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Captain Cook porcelain artist and watercolor painter featured

July 4, 2014 - 12:05am

The Kailua Village Artists featured artist for the month of July is porcelain artist and watercolor painter Betty Gerstner. She has been a porcelain artist more than 35 years. Shortly after moving to Hawaii in 2000, Gerstner began studying watercolor with some of the better-known watercolor masters on Hawaii Island. She now divides her time between the two mediums.

In the past few years, Gerstner began creating her own porcelain pieces to paint rather than buying already glazed pieces. She either hand-builds a piece or casts the piece in a plaster mold. In most instances, after a piece is cast, Gerstner changes the original design of the piece by cutting, applying hand-formed objects or changing the form in some manner. This allows the creation of truly unique pieces. After the form is completed and dried, it is fired in a kiln to about 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, an application of glaze, which is a glass-like material, is painted over the piece. The piece is then fired in the kiln to about 1,800 degrees. After the glaze firing, the piece is painted with china paint and fired as many times between china paint applications as required to complete the piece. Porcelain painting is also known as china painting or over-glaze painting. It is an ancient art, a process that was developed hundreds of years ago. The paint is applied to the porcelain in layers. After each paint application, the piece is fired in a kiln at about 1,450 to 1,500 degrees, which is referred to as a “fire.” The paint is translucent so colors from previous fires can be seen in subsequent applications of color. Depending on the desired color density and subject, a finished piece may require anywhere from five to 12 fires.

The scenery, tropical atmosphere and people of Hawaii are Gerstner’s inspiration for her art. Her subjects range from tropical birds, fish and turtles to the colorful flowers and points of interest of Hawaii. She also paints pet portraits by commission. Gerstner’s art studio is at her home in Captain Cook, where she teaches porcelain painting classes.

Gerstner will be at the gallery July 22 and 29. The Kailua Village Artists Gallery is located at 75-5729 Alii Drive, Suite C-110 in the Kona Marketplace, across the street from the Kona Inn Shopping Village. The gallery is open during the summer from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information, call 329-6653.