I see a red door & I want to paint it black

MFA cupboard paint, pt 1

Well, enough of practice & testing. I took the plunge recently and started painting the MFA cupboard project. I was playing the Stones while I painted today, thus the title of the post…close enough.

mixing glue & chalk

This paint is mixed in glue, not in oil…here I am adding chalk to the hide glue.  The paint surviving on the original section of the cupboard is very thick & coarse. so instead of a mortar & pestle or a muller to grind the pigments into the vehicle, I just mix it in with the brush.

side panel, center oval


Then came the black quarter-circles; these were carbon black pigment in the hide glue. This black also appears in the background of the carved front section, and the horizontal moldings here.

carbon black quarter-circles


Then I mixed some red iron oxide with some chalk & glue, and painted the background of the carvings with that…there’s lots more red to come; but some of it might be mixed in resin/varnish. I have to double-check with the folks at the MFA who have done all this analysis…

painting red background of carvings

After I get all the first sections painted, then come the dots and squiggles, then over everything goes a red-tinted varnish. There’s several areas where we have no evidence for what the original used, so there will be some speculation…but at least it’s going to be eye-catching, to be polite about it.  

detail of paint thus far

One thought on “I see a red door & I want to paint it black

  1. Wow, that is an eye-catcher. What an amazing piece. It is really interesting to see this kind of thing when one is used to seeing very old dark brown furniture with little or none of the original paint left. Kind of reminds me of statues in stone from Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages in Europe. They were very often painted, but over the years the paint has fallen off and we have gotten so used to seeing them nude as it were, that it is kind of jarring to see for instance a plaster reproduction painted as it would have been in the past.

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