When Tea is Art

I’ve been wanting to paint a Cha Xi for ages. I grew up drawing still life and studied 17th century Dutch Masters before I started my animation career. A few years ago I was introduced to Stephane and the lovely Teamasters Blog. Since then I’ve been slowly cultivating a fascination with Gong fu cha.

So I sat down and made tea. A particularly good spring 2011 hung shui oolong from shan lin shi, bought from Stephane and aged in a little ceramic ching hua jar.

BG1

Originally I thought I’d do a massive, ambitious A1 canvas in fine detail. But I’d never finish it. So I thought about doing modular little pieces and hanging them together. Turns out sitting down with a pencil and paper has put pay to that. I consulted the oracle (Clem). She thinks I should do one painting, in as much crazy anal detail as I want, just not A1. She’s right. Again. Probably.

sketch

I knocked up a super quick test to see how a blurred BG would look (so I have less to paint…)

BG2

Not sure about that. The biggest challenge is lighting the thing. I should do it in natural daylight, but I don’t know how I can pull that off without painting from photographs – which I am fundamentally opposed to. The other challenge is finding the time and space when there is a 2 year old hammering about the place, seemingly hell bent on mass destruction.

But these are the challenges that make it interesting. The next steps are to do some studies and go from there.

Incidentally, I love my tetsubin (traditional iron tea kettle). Its a lovely thing. If (whatever you believe in) forbid that the house burnt down, its about the only thing that would survive. I love the fact it was made for me by a skilled craftsman out of molten metal in a workshop very far away. It is a beautiful, modest thing that will last a lifetime if I treat it well.

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