Sunday, 24 March 2013

Verdure Painted Cloth

Verdure stag detail

Here's a little post about a painted cloth commission I completed last year.

Verdure finished cloth at studio

A client in Warwickshire had a dining room wall to treat and she was taken by the Verdure fabric from our Arden Collection for Zoffany (more about the Verdure design here). She also liked the animals in the Arden fabric (below).

Arden velvet at studio

Her interior designer Kay Wootton came up with the solution to paint a new Verdure that included selected animals from Arden. This meant devising a new, non-repeating arrangement to fill the client's large wall space.

The painted cloth verdures fashionable in the 17th Century were derived from tapestries and were fairly stylised with the landscape piled high and in the same scale up to a high horizon.

The picture below shows the extremely rare painted cloths at Owlpen Manor. Here they are nailed floor to ceiling on all four walls.

17thC painted cloths at Owlpen Manor

In preparation I stretch unbleached linen over a large stretcher frame and prime it with rabbit skin glue (size).

Melissa priming canvas

Then with the linen nice and taught, I map out the design with thin washes of colour:

Verdure work in progress

This is the "staining" technique used by painter-stainers in the 17th Century. These types of stained cloth were produced in large quantities at the peak of their popularity and were sold by the yard.

They were also known as "waterworks" as the paints were so thin. It is thought the artists may have laid the linen on the floor and worked bare foot painting on the flat.

Below are details of the original painted cloths at Owlpen Manor. You can see how the thin paints allow the weave of the linen to show like tapestry.

(there is lots more information about painted cloths on the Owlpen website and also on my website

Owlpen Manor cloth details

So back to the studio and I'm still there painting leaves and creatures......

Melissa painting verdure

 For this type of work I make up paints using earth pigments and glue size. I also use a few colours from Pinebrush Colourman who make the nearest thing to this by using natural earth pigments in their lovely chalky paints. eventually the cloth is finished.....

Melissa's verdure detail house

Melissa's verdure detail unicorn

Melissa's verdure detail trees

 ....the naive border is painted....

Melissa's verdure detail border

...and I've given it a rub down to soften and distress the surface...

Melissa's verdure detail distressing

....and then it's time to take the linen off the frame and to my sewing lady to line the back and weight the bottom:

verdure being sewn

verdure rolled up

The finished cloth has tabs at the top so it can be hung against a wall from a pole like a tapestry but, like many commissions, this is the last I see of it before it leaves my studio and heads off to its new home.

This was the type of commission I was keen should ultimately derive from the Arden Collection; bespoke, hand painted artwork inspired by an off-the-peg range and tailor-made to suit a client's room scheme.

1 comment:

Chris Santoro said...

This is breathtakingly beautiful. I love how you show the process from start to finish. Amazing how letting the linen fabric show through really does make it look like tapestry. You are such an artist!