The list of “lost arts” is endless.
With the discoveries of technological advances, things that were once done by hand can now be done by machine in a timelier and money saving fashion from furniture and family meals to works of art. A form of the latter is what artist Sola Raynor hopes to preserve.
“It is frequently said that porcelain art is dying. This is because most of the practitioners are elderly and it is not being passed down to a younger generation,” she said, “I know this is true but I have a hard time believing it when I am sliding my brush into the paint. Brush and porcelain become an instrument as the overglaze is stroked onto the glassy surface, evoking a quiet delicate sound.”
Raynor, 36, was exposed to art as a child through family members and friends who worked in photography, watercolor, ceramics,and acrylics. “It was ingrained in my childhood that it’s important to be creating,” Raynor said, “All the women in my family crocheted.” She was inspired by the craftsmanship and hard work others were willing to put into their creations.
She took art lessons as a child and as a teen she often spent Friday and Saturday nights drawing. “I was kind of an awkward kid. Art was the one thing that was mine.”
Raynor continued to draw and paint. Eventually she decided that a secure day job would be necessary to fund her habit so she registered at Eastern Washington University. “My art was curtailed by the fact that I had to get an education,” she said. In June 2008, she graduated with a master’s in social work.
In 2001, a friend suggested that Raynor try painting on porcelain. Her interest peaked and she researched, even trying to teach herself, comparing that experience to a child’s first attempt at using crayons. “Nothing remotely resembling instant gratification can be found in porcelain art. It takes much time and discipline to learn,” she said, “Skills in other media do not avail one when learning to paint on porcelain because of the simple fact that an oily paint is being applied to a glass surface.” She found a teacher who she studies with weekly.
The time consuming art form is worth it to Raynor who searched out a new challenge once she mastered dreamy and whimsical landscapes. “I wanted a new challenge. I’m really attracted to the works of Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) and Jan Vermeer (1632-1675) and I wondered if I could paint realistically like the old guys did.”
Now with school done and a secure day job, Raynor has time to focus on her work; spending hours perfecting flowers and landscapes in a bedroom studio in her North Side home. “Currently my artistic priority is increasing my technical proficiency in both porcelain and acrylics. I want to realize moments of light, color and motion. I want the closest possible fidelity to the subject I am painting. This is my exploration of the beauty of the world.”
Her work has the flair of a much older artist, akin to the old masters who toiled for days or even years on a piece in order to capture every nuance. The realist qualities of her work shows calm patience and the will to work hard at realistic beauty.
Raynor hopes the craft will not be lost. “I would like to eventually show in a gallery to expose others to the craft and to be a part of the community as an artist,” she said.
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