Seeing Things

When I was a child, my  great-aunt Alice’s paintings filled our home. They were wild abstracts with splotches of colors and shapes. I loved looking at these paintings and seeing things that the shapes created. It might be a dog looking into a field. Or a cat in a pillbox hat jumping across the canvas. Or a lizard walking with a tall pot. My imagination created many different ideas on what wonderful things were within the paintings.

It is this same imagination and creativity I use when looking at a secondhand plate for my own paintings.


Here’s a plate I recently painted. Look at the imprint and think about what you see. I picked this plate because there were so many possibilities in its fantastic folk art design.


I saw a big cat. Can you see it now? The circle patterns make the eyes and nose. The whiskers and mouth below them. I start with a sketch, usually on tracing paper or a somewhat transparent graphic paper. That way I can determine the basic shape and size of my subject. And how it works with the existing pattern.


My next step is to apply the base colors. This is a slow process. Because of the nature of the slick porcelain surface, I have to apply 3-4 layers before I get a nice foundation.


Now on to the fun part. I don’t plan what happens next. I let my artistic instincts take over. Though I am influenced by the existing pattern and apply this in my painting. My style of bold, graphic patterns begins to form.


Once I am satisfied, I apply a matte protective coating. I like the matte varnish because it contrasts with the plate’s shiny surface. I add the hanger and it’s ready to find its happy place in your home!

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