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Monday, August 31, 2015

Dove Collage, continued again...

I decided that I needed a few more pieces in the collage and added two small pieces of calligraphy as well as the teabag leaf at the lower left.  I've also continued working more on blending the edges around the drawings to the point where I think I've done enough. 
Now it's time to attach the crown which I made from paper clay and painted with a two-step rust patina.  I glued it on with molding paste.  I deepened the color beneath the crown.
Although I'm generally happy with the piece, the texture of the green leaves and the cut edges of the upper frog really bother me.  That whole area is a mess.  And I don't like the acorn cap drawing.  What to do?  After much consideration, and reluctance to take such a drastic step, I've decided to cover these elements with molding paste to smooth the surface.  This will bury the upper frog drawing, so I'll have to do another one which is sad because I like this one.  But I just can't leave the area the way it is. to make these changes...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dove Collage, continued again

I wish I hadn't pushed the calligraphy so far back, so I bring it forward again a bit by darkening abound it and between the two pieces.

Now I'm beginning to blend the edges around the drawings into the background with successive washes of diluted acrylic.  I'm working towards a point where the drawings, not the torn pieces, are the images the eye sees.  I've also added a subtle halo around the dove's head. The intense texture of the green paper leaves is bothering me, but I plunge ahead.

Dove Collage, continued

I added another layer of thinned acrylic to deepen the color and also to push back the first layer of collage elements  Then I applied the remaining elements with matte gel medium.  The green leaves are textured paper that I tinted with watercolor.  The brownish leaves are torn from teabag skins  The rest of the pieces are drawings.
The edges of all the pieces are torn, with the exception of the lower part of the moth and most of the upper frog which are closely cut with scissors.  I would come to regret those precise cuts...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

First Step on the Dove Collage

Getting started is the hardest part but here I am, finally finishing the first painting session on my dove collage.  I will be working in lots of layers, and this is the foundation for the deepest background.
I selected my main colors (light body acrylics thinned with water) and blocked them in with washes over a few pieces of old book pages that I "glued" to the surface with acrylic matt gel medium.  Then I added another book page, plus the calligraphy I did telling the story of this piece.  I ripped the calligraphy into two pieces and set them at an angle to each other.  I also added some patches of light molding paste and coarse molding paste with a palette knife.
I don't have an exact roadmap for where I'm going, but I've decided on the placement of the main pieces and just try to make sure that each layer is pleasing in itself.
A little bit about the calligraphy.  I had a terrible time with a calligraphy pen so ended up using a brush tip marker.  The results aren't the same as they would be with a pen because with the brush the line thickens and thins with pressure whereas with the pen the line thickens and thins with the angle you hold the pen tip.  The only brush tip marker I had was sepia; black probably would have been better.  I "aged" the paper with tea bags.  All the edges are torn.
By the way, if you tear the excess paper away from you, your "right" side of your image has a smooth surface all the way to the edge.  On the other hand, if you tear the excess paper towards you, the "right" side of the image has a layered edge with the various layers of the paper showing.  These layers will accept paint differently and it gives a more varied look.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Getting Serious

Yes, it's time to get serious - some "fine" art for a change.

Here are the assembled bits for my next (second) collage built around my drawings.  There's a dove, a butterfly, and two frogs as well as calligraphy telling the story behind the image, stars cut from rusted can lids (from my "rust farm") and various vaguely leaf shaped bits from various papers.  Oh, and shapes torn from pages from one of my textbooks from long ago, the plays of Aeschylus in ancient Greek.  Quite an eclectic collection, don't you think?  But that's what makes it fun.

Here's the story in the calligraphy, although it won't all be legible in the final piece:

"Long ago the great king died.  His progeny ruled after him and theirs after them.  But eventually the line died out and the dynasty ended.  The palace crumbled.  The royal furnishing mouldered and rotted away.  The precious jewels fell from the crown and the crown itself rusted.  After a while a forest grew from the ruins.  A sapling hooked the crown and bore it upwards as it grew. The crown became a nest in the canopy and a new dynasty begins."

I'll probably be making more bits as I go.  But tomorrow I will start constructing!  Time to get out the gel medium and all those jars of fun things!

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Fish Necklace

I made two stoneware fish for a necklace and glazed each with a different glaze.  The feel so smooth and nice!  Before I fired them, I carved a curved channel in the flat back, going from mouth to tail, so that I could string them later.  I would have been ideal to have a hole running through them, but I couldn't figure out how to do that (but I have an idea for next time...).
The bead embroidery centerpiece features a gorgeous piece of green milk sea glass and a fossilized sand dollar, as well as a small moonstone cabochon and a few freshwater pearls.  I've used different colors and sizes of seed beads.  I find bead embroidery so relaxing - I should do more!

