6th Feb | Folk and Decorative Art – Heather Prince

The history of the introduction, development, decline and revival in Britain of a naive form of folk and decorative art fascinated Capel Ladies’ Group at their February meeting.


Professional decorative artist, Heather Prince, told how the Dutch and men from here brought back Japanned ware from the Far East in the 16th Century. The simple designs were first copied and then developed in the 17th Century and 18th Century by poorer people. Their paint was of the colours of the farm land, such as ochre, on which many of them worked.

They painted clogs spoons, tableware and house interiors in an attempt to emulate the rich. This form of art was the basis of later barge painting.

The first simple brushes were of squirrel hair and they were used in a basic stroke like a big comma, thus known as the “comma stroke”. The first paintings were of daisies, developing later to include peony roses, Chippendale roses, anemones and just about everything.

folkarts02This art form began to disappear when cheap mass produced decorative ware became available in the Industrial Revolution.

What was lost then was revived in the 20th Century as folk art. Today, it is popular in Austria and Switzerland but most folk artists live in Australia and the United States.

Heather Prince said that one doesn’t have to be an artist to produce folk art. It is not an expensive hobby. She demonstrated the “comma stroke” in white paint on a blackboard, then used colours. The rose is the main flower painted in decorative art today. Fruit, vegetables and landscapes are also painted. Acyrilic paint is used because of its high colour content.

Heather Prince conducts workshop for all ages and abilities, including for people with arthritis and Parkinson’s.

The lively meeting of 35 Capel Ladies so enjoyed the talk and demonstration that they have booked a workshop with Heather Prince in October.

Penny Thompson

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