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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More Birds

I've made more birds.  The male sparrow on the far right was the first one.  The one in the scarf (from a vintage hankie) is the second one.  The second from the left is the third, and then I made the other three as a group.

For the final three - the white ones that aren't finished yet - I was very careful with measurements on the armature.  Nonetheless, they all turned out a bit different from each other.  One major difference comes in with the slightest change in the position of the eyes.  And the other biggie is from wrapping and applying the core wool shapes.  I notice that I have a tendency to do too much at the core stage - especially around the head.  I've noted this before, and I guess it's a tendency that I will continue to have to resist.

The little sparrow in the scarf is ready to go on Etsy.  She has a sweet expression, I think, especially around the eyes.  And the scarf from the vintage hankie - complete with ribbon rose over the knot - is a special touch.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Female Joins the Flock

I made a female sparrow to begin to grow the flock.  Sadly, this isn't a very good photo of her, but I'll get a better one when I make her a handkerchief dress.  I'm having trouble getting the armature right on these.  I didn't make very good notes when I made the first one.  It was a bit big, and this second one is even bigger, so I'll have to scale the armature down by about 10% or 15% and also avoid adding so much wool at the core stage.
Birds present a problem with their feet.  It's a balancing act, and the temptation is to make the feet larger, perhaps, than they should be to help with balance. 
Also I didn't really have the right colors of wool for the female.  Wool colors are a problem,  The subtle gradations one wants don't seem to be available.  But I will make do while I keep looking because I really don't want to venture into dying the wool myself!
Despite the problems I've mentioned, I'm generally happy with these.   But there is more work to do!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The First Sparrow

Now I'm making a sparrow for my Thistledown Manor animal group.  I'm planning to make more than one - perhaps three - as these birds, English Sparrows, travel in flocks.

This photo shows the bird just before putting on the plumage.  The wings and tail are each pairs of wool felt piece, cut to the shape of the wing or tail, sewn together around the side and lower edges, then slipped over the wing or tail wire and felted in place againt the body.  The wool felt makes a nice surface to add the color details to.

The problem is that I have made a male sparrow.  Perhaps I should explain - the problem is that I planned to put a dress made from a vintage hankie on this bird, and of course boys don't typically wear dresses.  Perhaps this is an example of worrying about things too much.  Or, perhaps I'll make the two others with female plumage and leave this one 'au naturel.'

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Raccoon of Thistledown Manor

Here's my latest addition to the little group of animals who live in the forest near Thistledown Manor.  Her heritage is not native, as raccoons are indigenous to North America.  But they have had so many admirers over the years that many enthusiasts have brought them to the UK where they now thrive.  So she found herself quite at home in the forest near the manor.

Her clothes are so pristine and beautiful that she may well be the forest seamstress, saving the best bits found in the Manor's trash bins (and Lord knows she's an expert at scouring the trash) for herself.

I think she is also quite good at crochet since the collar and edgings of her outfit were obviously custom worked rather than being fashioned from cast off bits.

She's quite proud of herself, and rightly so.

On a more serious note, I made her outfit from one of a pair of lovely vintage pillowcase that I purchased on Etsy from Sylvia, a woman in England.  It was embroidered by her grandmother, Gladys Johnson, who was born in the 1900s and passed away in the 1980's.  She was an avid needlewoman, and Sylvia fondly remembers her Gram as always having her needlework, if not actually in hand, nearby.  It's an honor to remember Gladys in this way.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fox Goes to Market

Here's a little ceramic fox that I recently completed.  I had sculpted and bisque fired her a while ago, but she sat waiting to be finished while I gathered the will to do the glazing which, for some reason, is such an unwelcome task for me.  I was hoping the glaze would "skip over" the indented dots in her jacket leaving white spots, but instead the glaze pooled in the indentations and I got darker dots.  Since then, I've bought some dimensional glaze which should be good for making spots.
Her hat and basket are ceramic.  The hat hangs around her neck with a satin ribbon.  The handle of the basket is rusted wire.  And I had some tiny polymer clay fruits from a project a few years ago that fit nicely in her basket.
Miss fox has been collecting fruit from the farmer's orchard and is taking it to the forest market.  She may be able to trade it for some luscious eggs!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beloved Calvin

