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Opaque Contrary And Vice Versa: Indeed In Practice All These Must








be in some measure combined.

Such are some of the powers of contrast in colouring alone, and such is
the diversity of art upon which skill in colouring depends. It must not
be forgotten, however, that contrasts or extremes, whether of light and
shade, or of colours, become violent and offensive when they are not
reconciled by the interposition of their media, or intermediates, which
partake of both extremes of the contrasts. Thus blue and orange in
contrast become reconciled, softened in effect, and harmonized, when a
broken colour composed of the two intervenes. The same may be said of
other colours, shades, and contrasts.

Seeing that the management and mastery of colours are to a great extent
dependent on the same principles as light and shade, it might become a
point of good discipline, after acquiring the use of black and white in
the chiaroscuro, to paint designs in contrast; that is, with two
contrasting colours only, in conjunction with black and white--for
example, with blue and orange, before attempting the whole. Indeed,
black can be dispensed with in these cases, because it may be
compounded, since the neutral grey and third colours always arise from
the compounding of contrasting colours. In this way, even flesh may be
painted--for instance, with red and green alone, as Gainsborough is said
at one period to have done.

Some artists have produced pictures in the above hot and cold colours
only; which, although captivating to the eye, and true in theory with
respect to colour, light and shade, are generally false in practice with
regard to nature, which rarely employs such extreme accordances.
Colouring like this, therefore, is more beautiful than true. It is as
though a painter were to execute a landscape in the full light of day,
as he saw it looking through a prism, so that every object glowed with
rainbow hues. Such a picture would present a beautiful fairy scene, and
be true as regards colours, but as respects nature, it would be false.

Colour, and what in painting is called transparency, belong chiefly to
shade. It has been a common error to ascribe those properties to light
only, and hence many have employed a uniform shade tint, regarding
shadows as simply darkness, blackness, or the mere absence of light;
when, in truth, shadows are infinitely varied by colour, and always so
by the colours of the lights which produce them. But while we incline
attention toward the relation of colour to shade, both light and shade
being strictly co-essential to colour, a vicious extreme must be
avoided. For although, as transparent, colour inclines to shade, and, as
opaque, it partakes of light; yet the general tendency of colour is to
transparency and shade, all colour being a departure from light. Hence
it becomes a maxim, which he who aspires to good colouring must never





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