Sunday, January 20, 2008

China craze: Woman's world shines with paint

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Everything pretty was painted by her mama.
From kitchen to bedroom, her childhood home was wall to wall china. There were bowls, platters, cups, saucers, pitchers, lamps and vases, all designed and painted by her mother, Lillian Burrier, 76, of Temple.
'Everywhere I looked, there was something she had done, something lovely,' said Belinda Psencik, 43, of Moffat.
Mrs. Psencik's favorite piece is a large serving plate that has a picture of a fire hydrant painted on it.
'There is a bucket by the fire hydrant. Some water is dripping on some little flowers, and some wrens are perched on the bucket,' Mrs. Psencik said. 'That's my picture. It has hung above my bed ever since I can remember.' There was a day in the third grade, though, when Mrs. Psencik thought she had lost it.
'I came home from school one day, and it was gone,' she said. 'I ran to Mama. 'Where's my picture? Where's my picture?' I kept on asking her that until she told me she had sold it. I was crushed.'
Mrs. Psencik said she fussed and worried until her mother told her to calm down.
'She said she was kidding. She said my picture was on display and that it would be home in a few days.'
The fire hydrant plate did come home, and it's been with Mrs. Psencik ever since.
'Many, many years later, once I was grown, she painted me the picture again on a sun catcher,' Mrs. Psencik said. 'It's got stained glass all around it. It's my picture, my lovely picture.'
Mrs. Burrier laughs when she thinks of how possessive her daughter is of the china pieces she's painted.
'I had a person one time offer to pay $3,000 for a set of china dishes I had done, but I couldn't sell it,' Mrs. Burrier said. 'My daughter said, 'No,' because it was hers.'
Turning down the money didn't bother Mrs. Burrier one bit. The family wasn't in dire need of the money.
'I wasn't painting the china because I wanted a job. I already had a job,' Mrs. Burrier said. (For her day job, Mrs. Burrier worked in a retail window shade shop in Moffat.) 'I was painting the china because I loved painting china.'
Mrs. Burrier's interest in china painting started almost half a century ago. It joined her other artistic interests, crocheting, portrait painting and crafting.
'I wanted to know how to paint a rose and make it look gorgeous.'
Those who are familiar with her work say her mission is more than accomplished.
'She paints every kind of flower there is, and they're fabulous,' said Joye Faucett of Belton.
Ms. Faucett became Mrs. Burrier's painting buddy about 10 years ago.
'I saw her work at the Cultural Activities Center. And I fell in love with what I saw,' Mrs. Faucett said. 'I dropped everything I was doing because I wanted to paint like her. She does such beautiful roses.'
Mrs. Faucett studied under Mrs. Burrier's tutelage through Bell Fine Arts for about five years.
'She was inspiration for me from the minute I saw her put brush to china,' Mrs. Faucett said. 'I knew she was a good teacher, that talented lady. She's one of the best painters I've seen up close and in person.'
Sylvia Thomas agrees. She said if it wasn't for Mrs. Burrier, she wouldn't be painting..
'She inspired me to make my own art,' Mrs. Thomas said. 'I've been at it now for 16 years.'
Mrs. Burrier's skill enables her to paint a rose while blindfolded. She discovered the ability earlier this month when the ladies of the Temple Porcelain Art Guild celebrated her birthday.
'It was kind of like that game, Pin the Tail on the Donkey,' Mrs. Burrier said. 'We all had blindfolds on and raced to see who could paint the best rose fastest. Apparently, I won, but I don't know if it was that good.'
That comment doesn't surprise Mrs. Psencik.
'Mama's wants it to be as good as she can get it,' Mrs. Psencik said. 'I can remember several times when I'd get up to go look at what she had painted and see that it would be beautiful and awesome. But she'd wipe it off because it wasn't good enough.'
Mrs. Burrier's dedication has won her several accolades in the art world.
Two of her pieces were featured in the January 1979 issue of International Porcelain Artist, and in 1999, upon invitation from an art society, she spent three weeks teaching her skill in the Netherlands.
She was president of the Texas Art Guild in 1990 and had led the local guild several times.
'There's 52 or 53 art clubs in Texas,' Mrs. Burrier said. 'I've done presentations and seminars for about 30 of them.'
For people interested in learning the craft, she suggests they practice on china pieces imported from Japan.
'It has lots of flaws, but its cheaper,' Mrs. Burrier said. 'Limoge from France is the best and the German bavarian china is good, but those are more expensive.'
Getting the plain white pieces of china is the first step. The next step is to learn how to mix mineral paints and apply raised glue.
'The raised glue is what gives china its texture,' Mrs. Burrier said. 'The rest is about design and color matching.'
The hobby is not easy, she said, emphasizing that it takes several hours to complete the most basic of projects.
'I don't mind the time, though,' Mrs. Burrier said. 'I love doing it. I'm just sorry I won't be able to try to do all of the kinds of china painting there is. There's just so much it has to offer.'
She also wonders about what her family will do with all her china once she's gone.
'There's so much of it,' she said.
The thought makes the crafty lady laugh.

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