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Tracie Griffith Tso, employs Chinese brushpainting technique

You have seen her pottery several times in this column, and may know that she actively supports the Scope Gallery at the Torpedo Factory. A deeper look into Tracie Griffith Tso and you will discover that she is a most complete artist as a painter and with a command of traditional Chinese techniques. Using the “Lore of the Horse,” her work illustrates her excellent design sense and technical skills.

'Elemental Orbit' by Tracie Griffith Tso
Tracie Griffith Tso
Pottery by Tracie Griffith Tso at the Scope Gallery
James George

Celts and Norsemen adopted the horse for its powerful symbolism as they depended upon them. The horse is also important in Chinese mythology, which is the focus of Tracie’s work in this show. The Chinese “shang” character is actually a horse. The horse appears in the seventh cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

Painting has been around awhile, but to put it into perspective, Chinese painting has developed since 4000 B.C. and that makes it 6000 years old. The technique is said to have evolved reflecting changes in technology and cultural events. Painting has always been integrated with pottery, metalworking, and sculpture.

Tracie Griffith Tso’s is a demonstration of that history in modern application. She describes how painting on pottery is more experimental for artists because you don’t know exactly what you are going to get until after glazing and firing. Monoprinting is like that too.

Different artists have visited the area instructing how to make Chinese brushes. Here is a YouTube demonstration. The more that you learn about various art techniques, the more you will appreciate the resulting creative products.

You can see much more of her work at the Scope Gallery where she exhibits many functional and decorative pieces. It is enjoyable for patrons to engage her in conversation because she possesses so much knowledge about pottery and painting. She is knowledgeable about other potters who exhibit in that space as well as she is a good ambassador for the Kiln Club.

“Lore of the Horse shows power, strength of the Chinese brush

Bethesda, Md., July 12 2014 -- Powerful brushstrokes reflect the tradition of the Far East representing this Year of the Horse with the work of Washington area artist Tracie Griffith Tso in an exhibit at the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health through Sept. 5.
This dual media exhibit explores Chinese brushpainting on paper and pottery, focusing on the power and strength of the horse, accompanied by a collection of spontaneous flower-bird compositions.

Ink paintings on rice paper show the lighter side of the brush with snowy, moonlit backgrounds and soft water scenes. Black ink adds contrast and movement to fish, birds, flowers and horses.
About the challenges of two mediums, she says, "I can instantly see how my work will look on paper. Claywork is more temperamental so each piece is a surprise."

An earthy echo is apparent in high-fire brown and white stoneware as dimension adds texture, shine and curves to the equation. Koi wind around a wine chiller, a black stallion dances across a platter and a panda perches on a teapot. Handpainting on wheel-thrown and hand built pottery is framed by symbolic patterning, peppered with auspicious red seals called chops.

Griffith Tso began studying Chinese painting at age 12 and specializes in spontaneous brushwork. The award-winning artist developed her style with a teacher who was schooled by a master in Hong Kong. Her introduction to pottery was as a teenager at a local art center, and she returned to the clay medium in 2005, partnering with potter Patricia Ferrell at Brushy Fork Creek Gallery in Crofton, Ky.

Traveling from her native California, Griffith Tso has been teaching and lecturing nationwide about Chinese brushpainting, a 6,000-old technique. A Torpedo Factory associate, she is a member of the Washington Ceramic Guild and the Kiln Club, exhibiting monthly at the Torpedo Factory Art Center's Scope Gallery. The artist and her husband, along with her muse and rabbit, Cleopatra, reside in North Reston.

This exhibition and sale event runs from July 12 to Sept. 5 and is open to the public. Twenty percent of the proceeds of sales will go toward for the Patient Emergency Fund. The Clinical Center at NIH, Building 10, is located at 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD 20892. Display cases are located on the ground floor.”

Supplied by the artist, Tracie Griffith Tso

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