He will soon learn that the picturesque is not a quality attaching only to large and important objects, for in skilful hands we frequently find that which is comparatively the least important feature of the composition playing a conspicuous part in the picture.
There is therefore no object unworthy of a place in the sketch-book from the stately three-decker to the humblest cock-boat, not only the mighty wave, but the minute ripple — the stranded bark, the broken drift wood — not only the grandest forms of the clouds but the smallest shapes of the flying scud. Any small objects drifting on the waves or lying near high water mark may serve as points of light, or dark, or color, such as buoys, bungs, broken baskets, or even decaying vegetables. Thus ingathering experience, a various category of items will present themselves to notice in Marine sketching. But the student must begin by being diffident of his powers and critical of every effort he makes, with a determination that each successive essay shall be superior to the former. The sketch-book of the Marine painter should be an abundant and various reportorium. Much of the subjects that he treats is but momentarily seen, having therefore no resource but his memoranda he cannot have too many of these aids to help him to truth. He does not, as the landscape painter, find pictures before and around him — permanent in form and composition. He must draw largely on his memory and imagination in order judiciously to dispose the material he collects, and upon his taste and feeling depends entirely his success. If his resources be limited, he will become monotonous and mannered, the greatest artists have given their attention to what may be called trifles, insomuch, that the removal of some apparently inconsiderable item from their well considered composition would disorganize the whole arrangement.
In a treatise of this kind it would only embarrass the learner, and retard his progress, to address to him propositions of abstract theory. The precepts and cautions with which we precede our course of practice are, therefore, few and simple.


Before proceeding to practical instruction, there are some observations necessary which, as being applicable to all the lessons, it is thought should precede them; in the first place to avoid repetition, and in the second to impress them on the mind of the student in a more distinct form than could be given to them as incidental precepts. The finishing processes, technically known as scumbling and glazing, are used, the former to give delicacy, the latter to give transparency and force. The value of these operations will be acknowledged after one or two trials. Another very important consideration is breadth, a principle to which the lights and darks of a picture should be subservient, and this calls the attention of the student to light and color.


The hardness or undue strength of any part of a picture may be reduced by scumbling, that is by working over the part with half dry color mixed with white, and so thin in consistence as not to disturb the drawing or destroy the color beneath. The best result of scumbling is atmospheric effect; therefore it should be employed as little as possible in foregrounds, as it subdues brilliancy which is a quality necessary to near objects. The vehicle for scumbling may be compounded of turpentine with a few drops of copal varnish, or oil; water will also mix the same. Glazing is working over portions of a picture that require force and depth, with transparent color thinned by vehicle. It is indispensable to the finish of all pictures as it produces a quiet transparent richness that could not be obtained by any other means; for solid color cannot give the same natural truth and liquidity. Some artists glaze more than others, some upon forms solidly painted, others on thinner bases, but it is generally considered that a glaze is best borne out by solid painting.
The vehicle for glazing is composed of one-third drying oil, one-third mastic varnish, and one-third copal. It must be the study of the beginner to use as little as possible of this vehicle, as the colors change in tone when used with too much. The lights can always be recovered by w ping off the glaze while wet.


As "breadth" is one of the great principles of art, and without it no picture can be agreeable to the eye, it is necessary that this quality be secured. By breadth is meant a treatment that suppresses or generalizes unimportant details, which if made too conspicuous would enfeeble the proposed effect of the work. It is indispensable that details should be cared for, since in them character so largely resides; thus it is not the omission of detail that in anywise promotes breadth, but the proper method of dealing with minute material. A picture painted with truth and freedom does not importune the eye with its detail, but it presents an effective and well harmonized whole, unbroken by the crude spottiness of detail to which too much importance may be given, yet there may appear in it the rust on the head of a nail, or the most minute characteristic of any small object, without disturbing the breadth of the work.
In breadth of treatment Yandervelve is admirable, and not less excellent are Standfield and Cooke, in whose works even the smallest objects appear, but they are so skillfully made to keep the places assigned them, that they in no wise disturb the repose of the picture.
Detail and minutiie are necessary to description and character, and therefore they cannot be overlooked, but, on the contrary, are entitled to every respect. Minute material may be in itself insignificant, but in its place it is contributive to the descriptions of the composition as allusive to peculiar objects and localities.
It frequently happens that the painter dwells upon some favorite "bit" in his picture from its being satisfactorily realized, and thus very like nature. It may possess valuable quality, but if it be not the principal point in his composition, it will, from its prominence, very much reduce the importance of the main feature and injure the breadth of the whole. The artist must therefore modify his favorite passage in order to render it, like the other minor and contributive passages, subservient to the principal object or agroupment.
Supposing the subject to be a sea-port, or a harbor, containing masses of shipping, boats, &c, it is not necessary that the details of the houses, as the tiles, bricks, kc, should be individually defined. The forms must be ren. dered with scrupulous exactitude, and described with a nicety just sufficient to indicate the materials of which they are constructed. To the principal object in the view, that on which it is intended the eye of the spectator shall at once fall, all others must yield place; that is they must not be brought into emulation with it by priority of place, force of tone or nicety of painting. Thus, when the eye rests on the work and all is subordinate to the principal, a great desideratum is gained.


