Good art is – Thinking like a potter

Blue and orange are good company in winter. So this still life was the perfect antidote – pitching warm against cool tones during the last icy blasts of September.

Blue Vase #4 - Finishing highlights

Blue Vase #4 – Finishing highlights

When I was working on the painting of a plaster bust I felt I had to think like a sculptor, so it shouldn’t have surprised me that maybe the best approach to a vase is to get into the head of the potter.

Both skills – sculpting and potting – are far less forgiving than painting. The necessary craft of these forms demands a sequence and observation which the painter can be a little more cavalier about.

I put much of the detail on the surface of the vase in my first sketch and work up to get the colour palette – but then, in homage to the potter, I pared it all back again so that the shape and lustre of the ceramic came more to life. I then layered the colours in the way the process would work in the potting shed – first being moulded on the wheel and finishing off the lip of the vase with a potter’s care, then drying, glazing and firing, then glazing and firing again.

Marco’s tip for this one was to find a balance between focus and the diffuse, detail and suggestion, filling the canvas and finding space.

In my case I think this means ‘knowing when to stop ..!’ So my latest ‘not as finished as usual’ effort is now posted. That’s a step forward.

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