The mugs shown in this image have been decorated by myself, Mackenzie Andersen. This is the first time that I have ever done the Brown Tree Motif as production decorating. That is to say I sat down and did a group of twenty mugs in one session. Production decorating is like doing a performance. It requires confidence in one’s natural and spontaneous style of working with a brush. One has to accept one’s self, enjoy one’s self and to be non-judgmental but one can observe oneself.
The first thought that came to mind as I commenced the performance is that I want to channel my Mother, Brenda. Brenda had exceptional vitality in the way that she exercised the paint brush. Sometimes her work was expressionistic and at other times it was controlled without being in the least bit tight – as if she had perfect integration between mind and body, between what she was observing and the spontaneous application of the brush. She could do a portrait in under a minute in swiftly executed brush work that captured the essence of her subject with minimal elaboration.
I can never be my mother, nor could she ever be me, which is true for each and every artist. As I observed myself in the act of performing production decoration I thought I am not actually doing a tree, I am doing a forest. The design goes completely around the mug and if you put a group of mugs together then, the forest becomes most evident. Then, again I thought, I am not doing a tree, I am expressing the internal spirit of growth of trees. Every tree is different and does not necessarily grow in a symmetrical way as it reaches for the light although some trees have an elegant and inexact symmetry.
I believe my mother is the creator of the tree motif, although I do not know that for certain. She was the one who was frequently painting trees and she did so as an expression of her own individuality. When the decorating philosophy o Andersen Design is to allow the individual expression to come through, the trees are never alike. Each artist has their own best style of executing the tree, Every tree mug is unique but they still make a consistent set, especially when the set is produced by the same artists during one production “performance”.
My father created the brown slip and the white glaze and I have mixed the batch. I am still working out the exact relationship of contrast and tone which I wish to achieve in the brown slip, which requires adjusting the ratio of the materials and the way the kiln is firing until one achieves the desired result.
In general I am seeking a softer relationship between tones but in terms of the mugs, I feel that the current relationship works and I am pleased with the brush work. Even so, in the next batch I will be working with a softer relationship to satisfy the general goal of the effect which I want to achieve with the brown slip
I am pleased with the results of the brush work but after looking at the finished mugs, I have decided that most of them are cast a little heavier than I prefer and some have some other minor imperfections. There are many mugs on the market cast in the weight that I am seconding and some people might actually prefer a heavier weight but I am “the decider” and I like the thinner cast and so to establish the standard that I want for a first, I am seconding most of the first batch which means they are available at half price. You can get an idea of the thickness of cast that I am seconding in the top photo where there are several mugs of the thicker cast. It’s hard to see in the photo but a difference is in the weight when held. I believe that the two images of single mugs have the thinner cast.