The Paints

“The scene painter’s colours are known technically as ‘distemper colours.’ They are bought in the form of powder, and the only preparation they require is the admixture of water.  The usual proportion is one pound of colour to a pint of water, but some colours will ‘take’ more water than others; thus ivory black powder requires more water than vermillion.  The powder is merely stirred up until it dissolves, but each pot of paint will require an occasional stirring while it is being used.  The painter will also require a small pail for ‘letting down’ his colour and a half pail of dissolved size for mixing in before applying the paint to canvas, otherwise the paint on drying would fly off in a powder.”

Excerpt from “Secrets of Scene Painting and Stage Effects” by Van Dyke Browne (1900, page 14)


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