The principal light in the picture, whether bright or subdued, should always maintain its precedence in tone and size — so necessarily all other lights are subordinated. The shape and size of principal lights may be varied, but the inferior gradations must never be allowed to interfere with the principal. These pictures in which the dominant form is light are more grateful to the sense than those in which the principal form is dark, supposing always the work to have been judiciously conducted. As the dispositions of the lights and darks in a picture constitute so much of its value, too much attention cannot be given to this part of the study. It is from the shade that the lights acquire their brilliancy. The light passages are those in which the full force of color prevails, whereas the best characteristic of shade is repose, which must not be disturbed by violent contrasts. Attention to gradations will lead to a successful system of focussing, and attention to the relations of lights and shades will secure brilliancy and transparency.


As the sun at mid-day and the objects suffused with its light appear white — white will be the color that will at once suggest itself to represent the sun and its light; but it would soon be discovered that the desired effect could not be thus produced, as the result would be cold and raw, forcibly demonstrating how ineffective is the purest white in the representation of sun-lights.
Sun-light must be painted by tints slightly prismatic, composed of red, yellow and blue that obviate coldness and realize aerial effects. A judicious use of the three primary colors will always produce harmony whatever be the subjects to be treated; thus from the following tints may be produced the brightest sun-light with gradations to the lowest compounds in the scale :
No. 1. Naples yellow or cadmium, vermillion, and cobalt, for the higher lights.
2. Raw sienna or brown ochre, vermillion, madder lake, and French blue or ultramarine.
3. Light red or Indian red, brown ochre, and indigo with ultramarine.
4. Raw umber, madder brown, and indigo with a little burnt sienna.
5. Burnt sienna, madder brown, and lamp black.
6. Burnt umber, madder purple or burnt lake and black.
As the whole of these colors are either positively red, yellow or blue, or have tendencies to the broken and reduced tints of these colors, they may in their relations be said to constitute a prismatic scale of color whence are producible the brightest and deepest tints, variable as may be required. A scale with other colors still prismatic in practiced hands will answer any purpose.


Marine Painting is based on principles identical with those of all other branches of painting. The sentiment proposed, whether cheerful or gloomy, humble or exalted, is conveyed to the mind in a sea-piece by the same means as in other departmenis of art; and for success there are equally necessary great imaginative power, quicknt ss in the apprehension of natural truth, and manipulative skill to sieze the combined and transient effects of sea and sky.
It is therefore necessary to select an effect such as according to the judgment and taste of the artist may be most felicitously carried out. If the subject be one from which sunlight is not excluded, the warm colors will prevail in the lights, which should be rendered as luminous as possible. Any of the yellow, red or orange colors may be displayed in all their varieties, but in the breadths of the lights, only small portions of cold tints should be admitted, and the blacks, blues, browns, and greens should be reserved for the shades.
The work will be more agreeable and be qualified by greater breadth, if the lights be kept well together, yet for the sake of harmony and the diffusion of the colors, portions of cold color should be carried into the warm passages and vice versa. But this must be done cautiously, the proportions of opposing color carried into the greater masses must be small, lest the breadth of the composition be bro. ken. The repetition of the most brilliant tints among the lower tones, and of the darks among the higher lights should be in proportion at an inverse ratio to their power.
In the distribution of lights and darks, marine pictures require the utmost delicacy of treatment, in order that the ships and boats which they represent may not look isolated, unsupported or cut out. A preparatory sketch in black and white, if the lights and darks be judiciously disposed, will look well as an arrangement of light and shade even if contemplated upside down. With these preparatory observations, which it is to be hoped will be found easy of application, we proceed at once to a series of practical lessons.


FIRST PAINTING. H. Begin with, the sky, by laying in with ultramarine or cobalt, gradually weakening the color as approaching the horizon.
G. The clouds in the light parts are painted with a small quantity of Cologne earth, madder lake and cobalt, with, of course, the proportion of white necessary to reduce the tint to its proper tone. M. For the distant sea, lamp-black and cobalt, with purple madder, just sufficient to reduce the cold tone of the former combination.
I. k J. The higher parts of the foresea are laid in with the same colors as the distant sea, with the addition of a little raw sienna where the light penetrates the water up to the thin crests of the waves, the light sides of which must be made out with touches of the same color as the sky.
Q. For the distant land, cobalt or ultramarine and purple madder. -' M F. The middle distance is painted with the two colors last mentioned with the addition of yellow ochre. For the trees, less of the ochre and more of the ultramarine, or cobalt and purple madder. P. For the lights of the houses, quays and forts, madder lake and yellow ochre always reduced to the necessary tint with white. The shaded parts are painted with the same colors with the addition of cobalt, a little lamp-black, and for the trees, a little burnt sienna.
E. For these passages the same colors are employed, but richer in tone, so as to remove the houses to a distance and produce atmosphere. The hulls of the vessels are painted with lamp-black, Cologne earth, and a little madder purple mixed with white to the tone required.
0. For the land in shade, the same colors as thi light passages, but the madder purple and the cobalt preponderate.
A. This dark sail is colored with madder lake, raw sienna, and mummy mixed with a little lamp-black. The receding parts which contain less warmth if affected by reflection from the sea and sky, are painted with the same but with the addition of a little white. Patched sails may have many varieties of tint, as also may reef points, ropes, &c, but it must be remembered that the shade is always colder than the light. C. The hull of the boat is laid in with mummy, black, and bitumen in equal parts, but where the deepest shades appear the colder colors must prevail, in tints composed of black with Cologne earth and blue. The lights upon the round parts are received directly from the sky, and must be painted with the same colors, but much modified; by such means harmony is obtained. The reflected lights are constituted, of one-half of the color of the reflected object, and one-half of that which receives the reflection. B. The light sails are colored of a tint composed of Vermillion, madder lake, yellow ochre, and white; for the shaded sides add Cologne earth, cobalt, and madder purple. D. For the mast of the wreck, Cologne earth with a little madder brown may be used for the dark parts, with, for the lights, the addition of white as may be considered necessary. K. The top may be painted with the colors prescribed for the boat, and touched upon in the lights with a little change of color such as may be made by the addition of terre^ verte, burnt sienna, and white. For the reflections in the water, the colors are those of the objects themselves, but always a little colder. N. The trees are treated as those in P. The figures near the foresea may be painted with all the variety that the palette affords, provided gaudiness be avoided, and the shaded points be kept colder than the lights.


