Alison Woolley OCAD Alumni in Florence

Alison Woolley OCAD Alumni in Florence
Alison Woolley OCAD Alumni in Florence

Alison Woolley is a professional artist and decorator specialized in Italian painted furniture and interiors, owner of, a painting and decoration studio in Florence Italy.

Alison started her career as an apprentice in a traditional Florentine‘bottega’ decorating furniture in the Renaissance style. Over the years this specializing work blossomed into an expertise in creating luxuriously decorated surfaces of many kinds, from interior murals to fabric and package design. Today, you can see the artist’s refined and meticulous hand on workssuch as a hand-painted harpsichord for the Opera of Versailles and scarf designs for Salvatore Ferragamo.

She graduated with honors after winning two scholarships from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Canada. She moved to Florence and worked forbore for more than 15 years under the guidance of Florentine master artisans before opening her own studio. Her studio produces fine furniture finishes and decorative art for the interior design industry worldwide.

‘I came as a student in 1987 to Florence and was captured by the special beauty of this city and the Florentine people. The atmosphere inside a true old style Florentine ‘bottega’ is something rare that I view as a gift that was given to me, and that I would like to share. These artisans taught me away of working, a set of skills, and an appreciation for fine European antiques and decorative work that remains the basis of my daily work.’

About the courses:
The Decorative Painting Program: The program can cover mural or furniture painting techniques, or include aspects of both. The students can choose which areas to dedicate more time to. All courses are studio courses where students use the techniques and materials to produce examples which remain the property of the student with the exception of very large on-site works. The study program below is divided into lists of various subjects to choose from.
Please note that the following lists are of the many subjects that it is possible to study. Generally in a term of 80 to 200 hours, not all of the subjects can be covered. Students will work on project pieces in the studio,under the supervision of the teacher. The students will be expected to work independently on some of the assigned stages of the course work.
Please note: brief courses of one or two weeks are also available to visitors to Florence and are described on our website:

-Chiaroscuro Techniques: Students learn an historical method for effectively creating trompe l’oeil frames and ornament. This subject matter has a wide practical application; learning the basics of mixing shades and working with light and shadow can be used generally throughout any type of decorative painting.

-Landscape and Still Life: A specific study of how to make landscapes and still life elements in various period styles for use in decoration. The careful use of reference materials and how to incorporate landscape and still life elements into decorative schemes are studied. This is useful for improving general painting skills (colour, composition, and atmospheric perspective), acquiring familiarity with historical styles, general composition skills and the balance of elements within decorative schemes.

– Fresco and Sgraffito: Students learn true fresco techniques with real lime plaster: how to make fresco plaster with lime and sand, and how to execute decorative work with compatible pigments. These techniques are useful tomake high quality decorative panels or for the creation or restoration of decorative frescoes on site, indoors or outdoors.

– Italian Plasters: A study of decorative lime plasters to create naturally ecologically friendly wall finishes, beautiful antique patinas and lime washes. Students become familiar with stroke calligraphy and techniques for large scale plaster applications. Important skills are taught regarding howto differentiate between plaster products, techniques and application procedures. This is useful and practical for decorators or painters who wish to expand their repertoire and be able to design and execute uniquely beautiful yet commercially viable wall finishes.

– Bas Relief: A study of various antique and contemporary methods for making sculptural bas-relief elements. The teacher guides students through hands on exercises combining the antique and modern, with emphasis on tried and trusted methods and materials for elegant solutions and good results. Relief elements can be can be added to furniture or incorporated in mural decoration to add quality and dimension to decorative schemes, or the relief panels can be presented as decorative works in their own right.
– Perspective, (linear and atmospheric): A study of all the basic techniques used to create the illusion of perspective for practical application in mural painting. This is an essential element for the successful execution of large scale murals.
– Large scale Mural Painting: Students learn techniques for creating full scale mural works, with focus on combining composition, colour harmony,perspective, and the imitation of surfaces with an emphasis on professional standards and efficient use of time. This study is useful even for experienced decorators who wish to work more effectively.

– Composition of Ornament: Students work on drawing and composition skills,as well as studying historical styles of ornament. Many varied compositional exercises are executed. This study can give students the confidence to produce high quality, historically informed decorative schemes for important commissions.
– Finishes for wooden surfaces: Students learn the techniques and materials used for the proper preparation of wooden objects, panels and furniture. The program covers the practical use and formulation of gessoes, casein, lime and chalk paints, as well as antiquing techniques and wax finishes for creating Italian and French style historical furniture finishes.

– Floral and Colour Ornament: This area of study covers the challenging subject matter of floral compositions and several practical colour techniques, useful for honing colour, composition and brushwork skills.

– Grottesca: A specific study of this versatile historical style of painted decoration. With origins in ancient roman wall painting, this style is has been adapted and revisited through many periods up to the present day. This study is useful for developing compositional, brushwork, colour skills, as well as the depiction of the human figure.

– Chinoiserie Ornament: Students make examples and become familiar with this elegant European style used for furniture and wall coverings. The aesthetic elements of this style are very versatile and rich, extremely adaptable and sought after for contemporary interiors. Students expand their compositional, colour and interior decoration skills.

– Gilding: Students learn both traditional Italian water gilding techniques as well as modern ‘mordent’ gilding techniques for professional applications. Students learn to understand, differentiate and execute the appropriate type of gilding in different situations. Water gilding techniques are useful for making beautiful decorative panels, gilding on furniture and frames, or for the restoration of antique frames. Mordent gilding techniques are more applicable to interior decoration schemes,ceilings and walls.
-Figure Drawing and Painting: A study of the human figure as used in decorative works. Historical cariatides and telemon (atlas) figures are studied from the point of view of anatomy and effective rendering in painted decorative schemes.