Workshopping a new idea - The pros and cons of color

In my studio I'm often engaged in a creative state that I call "work shopping". This is where I have a solid idea/inspiration but I'm not exactly sure how all the details fit together. Its helpful to isolate the variables and then start rearranging them. I learned this in my 9th grade science class and it still helps me understand my own intuition. I find if I don't isolate the variables I change all things at the same time and have no idea why a particular combination works. I think many potters work completely on intuition. This can be exciting but it tends to yield results slowly.

With these teapots the variables I'm working with fit into two categories - form (handle, spout, body, knob) and surface (decoration, color, texture, sheen). The images I posted have similar forms but the surface changes dramatically as color is added. With monochrome pots I play with a variety of tints, shades, and surface changes (gloss - matte - satin). They educate me on the nuts and bolts of how the decoration schemes fit the form. I then color the pots like a coloring book by placing color on specific sections of the pot. From there I can keep making new versions until I find one that is worth repeating on a regular basis. If I reach a plateau with new decoration ideas I go back to the monochrome and work up new perspectives.

Color is an exciting mystery to me. I only recently (after 14 years of potting) have developed the ability to see color on my pots before I make them. Form comes first in my creative process. So now for an informal poll. Which color scheme do you like better- monochrome or color? Pros and Cons?


  1. For me I think it depends on the form which one works better with the color. Then again, you and I have the same tendencies to divide patterns and colors with our work.

    I like your first teapot with color because it highlights the dividing V section that is at the top. On the monchrome version of that same one it seems like the detail is lost. Of course that is in the picture. Sometimes the pictures don't show the wonderful quiet details of the monochrome pot.

    For your second form, I like the monochrome colors because the simplicity of the full, round form brings me in closer to notice the little details. If the color is there that is all I see right away and don't notice those nice little ridged textures coming out with the glaze breaking on them.

    Oh I wish I could hold this one in my hand. Great teapots, Ben! Nice post, too.

  2. Gosh, Ben, these are some beautiful teapots!

  3. Thanks everybody. Joy you are right on with the color defining the form. The "V section" is good to highlight because it explains why the volume constricts at that part of the form.I miss having you in the studio. I'm going to have to call in a critique more often!

  4. The monochrome is subtle, somehow more classy and... let's say... mature?

    The colours of the coloured teapots are overly contrasting and brash and hence don't carry the air of elegance that one associates with teapots...

    I can't imagine the Earl of Kensington, or such like, drinking tea from a pot with green leaves and sky blue background...

    Let the ceramic speak for itself! My vote is with monochrome!

  5. In my opinion, if you merged the two, a more subtle/muted blue and green in the window. POssibly a little more breaking on the texture?? Sweet forms...makes me want ot runt othe studio and finsish my waiting teapots and make some more!!!