Should the sky appear hard and require aerial tones, it may be scumbled with white, blue, red and yellow. "Where warmth is required, more of the red and yellow may be used, but where it may be required to be cold more of the blue must be used; but these colors must never be employed so as to give the sky any perceptible greenish tint, which is easily prevented by adding a little more red to the white and blue. Should this become too purple, yellow may be used to rectify it.
When a sufficient expression of atmosphere has been obtained, the highest lights of the clouds may be left for the last painting. Any degree of hardness in the sea may be remedied by scumbling with the same aerial tones as those used for the sky.
Any undue coldness in the middle distance of the first painting will be rectified by a tender glaze of Cologne earth with a little madder lake, or lamp-black with madder lake. The dark passages of the foresea are glazed with a little bitumen and mummy mixed. These colors, when mixed, will dry and never crack.
The light parts of the water are glazed thinly with raw sienna and cobalt, and the highest lights will require the same tints as those of the light parts of the sky.
If it appear that these glazings have too much subdued the general tone of the lights, any proportion of the glazing while wet may be rubbed off either with the finger or a clean rag.


In finishing the picture, it is desirable to realize all the crispness and sparkling character of nature. If necessary, those parts not sufficiently atmospheric may be re-scumbled, and those passages requiring depth and power may be glazed again, and upon both this scumbling and glazing crisp lights may be touched.
On rocks, the palette knife is employed with advantage to deposit particles of color on the lights. For this purpose the knife is superior to any brush as it leaves the forms sparkling and indefinite. The finish of a picture means a treatment which gives proper attention to all the details of the composition, whether in light or shade. But it is positively essential that this finish do not disturb the breadth ; every object must keep its place, but preeminence must be allowed to the principal features of the picture.



A. & B. The sun must be painted with Naples yellow and white. The sky immediately round the sun with the same tint somewhat stronger. C. Add a little vermillion to the yellow and white and a very small proportion of cobalt, but care must be taken that the result inclines neither to green nor to purple. D. Increase the cobalt and diminish the yellow to all but omission. The red is introduced with great caution lest a purple hue be produced. E. i: or the dark parts here, the tint is made of cobalt, lamp-black and vermillion, and for the lighter parts more of cobalt and vermillion with a proportion of yellow, but only enough to reduce the purple where it may appear. F. For these clouds the same colors are employed as those in E, but with a little more of yellow and red and less of the blue and black. G. All the lights in the clouds are painted with Naples yellow, vermillion and white; a tint which is blended with the grays by nearly omitting the yellow and using more of the cobalt and vermillion. H. The same colors are used here as in the lights of the clouds with a little of the gray of the sky to avoid monotony. I. Cobalt, lamp-black, vermillion, and a very small proportion of yellow to counteract any tendency to purple. The light touches will be made with the same colors as those of the edges of the clouds, but rather colder. J. The light portions here are the same colors as the sky near the sun. For the shading of the light waves, lampblack, cobalt, raw sienna, with a little vermillion may be added to the above, and the highest lights of the waves are painted with the same colors as the sun. K. The darker parts of the distant land are painted with cobalt, vermillion, and a very little Naples yellow. The lights are worked in with the two warmer colors, omitting the cobalt. L. The color of the vessel may incline strongly to red, as also its reflection. It will, therfore, be laid in with burnt sienna, madder lake, and lamp-black; the great proportion of the last color being employed in the shaded parts. The lights reflected into the shaded parts are painted with black, white and burnt sienna, the two former colors predominating, because all these reflected lights are so much colder than the lights from the sun. In painting such vessels, there is a field open for the exercise of taste and fancy in the representation of the green copper, and here and there the strong reddish orange tint of rust; even the brightest tints of the picture may sparkle here and there in representation of dripping and trickling water; but it must always be most carefully observed that the higher gradations in shade must partake more of gray than those of the proper lights. M. The lantern must be as bright as the sun, but colder in color.


