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Oil on Porcelain

Oil on porcelain is a painstaking, meticulous way to paint. Many clients find it interesting to learn about our process. We sketch on high-quality translucent white porcelain blanks with carbon and begin to paint. Thin washes of transparent color, mineral pigments suspended in oil, are applied by hand: often using tiny brushes. Experience allows us to use lavender oil, pine pitch, home-made brushes and even tree thorns to apply the pure mineral colors. We build up the surface of the painting with multiple washes and repeated firings in the kiln. Magnifying lenses, a jeweler’s loop and special daylight bulbs enable crazy detail. During the painting process the entire surface remains wet until it is fused in the kiln. Even a small amount of dust, an eyelash – or dog hair (poodle or corgi) – will ruin the painting in the kiln fire. Since all the colors are transparent, there is no covering a mistake. Thermal shock may claim porcelain that is fired, or cooled, too quickly – shattering it with a bang. Through extreme heat, the delicate painting is fused with the porcelain’s glaze – it’s called the interface. The finished painting is luminous, with intense colors and crystalline brilliance. And it’s durable: our artwork will not fade in direct sunlight and is waterproof so that it may be hung in unconventional places where traditional media would fail – even outdoors, in the barn or kennel – a signature art piece for your home, farm or business. The quality of our art speaks volumes about your esteemed choice of subject. With strong drawing and real wall power, even our smallest paintings hold their own in most any setting.

A brief history of Oil on Porcelain…according to us.

Caution: we grew up on Peabody’s Improbable History so “Sherman, set the WABAC machine to. . .”

Asia: thousands of years of porcelain production and it is astounding; the creative achievement of more than half the world’s population since 4,000 BC. We grew up in Massachusetts where the Museum of Fine Arts Boston exhibits one the finest collections of Asian art in the Western world.

Islamic lusterware: ground breaking glaze techniques shock and thrill Europe. Clark and I got to see lots in Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Ceramics, a beautiful small museum. It’s housed in a gorgeous 1924 villa, where the intricately carved walls and vintage bathroom are nearly as fascinating as the colorful plates, tiles and even 11th-century hand grenades on display.

The discovery of kaolin deposits at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche gives raise to the Limoges porcelain industry. Porcelain has unique qualities: it’s tough, durable and brilliantly white. Europeans searched for centuries for a way to make porcelain. In 1784, Limoges production was taken over by the king of France and served as a branch of Sèvres, making ware for decoration at the principal factory in the southwestern suburbs of Paris. Limoges production can be viewed at the Musée du Louvre on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement, with lunch at le Café Grand Louvre beneath the pyramid.

In 1763, the King of Prussia, Frederick the II, gained control of what became Konigliche Porzellan Manufaktur company which was under royal control until 1918. Various companies used the KPM cobalt scepter mark for their porcelain paintings, which really started to gain popularity in the mid-19th century. We admire Meissen production. Often, the images depicted were copies of famous paintings — we might like the workmanship better than the subjects. We even found a miniature with a Florentine KPM frame at Renningers Antiques Center, Mount Dora, Florida.

Once considered more precious than gold, the formulas and production methods of Europe’s porcelain workshops were guarded like state secrets. We are in awe of collections of kings and queens. Catherine the Great had cabinets of miniatures. It’s easy to understand why hand-painted porcelain became the subject of superstation and awe. The minute detail and luminosity infuses the subject with a powerful physical presence. It is a marvel that any human could make something so beautiful. We’re fascinated by antique Sèvres and KPM production, and miniature painting from many different cultures and times. Along with a love for animals, history and tradition are major stylistic influences. Oil on porcelain makes a wonderful tribute, memento or keepsake, they can be wall displayed, but they are also durable enough to carry or wear as jewelry.