Monday, July 21, 2014

Seminar with Patrizia Arvieri

Okay, this post has been... six days in the making, so it may feel a little disjointed and there might be a lot of spelling mistakes because:

Long-story-short, ribs went out again. I had four chiro appointments in two days, plus my usual rounds of physio/massage/acupuncture appointments...

And in the end, nothing would settle down, so it was time for a few days of ice, lying still, and some codeine-heavy anti-spasm muscle relaxants. Fun, fun, fun. I'm still kinda loopy, hence the warning about spelling/wording mistakes/etc.

So, the seminar... I was excited about this for months. My grandmother always gives money for birthdays/Christmas (one of the perks of being 1 of only 2 grandchildren), and I always hang onto it until I can buy something nice/special... so it doesn't just disappear into grocery bills, gas, etc.

Since seminars are quite expensive, and since my arm/etc was in poor shape, I didn't sign up for any workshops at the convention, and I only signed up for the one seminar (but there was another one I would have liked to have taken...)

...which ended up being good because... essentially, I paid a lot of money to 'watch'.

I was able to do a bit of the prep stuff, but NO painting. It was very frustrating, both because I had been so excited and because I couldn't even control my arm enough to freaking load paint on it properly... it shook so badly that it globbed onto the bristles.

So I felt like a total faker/loser.

But I am still REALLY glad I took the seminar.

In seminars, everyone paints the same piece the same way. It's about learning specific techniques, and that (of course) works best when everyone is doing the same piece.

Here's a not very good picture of the piece (I pulled it off the web).

Just like Patrizia's method of painting gold on a black background is very unique (and normally very difficult), the main technique we were learning was painting regular paint on top of gold.

YEAH... again, her work is so different and amazing because it's like she turns the 'normal' rules around. Since gold is so expensive, usually you put it on last.

Just to put this out there for those who don't know, since these are seminar pieces, a student would never claim them as 'their' work or sell them as their work because the teacher paints on your piece to show you how to do it correctly.

So, here are the basic steps...
 Tracing paper... the design is drawn on with a  black micron pen. THEN, you use a special porcelain pencil, and draw on the backside. In my case, since I'm disobedient, I used a Staedtler 6B pencil, and it worked just fine... BUT, you can't use just any kind of pencil, because lots of them won't fire off in the kiln, and then you're left with grey smudges mixed in - permanently - with your paint.

Then you tape the tracing paper (right side up) onto the porcelain and use this funny stylus tool (sorry, no pic of it) that is like a bent pin with a tiny ball at the end to draw over the lines. This will transfer a thin pencil line onto the porcelain (see next picture).

 Then  comes the joy of red resist. That wasn't sarcastic... I actually really like using red resist because it allows you to work with very complex designs.

The only part that wasn't fun was, since I HAD to use my poor right hand to draw with the pencil, and then use the stylus tool to transfer the pencil to the porcelain, my right arm was shaking so bad I couldn't even hold the brush.

So... red resist all done with my left hand... which didn't get me the clean lines I would have wanted, and even though it took about twice as long as it would have, I did get better at it.

 So, here's my plate with the red resist on.

Oh, you'll notice there's different shaped plates. Mine is this square one. Yumiko used a different square one, but the other people in the seminar all used circular plates. So you'll see different shapes as I took pictures not just of mine (since I couldn't paint, mine was never finished).

 Now, here's the first layer of gold (yes, it goes on black since it's mixed with so many toxic things to keep it in a liquid state). I could do this as well, since you basically just paint it on within the red resisted areas (fine to do left handed), and then blot it carefully with a sponge (also okay to do left handed). I took this photo at this weird angle so I could see the amount of light on the gold... because when you're working with it this way, the texture has to be really consistent so you know if there's full coverage, and to make sure there aren't bubbles.

 Then, when the gold has dried, you pull off the red resist.

 ...and you fire it.

Unfortunately, there was a mishap with the gold... there are different kinds of gold.  Fluxed, which has (obviously) flux in it, and unfluxed. Flux makes gold, or paint, stick into the glaze... if you are painting gold on top of paint (like you normally do), you often use unfluxed because the paint you're painting the gold on already has flux in it...

BUT, we accidentally used unfluxed gold... so it actually wiped off when we tried to burnish it.

We lost an entire day because everything had to be redone, and we did some things out of order to try to make up the lost time...

 Then you do a second coat of red resist and gold.

It's always a good idea to take a picture of the red resist BEFORE you put on the gold or other paint because, like this section with the tiny separate piece, once you paint over top, it's easy to forget that little bit is on there, and if you forget to take it off and put it in the kiln... it makes a big mess that cannot be fixed.

Okay, so burnishing... this is what the gold looks like immediately out of the kiln. Dull, eh? And not really pretty? That's 'cause it hasn't been burnished yet. Some gold you don't have to burnish, depends on what kind of look you want.

The gold in this picture is... half burnished. See how the light catches it? See all the little lines in it and cloudy verses bright gold?