"When the first painting is dry, wash the picture with a sponge dipped in clean water, and dry it with a cloth before commencing the second painting.
Any incidental crudity or hardness in the sky is to be subdued by means of a scumbling with a mixture of white, Naples yellow, and vermillion on those parts that are to remain warm. The same colors, with the addition of cobalt, will serve to scumble the hard parts of the dark clouds. Any necessary sharpness at the edges of the clouds may be given with the tints with which the clouds were painted, viz.: Naples yellow, vermillion and white; and for the distant land and light-houses the same treatment may be observed.
The dark parts of the water in the middle distance are to be glazed with lamp black, cobalt, very little madder, and the smallest proportion of mummy. Should the glaze lie too heavy on any of the lighter parts, it may be rubbed off with the finger or a piece of clean rag.
The shaded parts of the foresea may be thinly glazed with a little mummy, raw sienna and cobalt, keeping the darker sides, more particularly just under the sun, richer in color than the lights on the tops of the waves. By such treatment the water appears to have the light from the sun passing through it, as it appears in nature.


Wash the picture when dry as before, and by renewed scumbling and glazing, where necessary, proceed to give to the work its ultimate tone and harmony.
By scumbling, atmosphere is. represented ; and parts that are too prominent and substantial are made to recede.
By the glazings, depth, brilliancy and power are obtained where objects are to be brought forward. If in either of those processes any of the detail of the work should be lost, it may be in some measure recovered by the use of a scraper or a knife. Should this means fail, the parts obliterated must be repainted.


A. Is painted with cobalt, light red and white, with a minute portion of yellow ochre. B. The same colors, but more of the yellow ochre and light red, and less of the cobalt. C. The same colors as A with more white and cobalt, but less of yellow and light red. D. The same as B, but made a little colder with cobalt. These colors must combine here so as to produce a prismatic effect. None must pred ominate, but all must assist in the production of variety. E. The same colors as the last, but with more cobalt and the addition of some lamp-black, to which add a little madder and yellow in quantity less than the black. F. The same as E, but with a little more white. G. The land, light-house, castle, &c, may be painted with the same colors as those used for the dark clouds. For the lights the same colors as those used in B, but somewhat stronger. H. The distant sea is made out in the darks with lampblack, cobalt, and a very minute proportion of madder. The lights are produced by the addition of white to the same colors. I. The same colors as those in II, with the addition of a small portion of brown ochre. J. The colors here are the same as those in G. K. The same as I, but with somewhat more warmth. L. Lamp black, cobalt, madder, and a little brown ochre. N. The shaded sides of the light water are painted with raw sienna and cobalt, the lights with cobalt, madder and a little yellow ochre. The light crests are almost pure white, inclining to the tint of lightest colors in the sky. M. Black, a little bitumen and mummy, with a small portion of madder brown and very little cobalt. 0. These rocks are made out with madder brown, burnt sienna, black, and white for the shaded parts; for the darkest parts bitumen and mummy are added, and the white omitted. The lights may be painted with brown ochre, burnt sienna, terre verte, and black, more or less mixed with white. P. The water will be of the same hue as the sky, but rather colder and somewhat stronger. The reflections will contain much of the color with which the reflecting objects are painted, but somewhat colder. Q. The shaded sides of the light rocks are painted with lamp black and burnt sienna, with touches of purple madder mixed with bitumen and mummy. The lights are laid in with yellow ochre, madder, and small portions of purple madder well diluted with white. Among these rocks a rich variety of color may be introduced. Should any parts become obtrusive they can be glazed down. The second and third paintings may be conducted as in preceding lessons.



Commence at A with a tint composed of yellow ochre, madder lake and cobalt, reduced with white B. The same combination, "but less of yellow and more of madder and cobalt. C. The yellow is here omitted, the cobalt with a little madder only being used, care being taken to avoid a purple hue. D. For the dark parts of these clouds, Cologne earth, madder and cobalt, with white of course. In order to secure a variety of hue, each color may in turn preponderate in different parts, but no passage must evt r be worked so dark as to become opaque. If the eye cannot penetrate the portion thus painted, it is not sufficiently atmospheric. E. For the light clouds the tint may be composed of yellow ochre and madder, with a large proportion of white, and should the light clouds become hard or too positive on the eye, a very small portion of cobalt may be added. Care must, however, be taken to avoid any tendency to purple or green. Should the latter color be at all apparent, it must be counteracted by red; and if purple becomes prominent, it must be subdued by yellow. F. These clouds in half light may be painted with yellow ochre, madder and cobalt. The yellow must be used only in such a quantity as will prevent the blue and madder falling into purple. G-. The colors here will be the same as those employed in F, with a little Cologne earth added for the darker parts. The whole of the highest lights will be made of yellow ochre with a little madder, but toward the horizon they will be warmer than in the upper field of the picture. H. The distant sea will be painted with cobalt, madder, and yellow ochre, but of the two latter very little for the shaded side of the waves. The lights will be of the same colors as those of the sky, but a tone colder. I. The dark parts of the water will be painted with a tint composed of bitumen, mummy with black, cobalt and a little madder.


After the picture has been washed as already directed in former lessons, the sky, if necessary, is to be scumbled in the manner described in sections Nos. 1 and 2, employing colors that will harmonize with those of the first painting, and remembering that the feeling of this picture is not so cold as that of No. 1, nor so warm as that of No. 2. If scumbling be necessary, the pearly tints composed of blue, madder, and a little light red will be most suitable.
The dark parts of the sea in the middle distance may be glazed with lamp-black, cobalt, and a little purple madder. As approaching the foresea the purple madder may be omitted, and a mixture of bitumen and mummy substituted, but used only sparingly. Whenever crispness and decision are necessary, the part must be retouched, but with caution to avoid blackness and chalkiness.


