A bit of a mixture!

This post is just that. About a bit of everything and about mixtures too.

Before I begin to talk about the projects in hand, can I just answer a query from Pippa?

She is asking what ‘livery’ is….and is puzzled, since she is in to horses, that there doesn’t seem to be an equestrian connection to our servant pictured in the sidebar! 😉 I suppose a lot of readers particularly outside the U.K., will wonder what we are talking about.

Servant in livery at the V&A

The term ‘livery’ applies to the costume that our young man of about 1750, is wearing. He sports a smart pink coat with yellow turned back cuffs and a yellow waistcoat and pink breeches. This would have been a uniform supplied by his employer in the colours of the family crest, say, the heraldry…or just the colours chosen by the family to represent them. It would have marked him out as an employee. Of course, Marks and Spencer do the same today don’t they? To give you another example, The Rothschild family colours are dark blue and gold and you find it everywhere in the properties they own. Even down to the planting in the flower beds at Waddesdon Manor which is quite near to where I live. The lovely photo below was taken by Dave Law at Red Bubble. ( Thanks to Dave ).

Waddesdon Manor Bucks. U.K.


We are now on the third layer of paint on the Lacemaker and René. This will have to dry thoroughly before we can put on the final detail.

We have managed to get some tiny features on to René, our French Waiter but there is still a way to go.

At this level, the secret is to push the paint around to where you eventually want it to go. The brush movements are so tiny, that really, all we shall do is put the paint where we want it and then push it with a very fine brush. Any blending is done with a dry-ish and colour-less brush. All this is achieved under two magnifiers.

I have invented something….! Maybe invented isn’t the right word. When working with oils…sometimes we make a mistake and it’s not easy ( at this tiny level) to rectify that without doing damage to your labours.

rubber ended tool 🙂

Using one of those rubber ended tools that potters use for sculpting clay, you can easily ‘pick off’ any pigment that is sitting where you don’t want it…with no damage to your existing paint work. They are quite cheap too!

I have often been asked, when I exhibit my 1/12th people, cats,dogs and flotsam and jetsam how it is that I can get a good historic colour to my work. When you look at some work in miniature, the colours are too vibrant and certainly, some of the pictures don’t look as if they have been around a bit! They don’t look historic.

I remember the first thing my good friend Joy Stanley Ricketts ( the miniature painter of wonderful Stubbs horses, amongst other things.), said to me when we were discussing putting colour onto surfaces – whatever they may be.

Mare and foal by Joy Stanley Ricketts ( at the Founders Gallery )

A bit like ” keep your powder dry…”, she said

“Keep your medium clean.”


What she meant was.. don’t allow the medium that you use as a thinner for your oil colour to become too dirty.

And there you were thinking I was going off on some kind of strange psychic ritual!

Is there anybody there?

Now, under ‘normal’ circumstances I would agree.

But I am actually an advocate of the dirty.

(My husband always said he fancied a dirty woman well …now he’s got one!) 🙂

I like my Sansodor ( the thinners I use ) to get a mucky grey colour. If start a new pot, I always add a bit of the old mucky one before I discard it. ( I’m sure that I am an art material suppliers nightmare. I buy very little thinners over the year! ) This means that my work gets that old patina, the colours of history, that look of age and wear and tear, with no real effort!

Try it in your dollshouse projects and you’ll see that instantly things look more realistic. Incidentally another trick… if you want a real object to look old ( and I use this trick on some frames etc. that I restore now and again), go to your vacuum cleaner, take out a pinch of the dust that accumulates in the bag/drum. ( Yes…I can tell you don’t empty it every time you use it.. tut!) and rub it – not too much- into any of the projects you want to age.. it works a treat!

So here are our two creations with the penultimate layer of paint drying.

René Layer three

The Lace Maker - next layer

We shall be quiet for a while now as all the work over the past few weeks – and blogging, has aggravated ‘me bone pain.’

I’ll have a rest.

You have plenty to chew over for the moment I think……we shall be back in a while.

4 Responses to “A bit of a mixture!”

  1. A little Brown to our White… « Pastmastery's Blog Says:

    […] we want to remind ourselves of how they looked when we left them last week, we can go to A Bit of a Mixture if we like and scroll down to the bottom to have a […]

    • pastmastery Says:

      I’m sorry Dave. I can’t help. I no longer go to the shows nor paint and Joy and I have lost contact. Latterly she ceased to do the shows too and I supposed this to be because of her great age ( she was over 80 ) and her arthritis.
      We did write to each other for quite a while but the letters ceased. I suspect she has gone.No one would think to tell me.

      She was a member of the Royal Society of Mini painters….try them. They may know.

      Regards Sue

  2. David Wilson Says:

    Looking for information about Joy Stanley Ricketts . I have purchased a pencil sketch of Penmayne mares and foals and would like to see the finished painting or find out more about the pencil sketch I have
    Any helpful information is greatly received

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