h o m e
 p r o j e c t s l i n k s c o n t a c t

   l i z z i  p o r t e r


I grew up running wild in the fields of a small village in the Oxfordshire countryside. After leaving school  and moving to London I began an apprenticeship with Salvatore Titian at his restoration workshop which was then based in Notting Hill Gate.

At first I was taught how to prepare surfaces, both the careful cleaning of antiques and the painting of new furniture (we painted bedside tables and lamps for Colefax and Fowler amongst other clients), progressing on to the technique of ‘picking out’ (painting an inset line around an edge) and to mixing paint colours.

I spent sometime working under the Master Gilder learning how to gesso and gild until Salvatore Titian discovered I could draw. I was then moved into the rooms where all the lacquered and painted furniture were restored. Here I learnt about the different chemicals used to clean antique surfaces, how to build up corners of lacquer papier-mâché trays and fill cracks and chips. I also learnt how to colour match original paint colours and replace missing decoration (at that time whole drawers and legs of pieces might have to be replaced) while retaining as much of the original as possible, of both Asian and European furniture. We might have painstakingly removed centuries of over-painting to reveal the original still sparkling underneath or copied a chair to increase the size of a set.

In just a few years I was running this department, eventually becoming a partner in the business. We worked mostly for antique dealers and interior designers but also on projects such as the Brighton Pavilion and the Queen’s House in Greenwich. During this period I acquired a vast array of skills including, traditional draughtsmanship, (copying tops at the V&A for topless tables) English penwork and Chinese and Japanese brushwork. I continued to perfect my marbling and wood-graining techniques and the many and various recipes for paint and varnish: oil, tempera, acrylic and watercolour.

When I became freelance in 1995 I was already beginning to work on contemporary projects using the knowledge and skills I had learned previously, allowing people to realize their creative ideas: trompe l’oeil marble columns in a dining room, a tented bathroom, swags of flowers and blue birds in a cloakroom, a sky ceiling, clematis flowers winding around a bed-head. I found I was doing less and less restoration in the studio and more original site-based work on walls. I began to meet other decorative artists who do this work; sometimes I would work for them, other times, they for me. Together we shared our knowledge, and I learnt more, particularly from Paul & Janet Czainski, whilst working for the ever fabulously creative Nicky Haslam.

Based in a spacious sunny studio in North-West London, I have work all over Great Britain as well as in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Sri Lanka and USA. I still work freelance, yet can call on a network of other artists to help realize schemes which might take weeks, such as a trompe l’oeil panelled drawing-room or a chinoiserie bedroom.

Whilst bumble bees, swarming through a window; or a few sprigs of lavender, as if dropped on a kitchen floor, are things I can paint alone in a morning.    

lavender sprig