Jo Poulton - Paint School

Jo Poulton – Paint School

Earlier this year I spent a great day with Jo Poulton at her studio in Chiswick for one of her woodgraining courses. Jo is a professional specialist decorator who also teaches decorative paint effects, gilding, woodgraining and Venetian plaster finishes at Paint School and at the V&A Museum.

You can see all details for the courses, as well as some photos of Jo’s brilliant work here!

Following my day at the studio, I had a chat with Jo about her career and the origins of Paint School.

What made you pursue specialist decorating as a career?

My friend was working for Jocasta Innes, who owned the Paint Magic shops and I saw the work she was doing and thought it looked really interesting and creative, at the time I was working as a graphic designer which I didn’t really enjoy and thought she was having much more fun!!

How did you get started?

I ended up giving up my job and went travelling around the states with some friends, I managed to stay in New York for a year and study paint effects at Parsons school of design. I came back to London with some samples I had cut up really small, stuck them in a black portfolio, and went off to sell my wares!! With enthusiasm and passion, there was no stopping me, I just loved it!!
My great great grandfather was a woodgrainer so I think it was in my genes!

What are your favourite type of projects?

There are certain clients whom we have been working with for many years and we have such good relationships with them, so it would be working on one of their projects and all the prep work would be on time and ready for us, no other trades in the way and it would be a residential project, where we are not head to toe in PPE!!

Are there any trends in interiors that you really enjoyed (or any you didn’t!)?

We like a challenge and embrace all trends, keeps us on our toes!

What made you decide to set up The Paintschool?

When I came back to the UK I did further training at Harry Levinsons Hampstead school of Decorative Arts, he had a massive influence on me as his woodgraining and marbling were out of this world, he also made me realise that we should share our knowledge.
Years later I told him I was going to teach someday and he said he was going to leave me his shoes in his will! (He had that kind of humour) however a few years later he sadly passed away and at about the same time, ironically I was setting up Paintschool.

Who is The Paintschool aimed at?

When I first started the classes 9 years ago I wasn’t sure, I wanted to be inclusive, anyone who was interested in coming to the classes and learning was most welcome, and to this day I have a real mixture of people coming and enjoying the creativity and craft.
The classes are designed for the beginner who has never touched a brush or trowel but they are also designed for the professional who wants to improve, with all my experience as a decorative artist I am able to work with all. Above all, the classes are informative and fun!!

Compared to when you started learning your craft, do you think specialist decorating is becoming more or less accessible as a trade?

I don’t think it is much different from when I started, as long as you are committed, work with a passion, work hard, and don’t give up then you will do well – without that commitment and love of the craft, it isn’t going to work for you! There are much easier ways to make a living.


Huge thanks to Jo for sharing her knowlege and if you want to follow Jo’s work, check out her instagram here!