Good Art Speaks for Itself

Design #1

Design #1

Design #1

Design #2

Design #2

Design #2

Design #3

Design #3

Design #3

Design #4

Design #4

Design #4

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My eyes are middle-aged so here’s a download if that also helps you: download the designs.

Dear reader, I lied …

Oh dear, yes I lied – I said I wouldn’t say a single word.

But I can’t help myself.

Aside from the amazing draftsmanship here, there’s something else about these stained glass designs which really captures my imagination.

I wonder if you agree?

It’s this.

All four designs don’t … [to be continued]


Best wishesP.S. What do you think about the designs?

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25 thoughts on “Good Art Speaks for Itself

  1. Dear Stephen,

    I agree with you – good art speaks for itself … in spite of several opinions about what it is good (speaking about art), and also of the philosophical discussion about what is good.

    I also identify myself with these drawings. And I would like knowing more as to these drawings.

    (Call me old-fashioned too …)

    By the way, what would be the favorite colors of the artists of this time of the drawings? (Are there, in the middle ages, favorite colors or more used colors?)

    Best wishes,

    • Hi Fabio,

      You’re right: there are many different accounts of “good” and “beauty”. All the same, as we agree, there are areas where commentary and interpretation aren’t necessary: for instance, we might not know what a painting is about (e.g. who the characters are) but we can see it is well-painted.

      All the best,

      P.S. In the middle ages here, stained glass makers used a lot of blues and reds and tints of green-white. I will look into this further, because it’s an interesting topic.

      P.P.S. I am sorry your DVD hasn’t arrived yet: this is because of the slow Christmas post. Be assured we will make sure you get it.

  2. Oh, you are quite right. These are gorgeous. But they also look difficult. I began painting on glass because of your site, and the stained glass/lead part was for me merely a method of displaying it! Long, very thin curves like those in these drawings are a challenge to cut! But I’m learning.

    I am really drawn to the tapestry look , shown particularly in image #1 in the painted leaves and vines.

    BTW: I received the DVD yesterday and viewed the initial parts Preparing, Tracing and Undercoats and I have to tell you that this is a VERY IMPRESSIVE DVD. I’m learning a lot. Thank you again.

    • Hi July,

      Long thin strips are quite a challenge, yes. But it’s possible to make oneself a tool with bolts that greatly simplifies the task of making sure the strip is the same width all the way along. I have just made myself a note to photograph how to do this – but this will be in the New Year.

      And I am so glad you have taken up glass painting. It’s a journey. And both David and I are always here for whenever you have questions. That’s the whole point of how we work with you and anyone else who wants to learn.

      All the best,

      P.S. That’s great you’re enjoying the DVD – I know I should have forewarned you about the loud music at the start …

  3. What an amazing Christmas gift we have all been given. (Oh, I guess that was a politically incorrect comment!)

    These designs are stupendous!!

    I especially love the first one because it truly illustrates how a very simple design evolves and can be made as complex or as simple as ones individual tastes.

    The patterns remind me of wallpaper, where the design can go on endlessly.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Julia,

      The analogy with wallpaper is excellent; and the designs for really good wallpaper (I mean the really good designs for wallpaper) have many connections with designs like these – as William Morris wouldn’t be surprised to learn …

      The first one is interesting – and we’ll come back to it in the next newsletter: I myself find it interesting because of how it reveals the underlying geometry of the design for a stained glass window, yet doesn’t pretend it is anything but a paper-based drawing.

      All the best,

  4. This is my first time writing to you. I am new to glass painting and I devour each newsletter that comes. I have lots of painting attempts, but no kiln yet … unless my husband really surprises me for Christmas!

    The designs are beautiful. I love the interlocking patterns which remind me of the Celtic knots and patterns. Call me crazy but, to my middle-aged eyes, each one looks like one piece of glass with the patterns painted on. Can that really be? Are the blue and red colors painted? I will look forward to your response.

    Thank you for your amazing work!

    Merry Christmas to you all!

  5. Oops my bad english and weak eyes! I just realized that these are designs and not the actual windows … that’s what happens when you read your email before enough cups of coffee!

    But Merry Christmas, y’all from Georgia!

    • Hello Jumelle,

      Thank you for joining in the conversation. And I hope, however it happens, you indeed get a kiln of your own in the near future.

      And yes, there are indeed areas of the glass with painting on them; other areas are just plain glass – and the variation in colour (e.g. the blue in design #3) is either caused by innate variation in the hand-made glass itself, or by acid-etching.