When the first and second paintings are perfectly dry, the picture must be washed. Should it not be so powerful in effect as may be desirable, the shaded passages may be glazed again, and even a third time, but the work must never be permitted to become opaque.
The retouching will commence with the sky, the forms of which, where necessary, may be confirmed or broken, according to the feeling of the artist. Every form must be carefully finished even although it be in shade, for on this realization depends the quality of the work.
The floating wreck, ropes and sails must be made to glisten and sparkle as if wet, and every part must more or less partake of the color of the water, a result which may be attained by minute touches, darker telling in the shades, and lighter telling on the lights, whereby the breadth of the work will be promoted.



To the last composition another effect may be given by varying the coloring. To effect this, the different parts, according to the references of the key, are commenced as follows: A. Will be laid in with yellow ochre and white, with a very little Naples yellow. B. Yellow ochre, a little vermillion, and white. C. Yellow ochre, a little vermillion, and less of cobalt, mixed to a tint in which neither of the three must predominate. D. For the clouds, a little Indian red, cobalt, and white, with the addition of a little yellow ochre, merely to prevent the tone from becoming too purple. E. The same as D, but not so strong. F. Yellow ochre, vermillion, and cobalt, with white, the blue slightly prevailing. G. The same colors as F, with rather more of the yellow ochre and vermillion, and less of the cobalt. H. Cobalt and white, with a very little vermillion and yellow ochre; the bluish tints to predominate. I. Cobalt, a little lamp-black and white, with a small quantity of madder lake and raw sienna, without allowing either of the two latter colors to prevail. J. Cobalt, lamp-black, and white, with a little bitumen. K. The same as I, but not so deep. L. Yellow ochre, cobalt, vermillion, and white ; the bluish tone to predominate. M. The same as I, with the addition of a little bitumen. N. Yellow ochre and white, with a little vermillion for the light. For the shade of the sail, madder purple, lampblack, and a little burnt sienna. 0. White, raw sienna, and cobalt, with the least portion of madder lake, allowing the bluish to prevail at the sides of the waves in opposition to the light. P. Burnt sienna, black, and madder purple, with a little white. Q. Yellow ochre and Naples yellow, with white for the high lights ; and for the shaded side, add madder purple, bitumen, and black. The distant ship may be painted with cobalt, vermillion and yellow ochre, allowing for the hull the deepest and coldest tone. The pieces of floating wreck may be painted with Cologne earth, the lights being touched with tints made of white, yellow ochre, madder purple, and cobalt, varying the tones as much as possible.


When the dead coloring, as the first painting is called, is quite dry, wash it with a sponge and clean water, after which dry it carefully with a clean rag.
The whole of the first painting being considered to have been laid in with sufficient solidity, the process of the second painting will consist principally of glazing, and especially in those parts requiring transparency.
For the distant sea, cobalt and lamp-black may be used, and in approaching the foresea raw sienna may be employed, and in the reflections a little bitumen. The sail may be glazed with madder purple and black, with the least bit of yellow to prevent the over prevalence of the purple.
For glazing the pieces of wreck, madder purple and bitumen may be used, and retouch on the lights that have been too much subdued by the glaze.


The finishing consists of giving increased freshness to the lights and transparency to the shades; the picture having been again permitted to dry. The utmost care, however, must be taken to avoid any chalkiness in the lights, or blackness or rustiness in the shaded parts. Should it happen that any of the passages become too hot, this is to be remedied by working carefully into them with grays.

Having determined and sketched in the composition, those clear parts round and near the sun (if the sun be introduced) will be painted with yellow ochre, Vermillion and cobalt, forming a tint neither yellow, red, nor blue, but mixed to a pure, pearly, prismatic hue. The sun may, or may not, appear. In departing from proximity to the sun the proportion of the yellow must be diminished, but yet sufficient must be retained to subdue the tendency to purple in the tint composed of red and blue. In advancing further from the sun, the yellow ochre may be entirely omitted, when so much only of the red may be added as will prevent the blue from becoming too positive.
For the high lights of the clouds the tint will be formed of red, yellow and white. For the dark parts of the lighter clouds, cobalt may be added to the colors just mentioned; a combination that will afford every variety of tint by the addition of more or less of any of the colors named. For the darker clouds, lamp-black and a little Cologne earth may be added. With these colors, every variety of atmospheric tint may be obtained, by so adjusting the quantities as to permit one or the other to preponderate, according to the required tone and tint, warm or cold.
The distant sea is laid in with cobalt, lamp-black and white, mixed to the required strength. In approaching the middle distance of the sea, a small quantity of bitumen and mummy may be added; but these two colors before being blended with the others should be mixed together, as the bitumen assists the dryings of the mummy, which alone does not dry readily.
When the water of the middle distance is laid in, the light parts of the foresea may be painted with the above mixture of bitumen and mummy, with a little cobalt and plenty of white; a compound that will produce a neutral and luminous gray green, well adapted to receive the lightest touches. For the darker parts of the near water, cobalt, bitumen, mummy, and lamp-black may be used in the strength of a deep middle tint.
When the sea has been thus far painted, and the surface is yet wet, wherever the waves or forms may require any stronger markings, these may be made of the tints just described according to the strength required, with care that the shaded sides of the waves are kept more luminous and richer in color than those parts on which the half lights fall. In the shaded parts of the lighter waves, a little raw sienna may be added to give luminous quality, and the lights may be touched on with pure white, or white and cobalt. If the sky be very rich, a little of the same color may be added to the lights in the water.


