The antique technique of miniature painting

The technique of miniature painting is differs strongly. Every painter has always tried to find his own style and for that purpose the appropriate technique.

The miniature is painted on ivory plates using special watercolours. In the past painters have mixed their colours themselves. Within the last century finished, mixed colours were available. The company "WINDSOR& NEWTON" from England used to mix honey, sugar and eggs into their colours.

To paint on an ivory plate the plate has to be prepared. First of all it has to be rubbed with fine emery paper, so the colours will stick. After this, the ivory plate is glued on a piece of white paper, to avoid fingerprints or spots of grease on it. Now the object can be easily handled.

Before painting the ivory plate, a miniature copy of the original picture has to be made. This will be achieved by using a grid on the original. The grid is drawn on foil and placed over the original. To get a miniature, an outline of the ivory plate is traced on a piece of paper. On this paper a grid has to be drawn as well. This grid uses a different measurement system than the original it is resized e.g. from cm to mm. Now the original has to be traced on this paper using a fine, sharp pencil. This concept sketch is copied with a fine brush (No. 0-1) and blue miniature colour on foil.

In Italian this foil drawing is called "Lucido".

After the "Lucido" is finished, the drawing can be transferred on the ivory plate via a special tracing paper. Fist the Lucido has to be adjusted and centred on the plate. Then it is fixed with 3 glue points on the subsoil. Now the tracing paper can be pushed between the Lucido and the plate, and, via a blunt needle, the outline can be traced.

Through the tracing paper the concept sketch is transferred onto the ivory.