How to paint pottery: a step by step tutorial

This afternoon, I went pottery painting with my mom and cousin. I am generally leery of anything that involves artistic skill, but I was hopeful, after my recent forays into the art world with the 100 Days project and the Bottle of Fun that my skills would have improved since my last attempt.

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“Shitshow,” paint and glaze on ceramic, Kim Oja, 2012

I decided that an updated family portrait was in order, as Rosie constantly points to this masterpiece and shouts “MEEEE!” (which I guess means that she can at least vaguely recognize that the adults depicted are supposed to be Ben and me, so that’s something?). Things started out so promisingly:

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Look at those heads! So round and perfect! I honestly should have stopped here, called it a minimalist representation, and kicked back and played Best Fiends until my mom and cousin were done. But then I immediately proceeded to fuck it up by attempting to give us bodies:

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I knew even as I was doing it that my sleeves were a huge mistake. I should have just had everyone standing with their hands behind their backs, which is how I have drawn basically every person ever, because arms and hands are hard. Now, I look like a braless woman with huge boobs flopping off in opposite directions. But this is folk art! I will persevere!

Meanwhile, my mom and my cousin Katie were working on their perfectly legitimate pieces of art.

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But instead I pressed on. Since matching clothes were a theme in the original portrait, I proceeded to continue the thread here.

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Okay, I made the puff sleeves work on my outfit. Other than Ben’s massive drop crotch, this was all going very well. But then– DISASTER!

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It turns out glasses are not nearly as easy to paint onto a plate as one might think! So now the rest of us are just chilling out with Batman. At this point, the pottery painting staff confiscated my plate for about 20 minutes to attempt to undo the damage I had inflicted upon my poor, unsuspecting husband. (They were kind of snide about it, too, I wanted to be like, you know, you don’t know for certain that my husband isn’t actually Batman.)

By this point, I was becoming impatient. Katie and my mom had turned in masterpieces:

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And I was waiting for the staff to attempt to salvage the remains of my Batman family portrait. When they brought it back to me with the top half of Ben’s head obliterated, I gritted my teeth and dove back in. Who needs shoes? We will rock bare feet rendered lovingly in the exact shape of baked potatoes! Hair is an abstract concept! Slap some retro typewriter stamps on that baby for added kitsch effect and call it good!

Finally, my masterpiece was complete.

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I feel like I did an excellent job of capturing the true personality and aesthetic of my children.

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Nailed it.

And in my opinion, the piece de resistance here is the cat, which I added only after Katie pointed out that my children would be super pissed if she wasn’t there. I tried using a stamp to just add in a rudimentary cat shape, but it came out as a black blob, and so I had no choice but to attempt to freehand this beauty.

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We had to leave our pottery behind to be glazed and fired, and, in my case, laughed at and mocked incessantly, and probably put up on several Pinterest Fail boards. We won’t see the finished products until Friday, but I’m assuming it’s not really going to help mine any, unless they glaze it so heavily that you can’t actually see the design underneath. But when it comes home, I will still hang it proudly next to our original family portrait, where it can be admired for all eternity until we put our house on the market some day in the future and the realtor demands I take it down because it’s scaring away potential clients.

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