Thursday, April 8, 2010

Learning To Paint On Glass the years, I've dabbled in a lot of mediums and foundations to create artworks.  I've painted jewelry boxes, candles, wood of all sorts, lecture stands, jackets, motorcycles and even lamps! (I learned how to use an airbrush to paint a motorcycle, it was a lot of fun.)

When I bought a house seven years ago, the front foyer window had this horrible painting of bluebirds on it that were rendered by an amateur using a media I had never seen before. 

It was painted over the double paned window with a plastic semi-opaque paint that gave the appearance of stained glass.  Or tried to...
This was something I sat down and thought about, and I realized that not only did I want to remove the offending 'artwork' on the entrance-way window in my new house, but I wanted to do it again myself. Properly.

It seems to me that this medium has a lot of promise to it.  It doesn't suffer from some of the limitations of stained glasswork but it gives a similar effect.  The glass doesn't have to be cut, meaning you can include a lot of details that are possible in traditional glasswork.  It's really 'glass painting' as opposed to stained glass art, and it can be done for a fraction of the cost.  And it wouldn't look cheap if you did it right.

After physically removing the old 'artwork', I set out to find out about my new prospective medium by looking on the internet and checking out art and craft stores.  I found out that it's used mostly to create suncatchers and to create fake stained glass pieces on mirrors and windows (in a limited way)...  By fake stain glass, I mean that the craftperson doing the work will use a pattern that simulates a stained glass pattern and follow it as closely as possible...  This really wasn't what I had in mind for me!
I've never been good at following someone else's patterns, my first painting at eight years old was in oils and I used the paints from a paint by numbers kit my aunt had given me to do something original... No copying for me!

So I bought some of the paint and blanks (wax paperlike plastic sheets) to practice on so that I could get a feel for the limitations and also figure out what I could do with it.  I found that it dries quickly, but takes a day to clear out to the final colour.  Meaning you can't see what colours you are really working with at the time you do the piece.  This just makes it more challenging! tried out my abstract, pattern based pen drawing as 'patterns' to see how they would look, and I was delighted with results. 

I'm a pretty prolific and quick artist, so I can create some pieces quite quickly.  The new medium and it's drying limitations slowed me down immensely.  And I found that I needed more strength in my hands to get a straight line, maybe the person who did the original work on the window was fighting this when they got the wavy lines on the bluejays...

To combat the lack of details in the lines, I bought more attachments for the simulated leading bottle I was using to apply the under-drawing to get finer control.  It helped, but it slowed down the process even more. 

This couldn't be helped, I wanted to be able to do the artwork to my normal standards and I wasn't going to cop out even if it meant way more work.

I also found out that the paint runs and clumps, so I had to be careful about the amount I applied to keep it from clumping up.  Even more unexpected, if I didn't run a toothpick through it after each colour was applied, it would bubble and that didn't look desirable at all., I felt confident I could start on my 'new' window, I prepared it carefully so that the paint would adhere and I created many sheets of predried leading lines that I could apply to the window and anchors with wet leading as I did the work. 

First I had drawn a beautiful abstract pattern that I applied to the window to follow.

As I progressed, I found that the four foot by eighteen inches wide window ended up taking me a hundred hours or more to research, practice and paint.  The actual piece itself took over fifty hours!  Not a quick medium to work in, but it certainly gave me a unique result I was proud of.

I painted the window you see here in late 2005 and it never faded or chipped.  It was sold with my house last year and from the response I've seen to the piece over the years, I would say that people really like it....

So I've decided to give it another go and I've started on some new windows! the landlord at the house I'm renting was all for the idea of me painting a few windows to practice the artform, I decided it was a great opportunity to refine the process.

I've started on new windows here, and unfortunately, it's really hard to photograph them well enough to get the full effect of the artwork.  The light from behind the window tends to skew the metering so you end up with a sillouhette effect which tones down the details.

On these new windows, I found that working with glass paint told me how much older I had gotten in the last six years.  My hand shook even more and I had to take it very slow to get the result I wanted.  But it was worth it, I've finished the left three windows and I'm working on the right side to pull the viewers eye over the left windows.  Sort of a flow of expression, it's working out quite well, even though I haven't finished the windows yet, it's given a beautiful result!

I even bought a digital SLR camera to improve the quality of my photos of them!

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Darlene said...

Great windows Teresa! Very alsome post.

Dalifan said...

Thanks Dar!


Toulouse LeTrek said...

Very cool, Teresa! You have definitely mastered the glass art form! I like what you did in your rental home. I'm sure the landlords are pleased too!
Ton ami,
Toulouse :-3

SF Girl said...

Beautiful glass art, Teresa! And a wonderful post on it too. I sure like what you did in your rental home and I bet the landlords love it!

Dalifan said...

Thanks Toulouse and Nina! Yes, my landlords are definitely please with the results;-)


Princess Haiku said...

Hi Dalifan,
I like the way you work with many mediums. The windows are beautiful.

Dalifan said...

Thanks Princess Haiku;-) I'm really starting to think of the windows as a medium I want to explore further;-)