Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
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
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
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
Sunday, December 14, 2014
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
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.
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.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
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 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
Monday, November 10, 2014
Sunday, November 9, 2014
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
Friday, November 7, 2014
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
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
It was gratifying to get back to painting for a while.
Monday, October 6, 2014
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 http://www.artbrush.com. Check them out if you have a chance!
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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
Thursday, September 25, 2014
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
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
The next step is the watercolor pencil.
Monday, September 15, 2014
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!