18 Nov A day in Rome, painting with grisaille
“I am coming to Rome and I have a day free to learn painting with grisaille. Will you teach me?”. This is a message we recently received from Germany, written by a British artist. What exactly did she want to do? How much did she know already? What sort of image would she like to work on? We were curious and a bit worried: it is always difficult to know what people’s expectations are, what abilities they bring with them. Till we met Alison.
We had a great day’s work with her, interrupted only by a little coffee here and there and a bite for lunch and a stop for tea.
Alison had never worked with grisaille and so we started therefore right from the beginning. Drawing the image on the glass is the first step: a sketch is made using a fine brush and a powder mixed with a fatty substance. Once this has dried, a layer of fine grisaille (a dusty powder) is delicately placed on the image and then removed with different brushes and only in specific areas in order to create a chiaroscuro effect. It is always difficult to judge how much dust to remove, how dark (or light) the image is but Alison was patient and delicate and removed just the right amount of colour. Once the image was ready, the glass was placed in the oven overnight. The next morning a perfect little animal emerged. Alison was so pleased she recently wrote to us from Germany saying she’s going to get herself an oven for Christmas (to fire her new pieces…)!