A. The sun is laid in with Naples yellow qualified with Vermillion and white. B. The atmosphere round the sun may be described with yellow ochre, vermillion, and a little cobalt with white. C. Here the dark parts are painted with cobalt, madder, a very small proportion of Cologne earth, and white. D. Cologne earth, cobalt, and madder, with white. E. The same as the last, but more of white. F. The sea at the horizon is painted with the same colors as D, and the distant objects still with the same. G. Raw sienna, lamp-black, with a little cobalt and madder. H. The raw sienna is here in a diminished proportion as more gray is required. I. The lightest part of the sea is laid in with the same colors as G, but with more of white. All lights that fall upon the water must be painted with the same colors that are used in C, namely, the sky colors. J. Those parts of the sails of the ships that are in shade must be painted with lamp-black, madder, cobalt and a small proportion of brown ochre. Where the half lights occur they are represented with more of the ochre and white, but less of the other colors. K. For the sails and hull of the nearer vessel the colors are yellow ochre, madder, and lamp-black. With these colors the sails may be shaded. The colors for the lights are yellow ochre, madder, and more white, but no black. L. Burnt sienna, madder, Cologne earth, and white are used for this tanned sail in shade. M. Here must be added to the above colors, bitumen and mummy for the deepest parts. The lights must be worked upon with terre-verte and white, bitumen and white, and lamp-black and white. N. In painting the boat, no white is to be used at first. It is to be painted with mummy, bitumen, and black, and this tint must be worked upon for the half lights while wet, with the colors used in M. The colors to be used for the figures, buoys, and pieces of wood are left to the discretion of the painter, who will be guided according to his feeling as to whether contrast or affinity of hue may be desirable. As processes of second and third paintings have been already described, it is enough to remind the student that the methods to be pursued here will be nearly the same as in the preceding lessons.


THE FIRST PAINTING. A. The moon may be painted with yellow ochre and white. B. Brown ochre, white and black, with cobalt. C. The same combination with a greater proportion of brown ochre, but less of the black and cobalt. D. Cologne earth, black and cobalt. The brown ochre is omitted except for light edges. E. In descending, the tints are colder. Cobalt and black are therefore the prevalent colors. F. Nearly the same as C, but more of black and cobalt. G. The same color as that of E, but rendered lighter and colder by the use of more blue. H. The same colors as the moon — yellow ochre and white. I. The top may be laid in with black, bitumen, mummy and madder brown; teaching the lights with the same colors as those with which the moon is painted; for the bowsprit the same. J. For the hull the colors may be bitumen, madder brown, and lamp-black. The lights to be touched upon this will be composed of a little mummy, lamp-black and white. The reflections may be painted with the colors used for the hull, with the addition of a little indigo. K. For the deep shadows of the hull, the bitumen and madder brown must be strong, thinned with black; but they must be left transparent. L. The same colors as the sky, having the lights made of a little yellow ochre and cobalt, with white.


This lesson consists merely of scumbling in soft pearly grays where there may be any want of atmosphere. Those parts that are deficient of depth and transparency may be glazed; and the glaze may be touched into while wet, with half and quarter lights.
The processes of the second painting may be repeated in a third painting, and should the work fail in force and finish, it may yet be retouched until it be satisfactorily completed.
Although the effect be that of moonlight, the finish must be as careful throughout as if it were a daylight subject. The atmosphere especially must be well considered; and although in such a subject there must be a proportion of indefinition, those lines which do appear must be accurately rendered. $.
In moonlights there is more brown than in daylight pictures, yet but a small part of these browns must appear as browns, but must be subdued and superceded by being painted into with black and white, terre-verte and white, and yellow and white. The moon and its reflection are of course the brightest spots in the picture; but although they are so, they must be kept in their places by strong contrasts of light and shade, for space is as necessary to a moonlight subject as to the brightest daylight.


