What's so special about painted bonsai pots?

Painting on a bonsai pot is not like painting on paper. Bonsai pot is a functional object and it imposes certain restrictions on what can be painted on it. Its function is to be a stage for a bonsai tree where the tree is the focal point of the composition. This is why subject, composition and colours of the painting have to be carefully considered not to distract the viewer from the tree. The three-dimensional and sometimes odd form of a bonsai pot can introduce additional challenges as well. 'Clay and glaze' is not the easiest painting medium and sometimes requires guessing what the final result is going to look like. Finally, painting takes time. In my case up to 9 hours for a single shohin pot.

 

Not ideal, but quite passable, especially for a deciduous tree in winter. I intend to add silver or mother of purl laster to the rim and feet to add a wow factor.

 

A simple and a very traditional aka-e.

 

I finally made a pot where blue underglaze works reasonably well.

 

I wanted to own a Chōjū-giga bonsai pot for many years. At some point, I decided to make one myself and here it is. It turned out reasonably well. I am planing to paint more pots with Chōjū-giga scenes. Displayed at the 36th Annual Exhibition of the School of Bonsai, Sydney in 2018.

 

This was my first attempt at aka-e.  It was an imitation of Kutani Ikko's pots with dragons. I am happy with it, but there are still areas for improvement. The composition of the painted area is one of them. Displayed at the 36th Annual Exhibition of the School of Bonsai, Sydney in 2018.

 

I formed and bisque-fired this pot several years ago with no specific plan. A couple of years later I painted it with salad green and yellow underglazes with no specific plan. This year I decided to paint it with dark green in Itou Gekkou style. I would have made its form more refined if I knew it would be painted this way. Displayed at the 36th Annual Exhibition of the School of Bonsai, Sydney in 2018.

 

This was my first attempt at sometsuke. Although this pot is quite useable, making it identified many areas for improvement.