I got a request from a woman through my Etsy shop to make her a custom needle-felted ornament that looks like their beloved, but sadly, departed cat, Calvin.  This is the result.  It was a bit tricky because it's small - 4 1/2" from the tip of his nose to the base of his tail.  That means that it's more difficult to do the details that would make this little guy recognizable as Calvin.
I finished Calvin yesterday, listed him my Etsy shop, and notified Angela that her Calvin was ready.  The note I received from her when she bought him touched my heart.  She said she cried tears of joy to see Calvin again.  This is what it's all about - sharing the love of animals.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Gingerbread Doll House

When I got the idea of making this wooden gingerbread dollhouse with its resident mouse family I didn't realize how much work it would be.  But I think the results were worth it.
I built the house from 3/4" pine and 1/4" pine plywood, using the plywood on the front, back, and roof to reduce the overall weight.  The back of the house comes off with four screws.  There's a fireplace, a sleeping loft, and a little ladder to get up to the loft.  The building was pretty straight-forward.
It was the painting that took a lot of time.  I left the inside raw pine, finishing it with clear polyurethane.  I sprayed the outside with a white primer then began the decorative painting.  The gingerbread is two coats of paint, painting around the candy and frosting areas, then stippled all over with Burnt Umber.  I also used Burnt Umber to shade under the shapes of all the candies and frosting forming the shadows cast on the gingerbread.  The candies were the most fun, especially the little raspberry candies over the door.  To protect it, I added three layers of brush-on acrylic satin varnish.
I needle-felted the little mice.  There are three - a mom, dad, and baby - just like in my daughter's family.  I shipped it to them yesterday.  I'm hoping they'll like it and that it will become part of their Christmas tradition for years to come.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Mouse at Thistledown Manor

This is the second in my series of dressed animals - a little mouse in the forest at Thistledown Manor.  Her name is Elaine.  She found an old discarded hankie near the manor and was struck by how beautiful the crochet work was.  She took it to the forest seamstress who made her this outfit - which she is quite proud of!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Special Fox Girls


These are my special little fox girls, Lucy and Mae.  They're needle-felted then dressed in clothes I made from old pillowcases, laces trims, and hankies that I bought on Etsy.  These are the first of a series of animal dolls that I plan to make.  They will all live in the forest behind "Thistledown Manor."  Lucy and Mae's mom made her girls' clothing from cast off bits she found in the manor trash.

Originally I made these for my Etsy shop, but now that I have them I like them so much that I'm not ready to part with them.  So I've decided to make my first collection as "prorotypes," and then make others for the shop.  I've also finished a mouse - which I will post soon - and am working on a raccoon.

These little pieces fit so nicely into a fantasy world that I guess I've enjoyed for a very long time.  As a child I played in the woods, and I've long wanted to make animal dolls.  Of course, I've made some.  But this combination of needle-felting and clothing from vintage fabrics just feels right.  When I first started working with needle-felting I didn't think I could achieve the level of detail that I wanted in this medium.  But now I think I can.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Larger Reindeer

I am fortunate to have a custom order through my Etsy shop for a pair of 10" reindeer.  I began yesterday and completed the core wool on one only to find that the reindeer wasn't tall enough.  So this morning it was "back to the drawing board" for some new calculations!

I thought it might be interesting to record the process, plus it will help me to have something to refer back to when I make the second one.

The armature was the first step.  I used 14 gauge aluminum wire except for the toes which are 22 gauge cloth covered florist wire.  Then the whole got a covering of pipe cleaners to help the wool stick.
In this second photo I have the first layers of core wool applied.  So far, this is all wrapping.
 At this point, the core wool is finished.  I added some shapes on the belly and sides and chest, then added the antlers.

The antlers were a challenge because I felt I needed something thicker than the double strand of twisted rusted wire that I've been using for the smaller reindeer.  So, as I formed each of the two antlers, I added a second strand of rusted wire and worked the two as one.  It was difficult, but I was pleased with the result.  When adding the coat of Diamond Glaze I couldn't resist adding a dusting of micro glitter.
Here's the reindeer with his pelt applied.  He's all finished except for the harness.  I'll make both harnesses when I have both reindeers done.  So far, so good!

By the way, I was working on this at my morning room table.  The room has windows on two sides.  At one point I looked up and there was a gorgeous buck standing about 20' away and looking towards me.  I imagined him saying "this is how it's done!"   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to Hatch an Owl

I've decided to see if I can make a felted owl.  As always, the first step was the armature.  For the armature, though, I only fashioned the spine, legs, feet, and a rudimentary skull.  The wings would come later. 

