Ceramic - Pottery Dictionary

by Susan Mussi

MAJOLICA: Colors (c) How to use

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (c) Com utilitzar-los

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (c) Como utilizarlos

Painting in the Majolica method over an unfired glaze can be done using any method and creating any style to apply the colors. What I explain here is the representative antique way of using colors. This is one of the most difficult and most important challenges—not only concerning the outlines but also the colors and the way you use them. The strength of the colors, light and shade, the relation of colors overlapping one another to form a third or fourth color, the mark you leave with your paintbrush, all are important.

There is a natural law in the perspective of colors. Light colors get darker and dark colors get lighter in the distance. So, objects in the far distance become a soft mixture of colors. The light in ceramics always comes from the left.

To add shading leave small sections of the white glaze-base on the left side of objects in your design, or, after painting them, scrape off bits of color. This adds light and accentuates the dimension. Basically, you use the white of the glaze as the lightest color, a light color as the basic color and then a darker color for the shading, which overlaps and forms another color.

To add colors, when you have finished the outlines, decide roughly where each color will be needed in your picture and paint in that color. Begin painting with the light colors—light blue, yellow, etc. Remember, colors can be used in different shades and combining, or overlapping colors is important. When fired, this will make a third or fourth color, which can count as a color or as shading. This effect can be achieved by putting a dark color over a light color or by covering a dark color with a light color. If you want to change the tone of a color or make it softer, rub it gently with your finger or with damp, clean paintbrush.

If you make mistakes while painting and want to correct them, use a paintbrush and clean water to soften the color. The mistake can be carefully scratched off either by using a thin, small, straight piece of metal, a small paintbrush with the hair cut right down or the wooden end of a paintbrush handle cut to make a point.

The last colors
The ground and the faces and arms are left till the end to paint and are painted with ochre-skin color. This color is very weak, which makes it difficult to correct. If by accident a color falls on to the white glaze-base, it is easy to repair but if it falls on to a light color, it is difficult. You have to scrape it off and then repaint it. The intensity of the color might be different and if you overlap what is there, it will leave a strong line.