| The Painted Ceiling |
By Graham Rust
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The possibilities for ceiling decoration are endless, from the simplest wash of colour or sky effect, to the most intricate architectural confection or fantasy. A painted ceiling can do much for a room, whether alone or in conjunction with mural decoration. It can in the right circumstances add height, light and of course enhance the decoration of the space, lifting it to another plane.
I am writing this in the Galleria Celeste, one of the many painted room in the Palazzo Durazzo Pallavicini, where I am staying in Genoa. It is the most enormous pleasure to be surrounded by such a magnificent collection of paintings and by so may fine ceiling paintings. I do not have far to go to look for inspiration or for an example to emulate. A visit to Italy is essential for anyone interested in ceiling painting. The colossal output over the centuries and the variety is hard to absorb, but is a constant delight nevertheless. To see the ceiling paintings in reality, rather than in photographs, enables one to comprehend a little of the physical endurance needed to produce them.
I must confess that every time I finish a ceiling painting, I promise myself that it will be the last. Time, however, tends to make one forget how arduous a task painting a ceiling is, so when presented with a blank canvas and an exciting idea my good intentions evaporate.
I have tried on the following pages to provide a few ideas and designs for the decoration of ceilings large and small. I hope that the drawings here wil1 serve as a springboard from which to develop other solutions and variations.
There is much to learn about many different aspects of composition and painting by taking time to look carefully at other people's work, especially that of masters of the past relevant to one's style. I would suggest that anyone who has not worked on a ceiling before should begin with one of the simpler designs before progressing to something a little more demanding. Having taken the measurements of the ceiling you intend paint, it is essential to produce a scaled design on paper before tackling the ceiling. Working on paper allows you to experiment with different options and, hopefully, iron out any problems before you begin to paint. Unless it is a very large or very small ceiling a scale of 1 inch to I foot (2.5cm to 30cm) is quite workable. Further practical information can be found in Chapter 6 of this book.
It was during my first sojourn in Italy in my early twenties that I visited the Villa Barbaro at Maser near Treviso on my way to Venice. I was bowled over by the frescos of Paolo Veronese that seemed to cover every wall and ceiling of the villa. Fired by this exuberant explosion of virtuosity, I was inspired to paint my first large ceiling painting. This was 'The Temptation' in the south staircase hall, at Ragley in Warwickshire, commissioned in l968 by my dear friend the late Hugh Hertford and his wife Louise.
This book is dedicated to his memory.
Excerpted from The Painted Ceiling , by Graham Rust . Copyright (c) 2001 by Graham Rust . Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.Back to top