After making the aluminum wire armature, I created polymer clay claws and beak and pressed them around the points on the armature.   The whole thing went into the oven to cure.  Then I added the pipe cleaners so that the wool that I would apply later would have something to stick to.
I began the wool work with the feet, wrapping the individual toes and lower legs with the finish color, then moving upwards over the upper legs, body, and head with off-white core wool.  After building the body up to close to the finished size, I wrapped a wire around the chest with the ends forming the wings,  Once again, I wrapped these wire with pipe cleaners for the wool to stick to.

I wrapped the wing "bones" and continued to wrap the body and head until I had enough bulk to proceed with the finish colors.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Is It?

Today I began another watercolor on masa paper.  At this stage, it's not at all clear what it is!  But all will be soon revealed...  It will have a sweet but mystical feeling - at least that's the goal.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Polar Bears on a Journal Cover

I do enjoy making these journals with the hand-painted canvas covers.  Here's my latest one - a polar bear mom and cub with the northern lights (loosely rendered!) overhead.  I used beautiful iridescent acrylics in parts of the sky, so that effect is really beautiful - more so in person than in the photos, though you can see a bit of it in the second picture.
The canvas I had ordered by-the-yard for these journal covers turned out to be too thin, but I discovered a blank canvas floor cloth that I have had for several years, and it's perfect!  In addition to being a nice weight, it's gesso'd on both sides.
When planning for this journal, I ordered some glass star-shaped buttons from an Etsy shop, but in the end they didn't look quite right.  Perhaps I'll use them if I made a cover with an owl or crows.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

the Power of Playfulness

A Chipmunk has the power of playfulness.  This piece is a companion, in a sense, to the one of the snowy owl because the both depict an animal and honor its spiritual power. If you've ever seen a chipmunk, you know that they are playful indeed.  Of course I'm speaking of their behavior, but even their appearance is playful with those jaunty racing stripes!
After the first session, I did a bit more with the watercolor, deepening the colors in parts of the chipmunk, lily, oak leaf, pansy, and background - well, the whole thing really.  Then I got out my uniball pens and added the white lettering, the fur texture, and some outlining.  I'm so glad I found those pens (on and doubly glad that I found them in various tip sizes, including pretty darn small, and shades of black such as black-green, black-brown, and black-red.  They're very nice pens indeed, with metal tips rather than the synthetic ones like are on Sakura micron pens.

I used a bit of colored pencil, but not much as I found watercolor easier and less likely to damage the paper.  My final step was my metallic Lumiere acrylics. I used copper on the lily stamens, sparkle on the chipmunk's white fur, and indigo, dark green, and turquoise around the edges. These metallics were a nice compliment to the iridescent Daniel Smith watercolors that I used in the background.

My next piece in this technique will probably be a kingfisher.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Chipmunk Has...

Here's the beginning of my next watercolor/mixed media on masa paper.  This is the first few layers of watercolor, plus I've used a black pen for her eye and stripes.  I'm enchanted by the way the watercolor glides over this paper and soaks in without leaving hard edges on the brush strokes.  So, it may be the paper, or perhaps the superb quality of the Daniel Smith watercolors.  Whatever it is, it's a joy to work withy.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Power of Stillness

I'm trying to digest using watercolor on rice masa paper like we did in  Helen Schaeffer Garcia's class at the recent Create Mixed Media Retreat in Seattle by doing several paintings of my own.  This is my first effort.

For some crazy reason I don't like the feel of painting on canvas - I don't like the way the surface gives under my brush.  So now I'm putting the masa paper on board instead.  I'm just using 1/4" thick hardboard that I get from the local home improvement store.  I buy it in 2' by 4' pieces and cut it to the size I need.  I made up two 8" x 10" panels and three 6" x 8" panels.  This owl is 8" x 10".

To prepare the panels, I first sprayed them with primer (also from the home improvement store) then coated them top and edges with Gesso using a small foam paint roller.  I crumpled and soaked the masa paper, squeezed the excess water out of it, uncrumpled it, and applied it straight to the wet gesso which acted as an adherent.  After drying the panels overnight, I had lovely surfaces to paint on.

In Helen's class, due to time restraints, we were painting on a surface that was always at least a little wet.  But at home I could use as much drying time as I wanted - not to mention a hair dryer - so had the option of painting on wet, damp, or dry paper.  This allowed me to control the bleed of color somewhat, so that I could - to some extent - choose whether or not I wanted a hard or a soft edge.

I used watercolors (including iridescents), Lumiere acrylics (which are metallic), black and white Uniball pens, and a bit of colored pencil.  I'm very happy with the result and look forward to doing more.

