Working your Paint, Using your Palette

Stained-glass painting: watch this high-speed, time-lapse video:

One of the biggest obstacles every glass painter faces – you included, me included – is getting your paint just right. It’s all too easy to try to rush this task.

And one reason someone might rush the mixing is because they misjudge the time which the professional takes: they imagine the professional gets it right in ‘no time’, when in actual fact the professional might certainly ‘rush’ the painting (because they can), but they will never rush the mixing and adjusting (because no one can and also paint glass beautifully).


The professional knows this: mixing and adjusting take whatever time they take.

This means, if the professional paints for 60 minutes, then maybe they’ll spend 15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes – maybe longer – mixing, cleaning, loading, testing, adjusting, making tiny changes.

And then they’ll paint a stroke or several.

Now all this is easy to say.

But I racked my brains for how to bring this home to you.

And then the answer struck me: a time-lapse video, with the palette in the foreground (and the glass itself where you can barely see it).

63 minutes squeezed into 2

That’s why I got Stephen to paint a beast for you. Here he is to introduce the film and then mix paint and paint for you. All along, consider everything he does to keep the paint and palette in good shape. The details don’t matter here. (When you want details, you can find them in our book and see them in our films.) What matters is you understand this point: till it’s right on the palette, no way is the paint going near your glass.


Does this whirlwind video help make it clear? Now do you see how your first duty is to your palette?

Once you know how to get the palette as it should be, it’s just a matter of practice – admittedly long, hard practice: you must put in the hours – to co-ordinate your eye and brush’s tip.


David Williams of Williams & Byrne, the glass painters

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