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Latent Colour Not Immediately Apparent Apart From The Beauty Which A

wealth of colour imparts, those pigments imbued with it are, as a rule,
the most permanent. And not unnaturally so, for the more colour there is
present, the longer it takes to be affected, either by exposure or
impure air. Colour within colour, therefore, not only lends charm to a
pigment, but contributes to its safety.

There is often a vicious predilection of some artists in favour of a
particular colour, from which many of our best colourists have not been
totally free, and which arises from organic defect, or mental
association. Such predilection is greatly to be guarded against by the
colourist, who is every way surrounded by dangers. On the one hand,
there is fear lest he fall into whiteness or chalkiness; on the other,
into blackness or gloom: in front he may run into fire and foxiness, or
he may slide backward into cold and leaden dulness: all of which are
extremes he must avoid. There are also other important prejudices to
which the eye is liable in regard to colours individually, that demand
his particular attention. These are occasioned by the various specific
powers of single colours acting on the eye according to their masses and
the activity of light, or the length of time they are viewed. By
consequence, vision becomes over-stimulated, unequally exhausted, and
endued, even before it is fatigued, with a spectrum which not only
clouds the colour itself, but gives a false brilliancy by contrast to
surrounding hues, so as totally or partially to throw the eye off its
balance, and mislead the judgment. This derangement of the organ may be
caused by a powerful tint on the palette, a mass of drapery, the colour
of a wall, the light of a room, or other accidental circumstance; and
the remedy is to refresh the eye with a new object--of nature, if
possible--or to give it rest. The powers of colours in these respects,
as well as of pigments individually, together with their reciprocal
action and influence chemically, will be adverted to under their
distinct heads.

The attention of the artist to the individual powers of pigments,
although it may be of less concern than the attention to general effect
in colouring, is by no means less necessary in practice. For he who
would excel in colouring must study it from several points of view, in
respect to the whole and the parts of a picture, as regards mind and
body, and concerning itself alone. To this end, is needed a knowledge of
his pigments individually.

If nature has arrayed herself in all the colours of the rainbow, she has
not been niggardly in offering man the materials wherewith to copy them.
The mineral, animal, vegetable kingdom--each helps him to realize,
however faintly, her many manifold beauties: to give some idea, however
slight, of that glorious flood of colour, which light lets loose upon
the world. Metal, ore, earth, stone; root, plant, flower, fruit; beast,
fish, insect--in turn aid the arduous task. The painter's box is a very
museum of curiosities, from every part of the universe. For it, the
mines yield their treasures, as well as the depths of the sea: to it
come Arab camel, and English ox, cuttle-fish and crawling coccus: in it
the Indian indigo lies next the madder of France, and the gaudy
vermilion of China brightens the mummy of Egypt. Varied, indeed, are the
sources whence we derive our pigments; and if they still leave much to
desire, improvement is clearly manifest. Slowly but surely, year by
year, we are advancing. With the growth of science, the exhaustless
stores of creation, will there at last be attained--step by step, though
it be--that summit of the artist's hopes, a perfect palette?


The term "colour" is equivocal when applied to the neutrals, yet the
artist is bound to consider them as colours; for a thing cannot but be
that of which it is composed, and neutrals are composed of, or
comprehend, all colours.

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