April 19, 2015
|Sgraffito workshop at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead|
Sgraffito is a word derived from the Italian word ‘graffiare’ to scratch. The boys and idlers of Pompeii may have invented graffiti as an undesirable way to scratch into layers of pale plaster to reveal their messages in the underlying darker plaster layer, but similar techniques have been used with enormous skill down the ages; in architecture, especially surface plaster decoration, ceramics and fine art paintings from ancient times to the present.
Oil pastel is a useful medium to experiment with this technique and also a great way to draw with unconventional tools, using anything from a plastic comb or nail file, to a lolly stick or flexible palette knife. Most of these and more were used at a one day workshop I was delighted to lead at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead.
We began by rubbing in a base layer of pastel, covering the support well and then applying a second darker layer. We then used a battery of implements to scratch into the pastel revealing the lower layer. A more subtle result can be obtained by applying one layer of pastel and scratching or scraping back to the paper or board support. More precise marks can be made by rubbing one layer of pastel over dried acrylic paint.
These are some of the participants’ works and experiments.
Sgraffito is a wonderful way to explore drawing and colour simultaneously and the results were vibrant and full of interesting marks.
We also tried dark and light surfaces
Sgraffito is an excellent way to make the finest of lines with oil pastel and is particularly useful to add surface decoration or fine detail, or to add texture to a rather flat area.