One of the RAB special awards of 2019 was a place on François Perego’s varnishing course for violin makers. This was awarded to Jahnava Gargallo, a final-year student at Newark who has a background in fine art and a particular interest in violin varnish. Jahnava is the owner of a well-thumbed copy of François’ ‘Dictionnaire de matériaux du peintre’ (the standard reference work on painting materials in the French language) which she has owned long before she ever thought she would meet him.
This summer I was offered a place by the RAB Trust on the varnish course of François Perego at Dinan in Brittany. This was the first time that the course was run with interpretation into English, undertaken with great skill by RAB award-winner Marion Pollart.
The week was a great learning experience. The amount of information provided during the course was enormous!
We got to explore the varnishing process, beginning with wood preparation with the different sealers, ground colouring, mineral charges, binders and finally varnishes. Furthermore experimenting with modifying the coating with colours and pigments. We also had theoretical lessons on the basics of optics, lighting and … more!
To be present in such a dream workshop, surrounded by all those amazing painting materials, was a great opportunity to test all the things I wanted to try out. The course was unfortunately too short to try all the available materials! And I also had the chance to ask all the unanswered questions juggling in my mind.
The course group was made of violin makers, everyone having their different approach and technique through the varnishing process that is interesting to see or talk about. And it is always good to share our love of colours and playing with textures together!
During this course I realised the importance of a very thorough preparation of the supports and materials to observe the different results on the samples, especially when studying, and also to always keep a record of my researches.
I clearly felt the course was too short to cover everything there is to learn, because this topic is large and considering the huge knowledge of François. But I left with good basics, a more precise idea of what I wanted and what I was searching for, answers, and of course, more questions as well!
A BIG thank you to the RAB Trust for this beautiful gift.
Thanks also to François Perego, Helen Michetschlager and Marion Pollart.