By the way, the lettering is the Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet which I used to transliterate the English "power of stillness" which is a mystical meaning sometimes attributed to the snowy owl.  I like the look of writing without being distracted by the meaning.  But I also like for the message to be real.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Animal Crackers"


Late in October I attended a mixed media event in Seattle - an inspiring collection of workshops for mixed media artists.  I took two classes and this was the result of one of them.
It's amazing how obvious the answer is once it's in front of you!  As an animal painter, I've long been dissatisfied with my palette - browns, greys, blues, and greens - boring!  Other people might look at a brown dog and see hints of purple in the fur.  I just saw brown.
In Helen Schaeffer Garcia's "Animal Crackers" class, we painted portraits of our pets in watercolor on crumpled masa rice paper which we glued to a canvas.  The "rule" was that we were not to put any neutral tones on our palettes - just pure bright colors.  Of course, one could mix browns and greys from these colors, but I resisted nobly (except for the squirrels where I added a bit of orange to my blue).  So instead of paying such close attention to hue, I focused on value and temperature.  It was so fun!!!
I don't necessarily think I'll continue to work this way, but I will do several paintings in this style as a way of better understanding color.  And hopefully that will then result in a change in my own approach.
And, I have to say that I never thought I could feel comfortable with watercolor, but in this method I am.  Thanks, Helen!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Third Jane Austen Cat is Finished

Here's Fanny Price, Jane Austen's heroine from Mansfield Park, with her knitted cape, cap to shade her fair complexion from the sun, and demure expression.  I think she looks pretty cute.
So now I have a trio of these cats - Elizabeth Bennett, Mary Crawford, and Fanny Price.  I'm not sure what to do with them though.  I guess I could put off that question by reading more Jane Austen novels.  Maybe Northanger Abbey should be next....

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Color for Fanny

Now I've applied the first layer of color to the painting of Fanny Price the cat.  I'm using Polychromos Watercolor pencils.  I find it very difficult - impossible, actually - to get a smooth layer of color over a larger area, but that's OK with me for this because I kind of like the mottled look.  I'm working on Strathmore Mixed Media paper, and I've applied workable fixative over the graphite pencil, so it's very possibly a problem with the surface I'm using rather than with the watercolor pencils themselves, as it seems that the damp brush pushes the paint around on the somewhat slick surface.

I was trying for a less yellow background color.  The pencil I began with was even yellower than this, but I layered a medium brown over it, and then even the purple towards the bottom to try to dull it a bit more.

By the way, I should say that something I really like about Polychromos watercolor pencil is that the colors, once dampened and dried, don't more around under the next wet layer.  The exception I've found to this is black.  Black, even when dry, readily re-wets and moves around.  Little things that one gets to know...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fanny Price, cont.

Here's the second layer of pencil on Fanny Price.  For this layer, I switched to my 2B pencil for darker value contrast than in the first layer.  I didn't go over every single line in the knitted cape, but only here and there.  Mostly I worked on her eyes and face.

As always with pencil, I find it so useful to impress lines into the paper with a stylus - the lines, that is, that I want to remain white, like the whiskers. Inevitably, they get  darker as I work, most often from any water media that I add.  But still, it's a good way to begin with them.

I've had a bit of trouble with her expression.  Fanny is a very serious character, but she may look a bit too glum here!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fanny Price

Here's the beginning of my portrait of Jane Austen's character from Mansfield Park, Fanny Price.  She's very, very proper, and perhaps a bit prim.  She's the daughter of a cat whose poor choices in early life landed her in poverty.  But her generous uncle, who had room in both his heart and home, took her in as a small kitten.  Great things are in store for her.  But, for the moment, she's demurely clad in a bonnet and knitted capelet.

This phase of the drawing comprises all my work with HB lead.  I'm establishing the basic drawing as well as the beginnings of the values and textures.  I'm working on Strathmore Mixed Media paper which I like very much.  Not only does it take graphite pencil well, but it's wonderful with all wet media - which come later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Bears are at the Lake

 I imagine myself entertaining at my imaginary woodland cabin in the foothills.  This is the perfect centerpiece for my table - a unique, one-of-a-kind ceramic bowl for floating candles.  Look how the candlelight reflects off of the bears!

The bottom of the bowl is glazed a rich dark blue and there are raised white stars - the night sky.  And it seems that it's the summer night sky because of the full rich green leaves.

