Color and Texture: Discovering My Aesthetic

Lana Wilson -  Teapot

Lana Wilson builds using slabs of porcelain decorated with colored slips and texture.

I recently attended a Lana Wilson workshop, sponsored by Louisville Clay and hosted at the University of Louisville ceramic studio. She has been using colored slips in her work quite a bit recently.

As I’d been thinking a lot about using colored slips already, I dove right in and began mixing some up! I’m quite interested in experimenting with colors and textures to further develop my own aesthetic. I think color plays such an important role in the feeling of ceramic work. And this role is often a last consideration – trailing behind form, function and process.

So how do I want my work to feel? What colors will meet my aesthetic requirements? How do I want to create my work? Ceramic techniques are so much like treats at a candy store. I’d like to try them all! And each lends it’s own mark on the look of a piece. As an experimenter, I like to try things and see the results and choose what I like. And of course there are times when I know what I want the end result to be, and it’s a matter of figuring out what will get me there. This is one of those times.

As an exercise to help me to recognize what it is I’m after, I’ve recently browsed some Etsy Treasuries and selected items that appeal to me. Here are some of my favorites, chosen for overall feel, primarily related to color and texture.

Some words that I feel relate to every one of these are: serene, romantic, pretty. Many of the images evoke ideas of folklore, legend, myth. I have long had a fascination with stories, objects, places and occupations which have historically been given extra significance – often as an association to magic or mysticism, or as metaphor for an enduring idea or sentiment. The colors, softness and textures reinforce this.

WomanwiththeRedHair by Jenny Harmon Scott

I love the soft medium-tone neutrals for their pacifying effect. I love bronze and black deep-textural elements, for their mystery, and the way my hand wants to touch them. Their weight and depth lend a sense of permanence, strength and age. Glassy transparent color accents on a soft neutral or a dark texture lend a transcendental, otherworldly experience. I’ve always loved amber for it’s natural timelessness and geological reference. And copper has always elicited a fascination related to Celtic romance –  which includes my love of chestnut red hair.

I am experimenting with these combinations of colors in my own work, using my own reaction to the art shown here as a guide. Using matte surfaces for softness and glossy ones for accent, glossy colored accents on matte neutrals and dark textures. Softness and texture together. What do you love? What does it make you think of?

4 Responses to “Color and Texture: Discovering My Aesthetic”

  1. Christy says:

    I love everything you posted. It makes me think of nature, in particular areas with deep green scenery and lots of water. Those are my favorite places to visit. You have a really amazing eye. I am always amazed!!

  2. Tim Wells says:

    I too love bronze metallic and black matt. It could be done with raku but would probably be more refined in high fire. Also, I think it would look best on a burnished surface. And maybe some green patina at the edges and in recesses.

  3. Tim Wells says:

    LOVE your bowls! I may have to have one.

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