PaintPRO Vol 4 No 2

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Related Readings:
Focus on Education: Faux Masters
Faux Effects Techniques
Faux and Decorative Worksops
Decorative Gilding
Getting Started in Venetian Plaster
Trompe L'oeil (pronounced tromp-loy)
Faux Design Studio
Faux Painting Schools
Other articles in this issue:
Accent Color for the Home Exterior
Wood Sidings
School Spotlight: NASODA
Paint Stores
Contractor Profile: Barth White
Manufacturer Profile: Faux Effects
Paint Industry News
Paint Product News
Painting Tips


PaintPRO Archives

Faux Painting, Faux Finishing School

Chicago-based NASODA shines in the teachings of decorative arts and faux painting.

If Michele Santilli has her way, she’ll help to “raise the bar a bit” when it comes to the standards associated with decorative painting in North America. As director of the North American School of Decorative Art in Chicago, she says she’ll “continue to bring European masters over to pass on what they know to a new generation of painters.”

The European instructors — “We have the best in the world coming here, I say with total confidence” — look forward to their stay stateside and are more than willing to share their age-old, time-honored techniques, she says, because, as they put it, “They love the American energy” that surrounds them. This year the school has a great line up, she continues, with seven European craftsmen and three guest instructors from the United States coming in to teach.

Established in 1999, NASODA is focused on elevating decorative arts in Northern America to European standards and helping to advance the art overall. “It’s a pretty broad field,” Santilli says, and the school covers a diverse range of topics, including gilding, ornamentation, trompe l’oeil, textural finishes and marbling.

“We offer an ongoing curriculum,” she says, as decorative painting has “a lifelong learning curve. At every level, no matter how much you know, there’s always something more to learn.”

In recent years, there’s been a noticeable resurgence of interest in decorative painting. And, Santilli thinks, “We’re just in the upswing. The wave is nowhere near cresting yet. The demand is really out there. And I think if you’re getting into this field right now, your timing is perfect.”

On average, she notes, skilled decorative painters can easily make $400 a day on up.

“There are those that say it’s a fad, but I think it’s a trend — and trends are cyclical. Decorative painting has been around for thousands of years and it’s definitely here for a while more.”

In her opinion, she continues, “We live at such a fast pace today, yet there’s a need to get back to a simpler time. So people are creating environments with Old World looks. They just feel good.”

And, with the aid of many products on the market today, they’re also better for you. Many painters are moving away from health-hazardous solvents and are discovering that the new acrylics can be used to produce the “old” look desired. Some are discovering new techniques are producing interesting results, while others are using a combination of oil and acrylic on the same panel to get wanted results.

The acrylic products won’t yellow over time, Santilli points out, as many of their oil-based predecessors do. And the quickness of drying time lets you paint the next layer in a couple of hours rather than the next day. On the other hand, she also notes, you can slow the drying time for acrylics by adding an extender for applications such as wall glazing.

Santilli, who has a background in graphic arts and interior design and is a member of the prestigious International Salon of Decorative Painters, teaches much of NASODA’s core curriculum consisting of foundation classes to classes on textures, and plaster, fresco murals, color theory and marbling, as well as themed courses, such as “Sky, clouds and atmosphere.” The core classes are generally two to five days long and typically cost $395 and $950, respectively.

Classes, taught by NASODA’S associate master instructors, usually run for five consecutive days. However, some classes are longer. Yannick Gue’gan, the French author of “The Handbook of Painted Decoration,” for instance, will teach a two-week class in July on marbling, ornamentation and trompe l’oeil. A rare opportunity for the “very serious” decorative painter, the 12-day class costs $2,300 and there are still openings. “Students will paint a 4-by-8-foot panel that is suitable for a room setting,” Santilli says.

Other first-time guest instructors scheduled to teach this year include Mats Carlsson and Lotta Olsson from Sweden, Pascal Amblard from France and Ross O’Neal from the United States.

For more information on particular classes offered, visit NASODA’s Web site, which was just launched in October, or call Santilli at (630) 833-5050.


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