Sunday, 31 March 2013

Here comes the sun....and fingers crossed, flowers!

Yes, I wish a happy Easter to all....but after six months of rain, snow, sleet and misery (at least here in Europe) most of all I wish there to be sun.
Have a lovely time....whatever!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lime putty or lime paint?

I live in Italy, so my expressions for techniques and materials may differ from those normally used in English. I apologize if this sometimes leads to confusion! Since the debate on preserving traditional skills is close to the hearts of many I wanted to clarify why I use the term "lime putty" painting:
Up until about 50 years ago decorators here were able to slake there own lime ( slaking being the term used for describing the process of obtaining putty) My colleague still remembers as a young painter going to a deposit to do this ( n.b. only a while back decorators here often made their own paintbrushes!) Fortunately now the deposit sells the putty in sacks. Point being; If you wanted to paint with lime, you got putty.
Recently in Italy and I presume all over the world, products are available on the market that are manufactured as lime-paint or wash and are ready to use, some brands are available even ready-tinted. Without discussing their validity, those who were trained in the method of using lime putty as a bases for making up their paints for grisaille decoration, tend to continue to do so. The reason for this is simple, the product performance and result is different. We must necessarily use the product that best responds to our needs. So if you buy a brand product and it works well for you, then you have your tool. I too, use most materials for decorating, depending on what I have to do or what has already been used on the plaster. Linguistically however, the only way I have to explain the method I use when propositioning lime, is to say "I use LIME PUTTY" because if I were to say lime-wash in Italy, chances are I am talking about using a brand manufactured lime. Hope this has cleared up the misunderstanding!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

My Maestro

Sharing your work is always an act of courage, most of us end up in the arts because we want to please. It is impossible to gain approval from all...and really it's even undesirable. But my Maestro taught me to keep in mind that some people don't really critique they just try "to teach angels how to fly" All of you, passionate about your work, who dedicate your heart and soul to what will always be a path of learning must keep this in mind and move on and upwards...


Painting in grisaille is about optimizing your colour palette, keeping it to a number of shades, each of which have specific tasks to compute. This is an ongoing voyage of discovery because these things you come across by chance, by trial and error and by sheer determination. I'm still in search of what decorators in the 1800's used to such effect that damn it, I still can't imitate! It's so sad to think those secrets may have vanished forever....

Friday, 22 March 2013

Hello Mary,
Let me begin by saying a big thank-you for your comment! You have such an impressive profile, I can tell you are just as passionate about the how's and the why's of things as I am!
Lime painting is a such a rarely used medium now, the last generation of masters are all but gone.
I was lucky to start work with a decorator who had second generation experience using this material and his work was already a beautiful rarity among decorators, he died in 2003. I was dumbfounded by the fact that while so many people adored the result lime gives, nothing was being done to promote or protect this skill and the type of works it produced.  I did discover the many difficulties surrounding it's use, however it's aesthetic value cannot be denied.
It has been somewhat a crusade with me, sometimes I can be a little over passionate, I realise that for some it is just paint!
For years I was scratching my head trying to think of ways to showcase a skill that I felt needed to be seen in context: within architecture.  I didn't feel comfortable painting samples within a classic picture plain. It was while visiting Rome and being tempted by the fragments of ancient buildings lying around that I has was able to envision decoration as separate from it's structure. That's how I got to this project.
Lime can only really be compared to fresco painting. It has a velvety matte finish to it. The colours are always soft even when they are full of body. It visibly suggests all of it's history, seeming to step out from the past with it's dusty finish!
All I hope for is a little coverage now!!!!
Thank-you again Mary. Hope to hear from you again...

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sitting Pretty

Lime painting
Title: Sitting pretty on volute.
Introducing a little colour into grisaille!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Many lines makes a cornice....

Painting lines is the one of the most important parts of my work. It is the tool to decorating from the most severe to the most frivolous decor. Everything starts with a line...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

So, while working on my latest fragment I thought to demonstrate through a series of photos one of the difficulties of working with lime and perhaps unique to this technique. You will see that my work seems to be covered in dark marks. In fact, the working surface becomes immediately saturated with the quantity of water in the lime paste, so the dark smudges are actually where I'm trying to make an improvement on my picture! Because the "darkening" of the surface isn't limited to where you brush stroke has past, you find yourself working "blind": without knowing what your results will be. Overmore there is no time to spread your paint because it gets immediately absorbed by the underlying layer of lime paint. Much of your work is painted by learnt gesture, and that comes from a thousand mistakes. Tough love!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Bye-bye love

I know it doesn't make sense and I can't hold on to my work if I plan to eat and pay my bills, but sometimes I really don't want to say goodbye to some things. This little cherub is an example....I wish I could keep him. He is one of 40, painted on panels that make up a coffered ceiling, but he somehow just came out from another place, to say hello. I suppose I can visit him....

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Fuelled by the interest I had from some of my fellow LinkedIn colleagues, I have just completed my third piece. So here is my mini collection of fragments- all together!
The next piece will feature a chubby cherub!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

New entry

Have been sourcing material, trying to find solutions and planning graphics. Meanwhile here is " Leda" a fragment of Baroque stucco panelling .