Can There Be Too Much Color?


The first thing my daughter’s friend said when he walked into our house yesterday was “I love all the colors!” So, of course, I immediately loved him. Looking at vibrant color makes me happy, but sometimes I wonder if this series of plates and bowls is too bright, I don’t know, not potter-y enough. I’d like your opinion.

I started using underglazes early on because I have more of a feel of painting and making color decisions as I go. I don’t seem to keep accurate color in my mind very well. I’m not one of those people who can say, “oh, what that burnt sienna needs is a little thalo blue to wake it up,” like my studio mate, Joan (see February 28, Painting in Clay) I know what works when I see it, but the process seems to be more intuitive than organized. If the colors didn’t balance the way I wanted when I painted with acrylics on canvas, I could paint over almost immediately till I was satisfied.

Since the color of the unfired underglaze is usually just flatter and duller than what it will look like when fired, I can more or less picture how it will come out. I only fire to cone 5, so I can be pretty sure what will happen in the firing. While I am really drawn to the rich surfaces of soda glazed pots and the beautiful color variations from reduction firing, and I know beautiful glaze colors are obtainable from a cone 5 oxidation firing, maybe I am just wanting more control over my materials and using underglazes has been an easy way to get fairly consistent results.

Thinking about color led me to a couple of on-line color quizzes which I took for investigative purposes and with enormous skepticism. The claim was that these tests are often used by employers and they are reliable. Yeah, right. But I was surprised with the results. It’s easy enough. You just click on a series of 6 0r 7 colors by preference. When using my own straight out preferences what it said about me was pretty much correct – much better than a horoscope! A couple of the comments were things I don’t really like to admit but recognize anyway, darn it.

I redid the test backwards (this time black was my favorite color) and predictably my personality was seen as darker, (“Disappointed because her hopes have not come to pass and she fears . . .”), but it’s kind of a fun thing to do if you have about 5 extra minutes while you’re waiting for water to boil. (


4 responses to “Can There Be Too Much Color?

  1. You’ve achieved what I could only dream of doing with underglazes – very painterly looking which I really like. The plates are beautiful, love the patterns and colors together. Although they are bright colors, they seem subtle and soothing to me. Do you put a clear over them?

  2. Thanks Linda, I appreciate your feedback (and not just because it’s positive, hah). I do feel like I’m painting instead of glazing when I do these and I love the process. Yes, there is a clear glaze over all. I have been trying different kinds. These are done with Duncan Diamond Gloss.

  3. 1. Not too much color. These turned out great.
    2. That color quiz has totally freaked me out! It absolutely nailed me but I’m really curious how what it said about me compares to what it said about you. I have to admit to being skeptical! I printed mine out so maybe we can compare sometime.
    3. I didn’t like any of the colors in the test; found them all irritating, especially beside each other.

    • I have the same skepticism although I was surprised by some of the accuracy. I keep meaning to go back to the site and play around with my preferences to see what happens or to see if I can find any research on the test.

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