I can't tell you why I have totally ignored scale in this piece.  Clearly the leaves are way too big for the bears, or vice versa.  But I just didn't care.  For me, it's not bothersome.  The bears are clearly in the woods. This is a decorative piece and the rules of reality are banished!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Mouse in a Rose

I didn't quite achieve what I wanted to with this one.  I wanted a mouse tucked among the petals of the rose, but I just couldn't do it.  For the rose to keep its form, the petals had to be somewhat dry, but then they were to dry to bend around the mouse.  So the best I could do was make the flower and then try to make the mouse look like she's perched on a petal.

Also, that tail is so fragile that I didn't want to mess with it much.  So, here it is, ready to dry and go into the kiln.  I'm hoping that the glaze will make the design a bit clearer.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cat Shaman Again

I did a cat shaman a few months ago but never glazed it.  I'm not that happy with it, I guess, so I decided to try the subject again.  This one is better.  I wonder why cats are so hard to draw or sculpt?  They're not that different in structure from other animals, but somehow they elude me.  Perhaps practice in the answer.

It doesn't show so well in this picture, but when I formed the basic cone for the body, I got the idea of cutting a leaf shape from the bottom corner on the left.  It turned out pretty cool, and when it's glazed I'll take a photo where that part shows better.

I'm taking more time and care on the construction of these pieces now.  I used to leave the bottom open and you could look up inside and see where the head pokes in, etc.  On this one, I added a piece to cover the bottom.  That's where I put my signature stamp, instead of up inside, and it looks better and more polished.  Of course I had to poke a hole in it so the air can escape when it's fired.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

An Interlude with Clay

I'm back to clay for a while, and here's my first effort in this new batch.  Obviously, it's a vase.  It's about 8" tall with two polar bears at the top.  The pattern on the front is snowflakes from a variety of rubber stamps.  The bear on the right is boosting himself upwards by stepping on a snowflake that sticks out somewhat from the vase.
I pressed the stamps into the clay after I formed the vase, and this was a mistake.  Even though I had my other hand on the inside of the vase behind the stamp, I wasn't able to get a nice clear impression.  At that point, though, I really didn't want to start over as it had been quite an effort to build this vase - which I did with clay slabs.  So I just decided to go with it and lesson learned for the future!
I'm still thinking about what glazes I'll use.  I have a pretty celadon crackle which might be nice for the body of the vase.  But that decision is in the future - after drying and bisque firing.
Whenn I began this project I realized that it didn't quite make "sense."  Why would you use a vase in the winter time?  What would you put in it?  Would the contents obscure the bears?  Well, we'll just have to see.  I think bare winter branches might be one nice possibility.  Or perhaps those fake branches that have little lights on them...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn Fox Painting - Finished!

I finished the autumn fox painting.  It was a matter of working more on the foreground grass and adding the crows.  Despite the fact that the reason I did this painting was for my autumn banner for my Etsy shop, I'm pleased with the painting on its own.  Etsy banners are a difficult size - 760 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall, so very long and narrow.  For me, it's better to do a whole painting then take a slice from it than to begin desigining something that weird size.

It was gratifying to get back to painting for a while.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Back to the Fox Painting

Here's the next stage of the autumn fox painting.  I worked more on the trees, defining the shadow areas, adding brighter highlights here and there, and adding more branches.

Then I worked on the field.  I was itching to get to the fox, but had to finish what would be behind him first.  The field is mostly Raw Sienna, Taupe, and Yellow Ochre with washes of Dioxazine Purple for the shadow under the fox and the darker area at the bottom of the painting.

Finally, it was on to the fox.  I usually paint animals by blocking in color and then deepening the color and building form and texture with a liner brush.  But this time I substituted a small, beat up round bristle brush for the liner brush and liked the results it gave.  In some areas I dabbed with it, and in others, I stroked.  I guess it was sort of like painting with dry brush.  Of course, for the small details in the face I did use my liner brush as well as small round and flat Golden Taklon brushes.

