Tangerine and me

Or, my exhausting search for the color “tangerine,” mandarin orange, in the ceramic field at the defined temperature of cone 10, for those in the field, the mythical “high fire” around 1300 °C.

Tangerine is a shade of orange that I have been trying to create in the laboratory for several years, like an alchemist. In ceramics, in the electric kiln, it’s a kind of utopia unless… unless some tricks are found. Tangerine is a color that calls me at particular moments, so I listen, follow its call, and get back to work. As an artist, I am part of a movement called color field; my inspiration and teacher are Helen Frankenthaler, an American painter for whom the term color field was coined by the critic Clement Greenberg. Like her, I am one of the artists of color. In the history of contemporary art, many different paths have opened up, and the most complex and intimate one is that of color. Before Helen Frankenthaler, there were Rothko, Nolde, Redon, Turner… The path of color is also the least ostentatious; it resides in the rooms of the soul and asks the viewer to dance, to enter, to speak, to listen. Anyone who observes a painting that treats color as a field of research and expression encounters what Kandinsky defined in his writing: “the spiritual in art.” Rudolf Steiner defines colors as spiritual beings; he has written extensively on the subject, but only by working on it artistically can one come into contact with this reality. Artwork is no longer a rule, a paradigm, or even a lesson; in this historical era, it is revelation—the artwork is what one experiences upon contact with it. In color fields, there is emotion, thought, memory, infinite notes. Each color carries a character, a vibration. As an artist, I am concerned with color; it is my path, both in painting and in ceramics. This means listening to the material; the artist is, as I conceive it, both the first and the second of the hexagrams of the I Ching, the Book of Changes. The artist is the creative and the receptive, together, in a fertile lemniscate. The search for raw materials takes up a lot of space; finding pigments capable of playing subtle shades is equivalent to having a good instrument. So, in these days, I have resumed my epic of Tangerine. This being that calls me wants to be brought into a glaze, fixed to a clay to enter into a relationship with the world. Finally, like a Prometheus of color, I found my Tangerine, or rather, several Tangerines, raw shades in the tests that ask to be transformed into artworks, paired with glazes, daring ideas, leaps of the soul. Tangerines, my Mandarins, like those of Simone de Beauvoir, are intellectual, existentialists who ask many questions and then get lost in complicated relationships. My teacher and artistic director of the Academy of Fine Arts always says, “If you give yourself to color, at some point, color gives itself to you.”

tangerine test, gress by Manuela Metra


Hi, I’m Manuela, urban potter and Italian artist who’s passionate about exploring the expressive potential of clay. With a love for Wabi Sabi aesthetics and the beauty of imperfection, I create bespoke ceramics, paintings, and fine art photography. My studio, nestled in the charming city of Milan, is a magical box where creativity runs wild and beauty is abundant. Whether you’re looking to bring a touch of magic into your everyday life, or simply to explore your creative side through art therapy I’m here to inspire and encourage you on your journey. I bring art into the world and celebrate the beauty in every moment. This blog is my Artistic Salad, filled with creativity, beauty, joie de vivre, passion and tools for creative minds.

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