The challenge of abstract expressionist lustre on porcelain is where I am at.  For a long while I have wanted to use lustres to paint in as similar a style as I can to my acrylic work.  So, unlike acrylics where I have a first layer of colour to lay down first thinking (see here, here and here), which builds up to a certain level of what I see in my mind, then the rest develops from that point.  For this new painting I have to visualise and work through the painting at many layers and levels so that I can lay the correct colours and effect for firing, so that they will be seen later.  Always remembering that once fired- it is permanent and no room for error.  For those who understand the process of lustres or glazes with watercolours, this is not easy.  Acrylics are very forgiving!

Here are some images of old works with glazing, these photos are from studies which I taught in masterclasses years ago:

Very early stages of ink painting, it was a study of glass bottles, from memory this was the first day of the masterclass (the whole painting is A2 size) was a 3 day class, so this is unfinished at this photo:



A small section of larger painting using glazes with acrylic painting, "Asters".  See the whole painting on facebook 




While it is easier to control the colours for traditional painting of flowers or animals...abstract expressionist or expressionist work for me not only deals with the immediacy of composition, but it must also reflect the feeling, at that point in time- not easy when you have to wait, and can change your application of paint!  For porcelain painting, each layer of paint and ideas must be fired- so there is stop start of the flow of emotions and thought.  It is an interesting problem on an intellectual level, for which I do not have the time nor inclination to philosophically anal-ise- and no that is not a typo 😉 nor indulge in deliberating that notion here further; I have the fortune of children who require lunch and other attention which brings me back to my reality and focus (the life of a female artist with a family is interesting 😉 ) I will focus on that which is most important  the creation!

For me, this style of work is not just a quick brushstroke approach in a single layer of colour, brushed on, ready to fire only once...this is not my style nor way of thinking.  The colours must build to reveal the thought and the feeling- as they do on canvas.  The beauty of porcelain is that it is translucent in effect, has a different feel to the final painting, it has a cool intensity...resonating much differently than canvas does- largely because of the difference in painting surface.   Of course brushwork is inherently connected to this, but it is more like an extension  like a petal opening to reveal what is inside, or at times it is a linear communication in itself.

For this painting, I know that on the final layer, I will use gold/platinum work and maybe some paste- so this is not thought of until the end- they are the final thoughts and solutions to the idea expressed.  But like on my acrylic paintings, where I have these layers of medium lights, I must plan for these in advance and work down, not up in the painting- if that makes sense.  I realise that I need to 'feel' in the middle of the painting, and work down to create the depths which will reveal the final lights....a problem which I worked through in the painting "Maybe It's Love."

This is the plate I'm working on, a 30.5 cm oval porclain plate..concept explores the dream like state of being in love, love is a two way dream....


Masking fluid for the lighter areas.  This is what the lustres paints look like before I fire it....there are 5 colours on this plate.

First fire of lustres, abstract expressionist painting on porcelain, Ingrid Lee

I decided to try another approach and started a second plate, and add the second figure on the first firing, and simplify the design at this stage, also using different colours (again unfired).

First fire of lustres, abstract expressionist painting on porcelain, Ingrid Lee

It is an interesting method for me to try channel my feelings and thoughts to be expressed in this style.  I was really happy with the paintings "Falling to Pieces" they ustilised more simple techniques, effects and design elements to express the ideas with.  The current plate of "Union" precipitated some of those techniques I had been thinking through...I think I have now been able to think it through more.  The challenge of lustres is that I cannot see any intensity of 'real' colour as they are all brown or yellow or green I think tonally and ignore the chroma.  So it is painting on many levels, like a mental multitasking, so that the final result will represent my initial response to the muse or concept- I keep journal to map out the plan.


Is it abstract expressionist work or expressionist?

While it is not important for me to find a box to place my work into, it is an interesting notion for me to think about- this one time 😉  In my concise nutshell, the tradition of abstract expressionsim in the 1940s America, reflected spontaneity of brushwork and application of paint to release the creativity of the unconscious mind.  The method of painting was as fundamental as the painting itself.  Interestingly such works during this movement were at time neither abstract, or expressionist ..rather focusing on the spontaneity as previously described.  So in relation to porcelain painting using my spontaneous is sponteneous? 😉
Willem de Kooning, Mary Callery, Arshile Gorky, Helen Frankenthaler are particular influences for me.

Then, expressionism, largely founded in Germany 1905-1930s reflects intense, personal and passionate expressions of the artist;s inner most feelings, rather than to represent reality of the world around them.  It is characteristic of violet, unreal brushwork and vibrant colour.  Conceptually the canvas is the vehicle for where he emotions are communicated from.  See more images etc here.  Particular influences of Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Marc, Macke, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova and Max Ernst.  A gallery of images from this movement at the Guggenheim 

What ever it is is not important, rather it is the expressive processes and product of creativity involved in these lustre applications which drives my work.

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  1. toni
    January 24, 2015 -

    THis is a very interesting discussion. I appreciate it. Let us have some more please!

    • January 24, 2015 -

      Hi Toni, thanks glad you like it. I am writing more about this topic in my new lustre book as we will be ready for purchase in March.

  2. Lisa Kos
    February 6, 2013 -

    Ingrid, thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts. I never did art at school and find it so interesting reading about different artistic concepts and how you process your vision when painting. Lustres scare me a bit because of the unknown........... Lisa

    • February 6, 2013 -

      Hi Lisa, thanks for enjoying this post. Lustres are great because they are unknown, and when you are prepared to let go of that part, then the creativity begins. While the techniques I used for my orchid vase or spider vase were pretty controlled- I knew with about 90% certainty how the effects would work, the colours would fire etc, and this is from 15+ years of ink and watercolour paintings, and then experimenting in the same way I learned with those, to apply this to lustre work. I keep very detailed journal notes, and trials before I paint any exhibition painting. Even when I think I have it 100% I still have to be open to the fact that something can change in the firing, and then I have to solve the problem of where to go from there. I think lustres have a huge diversity of application and boundary pushing, which is why I love them- it is more than just dribbling some paint on a vase and splashing some gold for paint effects ;) Maybe when I come to teach at Louisse's we look at a masterclass with lustres.

    January 29, 2013 -

    So excited to follow....

    • January 29, 2013 -

      Hi Bond, glad to have you on board.....I'm looking forward to it too...I've got about 6 porcelain pieces I'm working on at the it will be exciting to see them! <3

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