Design in Glass Painting is an area in which some people struggle and other excel, I’m in the former camp. However one of the great things about glass painting is you don’t have to be a great designer. (although if you are good at design you can use it). Some people, including a lot of beginners, will be content just to use other peoples designs. Others, like me, will use other peoples designs as a base but then adapt it to suit their own needs. Finally if you are good at design then you can make your own from scratch, either on paper or on the computer.
This is probably a good time to mention copyright. To be realistic if you are using old designs then you should be fine. If you are using more modern designs, Disney, Marvel etc then, as long as it is for personal use you shouldn’t have any problems. No one is going to be knocking your door down because you made a Star Wars clock for your nephew. Where you will run into issues is if you make stuff to sell. Then you MUST ensure you only use your own designs, ones which are out of copyright or ones where you have the copyright holders permission. This can even apply if you are making something for free but it is going to be placed in a public place!
Lesson 8. Design in Glass Painting.
Types of design.
I like the cartoon style for class painting as it tends to be lots of solid colours and quite bold lines. For personal use you can make anything from Disney to Marvel, DC to Toy Story. Great for making presents for younger (and not so young) children. A good example would be the clocks I made for my niece and nephew. A Yoda from Star Wars and a “My Little Pony” (I’ll leave you to guess which was for which).
This mainly covers things like animal, birds and flowers etc. They aren’t always totally realistic but tend to give a simpler version of the original subject. It’s difficult to get very fine detail in a lot of glass painting. These are particularly good for doors, window, mirrors etc. I do do vases with animals on but I tend to shy away from doing flowers on vases for obvious reasons. (I can’t say I never do it as I did a flower vase project a couple of months ago!).
Symbols tend to come into the work quite a lot, most often as part of a larger design. Ohm and Yin Yang are particularly popular as is The Eye of Horus. I would also include in this section Celtic Knots, crosses etc. They are always popular. You could also include signs, symbols and badges of organisations etc. In the past I have done 30 badges on lightcatchers for a scout troop!
This is perhaps the largest section as it includes different periods of design through the centuries. Most people will have heard of at least a few of them: Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Pop Art, Realist, Gothic. There are many more of them and it is worth spending some time looking into them as you may well stumble on particular ones you like.
You can take this further and look at particular designers within these periods. You will have seen me do Clarice Cliff, Rennie Mackintosh, Frank Lloyd Wright and others.
Finally I will mention countries as many have a particular style of design associated with them. This would include folk art from countries such as Australia, the USA, South America and sections of Africa. In addition other countries such as China, Japan and Egypt also have strong design histories.
Where to get your designs.
Well you’re on the internet and that is a great place to get designs from. There are sites like ours which give away glass painting designs or designs for other crafts which you can adapt. A bit of lateral thinking is sometimes required but you can start by searching for obvious cross overs such as stained glass designs.
A great tool is Google Image search but, if you are going to use that (and for other designs you find on the internet) please keep in mind what I said about copyright above.
I’m still old fashioned enough to like books. I’ve built up quite a collection over the years mostly by rooting around jumble sales, car boots, secondhand book shops etc. These books can cover any of the items above or in some cases more than one of them.
To bring myself up-to-date I do now scan designs from these books into my computer and then import them into a graphics program to alter then. Sometimes I use this method to combine two or three designs. (Don’t worry if you don’t have a scanner. In most cases a good photo will do just as well).
As I’ve said all a long, don’t worry if you aren’t too good at designing, you can glass paint just using designs you find. It is however a good idea to start altering designs and using them as a bases of your own. To this end a working knowledge of a graphic program is a good idea.