This would be a good time to put in a plug for my favorite brushes - they're Scharff brushes from  Check them out if you have a chance!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Pleasant Interruption

A friend asked me to make two journals as gifts for her new (by marriage) granddaughters, and I was happy and honored to oblige.  Ironically, I had been thinking for the past few days that I would like to get back to making journals.  That, and the fact that the theme was to be cats, made the project - an interruption to my progress on my autumn fox painting - a very pleasant interruption indeed.
It was such a treat to paint the cats, and fun to select the buttons and thread for the binding.  Although I already had buttons that would work, I decided to go to a sewing store to find the ones that would be absolutely perfect.  Much to my surprise, there were no buttons at all in this shade of blue!  How we consumers are held hostage by the fashion palette of the season!
I am happy to report that my friend was pleased with the journals, and also that I'm planning to make more.  I'd like to do one with a polar bear and one with an owl - perhaps a snowy owl.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Beginning my Autumn Fox Painting

I never did get around to doing a painting to take my Etsy shop's summer banner from, so I'm determined not to have the same lapse for fall.  Here's the very beginning.

Except for a few final touches, I feel that I have to complete the trees before I proceed to either the field or the fox since both will overlap the trees to some extent.

At this stage I've worked two layers over the left part of the trees, but only one in the right portion.  It's interesting how the placement of the darks suggests a break in the trees just right of center.  It feels like you could walk back into the trees directly back from the fox's shoulders and enter a little path that would turn to the right behind the bright orange tree.  In reality, I put the colors on more or less randomly and then only saw this effect once I took the photo.  I plan to capitalize on this happy accident.

So there's a real-life example of how common wisdon - "step back from your painting" - is wisdom indeed.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ready for Hibernation


When I make a little animal - needle-felting, clay, or whatever - I try to add a detail to make it special.  In this case, I remembered a group of flannel fabrics that I had bought some years ago to make a bear theme quilt.  Why not use a bit of it for a quilt for this little bear?  As I worked on the quilt, I realized that the addition of the quilt made this piece a hibernating bear!
I really like this method of needle felting that yields a posable animal.  I could pose him perfectly, holding the blankie and perhaps sucking his thumb.  He is indeed ready for a long winter's sleep!
When I began making him I intended to make something for my Etsy shop to raise some funds for Idaho Black Bear Rehab.  But now that I see him I'm not so sure I want to part with him.  So I'll probably making another for in the shop.
I'm so glad I came across needle-felting - love it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mice for my Christmas Card

Today I finished the little painting that I'm going to use for my Christmas card this year.  The young mice are sleeping soundly this Christmas eve.  They have to be asleep or Santa won't come!  But what's Madelaine doing?

She can't help but be enthralled by the light of that most beautiful of stars.  She knows it signifies something special - far more special than presents or sweets.  And, indeed, she's right...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More on Mary Crawford

 I forgot to take a scan after the watercolor pencil layer, but this is what is looked like with the watercolor pencil and then some regular colored pencil over that.

To apply the watercolor pencil - that is, the water that you use with it - I had to first spray the graphite with workable fixative.  Sometimes I have problems with water sticking to it and this was one of those times.  This shows itself especially in the mottled background.  But two coats subdued the mottles somewhat and then a bit of colored pencil helped even more.  I'm not unhappy with it because I knew it would probably happen and I think it's kind of interesting.

Then I applied more workable fixative because of the colored pencil.

The final step was to add a bit of acrylic paint.  I added it around the eyes and a bit here and there to intensify the colors in the fur.  But mostly I used it for the sheer layers of the clothing.  I also used Daler-Rowney white acrylic ink in a crow quill pen for the netting work on the sleeve.

I think she's lovely.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mary Crawford - the pencil stage

I've started another Jane Austen cat.  This one is Mary Crawford from "Mansfield Park."  At this stage, the pencil drawing is nearly complete.  The challenge is that putting them in human clothes changes the shape of the body and, in this case, of the shoulders and upper arms.  It's a bit disturbing, and I suppose it takes a lot of practice to get it right.

The next step is the watercolor pencil.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Elizabeth Bennet

A few of my art friends have advised me that I should make prints of some of my 2D artwork for my Etsy shop.  I've resisted the idea because I don't want to buy a bunch of prints and have them hanging around and not selling.  The only way it would work for me would be "print on demand" and that doesn't work with going to a print shop.  So the only viable solution that I can see is to print my own.

Then the next problem is that I've never had a scanner that did any kind of decent job on drawings, and drawings are something I really like to do.  After doing some research on home scanners, I bought the Epson Perfection V550 Photo Color Scanner.  The "photo" part threw me a bit since I'm scanning artwork and not photos, but I took the plunge.

Here's the scan of a small piece that I just finished - a mixed media drawing of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" heroine Elizabeth Bennet.  It's graphite, colored pencil, and a bit of acrylic paint.  I'm really happy with it and very glad I made this purchase.  The next step is the printer!