The sentiment of this phase of nature being tranquility, everything in the picture should suggest peace and perfect rest; and the picture will be the more complete with suggestions of brightness and cheerfulness. Thus the whole of inanimate Nature, as the water and the sky, will be in perfect repose, and the former bright with the lights of the sky overhead, and susceptible of all degrees of reflection from the deepest to the most tender.
Supposing the subject to be a calm under morning sunlight ; the sun, as in other cases, will be painted with Naples yellow and white, and the sky immediately round the sun may be painted with the same colors, but somewhat deeper. As receding from the sun the color may be further deepened by the addition of a little ver million and a little cobalt to the yellow and white, and, further, to widen the circle the cobalt must be increased and the yellow diminished. In the use and mixture, however, of these colors, every care must be taken to secure a perfect harmony, to the entire exclusion of any approach to purple.
The darks of the clouds are painted with cobalt, Vermillion and lamp-black in various degrees. The middle tones are painted with different degrees of cobalt and vermillion; any appearance of purple being reduced by a small proportion of yellow.
The scale of tints producible by these colors may be raised or lowered according to the feeling of the painter, and it need scarcely be observed that in painting a calm there should be in the sky no dark so strong as to contain any menace to the repose of the scene. The lights of the clouds may be painted with Naples yellow, vermillion, and white; and these lights may be carried down to the lower degrees by the omission of the yellow and a slight increase of the cobalt and vermillion.
The bright sea distances are painted to harmonize with the sky near the sun, therefore the same colors are used, the flatness being broken by the introduction of some of the tender grays of the sky. The foresea is approached with tints of cobalt, lamp-black, vermillion, with as usual, to guard against purple, a little yellow.
The nearest parts are painted with the same colors. Any incidental shades are put in with lamp-black, cobalt, raw sienna, and a little vermillion.
The succeeding painting of the subject will be conducted much according to the rules already given. Much will have to be done in strengthening lights and darks, and this will be effected by the same colors already employed. The light portions of the sky will be softened and corrected by scumbling with white, Naples yellow, and vermillion, where warmth is to prevail. Any undue hardness in the darks of the clouds may be reduced by the same, with the addition of cobalt.
The glazings for the water will consist of lamp-black, cobalt, a very little madder, and a very small proportion of mummy, and the shaded passages of the foresea may be thinly glazed with a tint made of raw sienna, cobalt, and a very little mummy.
The colors for any shipping or boats will be the same as those prescribed for vessels in preceding lessons of this work.
In agitated water the surface is a system of forms, but in calms the surface is nothing but a breadth of reflected lights and darks. Thus the painting of these reflections tasks severely the skill of the painter. They should bo kept pure and liquid, and according to their depth or lightness, they may serve as subordinate lights or darks. Reflections of dark objects must be a little lighter than the objects themselves.
The important points of the picture must never be so dark or so light as to arrest the eye from passing to the distances. The edges of the clouds and other apparently unavailable lines and forms are made useful in promoting variety and expressing space. Where the edges are lost, the result is flatness and insipidity; for it is by the firmness of near line and substance that distances are made to recede. As a general rule, in order to carry out perfectly the feeling to be conveyed by a calm, every object in thu composition must be at rest.



A. For the distant sky the tint is compounded of cobalt, madder lake, and a very little yellow; but the yellow will be omitted in the clear and cloudless parts, and in its place the smallest quantity of Cologne earth will be substituted. These colors are used with a large proportion of white. B. The light clouds will be painted with a little madder, yellow ochre, and, of course, white; and where it may be necessary to reduce the crispness or sharpness of the edges, this will be done with a little cobalt. C. More of cobalt with very little madder is here used. D. Stronger in the blue than in C. E. The same colors as the sky, but used in greater strength by diminishing the quantity of white. F. Cobalt, Cologne earth, and madder are here employed for the rocks. The lights of the middle tint cliffs may be painted with the same colors, qualified with a little brown ochre, and hightened with white. G. The colors here will become local and natural with the introduction of burnt sienna and black to the last mentioned. H. Burnt sienna, black, madder, and yellow ochre with white, for the shaded side of the rocks. For the mark ngs, madder brown will be added. This color with black and white will give all the markings in their various strength. I. Black, burnt sienna, indigo, and raw umber will yield great varieties of tint for the dark rocks and sea-weed; and it must be remembered that the low tones must be colder than the lights and half lights. J. For the light rocks the tint is compounded of brown ochre, Naples yellow, and vermillion, and the half or quarter shades may be made out with the same colors reduced by black and cobalt. K. The colors with which the sky was painted may be used here, but a little colder. For the reflections of the cliffs the colors are the same as those with which the cliffs themselves are painted, but rendered yet colder by the addition of blue. L. The same as the colors in I, but in order to obtain variety, introduce green here and there in the seaweed. M. The same colors as those in I with the addition of a mixture of mummy and bitumen. In the shaded sides, cool tints may be introduced formed of indigo, cobalt, and terre-verte with white. N. This is a portion of wet beach with the actual color indicated as if seen through the water. This is done by first painting in the water, then introducing the warmer colors. 0. Rock and grass. The colors are burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and madder, with white for the light parts of the rocks, the shades of which are painted with the same, qualified with lamp-black and a little bitumen. P. The same colors as those in N, but with fainter indications of the objects beneath the surface of the water. Q. Here no white is used, the passage being painted with bitumen and mummy, with a little madder brown. For the shaded parts a little lamp-black may be added. It is necessary here to procure depth, but blackness and opacity must be guarded against. The colors for the lights are yellow ochre, Naples yellow, and oxide of chromium.


If the sky require improvement, it may receive a scumbling of pearly tints, and the lights may be retouched with solid color, but only on those parts which come forward. Through the scumbling the lighter parts must appear as if veiled, the result of which, if successfully realized, is beautiful in effect. If the cliffs of the middle distance look heavy or obtrusive, they may be scumbled with grays made of lamp-black, cobalt, and a little burnt sienna, or madder. If not sufficiently powerful they may be glazed with the same colors. The foreground cliffs and rocks may be glazed and enriched with the full force of the palette.


The finish effected generally in the third painting implies looking carefully over all the detail of the composition, in order to convey into the picture as much as may be possible of the truth and character of nature. And again, a second and very especial purpose of this careful survey is that final touching which keeps all the objects in their respective places.


