Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Painting With Wood - Part One

While working on my first wooden marquetry piece, I soon realised that it can share many of the concepts and theory used in painting. They don’t call it painting with wood for nothing.

Marquetry is cutting out individual pieces of veneers from a layout and connecting those pieces together with glue to form an image. Pieces of wood veneer are selected for the colour, interesting effects and grain characteristics. Once the image is assembled it is then glued to a base or structure such as a cabinet or piece of furniture. The piece is then scraped back until the surface feels smooth to the touch. A finish is then applied.

I most certainly have seen value and colour theory used in some of the more elaborate pictorial and advance pieces. I’m not sure if the craftsman was aware of these principals or through experience, intuition or gut feelings, knew what worked best. But, I know, sometimes you can over think these things. If these theories were applied to marquetry, one would have a better understanding of the pictorial and design process.

Before staring a piece, you may ask, what can be done with the materials that are available? Off cuts or left over pieces of veneer even can be used as you can find a place where they can be useful in other places or pieces even.

The Next two things to considered and is essential to the art of marquetry is the grain or defects and the colour of the wood. Colour of wood ranges in colour value (light and dark) and colour temperature (warm and cool. These can be used to help create interest and the illusion of space and distance. Value can also help establish the light and shadow in the composition.

Can the colour wheel be used with wood?

Can a value scale or a value finder be used?
Sure, why not.

"Watching Paint Dry" is a shared Flicker image by the Marquetry Society.

-Kim Bennett


  1. This is wonderful, Kim. My Dad who is of Swiss heritage always had a wood marquerty project in the works. He is almost 91 and still talks about his love of wood and its beauty. I swear, he can recognize wood species by their grain 100 percent of the time. I do believe this is where my love for art first started. Values were a huge influence. Takes for the reminder.

  2. Kim - Painting with wood is fascinating to think about. I am struck by the relationship it has to mosaic and also how much patience the process must require. "Watching Paint Dry" as a title for the marquetry piece feels both accurate and tongue in cheek!

  3. Fascinating Kim. And it is a real work of art.
    Very nice

  4. Hi Marianne,
    I am glad that it brought back memories for you. Thanks for the information. I have only done a couple of pieces in the actual marquetry process. It was more learning about it through trial and error. It is funny that some woods are easier to cut than others.

    I had made a simple landscape and spent much time looking at the individual woods that were available. There was an attempt to create atmosphere and distance with the warm and cool woods but I was moving a little slow for the beginner class.

  5. Hi Katherine,
    I just taught a class in the painted faux finishes of wood at it was amazing all the other applications and transferrable skills that the students were coming up with.
    Yes, I think that some had a sense of humor when they came up with the title of this piece.

  6. Hello Gary,
    I would like to write a bit more about it in the near future. Thanks for visiting.


It would be great to hear from you.