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Friday, February 14, 2014

Daisy's Finished

 
My portrait of my dear dog Daisy is finished now.  In addition to portaying her sweet spirit, I had an art goal in mind.  A few years ago I took a workshop from Carel Brest van Kempen who is a wonderful artist and a Master member of the Society of Animal Artists.  As part of the class,, students were to bring a few examples of their work and one of the pieces I took was a drawing of the head and bust of an older Golden Retriever.  I was fairly pleased with the drawing, but Carel observed that it had a flatness to it.  So when working on this piece, I kept in mind that I wanted to be sure to portray depth.
 
I hope I succeeded, mainly in painting the white areas.  I used three different whites, keeping the lightest to only a few areas.
 
Common art wisdom is to avoid using black and to use white very sparingly.  So in this piece I have broken at least one of those rules.  I actually like using black.  But I did use burnt umber and dioxazine purple with it. 
 
My final step was to tone down most of the red background with washes of burnt umber. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Bit More on Daisy

After a few more hourse of working on this painting, this is where I am.  There is one big difference between this painting and my source photo which I may or may not decide to change.  In the photo, rather than having a shadow under her chin, the light is brightening the white fur and her chin, being in shadow, is darker.  It's an interesting effect, and an unusual way of showing that her muzzle is projecting forward.  So I may try to re-create this as I work further on this painting.

Last night I put the painting up beside the television so I could look at it leisurely.  As a result, I saw several little corrections that I want to make in the drawing, which I'll do first think when I return to work on her.  Even though all the colors are blocked in, there's still a lot to do.

By the way, since I took this photo with the painting at an angle, the light is capturing some of the metallic gold showing through the background about Daisy's head.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Color Red

Our art club has started having monthly themes that we paint to then we talk about the pieces at our meetings.  This month's theme is "anything red."  I've had a very difficult time deciding what, if anything, to do for this challenge as red is a color I almost never work with.

After several ideas that didn't go anywhere, I ran across a nice photo of my beautiful dog, now in doggie heaven, Daisy.  So I decided to do a classic style portrait with a rich red background.

I started by making a textured surface which is a piece of hardboard that I sealed with primer.  Next, I applied a coat of thick molding paste, mostly in the areas where Daisy would not be.  I mushed the molding paste around with my fingers and torn edges of cardboard until I was happy with it.  Finally, I toned it with thinned burnt Sienna.  I wanted it to have an old world feel.
 

After transferring my drawing with white transfer paper, I began working on the background.  To begin, I scumbled in three different reds, cadmium red medium, napthol red, and quinacrodine burnt orange.  I applied a layer of somewhat transparent gold over that, then added more red, wiping the red back to allow some of the gold to show where the texture is raised.

I finished my first day's painting session by blocking in some of the main colors.  And, of course I couldn't resist beginning to paint the eyes and nose.  I'm off to a good start.  But then I find that the starts always look the best as they leave so much to the imagination.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wow! Pretty Good!

 
I'm surprised and pleased with the way the little girl came out of the kiln.  Of course I would get a lot more detail with painting, but I'm happy with this.  I think the dark at the tips of the ears and on the toes really adds to the look.  The blending between colors could have been smoother, but I was a bit hesitant because I didn't know how it would work.  Now I know, and it will be better next time.  So, I'm happy.
 
By the way, the way I kept track of the colors was to open the jars of glaze I was using and place the lids right in front of the jars with my fired color chips on top of the lids for reference.  I'll use this method again.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Ceramic Hare for my Forest Shrine

I've really been enjoying working with ceramics.  One of the projects I'm working on is a forest shrine, and this little rabbit/hare will play a prominent role.

So far, I've just been sculpting with the clay and doing some very simple glazing such as the roof on my fairy house.  But with this hare, the time has come to do more complicated glazing work and I'm having a hard time.  I really like the sculpting, but I'm scared that I'll ruin the whole thing with the glazing.

When I draw or paint, I am very precise with my placement of colors and I work hard with a variety of colors to render fur.  It seems that this approach will not be possible with glazes, so I'll have to come up with a new look.

Here are the unfired glazes.  As far as I can tell so far, there are two tricky parts.  The first one is keeping track of which un-fired glaze color turns into which fired glaze color.  It's completely unintuitive and it's a real challenge to keep track of what color I'm putting where.

The other challenge is that the glaze requires three coats.  So not only do I need to get the colors placed correctly, but I need to get them lined up for each of the three coats.  Of course in some places they overlap, and I'm wondering what will happen there.

The piece is in the kiln now, so tomorrow morning I'll get to see how I did.