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The history of painting on glass in Romania

The beginnings of the folk art of painting on glass in Romania go back to the
second half of the eighteenth century.
Although the technique of glass painting was taken from other nations, in
Romania it developed along a particular artistic line, influenced by our long
established cultural traditions. The originality and uniqueness of style impresses
everyone who has contact with our traditional icons worked on glass. The
craftsmanship of the Romanian artists is characterized by a naive but very
suggestive drawing with a simple and clear composition. The preciousness and
fragility of glass caused the first paintings on glass to be religious. These icons
painted on glass were highly valued in the universe of the rural home.
The icon painted on glass must be understood in the space for which it was
originally conceived, which is both the traditional house and the church in the
village. These glass icons had a definite role for peasants in both Transylvania
and in Central Europe in the eighteenth century until the first half of the 20th
century. As the peasants were not able to read or write, these paintings on glass
were like important holy book for them, the central themes being the Virgin Mary
with Child, Jesus - the Saviour, the Crucifixion or The Holy Trinity.
The particularities of these icons consist in their naive, simple and primitive
drawing, in their tradition inspired frame, with strands or hooks that intersect
here and there, and in their floral, repetitive, figurative patterns (also found in the
traditional Romanian costumes) which are also found in Art Nouveau. So part of
this trend is reflected in the Romanian icon and in our rustic seams.
In glass painting some manually prepared colours were used, usually with
pigments and linseed oil. Before starting painting, the glass was carefully cleaned
of any grease stains. This technique ensured a considerable resistance and
prevented paint layer from peeling. Usually some defective glass was used, which
unintentionally increased the value of the painting, as the light was reflected in
an unusual way with special effects.
Before we get to practice I want us to analyse some images of Orthodox icons in
which we find elements of ART NOUVEAU. Having these fresh inspiration in mind,
we will have a starting point in making ART NOUVEAU drawings, and in choosing
the most appropriate colours for our work.

Steps to successful glass paintings:

1. Drawing a sketch on a sheet of paper, fitted to the glass support so that the
entire area is used;
2. Cleaning the glass support with alcohol;
3. Fitting the previously prepared sketch under glass support;
4. Drawing in black and white on the glass with a thin brush or pen;
5. After drying, we fill the contours with the desired colours.