Glass painting is considered the specialty of folk art. The origins of this field of creativity reaches mid-sixteenth century and is associated with the development of glass industry and the increasingly common use of oil paint in the painting.
In the period of Baroque and Rococo the monks were involved in glass painting. Probably at the time in painting on glass, in a wider range were used paints mixed on the base of protein adhesives – chicken protein, casein or bone glues.
In the mid-eighteenth century with the spread of oil paint glass painting spread widely in Europe. At first it was cultivated by guild workshops creating for the needs of burghers, later widely popularized in the workshops producing glass paintings for rural customers. In the eighteenth century can be distinguished production of the workshops of guild masters from those created for the purpose of the village. The difference lies in a distinct projection of reality. Images of guild painters alluded, by subject and realistic way to reflect the reality, to the great masters of contemporary painting. The guild workshop painting used glaze techniques imposing on one another many layers of paints. Painting created for the folk was using a number of simplifications in the form of mapping people, landscapes or buildings. It was a schematic employ of the poor palette of colours. In terms of themes of representations it can be noticed clearly the iconographical borrowings of iconography of the painting guild. In the period of greatest splendour the paintings were produced in large numbers. They were designed for the interior of peasant huts, where they were hung from the ceiling. Shiny, colourful images added warmth and light up the dark countryside chambers. In the second half of the nineteenth century, this technique could not stand the competition with fast spreading of the chromolithographs and began to disappear gradually.
In Poland, glass painting began to develop in the eighteenth century, in the area of Lower Silesia from where began to radiate to almost all Polish regions. The nineteenth century proved to be “golden” in the history of this technique. Workshops of folk artists painting on glass were located near the glass factories. At that time, glass paintings were widely used as a decoration of peasant huts. These images depicted figures of saints, who in the popular conception of the world played an important role. The tasks of the saints were to protect the house against fire, the fields from locusts and floods. The greater the number of images of saints was in the hut; on the better protection of the saints their owners could count. The images painted on glass could be usually always bought on the fairs or at sales by migrating painting-traders. Because of its purpose the images of saints depicted scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, and sometimes-generic images.
Painting on glass is in Poland, one of the branches of fine arts, which is unique in the world. It happened due to a number of workshops producing for rural customers. Each of them made up their own patterns and different technique to create images on glass. Once very common, because of the fragility of the materials on which were created, up to the present only a few images have been preserved. In Poland, painting on glass has been “discovered” and publicized in the early twentieth century by the Polish avant-garde artists. It was then that this area of folk art was appreciated and given a distinguished position. Currently, glass-painting collections can be seen in museums in Wdzydze Kiszewskie, Olsztynek, Kraków, and Zakopane.
The technique of painting
The technique of formation the painting on glass is different from painting on other surfaces. Despite its name, in fact the paints are applied under the glass. The painting can be performed directly on the glass or by the project or the pattern located under glass, on which we paint. The painter is in a situation similar to the woodcutter, cause receives the negative that is like a mirror image pattern. Glass plate has two sides: the concave – weaker and convex – more shiny and resistant to mechanical injury. One should always paint in a weak, concave side of the glass. The painter begins its work on the image from cleaning the glass sheet on which is to paint. Good washing of the glass surface improves paint adhesion. The thus prepared glass panes the painter spots the outline of the painted image. He did this by placing a model presentation under the glass, on which with a feather or very thin brush imposes the outlines. The traditional model used by painters had one size and did not change with the change of the glass used to paint a picture.
Therefore, in many paintings to fill the space between the figure of Saint and the frame was introduced decorative elements, stylized flowers, always painted free hand. For painting on glass one needs oil paint or greasy tempera.
It should be used both the opaque and glaze paints. We put the paint with bristle brushes (flat and round), hair brushes are generally used only for small, précised works. In the first place are painted outlines, ornaments and details (such as shading, blush). Then, after drying the first layer, the plane inside the contours is filled with the colour, and finally the background is painted. Contrary to appearances resulting from the plane nature of paintings, the paint can be applied in many ways: spots, lines, and points. The painting is done in both glaze and opaque.
The technique of painting on glass effects is not obtained by the use of shades and textures. Paints are generally little mixed, and the colours by nature simplified, layered firmly and fairly quickly – planly.
Applied gilding in paintings were made with the assistance of flakes of gold glued on glass or of cellophane papers, in which previously sweets were packed.
Viewed painting is done under the glass, which intensifies the colours, adds to them the splendour and yet provides a protective layer.