Sunday, August 10, 2008

How to Paint in Water Color

A Course of Sepia Painting, A Course of Painting in Neutral Tint, and A Course of Water Colour Painting by R. P. Leitch are three interesting books for anyone working in water color.
They each follow a similar format. There is an introduction which specifies the materials to be used followed by 24 individual plates each of which has a description of the method employed.

Sepia Painting and Water Colour Painting both have examples of a first stage water color lay-in followed by a completed watercolor painting.

The plates in each case are continuous tone lithography which is similar to the process modern printers use in silk screen printing because the printer puts down successive layers of color to make the print rather than the half-tone  process of a dot-matrix using red, yellow, blue and black inks used in photolithography.

What the continuous tone process gave
 the artist and the printer was a very specific and managable way to make the plates look exactly like the artist wanted.
  It was a fairly difficult and labor intensive process and probably made for a lot of discarded pages when the plates were off register.

The publisher, Cassell, Peter & Galpin, was obviously good at it, there are a lot of books in 
their catalogue listed in the back of these books and other sources from the time. and Mr. Leitch was also a master of the form.  He was particularly expert at the second book of the series, A Course of Painting in Neutral Tint.  He gets a great deal of atmosphere out of his plates combining the warm sepia inks with the other 
cool blue/grey ink.

R. P. Leitch was a accomplished watercolorist and designer of prints active in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Here is a sampling of his work:

Drawing by R. P. Leitch

Richard Principal Leitch. watercolour heightened with body colour

Other Books of his include:
A DREAMER'S SKETCH BOOK. With 21 Illustrations by Percival Skelton, R. P. Leitch, W. H. J. Boot, and T. R. Pritchett. Engraved by J. D. Cooper.
EASY STUDIES IN WATER-COLOR PAINTING, by R. P. Leitch and J. Callow. Nine sketches from nature in simple tints.  
Sampson Low, Son & Marston, 1869. Monochrome portrait of Gray on title pages and 16 colour plates from drawings by R. Barnes, R.P. Leitch, E.M. Wimperis, and others.
This is an engraving of Victoria, Vancouver by Leitch.

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