The traditional art of painting on porcelain has been kept alive and running in Australia by the Australian Porcelain Art Teachers (APAT). Classes teach how to paint on porcelain and are regularly held in most states throughout the country. In addition, at an annual APAT convention, the teachers and their students can broaden their skills while sharing their latest knowledge.
When talking about painting on porcelain, some Australians might say China painting. The reason is that porcelain was invented in China in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220).
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Chinese produced the first type of porcelain and continued experimenting with different raw materials to make it perfect. Finally, people from many European countries discovered Chinese porcelain and considered it white gold. So people from many European countries began to make their own types.
The beauty of porcelain, with its delicate fine designs and paintings of flowers, scenery, patterns, and portraits on a plate, vase, or ornament, has been admired by emperors, royalty, and people of high society. These people are known to source the best examples to use or add to their private art collections.
Australians have been painting on porcelain for 132 years, with the evidence of local art dating back to the 1800s, and they are displayed in Australia’s significant art collections.
This year the APAT Convention was held in Ringwood at the Sage Hotel for three days on September 8-10, 2022.
An exhibition could be viewed with the theme time, and many teachers painted beautiful artwork on display. In addition, many talented teachers shared their knowledge and expertise by holding demonstrations and selling painting supplies.
Dee Credaro lives in Western Australia and is a credited artist in many art mediums. Hand painting on porcelain is one of the artistic talents that she teaches. At the APAT Convention, she demonstrated and talked about how she hand-painted animals and people on porcelain.
Dee talked about how she comes up with her designs and what colors and brushes she uses — explaining her steps of transferring her image and using light colors, painting on the first coat, then placing the piece in the kiln. After the work has come out of the kiln, more layers are added.
Then, in the second, third, and fourth firings, it is to build up the intensity of colors, while also using them like a glaze and gradually painting on warmer shades, putting in shadow areas, and more. Students were eager to learn her new techniques, so everyone quickly wrote notes and took photos for future reference for their art form.
Grace developed her own style of painting on porcelain
Grace is an artist with a major in ceramics at University and has developed skills in many mediums of art along with the experience of teaching. When Grace moved to Australia, she learned about the art of porcelain painting. Over the years, she has developed her style and form of painting on porcelain.
At the APAT Conference, Grace demonstrated how to paint lace on porcelain and then showed ways of combining the design with flowers, portraits, and other feature images. First, the beautiful lace is traced onto paper then the design is arranged onto the plate or ornament.
Using paints specially made for painting on porcelain makes the color blend well. This makes it easy to brush or use a nib to pen the design onto the working piece. The results using this technique are unique, and one is limited to their imagination.
Grace is based in Sydney, teaching adults and children how to paint on porcelain. Her website Gracelain shows her beautiful porcelain art and porcelain painting supplies.
There were many workshops to attend over the three days. The last demonstration I chose was Betty’s, and we learned from her about innovative designs and how to fix a broken tile or plate. Many artists paint on tiles, and sometimes the tile breaks in the kiln due to a fault in the tile.
No worries, the beautiful painting already scrawled over the tile can be saved. So please don’t throw it out! Instead, seal the crack together with superglue, use the enamel or texture paste used on porcelain to hide the broken part, and then put it in the kiln. The second part is painted gold and other porcelain paints, which can cover the enamel.
Betty also shared many ways to make your work stand out and look spectacular. For example, using either special paints of luster, gold, with mentholated spirits or turpentine, and even crushed glass can be sprinkled onto the wet paint to create textured petals of a flower. Betty talked in depth about how to use different products for special effects.
This art is rewarding and magical to the artist, with various types of paints, mediums, and tools that can capture realistic detail, softness, delicate designs, and a modern look like no other type of art. The person viewing the varied pieces of porcelain that have been painted on, no matter the level of ability, by using the traditional skills taught in classes always brings a smile and a good eye to the admirer.
The next Australian Porcelain Art Teachers Exhibition and Convention will be held on October 23–26, 2024. More information about the conference can be found here. If you are interested in learning porcelain painting, find a local teacher on the APAT Facebook page.