China Painting is also referred to as Porcelain Art. As in other forms of art, such as watercolor, oil painting, pen work, pastel, etc., the same disciplines and fundamentals apply. Subject, composition and prospective are a basis for creating the painting. However, the white or light chinaware used as the object to be decorated may be of any size or shape. The design choice and the chinaware form, complement each other to create a true work of art. The created design can be transferred to the chinaware by tracing the overall pattern, sketching free-hand on the piece with India ink or graphite pencil or applying the various china paint colors immediately to form the pattern desired.
A china painter uses skills of many art forms to produce a finished object of art. He uses water colour techniques, relying on the colour of the china as background for the whites and highlights of the painting. China painting resembles oil painting, in which colour is applied with oil base media, using some of the same type brushes. Also multiple applications may be required to obtain the desired effect, luster, metallic, enamel and/or pin work can be added to the piece to further enhance the design.
China paint is made of fine ground minerals, pure or in combination, to produce a multitude of colors. The fine powder is mixed with oil (or fat in previous times) to a consistency of tooth paste. The china painter thins the paint mixture with media to make a smoother and easier color application. There are many different media mixtures available for china painting, grounding or pin work. Some china painters make their own media.
Usually a china painted piece is painted in stages. After each painting session, the piece is fired in an oven (called a kiln) to temperatures ranging from 1240 degrees F to 1580 degrees F, depending on the mineral content of the paint applied. This process fires off the media and softens the glaze coat on the porcelain allowing the color to bind with the top of the glaze coat, thus making it permanent. Luster’s, metallic (gold, platinum, etc.) and enamel fire on top of the glaze. This makes them more easily worn off. Some china painters create one-fire pieces. However, the majority set up the pattern capturing the white and highlights in the first fire. They enhance values, shadows, shapes and detail in subsequent applications.