OKAY, in the next few pictures, IGNORE when you see unfired gold (the black stuff) on the bamboo. Since we lost that day because of the gold mix-up, some of the seminar students started working on the frogs before putting on a second coat of gold, and did that later... but really, they're supposed to be on first... this was just so everyone could see/learn in the allotted time, and since the teacher was flying back to Italy, it's not like there was a way to extend by a day, or even by a few hours.

 So, there were three different stages of painting on top of the gold. For each firing, about 25% of the paint colour gets absorbed into the gold and disappears, so you have to paint the colours on darker than you actually want the end result to be.

This is what the first layer of colour for the frog looks like...

 And here you can see first layer (bottom half of the frog) and the beginning of the second layer (top of the frog). Depending on the medium (the liquid you mix with the dry/powdered paint), the paint can dry, or it will never dry. Patrizia uses a closed-medium, which means the paint will dry and you can paint over it before you fire. Open or closed medium is determined by the type of oil you mix into the paint.

 Here's someone else's second-layer frog with the first layer of bamboo painting on.

 Here's the red resisted, and painted (before being fired) sky/background splatter

And here's the first layer of the paint brushes...

This is the one that was nearly finished... you can see the colour on the paint brushes hasn't been done yet.

I really encourage you to click on the photo and look at the details.

Unfortunately, that was the last picture I took... BUT, I watched closely, and several students took videos with their iPads/phones, and someone compiled them all onto a flash drive for everyone to have a copy, which was above-and-beyond nice...

Learning from Patrizia was amazing. Even though, when everyone heard I wasn't actually able to paint, they all said, aww what a waste of (time/money/etc), it was still an absolutely invaluable experience for me.

I loved it, and I would love to take another seminar with her in the future.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Display pieces

Okay, this is the last post for a while since my arm and back are killing me...

We were really fortunate to have so many amazing artists attend the convention... we also had a 'Canadian Theme Competition' with first and second prizes, and there were some amazing pieces in that as well.

I didn't take photos of all the works, but I did of my favourites... here they are, PLEASE click to see them at full size as some of these are breathtaking... and if I can remember who the artists are (or if the tag is visible) I'll include that.

 This was by Susan Greathouse, a Canadian painter who now lives in Texas. She was on the board for the convention. It's hard to see, but there is a mother-of-pearl lustre on the background, and that lustre is really neat because it picks up the colours of the other paint... which is why the background has almost a peach-y tint, from the mix of yellows and pinks on the seahorse.

 This is Elmira's piece, again.
 This is by Keiko Shimizu, who won First Place in the People's Choice award, AND First Place in the Canadian Competition, and you'll see that piece further down.

 This sea turtle is by the French Canadian artist Martin Lariviere. He had an amazing painting of a clown fish in an anemone (which I neglected to take a picture of) about the same size... and just to give you an idea of how much these things go for, that 12"x12" clown fish painting was for sale at $1,400

 Hmmm, I think this is upside-down? A modern piece by Yumiko Kanazawa. There's a lot of tiny enamel bits on it which give it a really nice texture, and the dark lustres look way better in real life.

 You've seen these by Agnes already

 I'm not sure who did this one (no name tag in the pic), but my grandma is a huge fan of large cats, so I snapped this pic 'cause I knew she's love it.

 A very, very traditional European-style cake platter.

 ...and a very traditional European-style clock. I think this was done by Betty-Anne Binstead, the painting friend who died just before the convention.

 Looks like these birds were also by her as well.

 One of Linda Phelps (my painting mentor, and the Chair of the convention) modern pieces.

 ...and another by Linda.
 Ah, yes, here's the one by Keiko that won first place.

 ..and Sachiko came in second! LOVE this one as well, you really have to click to see it at full size since there's so much going on inside.

 This is by Martin as well. I like owls almost as much as I like crows :) For the Canadian Competition.

 This was by Anne Clawson, who also helped out on the convention, and took over a lot of Betty-Anne's share of things after she passed. It's from a photo of her husband and son, for the Canadian Competition... 'cause nothing's more Canadian than hockey and the Northern Lights, right?

 Linda Phelps' Canadian Competition piece -> a multimedia. She painted the mountains that are/were visible from the convention centre, which was a really neat idea, and made porcelain leaves, then painted and lustred them.
I honestly can't remember who painted this one... but it was another really nice piece from the Canadian Competition.

Okay, my arm is now broken. No more typing.

Convention demo, Yumiko Kanazawa

At the Ottawa convention in 2012, I sat in on one of Yumiko's demos, and I made it a priority to get to at least one of hers at this convention.

One extra bit of excitement, she also signed up for Patrizia's seminar (which took place after the convention was over), so we got to know each other a bit. Such a wonderful lady! So nice, I certainly hope to meet her again.

She has been teaching herself English for several years, and is very good, and she finds English sarcasm hilarious and interesting, since Japanese don't have an equivalent. She was also thrilled at my (extremely poor) bit of Japanese, and taught us to NEVER say 'cheers' in Italian at a Japanese restaurant since 'chinchin' means something... entirely inappropriate in Japanese, especially to be yelling out in public...

Yumiko has been studying with several masters of Japanese style painting.

Something which I found strange is a big cultural difference between North America/Western and Japan. In Japan, the masters hoard their knowledge... they don't teach any but the most worthy, so many ancient Japanese techniques are dying out with the masters.

