Painting on Glass
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About painting on glass: A Word from the Artist


Photograph of the Artist At the present time, I am painting almost exclusively on reverse glass. During the last hundred years, this centuries-old art form nearly perished. It is my ambition to help restore it. I find it an intriguing medium to work in, as it is unforgiving to error.

My web site currently contains over 225 paintings on glass, and we will be adding many more over time. I hope you will come back from time to time to look at the works we've added. Thank you for visiting my site -- I am glad of the opportunity to share my work with you!


THE HISTORY of painting on the reverse side of a sheet of glass has to be as long as the history of glass itself - since Antiquity. Nobody now can say for sure when and where this technique was born. Actually Ancient Rome and China can argue for being the cradle for it. The oldest, surviving examples of reverse glass art are Roman dishes from the 3rd & 4th centuries, where the gold design was sandwiched between two layers of glass. Towards the end of the Renaissance, the technique was adapted for use with water based paints in Italy and subsequently grew in popularity across the rest of Europe. As glass making skills spread throughout the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, other countries incorporated reverse painting into their work & culture. Reverse painting appealed to both classically trained and folk artists. The term 'reverse glass painting' generally refers to vernacular, icon-like and religious-themed paintings that were made from the mid-18th century until the close of the 19th century. They have been made particularly in the forested mountainous regions of Central Europe, such as Silesia, Bohemia, Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland. That art form can be found not only in Europe, but in Turkey, Syria, Iran, India and Japan. A favored art form of long standing in the Orient and Europe, reverse painting on glass enjoyed its greatest popularity in America during the early 1880s. The finest American reverse paintings on glass were produced between 1800 -1850. Reverse painting on glass is rarely seen today; few have ever seen a work of art produced by this unusual method.


THE TECHNIQUE is not such complicated, as it appears to be. The image is carried on glass in exactly the same resulting in unique effects manner as on canvas, paper or wood; but when we look at the image, we look through the glass - which serves both as a support and a protective varnish. Everything is backwards from traditional painting. The working image is on the back of the glass. The viewer looks trough the glass on to the painted layers. Letters, symbols, and images are painted as the mirror image to how they normally read, in order to be correct when the glass is turned over to be viewed. Details or accents which would ordinarily be painted last, are painted first; the background, instead of being painted first, is last. All the details have to be correct as it is not possible to make corrections without destroying the underlying work. When the painting is finished the glass is turned over and displayed with the paint behind the glass. Therefore, three "reverses" take place: the paint is applied in reverse order, the glass is turned over when the painting is completed, and the design or painting is seen in reverse -- that is, the right-hand side of the pattern appears on the left-hand side through the glass. When painting on glass special care must be taken in the selection of the color palette due to the primacy of color. The synergy of paint and glass has a depth and luminousness unlikely in any other medium. Painting on glass is a very time-consuming and difficult handicraft operation. There is no place for a mistake because this what you first paint will always be in the front of the painting and you have no possibility to change it.

 

 

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