      Best wishes,

  6. As a former draftsman and now a glass artist, the designs speak to me on two levels. They even make me remember the old days when I would work out designs with pencil, pen and paper. But I wouldn’t go back – the advantages of using CAD are too great.

    Very fun to see the designs.

    The thought of the naked sculptor in the woods creates such fun mental images.

    Artists are such diverse and interesting people!

    • Hello David,

      I’d be interested to understand more about how you use CAD. In the New Year, can we talk about this?

      In the meantime, yes, we’ll celebrate the diversity and interest of the artistic character!


  7. I have been a leadlighter for many years and I am hoping soon to get a kiln (or one near enough to borrow) and some paint (not available in Western Australia) and get started on what I see as a natural progression.

    You have been discussing where the old masters found their ideas – well I have discovered a book in my late Mothers things called “Plants their natural growth and Ornamental Treatment by F E Hulme published in 1874 in which many Cathederal and church designs are noted against the plants they come from. A great source of ideas.

    Love your emails, please keep them coming. When I visit England I intend to call on you (hopefully 2011).

    Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for your good wishes – and ours to you! Also much excitement on our part that you’ll take up glass painting. You know we’re here to work with you and others as they individual questions arise with each of you.

      Your book sounds fascinating – I’ll look out for it in the online second-hand bookstore I use.

      Always all the best,

    • Dear All,

      Jennifer – thank you so much. I’m a bit addicted to books – as my partner would tell you. I found a copy of the book you referred to, Plants their natural growth and Ornamental Treatment – fantastic. I see it as an investment!

      I believe that modern stained glass has to to be particularly spectacular to cut it! These designs are the ‘Epitomy’ of everything your book – Jenifer – has to educate us with.

      I’m in the conservation of stained glass world, tied to my bench, aching back n’ all that goes with it! I designed and created a stained glass window for my local church over the last two years (had it highly commended from the DAC by the way) and it was based on leaves. Nature has all we need.

      • I understand what you mean about nature. I sat down here at my desk about 30 minutes ago and (because my window overlooks a lovely view of now-flowering trees), I was lost in happy thought and observation for a good 15 minutes before I gave myself a shake and set to with work …

        I’m thrilled your design and making were so appreciated: well done!

  8. Stephen,
    Thank you so much for sharing the designs! They remind me of the many designs that my Great Grandfather created as an architect in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He did over 1200 etchings and water colors of which I have many of them and must get them out and have copies made at the Staples store to then create stained glass pieces to share with the community where he was known as “The Village Architect”. My son, daughter and I have several framed and hung in our homes. Many of the large and elaberate designed buildings here in town were his work. (I will work on getting some examples for you to see.)
    And ideas like this come from your much awaited posts where I get so much inspiration! You and David are the best! Love your work and hope you can keep it coming!

    I have just been given a kiln from a distant relative and will pick it up in a couple weeks. I am so excited! The plan comes together!

  9. All four designs would demand a very high level of skill to produce, clearly the guy that designed these was an artist at the top of his trade. All these years later they are still beautiful and still require no explanations or help for one to appreciate them. In my book that is the definition of a great artist.

  10. Stephen, I LOVE THIS STUFF!!! Like you I’m not a real artist, but I have good hands and I found I could paint medieval decorative glass. Plus it revels in the colored glass set off by the lovely and intricate grissaille work. And like Jumelle I have been painting Celtic knots, Russian metalwork designs, mandalas, anything I can get my hands on. I need to revisit the cathedral at Glencairn to study exactly how the pieces are cut up. From the drawing, it’s hard to tell what is real lead-line and what is painted. Of course that is the point of what happens in the actual windows.

    Geoff C.

    • Hello Geoff,

      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you like the images. And I always like returning to them here – as well as to the originals themselves of course. Beautiful designs are such a source of excitement (not simply inspiration), and I imagine that’s also what you feel when you look at the mandalas and Celtic knots you mention. Yes, I understand!

      All the best,

  11. I agree. Wonderful, beautiful designs. Also, on the comment (above) about colors. From my research, I found different colors were used in different time periods. Some of this was due to availability of materials to create the color, the complexity required to make the color and simple preferences of the time.

  12. I just finished lettering on glass, and found it very difficult:

    “This is My Body”

    I can feel the work and time put into these windows.

    Beautiful …

    Hope you have a good summer!

    • Hi Will,

      Yes, lettering is difficult. It calls for such precision – calligraphic precision in fact. So enjoy your success and have a rest – then, when you’re ready, carry on. I always find it interesting to observe how the effects and habits of one project carry over onto the next one. I wonder how things will be for you?