Yumiko is one of the very few students to inherit many of these amazing techniques, and is very eager to share them. She has a website and a blog.

For this particular demo, I only took two pictures! (bad me) but that was because Yumiko is so excited to share these traditional techniques, that for most of the demo, all those attending got to paint with her supplies and with her brush, which, if you're used to using regular paintbrushes, switching to calligraphy-style brushes is quite a change... and even the paint is a really different consistency since it's water-based, but mixed with glue.

These are the traditional paints for the Kutani style... the paint is actually made with glass, so in the second picture, you can see how it looks when it's fired. So different from what you'd expect.

The colours are really interesting too... you grind them (I think she ground each for 5-10 minutes each) with a small round-bottomed grinder (the blurry white thing in her hand) each time you use them. The colour she's working on (the grey) I think was either bright blue, or bright purple. The orange paint in the first picture actually fires a beautiful yellow (see in second picture)

Convention demo, Patrizia Arvieri

Okay, meeting this artist was seriously a highlight... my grandmother always gives money on my birthday, and I set that amount aside to do a seminar with this artist (will be a later post... be prepared for much gushing...)

Her daughter, Francesca, came with her from Italy to translate, which made the demo a little interesting.

There is really no way to explain or describe the beauty of Patrizia's work... seriously, here's a fast Google search for images. She's painted pieces for Arabian sheiks, and for the princess of Thailand.

But here's a small taste of the demo she gave on using powdered gold (YES, actual powdered gold...) to create this unique effect:

...oh, but one more thing, getting a black background like this requires 'grounding' (there are different techniques, but she sponged it on in several layers), and black is normally thought of to be nearly impossible to paint on because it's super susceptible to flaking off in the kiln... so usually, black is the last colour you paint on a piece, and almost never paint on top of it. I just wanted to specify how extraordinary even the background is...

Convention demo, Elmira Habibullah

I feel really bad about this... we spelled her last name wrong on her name tag... (we missed one of the L's).

Elmira is a young artist (I think mid 20's?) who was born in Iran and moved to Canada a couple of years ago. She's at a Vancouver University finishing up her degree, and she paints in a traditional Turkish style, which she was taught by a master in Iran. You can check out her website for more work, but here's the stuff she bought and demonstrated with at the convention.

She also gave another demo on a traditional Italian technique (you can see it on her website), but I wasn't able to make it into that demo...

Oh, and we also had a 'People's Choice' award, and out of everything displayed, she won... second or third prize (I feel bad I can't remember that...)

That piece is here:

Convention demo, Agnes Zoni

Because I had a LOT of responsibility as:

Vice Chair, Display Head, Registrations, Commercial Registrations, and generally, the person who ran around everywhere, and drove to pick things up, made/printed signs and any necessary documents, including typing up speeches, etc...

(and yes, this kinda all killed my arm/back... I was very, very careful)

I didn't sign up for any of the workshops at the convention, and I only made it into four of the demos.

The ones I did get to were really good.

The first was the French-Canadian artist Agnes Zoni. She hand-makes these amazing masks, based on the traditional Venetian masks, and all sorts of other things. The demo she gave was on how she makes the masks, which is different than how more porcelain artists work, 'cause in general, you just buy the piece you want to paint on, like buying a canvas... but she throws porcelain on the wheel and makes vase-like shapes (which is hard enough), then she slices them vertically with a wire tool, and makes two masks out of the two sides. This way, every one of her masks is different, because she doesn't use a mould.

Unfortunately, I can't find a web site for her, but here are the photos I took during the seminar, and some of her finished (for sale) work:

 Agnes CAREFULLY transported this piece of green (unfired, and not dry) porcelain on the plane to use as a demo piece by wrapping it in damp paper towels, and I think, praying a heck of a lot that her suitcase wouldn't get thrown around and squished.

 Some her tools/etc that she uses for texture.

 She's pretty clever in her craftsmanship... she finds interesting buttons/etc, presses them into porcelain, and turns them into moulds to add as little accessories/etc.

 With some added accessories...

 In here she was actually cutting away pieces of the porcelain to give it a more interesting shape, and playing with the positioning of the porcelain cord.

 Here's what some of her completed work looks like, PLEASE click on the picture to see them at full size, the texture of the lustres she used were AMAZING!

 I'm not really big on gifts, so my parents told me, if I saw something I wanted, to buy it and they'd give it to me for my birthday... so I chose these three little cat masks! ...aren't they soooooo cute?

 I need to take them in to get properly mounted, which Agnes cleverly considered, as you can see from the way the back is built...

 She also made these really neat pendants. They aren't painted (except for the gold, and obviously she added the fresh water pearls later), she used coloured clay slip (really liquify clay, like what I made the maple leaves out of) and rolled it together with white porcelain.

Again, such a clever lady, the back of the pendants had a pin, if you wanted to stick it on your shirt, but also had a clay backing for you to thread a necklace through them! It's really neat how just those little extra touches make them so much more interesting.

AND, she was such a kind, lovely lady, she gave me this blank one for free (seriously, it was super sweet and absolutely unnecessary... and I was so happy).