Qing Hua is the traditional Chinese art of painting on porcelain using a particular recipe of cobalt blue pigment. In 2006, I spent three months in Jingdezhen (JDZ), Jiangxi Province, the porcelain capital of China, learning the skill. My teacher was Wang Chang Gen, an artist at the JDZ Sculpture Factory of Master Liu Yuan Chang.

Rather than replicate Chinese imagery, I applied the limited range of techniques I mastered to cartoons of people, personalities and situations encountered during my stay. Local quing hua artists are high on technique, low on original ideas, mostly painting subtle interpretations of works by grand masters from the dynasties.

My tiles attracted great interest from students, artists and masters alike, probably fascinated by the content and quietly amused by my clumsy technique.

For someone used to working on paper, the technique is fraught with problems, from drawing on a raw brittle tile through to cracking in the kiln. But qing hua is a beautiful art form, capable of immense subtlety and graphic excitement. Unfortunately, outside of antiquarians, it is one totally lost on the West.





Qing hua samples.

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