1) Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
My name is Susan Spohr, I am a ceramic artist, a porcelain painter and a published author. While most of my work is painting on pre-made finished porcelain, I also throw on the potter’s wheel and hand make items I also paint. My work has been sold in galleries across Southern California and won numerous awards including those from the following institutions; Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, California Ceramics Association Best of Show, LA County Fair, Venice Teapot Museum, Burbank Art Association, Betsy Luke and many others. I will resume teaching china painting when it is safe to do so.
2) How did you first become interested in art?
In 1989 I became interested in the hobby of ceramics. Saturday afternoons of fun with a group of people making all kinds of little things. A year later, I took a class in china painting also known as porcelain painting and once initiated I took classes once a month. Not long afterward I lost my job and the Saturday afternoon ceramic store shut down. I couldn’t bear to let that hobby go so I opened my own ceramic studio, selling materials and teaching classes. Later, I did go back to work but I continued to paint. Once retired I started selling online and developed a business on ETSY selling around the world. I also sell wholesale to a company in New York and to a company in Taiwan. Yes, the same teapots I paint are made in Taiwan shipped here, I buy them, paint them, sell them to a small company and ship them back to Taiwan! It’s a small world.
China painting is unique in the realm of art so let me explain a little about the process. The paint consists of pigments and oxides ground into a power and mixed with a flux. The artist mixes the pre-made powder with mineral oil to create a toothpaste consistency. The paint is then applied to the finished and glazed porcelain by brush with a medium that may contain tree oils and motor oil. Once painted it is then fired and the process may be repeated many times to achieve the final effect. The technique involves painting light to dark and leaving any highlights or areas to remain white unpainted. The final touch is often real gold or a luster. The US congress designated china painting as a fine art and made July national china painting month.
3) How does art enrich a community, and what are some ways people can engage with art in Burbank?
Art is received in many ways by the viewer experiencing a range of emotions. Public art is thought provoking; art in exhibition may make a statement. I believe that art that is brought into your home should elevate your life, uplift your spirits or make you laugh. It has been documented that art in the home makes a home. Children that are exposed to art do better in school and are better able to express themselves.
4) If you could share with our community one thing about art, what would it be?
I encourage everyone to experience art by either making or displaying it in your home or work place — for both enjoyment and as a conversation starter. We need more conversation and personal communication.
To find out more about Susan’s work, visit her Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/chinapainter1/, follow her on Facebook at Hand painted Ceramics by Chinapainter1, and find her on Pinterest at Chinapainterone.