The practice of painting blinds, doors, caps, sills, sash, cornice, stoop, &c., of several colors, is objectionable to persons of refined taste, as it breaks up the mass of general unity of effect, tending to belittle the structure. One color of various shades, on nearly all parts of the house produces a more impressive appearance. By a little further consideration of the subject, we will find there is something practical to be learned by its study in relation to interiors. The color of almost any object is of importance ; especially is it so in its association with other objects and surroundings in our homes, where so large a part of our hours are spent, and our dearest interests center, instead of adopting plans and styles as it were by accident, as is often the case ; thought should be given to the tastes of those who are to occupy the house as well as to the fitness of plans to the purposes intended.
The various workmen who make and finish our homes ought certainly to understand their respective avocations thoroughly; but, unfortunately, many do not, consequently owners naturally looking to tradesmen for guidance in their lines of business, are misled into blunders which are not discovered until too late to remedy, unless by doing the work all over again, which most persons are not willing to undergo. We frequently see colors allowed, not at all in keeping with the purposes of the room, be-cause, perhaps the painter, decorator or furniture dealer has a “run” on a certain style or wishes to dispose of material on hand or some one else of ” fashionable inclination” has patronized it, and so, whether suitable or not, it is adopted. If a room is so situated as to admit but little light, just as likely as not it is finished in painting and papering of dark, dull colors.
Imagine how different the effect on the mind of a person occupying such a room in contrast with the same place treated with light, cheerful, colors. In the finishing and furnishing of rooms de-voted to social purposes, as parlor, dining-room and sitting room, all will probably agree upon having them bright and cheerful, and it may be even gay ; yet there is a too prevalent inclination to gorgeous display, and so lavish brilliant colors as to detract from the guests or others in the room : particularly is it the case with carpets; it seems as if dinginess of carpets in general only catered to the vulgar taste for the gaudy and brilliant. It is true, tasteful carpets are to be had, but such as are too expensive for those of moderate means; usually the figures are so large that they only suit large apartments. If such are put on the floor of a small room it is made to appear the smaller by it. The more intricate the design and smaller the pattern the better suited to a small room, and tends to make the size of the apartment greater. The same rule is applicable to papering and frescoes.
In presenting this website, we have aimed to embrace in as limited a space as possible, only such instruction as would most benefit and interest the learner; at the same time avoiding all unnecessary technical terms that would tend to confuse and lead him into vague uncertainties. The rules to be found in the following website, both theoretical and practical, are delineated in a clear, concise and comprehensive manner, together with a synopsis of the various rules and methods for the manipulation of colors, pertaining to the painter’s art.
The important matter of taste
In exterior house painting, is one which, until recently, has received but little attention in this country. It was for many years the accepted rule, that all exteriors should have one unvarying coating of white ; and that all appendages, as blinds and shutters, should exhibit the greenest green which art was capable of producing.
No one was bold enough to innovate this almost universal bad custom and white in its dazzling freshness and purity stared at us from every quarter. There was no escape but to close our blinking eyes and so, find momentary relief from the painful discord of this inharmonious combination. Previous to the white and green eruption which broke out almost simultaneously in all parts of the older and long settled States, there prevailed a custom in New England, particularly in Massachusetts, of painting exteriors with a soft yellowish cream-color, or yellowish pea green.
These colors, which accord with green, were pleasant to look upon ; and the eye was wont to linger lovingly on those old, rectangular, cube-shaped board and shingle domiciles, which did much abound in the old Bay State. Afterward, in obedience to the behests of fashion, these colors were replaced by the prevailing white, and the eye no longer sought them as things of beauty in the landscape, but turned away as from whited sepulchures. White, in large masses, is out of place in the general landscape, because, it cannot be made to blend with the general harmony. It is harsh, discordant and obtrusive. It may, however, be exhibited in small proportions ; as, on the window-sashes, surrounded by a dark frame, with good effect. In-deed, there is nothing which, for this purpose, can take its place.
In this connection it tends to light up, and brighten what might without it, seem too sombre and dull. White harmonizes with all the primary colors and most of the secondary and-tertiary and broken colors. It is good with red and yellow, but feeble with the latter color and with blue, if the white be in excess; and with brown ; and not bad with the drabs and stone-colors ; but with all these the white must prevail. The unpleasant effect of white in large masses on exterior house-work, is much relieved when contrasted with brown trimmings and window blinds ; but a brown house would not be improved by painting the trimmings with white. It seems unaccountable that the only color, in the whole range of colors, which discords with white, should have been the one chosen to associate it with for the painting of exteriors ; and stranger still is it, that so many people will, to this day, exhibit these in combination ; the white in large masses, the green in contrast, but in lesser proportions.
The convenience of white paint, the fact of its requiring no mixing or manipulation has, no doubt, been a reason for its so general use. The putting together of colors, with white as a base, for producing the broken or accidental colors, is now to most per-sons a mystery which they deem themselves helpless to solve. Many painters, even, have not mastered this branch of their trade, and are quite at a loss to know what colors to order, for producing, with white, any desired tint or tone or shade. For the information of those who lack this knowledge, we give in this connection the only rules which can be of real service, and these will prove useless to the blind or the color-blind.. Black and White are called extreme colors, and when mixed together in whatever proportion, make pure gray, of deeper or lighter tone. The addition of red makes a red gray ; and more red produces brown. Blue, added to white and black and red; gives a blue gray, if in proper proportion; and, if in larger quantity, brown. White, with black and red and yellow, gives any tone of drab, warm or cold, stone-color, clay-color, fawn, and almost any known or unknown neutral tint. White with yellow, gives straw-color, lemon-color, buff; &c., and with red, corn-color, orange-color, etc. Yellow and red, make all the deeper and lighter tones of scarlet ; as the red or yellow predominates.
Blue and red give crimson and purple; as the red or blue is in excess. Red with White, produces pink, peach and carnation colors. Blue and yellow produce green ; and with red, olive green or olive brown. Purple and orange make russet ; green and orange; green and purple make olive. The rules themselves are arbitrary, but the proportions of the different colors in any mixture is wholly a matter of choice or taste. The art of combining colors beyond a few simple rules like those above, cannot be taught by book. Practice alone will perfect one in the art, and practice and example will render the best eye for color more discerning and will improve the discriminating powers of those who are partially color-blind ; but, as the display of colors has the sole object to please the eye, the eye alone must be counseled as to what is good. Every practical painter will appreciate at a glance the truth of the following remarks as to the properties which a pigment must possess, to render it, under all circumstances, a desirable paint. It is not of the slightest consequence by what name it may be designated, or what chemists and professors may say of its component or constituent parts, or its property of resisting the action of certain gases, or its wonderful and never-before-heard-of ” chemical affinities.” All such talk is mere bosh ; and is altogether impertinent to the question.