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Rab Terry

I employ a range of materials to create innovative paintings and surfaces. My formal education was in the sciences, and I worked creating faux finishes for many years. My Venetian plaster paintings combine my experiences gained working in both areas.

I’ve always been interested in traditional painting materials, making my own paints and plasters,
and applying patinas to metal. About fifteen years ago I began working with Venetian plaster, both the traditional lime-based formulations as well as the newer synthetics, and was intrigued by the variety of effects I could create.

My paintings, done on lightweight wood panels, consist of dozens of layers of pigmented Venetian plaster that are sanded and scraped back to reveal the underlying layers. Burnishing and various concoctions (this is where the science degree comes in handy) change the qualities of the surface sheen, translucence, and color intensity. The paintings appear to have a lot of texture, but they are actually very smooth to the touch, like polished stone.

Venetian plasters all contain some form of calcium, derived from limestone. Some use hydrated lime, some use calcium carbonate (essentially chalk dust) but when dry the result is not unlike the original limestone. This is quite similar to the ancient technique buon fresco, where pigment is mixed with water and brushed onto wet lime plaster to form paintings that have lasted centuries.

In 2003 my wife Jennifer Farris and I opened STUDIO Gallery in San Francisco to show the work of Bay Area artists, and you can often see my latest work there. In addition to annual shows, I also accept commissions.

Building: 101 - Studio: Basement
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