Many customers ask me to create a unique piece of china designed just for them. This forms my exclusive top of the range bespoke china. Most of these customers are looking for a highly personalised gift to celebrate perhaps a wedding, christening or anniversary. Wedding and anniversary presents usually involve painting a church or a building.  As public spaces, images of churches are easy to access from the web, but more often than not I will be sent an electronic image. As long as the image is of good quality and well proportioned I can usually create a painting from this photograph. Although there have been occasions when I’ve had to rely on my imagination – missing windows, scaffolding covering half a house, a neighbour’s garage to be quietly moved, to name but a few!

I scan the photo into my computer and with the help of photoshop manipulate the picture to the angle and position I think will work best on that particular piece of china.  From this image I create a painting with the use of pencil, pen and watercolour. I like to use very heavy 300 g/m2 hotpress watercolour paper because of the flattish surface. Once I am satisfied with the painting I rescan my art work and now I manipulate my painting from the computer using my wacom pad. The wacom pad is an online sketch book and not a day goes by without it being used in my studio. I rarely finish a painting at the paper stage but always complete the painting with the wacom pad because it makes designing and working with images on the computer so much quicker and easier.

Images need to be manipulated for the specific piece of china to take into account how a particular piece might fire. For example a tea pot is curved, so the image needs to bend and therefore the perspective might need altering. Years of experience have taught me that a pale blue sky might disappear when fired, a dark green tree might loose definition, a yellow might fire too green and reds and gold will need a different colour profiling and a different temperature when fired!

All my techniques have been self taught so spending a day on an Armada photoshop course this week was time extremely well spent. I am of the belief you are never too old to listen and learn and in this age of technology we need to be working smarter not harder – as it’s difficult to keep up with all the new technology!

When I have finally finished the painting we send it back to the customer for approval. The art work is then colour profiled ready for use in either our red or magenta digital ceramic printer. The magenta gives a softer finish and is pink and purple based and the red is always used for strong primary colours. Art work is always kept on our computer as our customers sometimes want to recreate their image on other pieces of china, such as mugs or Christmas baubles.

So thank you Armada for the wonderful course and I now to look forward to putting into practice all I have learnt. The next step, an Adobe Illustrator course, to learn how to create a vector drawing.