The main reason for my trip to Europe was teaching at a creative retreat in Barga. For one of our creative sessions, we painted an antique chest from the Cordati house where we had our workshop space. We did this last year and it was a ton of fun and a great success. Not everyone in our group this year was a furniture painter, but it was a great creative exercise for everyone. It was a sweet spot for some and way out of their comfort zone for others.
As a group, we decided to take inspiration from the painted panels on the doors in the room. The designs are beautiful and they have always caught my eye, so I was excited to paint a piece of furniture using those as inspiration.
I took a few minutes to sketch some elements in my sketchbook and to test out swatches of color.
I pulled out a few loose elements that would be easy to replicate without having measuring sticks and rulers on hand. And I mixed up a few custom colors of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint using Mustard Seed Yellow, Curio, Kitchen Scale, French Enamel, Shutter Gray, and Ironstone. The ochre color was specifically tricky, but I was very happy with the color we ended up with
I would typically sketch the design in chalk, but it would be difficult to see it over the white a9aironstone) paint on the chest. I ended up sketching out the design lightly in pencil and then everyone in the group took turns painting the design. I absolutely love that we all contributed to the finished piece and we were all able to leave a little piece of our work in Italy.
With our time running short, we left the distressing and finishing to another day. We distressed the piece with 100 grit sandpaper, but it still looked too new and bright compared to the door panels. We didn’t have Antiquing Wax on hand, so we made a wash using Curio. The very light to wash was just enough to add some character and depth to the paint.
We finished the piece off with Hemp Oil.
It was hard to get a really great picture of it, but I love how it turned out. I was very inspired to take this design home and do more decorative painting in the near future. These loose, floral, scrolly decorative motifs were where I started my business as a decorative painter, so it was nice to revisit them again.
One of Dana’s friends brought in a couple of side tables for us to paint as well. She loved the design on the trunk so much, that she asked us to do a similar motif and color scheme on her side tables…
I have painted thousands of pieces of furniture, but the pieces I have worked on in Italy were very special. Not only are they residing in a home that is hundreds of years old, but I was able to work on them with other creatives.
We were able to share in the creative process and there is something very life-giving about that…