Hare paintings on porcelain bowls
I have 3 art events coming up soon, and a pile of bowls sitting here in need of painting. I really have an aversion to painting more than one of something without having a break of at least a few weeks in between, but I knew it made sense so I did 3 hare paintings on porcelain bowls.
This process has given me an insight into how my process works, and I thought this a good opportunity to discuss techniques for applying a design outline to a glazed ceramic body.
Transferring a design onto a glazed ceramic surface.
The options are drawing directly onto the surface, or tracing the design onto the surface.
1.- Drawing directly.
As you can imagine drawing onto a shiny ceramic surface can be difficult but there a a few pens and pencils that work.
Fine tipped ink marker- I like to use a Stabillo marker, it draws easily on the china and fires out completely, there are loads of fine marker pens on the market but it’s worth testing them, most fire off completely leaving no trace but if you haven’t used that particular pen before it’s best to test it as some do fire in.
The down side of using an ink marker is the line is dark and pronounced which can be off putting to some, personally I like a line to work to, also on occasion I’ve noticed a build up of paint where the line was before firing, this build up went unnoticed because of the line drawing, it wasn’t evident until after the marker line fired off.
Chinagraph pencil- I’ve never gotten away with using these but they do work, maybe there are fine tipped ones on the market but I find them to thick and bulky.
Biro- a biro will write on a glazed ceramic surface, Bic pens seem to work best, but you need a lot of patience to get it to leave a mark. Rubbing the china with turpentine and letting it dry helps with drawing, but this isn’t a good idea if you are using water based paints.
Indian ink- this works well with a mapping pen, if you want a paler line you can add some water to the ink.
Or you can just draw your design directly without a guideline, I find especially with 3D items I prefer to get the design centred before I start painting.
Methods for transferring a design.
Tracing a design and transferring onto china is a method often used by painters, it works well, and is especially useful for repeating a design. The factory artists in Stoke used to fire on a ghost outline in pale grey which wouldn’t be seen once the painting was finished.
Once the design has been traced onto tracing paper there are a couple of options.
Dusting- Pin prick the outline then dust over with carbon powder, this is an old method but nor one I’d use today as there are easer methods.
Transfer/ carbon paper –There are several choices of transfer paper on the market, most available from Held. A grey carbon one, which works well, a red one that works well but may leave a ghost line on the china, and a waxy one which can then be dusted with overglaze powder and fired on to leave a line, this is sometimes called cheats penwork.
When I’m doing a penwork drawing like the hares, tracing is my preferred method, I can make sure I have the design centred properly, and I’m not distracted by a heavy line drawing like that produced by a stabillo pen. So my design was transferred using carbon which leaves a very faint outline that doesn’t distract during the painting process.
Getting back to the process of painting the same design in succession, I found that although I was painting the same design I didn’t use the same processes. I know I paint intuitively, Irarely paint the same thing in the same way twice, but I thought that by working on these three bowls simultaneously I would have the mindset that I was working on one piece and treat them all the same. But that wasn’t so, it just didn’t feel right. Using my doctored ‘hair’ brush felt the right tool to use on one bowl, but on the next it didn’t feel right, a hog hair brush was what my instinct was telling me to use. So some areas may have been textured with a sponge on one painting, but my bit of loofah may have been used on another. Maybe this was my minds way of keeping the painting process fresh and exciting, I now know that no matter how many times I paint the same design I will naturally treat each painting as if it was the first, I’m sure this enables me to keep my work fresh, and always exciting.
I’ve listed one of my lustre hare bowls in my Etsy shop it’s my 100th item.