Secret skill: I can paint ceramics!

If you know me, you know that I am incessantly doodling and scribbling pictures. Put me at a table with a paper tablecloth and crayons or a pen and you’ll soon find that it’s covered with random drawings.

Rather than call myself any sort of artist, however, I think “cartoonist” is probably more accurate, and a little known fact is that I did have a short-lived underground comic strip that circulated while I was in high school. Until the teachers caught on, that is.

Never got much into painting, though, so it’s been fun to spend some time with a good friend at a paint-your-own-pottery place (Ceramics in the City in Denver).

And the results? I think they’re pretty good…

What I enjoy about painting ceramics is that patience pays off in a way that rarely seems true in life. I know that Gladwell reports, in Outliers, that you need 10,000 hours to get really good at something, but generally we seem to live in a society where more, faster, quicker, shortcuts are what counts, not taking your time and working slowly and thoughtfully on a project.

Let me show you what I did and you can tell me if you think it came out well (be kind if you didn’t, though!)
Here’s my three-switch wallplate painted, but not fired in the kiln:

switchplate unfired
Yes, it took me a few hours to do this, particularly when you remember that when you’re painting raw ceramics that bright colors come from three passes with the paint, not just one.

After they placed it in the kiln and cooked it, then added a glaze and baked it again:

switchplate fired
I’m delighted! I think it came out really great. (and yes, notice that I included the initials of my three kids, A-, G- and K- in the design)

Even better, when I went to pick it up with my son G-, we got sucked into thing and ended up spending a few hours doing new pieces that are even now sitting queued for the kiln. He painted a pencil box, very spiffy, and I painted a spoon holder with a not dissimilar style. I’ll report how it came out when I get it.

What I will say is that the owner came over, looked at the finished switchplate and watched me painting the spoon rest, then said “do you want to paint a few demo pieces for us?”

Maybe she was just being a good salesperson, but I’m hooked. This stuff’s pretty darn fun, and nothing digital in site. Imagine!

3 comments on “Secret skill: I can paint ceramics!

  1. You mean people can have fun without using batteries and listening to a fake child’s voice reciting the alphabet?
    Seriously, my kid will learn the alphabet when it’s time for him to learn the alphabet. Until then, we’ll be kicking a soccer ball at each other.
    And I wrote a little thing about this blog, if you’re interested.

  2. It looks great! I used to do this kind of stuff when I was a kid – except it was on plaster pieces instead of ceramic. M&D still have a few. 🙂 It’s great you guys have found something new to do together. Enjoy it!
    Yo sister

  3. Wow Dave!
    I am impressed.
    Sadly-I am awful at art. Perhaps I never found my true calling? ; )
    My husband is always bugging me to go with him to one of these places and try it out-perhaps I will!

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