You can paint on anything, everybody knows that. And “anything” can be turned into “something” – an heirloom piece or a conversation piece, with careful flicks of a brush or two, and a bit of paint.
Today my girls were painting hydrangea in class and I thought to myself, I will paint hydrangea on the cover of this very interesting tired old thing I had. I sometimes paint an item in class instead of just demonstrating on a painted board and so the plan was to paint on this thing in class. But since the girls were busy painting their leaves, we did not start on the hydrangea today so the thing remained empty.
It was a very interesting thing – an hors d’oeuvres tray actually – which I bought many many years ago in Malaysia. Or was it Dubai? Anyway, I love blue and white and whenever I saw something blue and white, I would buy it. This hors d’oeuvres tray was a round container with a cover, and it had a short pedestal with ball-bearings – it turned like a carousel. Outside it was sort of veneered with a basket weave.
Inside the container were five little blue and white china dishes, a square one in the middle and four almost boat-shaped ones that fit snugly around the centre dish. It was really handy, not just for hors d’oeuvres but also for sauces, nuts and the like. I have to say that I hardly used it because I was afraid the dishes would break. It was more a decorative piece. One day one of the dishes broke. Then another one chipped. One fell down…and piece by piece I lost my blue and white. It broke my heart because there was no way I could replace them. At the end I only had one piece of the blue and white boat-shaped pieces left and the tray became somewhat of a white elephant.
I really did not know what to use the now empty-round-box-with-cover-which-turned and the dark brown basket weave was so bland. One day I “improved” it by slip-slapping a lighter brown and gold all over the box and its cover. It looked much better but I still did not know what to do with it. It just stayed in the kitchen and I kept knick knacks in it. It stayed that way for a couple of years until I took it into the studio yesterday.
As I tidied up after class today I saw my tired little box and was reminded that I was going to paint it so I decided there and then to start painting it. Tired or not. I quickly penciled in the hydrangea ovals and the leaves and sat down to paint.
Painting on a basket weave is not quite the same as painting on a smooth, basecoated surface. I had to use a slightly stiffer brush and much more paint than usual but it worked really well. I finished the leaves in just over five minutes and was really pleased with how it looked on the dark brown basket weave surface – I had always painted hydrangea AND taught hydrangea on a light background such as cream, pastel blues, greens and pinks and wondered how it would look on a dark background. I think the box will look splendid!
I decided to paint three different colours of hydrangea on the cover of my box and started with whitish-greenish ones, then bluish-purplish and finally tri-coloured pinkish-purplish-greenish! I loved how they turned out.
They really brightened up my tired old ex-hors d’oeuvres tray and the transformation took less than an hour! I’m really pleased with it.
Suddenly my old box no longer looks tired but in its stead, colourful and fresh. Certainly it was going to be my new conversation piece and perhaps an heirloom, who knows.
But for sure, I still don’t know what to use it for. Any ideas?