The colors in this photo of the finished piece are off - the ones in the top photo are more true.
Anyway, constructing the necklace was tricky.  When I made the fish I also made the small shell for a button style closure.  The cord is hemp.  The way it works is that a single hemp cord begins at the center of the necklace, loops through the hole in the base of the shell closure (the button) and back to the center.  Then for the other half of the necklace the cord continues, forms a loop (the button-hole), then back to the middle.
At the buttonhole end, I macramed another piece of hemp around the loop of the original cord using half hitch knots, then used the two ends to knot around original cords back to where the fish should be.  I glued the cords (no knots) into the channel in the fish then trimmed the ends of the new cord at the halfway point where the pendant is.  For the other side, I knotted a piece of hemp around the original cord at the base of the shell then knotted it down to the other fish, glued the cords(no knots)  in the trough, then trimmed the ends of the new cord like on the other side.
I glued pieces of ultrasuede on the backs of the fish to help hold the cords in place but also for a finished look.
The final step was to closely bind all the cords where the pendant would hang with sewing thread.  Then I constructed a peyote strip at the top of the pendant and closed it over the cord.  Voila!
The construction was a challenge to figure out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


This is the fourth (and final, for the group) of the rescue dog portraits for the greeting cards to benefit Foothill Dog Rescue.
This sweetheart is "Sprite."  As with the other three, I painted him with acrylics, in a watercolor style, on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  I just love this paper.  It absolutely doesn't buckle and take the paint very well.
This one has a mistake that I will try never to repeat.  Perhaps you can see the vertical pencil line a bit in from the left side.  I drew my 5" x 7" frame then did the drawing in it.  My mistake was that I should have checked that I liked the placement within the frame before I painted any of the background.  Once that first background layer was in, those pencil lines were sealed forever!  So when I cropped the painting differently than I had originally planned, there's the ugly line showing!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Kasey and Ferris

This is my latest portrait - Ferris.  He's one of the many, many dogs that Foothill Dog Rescue has taken in and found a forever home for.  He's a terrier mix with the brightest eyes and sweetest expression.

This portrait is acrylics on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  The most challenging part was the fur. 

On my other portraits in this series, I've been able to paint the fur by blocking in colors for the under-painting then painting the fur with a small liner brush, slowly building up color and texture.

This one was a different type of challenge, however.  The light colors required me to use a lot of opaque colors rather than the transparent ones I've used in the other paintings.  During much of the process I didn't have much hope, but in the end he worked out fine.  I'm especially happy with the selection of the background color with Ferris' champagne fur.
This is the final version of Kasey's portrait.  When I posted it before it was nearly done.  But here I've worked more on the ears, adding shadows and integrating them better with the head.

I hope the cards that I'll have made from the portraits can raise some money for Foothill Dog Rescue.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cleaning Pays Off!


 I was helping my sister clean her back room and during the process she was going to through away this sweet little frame - so I salvaged it!  The opening is a 3 3/4" square and I thought it would be very nice indeed with a little bird portrait.

So the next day I was to have three hours of idle time when I was doing my scheduled shift at the reception desk at our local art club's annual show.  I decided it would be the perfect time to work on this little painting.  I did the drawing ahead of time, on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  I took my watercolors and brushes to the show and was able to finish this little painting in the 3 hours.

After working recently on my dog portraits with acrylic, it was a little challenging to adjust to the water color where the lower color layers tend to lift.  But I got through it.  I sprayed the painting with a clear acrylic matte spray.  There is no matt in this frame, so the painting would be directly against the glass and I thought it would need protection.

I think the painting looks so nice in the frame.  It's going in my Etsy shop and I think it will make a dear little piece of "cottage chic home d├ęcor."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Portrait of Kasey

I'm starting my second shelter dog portrait.  Meet Kasey!  Isn't she a beauty?  Her body and legs are long and lanky and she reminds me of a wolf.

I began with the drawing, working directly on Strathmore series 400 mixed media paper.  I let the drawing sit overnight and, sure enough, the next morning I saw errors that I needed to correct.

Then I began the painting, using soft body acrylics from Liquitex and Golden.  First I blocked in the color areas with thin washes, then began the tiny brush strokes that I'm so comfortable with to build color and texture.

Needs more work.  Specifically, I need to integrate the ears better into the head and add dimension all around.  But so far, so good.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Another Fairy Garden

I just can't seem to help myself!  When I was making the fairy towers (one is still waiting to be glazed) I just had to make one for myself even though I already have four fairy gardens on my deck.  Here it is.
As you can see, this one is small, just in a 14" low bulb pot.  The "tree" is an azalea I found at our local nursery that has very tiny leaves and lilac, star-shaped blooms in the spring,  The roundish plant in the front is a miniature coral bells.  The "bush" to the right of the coral bells is another azalea - a bonsai start.
I made the little fence by poking pointed sticks into the ground for the posts, then weaving long thin green branches between the posts.  The arch is an oak branch green enough that I could bend it and stick the ends far enough into the soil to hold its shape.  The little plants on either side are miniature ivies.  The leaves are so tiny - about 1/4" across!
I found the coral bells and the miniature ivies on a wonderful web site,  If you're making a fairy garden, check it out!