Saturday, May 23, 2015

Portrait Painting on Porcelain

One thing I don't do much of any more is painting on porcelain. Stitching has caught my attention…but I still plan to go back to painting, as well, some day.

I thought you might enjoy seeing how the portrait takes shape. Each one is a challenge. I can push an eyeball around for an hour before I get it "just right" ;0)

I use dry, crushed mineral paints and mix them with an oil, called an open medium. This means the paints don't dry, they stay open or wet, until the porcelain tile is fired in my kiln - from 1380 degrees up to 1517 degrees F.

I make an outline of the portrait I want to paint using a fine-pointed stencil and graphite paper. Once the outline is on the tile, the first step is painted. Once fired, here's what it looks like.

First Fire:

Looks kind of spooky, doesn't it?  The graphite lines fire out, leaving the paint. It's important to smooth the paint so you don't see any harsh lines. Even the smallest one draws your eye and it looks, well, bad.
(The design you see around this portrait are holding spots for raised paste, enamel and gold work that I wanted to do - this would consist of three steps/firings - once the portrait is complete).

Second fire:
You can see how I've built up the colors, giving her more depth and life. Adding the pupils takes away the spookiness, doesn't it?

Third fire:

Again, I've built up the colors, enhancing her features.

Fourth fire:
This shows the final fire for this portrait. I painted this at a seminar. Depending on the subject, some portraits can take up to 7 or 8 fires to complete.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate. I hope you found this interesting.


  1. Awesome and so very interesting Kim. What a gift from God you have my friend. What is you fire it and then don't like something. Can you paint over it?

    1. Unfortunately, no. The only way to get the paint off is to use "Wink" - and that takes the glaze off, as well, leaving a definite dull spot. I have to make sure I'm happy with what I've painted before putting it in the kiln. Honestly, some tiles have ended up in the garbage, unsalvageble because I messed up. It can be disappointing, especially after all the hours you put in the piece.
      Great question - thanks for asking!

  2. My goodness, you are so talented. I love her face!

  3. Wow!You are so talented!AriadnefromGreece!

  4. She's beautiful - what a talent you have Kim!

  5. What an incredible process! And we think that cross stitch takes patience. At least we can frog our mistakes. She is a beautiful lady.

  6. Gorgeous portrait Kim! And your process - so interesting. Thanks for sharing. You do have a blessed gift of talent in painting and stitching:)
    love Annette

  7. Oh wow, that is so cool. Thanks for sharing the process with us! :D

  8. WOW you are a great painter Kim. I found it very interesting to see your subject come to life after each session.

  9. She looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing your process with us.

  10. Kim, this is absolutely amazing! I looked at it a few days ago on my i-Pad, which was being difficult and would not let me leave a comment. So, I had to re-visit. What a gorgeous piece. I love seeing the photos for each step of the way. The colors all became so rich and vibrant. Yes, the pupils make it far less spooky. Beautiful work!

  11. Kim, this is so fascinating - thank you so much for showing us how you build up your paintings. Incredible. I will say it again, you are so talented!

  12. Thank you for sharing--so interesting and beautiful!!

  13. What a delightful blog and gorgeous portrait!Congratulations for your great art!