As river craft when moored can be studied and painted on the spot, an advantage that cannot be enjoyed with respect to vessels that are most favorably seen under sail, it is recommended to the student that he paint and color these vessels from the reality, as studies of this kind will always be his best guide to assist him in painting them when in motion.
The capricious variety of the characters and decorations of river craft is such as to preclude anything like a comprehensive description within the limits which wo have prescribed to ourselves. We can but deal here in generalities, leaving the student to follow out to the best of hig ability the styles of the vessels he may meet with in this class of subjects. A. Into all the following combinations, white enters in degrees greater or less. This sky is painted with yellow ochre, vermillion, and cobalt, which, if no particular color predominate, make a pearly gray. B. The same colors as in A, but deeper in tone, with a slight preponderance of cobalt. C. Still more cobalt with very little of the yellow and red; still deep in tone. D. The houses in the light are painted with yellow ochre, madder, and a large proportion of white. The markings are made with madder purple, and lamp-black. In the shades, more of the black is necessary; in the lights it is entirely omitted. E. Yellow ochre, madder, and white, with the addition of black for the gradations and markings. F. The hay or straw is painted with yellow ochre and vermillion. The half shades are lamp-black and white, the markings, madder purple, and raw umber. G. The tarpaulin is covered with madder brown, and lamp-black, and the lights are made of yellow ochre, black and white. H. The foresail is painted with the same colors as E, with the addition of a little brown ochre. I. The hull must be laid in with bitumen, mummy, madder brown, and lamp-black. J. For the distant sail, madder, brown ochre, and lampblack. K. The posts will be laid in with bitumen, mummy, and lamp-black, touched upon with mummy and white, and black and white. Where iron appears it is painted with madder brown, and cadmium. The high lights are black and white. L. The water will be of the same tint as the upper part of the sky, with partial reflections. The eddies are painted with white, all pure; the shades with tcrre-verte, cobalt, and a little mummy. M. The mizen sail of the near vessel is in reality of the same color as the mainsail, but it will be better that it be of some opposing color. N. The boat in the light is painted with yellow ochre, white, and madder purple, with a little black under the stern sheets. For the markings, madder brown, burnt sienna, and lamp-black. 0. The foreground boat is laid in with bitumen, mummy, and Cologne earth, with bitumen and madder brown for the markings. The ropes are drawn with Cologne earth, and touched upon where the light falls on them with brown ochre, a little Cologne earth and white. P. The shade of the stone-work must be painted in with bitumen, mummy, and black; touched into with bitumen and white, and black and white. Q. For the light stone-work, brown ochre, Vermillion, and cobalt. The markings are made with madder brown and black. The second and third paintings will be conducted as already described.


The six lessons contained in the preceding pages are considered sufficient to assist the artist to a knowledge of the kind of practice which he seeks to acquire. This knowledge might have been conveyed by limiting the first lessons to the painting of some very simple objects with a very few colors ; but it has been found that to enterprising students this method has been tedious and unsatisfactory, as well as tending to an unnecessary protraction of the lessons. As, therefore, a subject has been found to be the best stimulant to the energies, perfect pictures arc proposed for the lessons, which, when finished, will always serve for reference as to color, scale, and the relations of tones, until the student shall have outgrown the necessity for such aids. The first as a simple daylight effect is a key to all other like effects, and in some degree the basis on which others are painted. The lessons that follow will be found as comprehensive as any other such course need be, as they contain instructions for painting most of the common objects that enter into marine composition, and also certain of the most picturesque phases of nature.
The studies have been arranged with a view to such a sequence as might occur in nature. "A Sunrise," followed by "A Misty Morning," then W A Storm at Sea, "A Stormy Sunset," and "Evening — a cloudy sky," succeeded by "Moonlight — a ship on shore." In these lessons is described the method of painting water, from the rippled surface to the heavy surging of the most violent storm, as also the sky from the open expanse broken by, here and there, a thin and vapory cloud — to the wild and heavy masses that darken both the sky and sea.
The lessons on Calms, it has not been considered necessary to accompany by a cut and key; as for the painting of any vessels, or boats, that the student may think fit to introduce, ample instructions are given in the course; but the Lessons on River Craft, and the Cliff Scene, are accompanied by cuts and keys, because the details involve passages of form and color that do not occur in any of the other subjects.
Having thus conducted the learner through a series of the most ordinary effects he will meet with in the study of Marine subjects, little more remains to be said that can be of real utility to him in these stages of his practice. It may, however, happen that his success at first may not be equal to his sanguine expectations. In reference to this, it is to be observed that theoretical precept and diffuse, and consequently embarrassing, instructions are avoided. Abstract principle is limited to the proportion indispensable to assist practice in early stages, and the means of the latter herein open to the learner is the result of a life-time of study and labor. It was a maxim of Sir Joshua Reynolds that success in some degree was never denied to earnest work ; it is therefore hoped that in the prosecution of tho foregoing practice the industrious learner will not stop short of the very best results.

Home  |   About Toperfect Group  |   Contact Us  |   Terms & Copyrights

Powered by Toperfect ([ˈtɔpəfikt]), Top & Perfect.

Copyright © 1995 - .

Toperfect is trademark of Toperfect Group, see certificates.

Share Toperfect