In March 2015, I had the honour of of presenting a small collection of three porcelain paintings to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, during her visit to the TIPP - Thailand International Porcelain Painting Convention 2015 at the Sala Phra Mingkwan Building, SACICT. Please read more about this event here. In this blog post I will share these three art works, and little background to my research for creating them.
What to paint for a princess?
Like any collection of works I exhibit, they reflect a part of my thinking, experiences and understandings at the time; so creating a small collection of works for HRH Princess Sirindhorn was no different. I began researching about the Princess, and her life, her commitment to education and societal development, her writing and art works. The year 2015 is considered a significant year for Thailand, as it marks the auspicious occasion of HRH Princess Sirindhorn’s fifth cycle, or 60th, birthday anniversary. As a tribute to the Princess, the Government will hold year-long celebrations from 1st January to 31st December 2015. So I started to research more, looking for significant colours, themes, ideas, writings, anything by HRH Princess Sirindhorn which I could find. Colour is always a significant part of my art works, and I learned that purple is the color of Saturday, which is the birthday of HRH Princess Sirindhorn, this would be a colour I had to use in my painting.
I started researching my paintings about 8 months ago, so that I gave enough time for ideas to sink in and in the back of other projects, it would start to create a range of possible concepts and visions for the work. I had already started on my current collection of paintings about the Nature of Truth, and it was during this time that I was researching concepts of impermanence. I'm not going to go into all of the understandings of this philosophy, but at its simplest, Impermanence is one of the essential doctrines or three marks of existence in Buddhism. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is transient, or in a constant state of change. Impermanence and change are thus the undeniable truths of our existence. What is real is the existing moment, the present that is a product of the past, or a result of the previous causes and actions.
During this time, I came across some Buddhist translations by HRH Princess Sirindhorn about impermanence, which was a clear connection, and significant finding, which wholly directed the art works I would create- it was meant to be 🙂
So, I furthered my readings, and these ideas were significant influences on my thinking for the three paintings, and began researching traditional Thai art works about impermanence, or any motives, design elements and ideas which might spark something. Here is a small sample of my sources for inspiration:
Life is movement. The more life there is, the more flexibility there is. The more fluid you are, the more you are alive. – Arnaud Desjardins
'Everything is impermanent. There’s not a single thing in the existence of the universe that is a product of cause and effect that doesn’t change. The very nature of cause and effect is that things change. In fact the subtle level of impermanence is the very coming into being of something, inherent in that is the passing away of it. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t have anything that exists that is within the process of cause and effect that doesn’t change, that doesn’t come and go. Come and go. Come and go.' Robina Courtin also here and here
I'm happy in the every day Way
Among the mist and vines and caves
The wilderness is boundless
My companions are lazy white clouds
There are roads but they do not reach the world
My mind has come to rest and nothing can stir my thought
On a bed of rock I sit alone in the night
While a round moon climbs up Cold Mountain
Today I sat before the cliff
Until the mist and rainbows disappeared
I followed the emerald stream
Explored a thousand tiers of green cliffs
In the morning my spirit rests among white clouds
At night a bright moon floats in the sky
I am free of the busy world
There is not a doubt in my heart or a worry to disturb my mind
Creating the paintings
Eventually, three main concepts were formed, and needed to be connected or show some type of flow, from one to the other. These paintings tell a narrative about the concepts of impermanence, reflecting some of the ideas explored by HRH Princess Sirindhorn, and my own thinking about it. I decided to apply some techniques I have used in the past, platinum for self reflection and interactivity of the viewer (see here), watercolour style techniques with lustres to show flow and movement (see here), and the use of a focal piece- the vase, which itself totally expressed the flow of impermanence in a sculptural and 3 dimensional way, even before I started the artwork (see this vase here, other ways porcelain shapes influence my work here).
My unique collection included two plates, titled ‘We will find our way in many moments,’ and ‘Transformation for a deeper Knowing;’ and a vase titled ‘The fluidity of life as clouds fly and water falls,’ which were connected by expressionist style, movement, platinum and gold work and subject matter of water and clouds. They reflected the concepts revealed in HRH Princess Sirindhorn’s translations of the Buddhist texts: ‘Clouds Fly and Water Falls’ and ‘Butterfly’ about impermanence.
I chose to use lustres for this painting because I love the expression and flow I can create. I loved the motive of semi circles and circles in the paintings and works I researched from Buddhist art works, they reflect the natural water ripples shown in photos of water lilies and fish, which will be a motive I will apply to my designs. My favourite technique I have used before (see here) is one of layering platinum, gold and metallic and iridescent lustres in juxtaposition to each other, or next to each other, or in layers. The effects create a sense of space and movement as the porcelain is tilted; light collects the reflections and creates either a new colour, but more so, a new concept. In this collection of works I wanted the concepts of flow and self reflection to be achieved as the light moves around the porcelain and picks up the colour, drawing the viewer into a personal connection with the works as they can see themselves in the reflections of the paint as they move around the work. As light is illuminated in the small fine details of pen work, it is like new life awakens and flows to the next details, to the next and so on. Hopefully you will see this in the video below.
Transformation for a deeper Knowing
The subject matter of the butterfly represents the wisdom to contemplate ourselves and that which is impermanent. The journey of the butterfly is more than metamorphosis, it is flexible and flowing like the water. In one of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s translations of ‘Butterfly’ she indicates that impermanence in reference to the philosophy in that prose, is about a deeper sense of knowing, that change is used to extend outwards towards society like the ripples of water.
In this painting, we see the butterfly as ourselves, it reflection in the ripples as it touches the water. The ripples move out from ourselves to form the clouds of possibility, and further flow and change, always transforming. The use of platinum on the water represents growth in our stillness, a feature which connects all three paintings; it is a place as the viewer to physically see ourselves in this art work.
The fluidity of life as clouds fly and water falls
You can see the platinum reflections of the viewer, and the drops of platinum form the beginning shapes of fish.
Like in the painting Introspection, I have used a ring of platinum inside the vase, you see yourself when you look inside. The rings of platinum flow and build up like the motives of rivers in traditional works.
Both the porcelain shape and subject matter of this painting represent the notions of impermanence as described in the translations by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Clouds Fly and Water Falls. She indicates that Life is in constant change and we live in grace once we accept this, like the rivers and clouds which run in peace.
This artwork shows that life is movement, flexible, and the more fluid this impermanence the more we are alive. The centre of the vase has swirls of platinum rings, to remind us to stop and look within ourselves in the movement and flow of the river. This fluidity is shown by the layers of flowing water, which flows around the fish, who is also in a constant state of flow. The water flows and connects to the outside of the vase. Here we see the transience between the water and the clouds, a reflection of each other, a connection of flow.
Transformation for a deeper Knowing
Close up and two reflections:
The bright green is my phone cover reflection!
DESCRIPTION: What is real is the existing moment, and there are many moments in our transformation as shown in the butterfly painting. We live in the grace of impermanence when we seek the ever present state of harmony. The large masses of watery colour move and touch harmoniously around the fish despite the fish’s journey. Like the fish we move, and pause (like the large gold paste fish) in our stillness, always moving with the flowing ripples. When we are in fluid motion like the fish which merge into the colour of the water, we have found our way.
Other paintings exhibited at the TIPP 2015 event:
Learn Ingrid's lustre painting techniques online, click here
So what do you think about these paintings? Please leave your comments below, share this post, ask any questions and I'll answer them 🙂