Tradition versus Contemporary Techniques.

Posted on 21 June 2010 | Comments Off

As with most things in China, tradition coexists quite happily with the new, the contemporary. This was brought home to me by the overglaze painting styles of Miss Lui, my teacher who is a professional decorator in the traditional style and in great demand, and LiChao, the studio manager, who paints in a contemporary expressive way.

Holding a brush in traditional manner

The traditional style of painting requires great control and this is epitimozed by the manner in which the brush is held. The first photo shows Miss Lui teaching me how to hold the brush in the traditional manner. To my amazement, when I learnt to use the brush in the traditional manner, I suddenly mastered the chopsticks. The next shows LiChao’s contemporary brush technique . The following images all show LiChao’ work.

Contemporary brush technique

Contemporary overglaze


The International Studio

Posted on 20 June 2010 | Comments Off

JCI-WVU studio

JCI-WVU studio

Time has passed very quickly here in Jingdezhen as it is nearly time to return home. I have been attending the JCI-WVU Summer school to study overglaze painting. The JCI-WVU International Academy of Ceramic Art is a joint venture between West Virginia University, USA and the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, P.R.of China. The studio was the initiative of the founder, Professor Bob Anderson, who, over a period of years has been able to set up a studio in the grounds of the JCI campus. In conjunction with the Office of International Cooperation and Exchange much has been achieved to allow international access to the premier ceramic campus in China. To see more details visit and

The great Wall

Over the next days I will keep entering information into the blog to bring it up to date. Although my focus was the overglaze and underglaze painting a lot of activity went on around me and I will do my best to record it. During the first days of the school, a thrower came into to demonstrate the traditional Chinese throwing methods.

The thrower and his assistant

Getting involved

Back on Track

Posted on 15 June 2010 | Comments Off

My posts have been slow in coming due to a combination of the vagaries of the Internet in China together with an unexpected workload. I have been taking private evening classes 6 nights a week learning the art of Fen Cai, the old technique of water based enamels. Using the very tip of a brush to draw the outline (Gou Xian) is an exacting skill and trying to master this is like watching grass grow. I have the utmost admiration for those practitioners who still work in this field.

Drawing the outlines for FenCai

Together with this on my visit to the Pottery Workshop, Takeshi Yasuda invited me to present a lecture on my approach to my work. This led to some frenzied preparation but that has now been done.

A Work in Progress

Posted on 4 June 2010 | Comments Off

Antique market, Jingdezhen

Jingdezhen, like the rest of China is a work in progress. The antique market takes place every Monday morning from around 4.30 am in the vacant ground opposite Walmart, a Jingdezhen landmark. We took an early morning (6 am) taxi ride to where I remembered it being 18 months previously. No market, instead numerous high rise commercial buildings. After a little searching the market was located. It had simply moved to the next vacant piece of ground.

Below are some more images of the streetscape outside Walmart. These lamp posts are all hand decorated.

Street lights outside Walmart

Detail of hand painted overglaze decoration on street lights

Lift Off

Posted on 2 June 2010 | Comments Off

Shanghai Skyline

After various technical difficulties this blog has finally come into being. I arrived in Shanghai 6.30 am, 27 May 2010. The timing coincides with World Expo 2010 and this already busy city is now in overdrive. I took the Maglev into the city from Pudong airport. This time the fastest speed was a sedate 301 kph. The traffic here is an experience, noisy, chaotic, a free for all, but amazingly no road rage as it seems everyone just goes with the flow. My best analogy would be that of a teeming school of fish trying to get through a small entance. It takes time but they all manage get through unscathed. After a much needed sleep I went and visited the Moganshan Art District to see Jackson Li’s exhibition at Two Cities gallery, then on to the Shanghai Museum. Next morning it was a 6.30 taxi ride to the airport. Even at that time traffic is busy. Landed at Jingdezhen in the midst of a downpour. It seems that there has been only 3 dry days in 2 months and this is not a typical weather pattern. Like at home the weather patterns are definitely changing. What explanation would the global warming sceptics attribute this to? The following images are just a few general views.

Jindezhen from my window at JCI


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