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Friday, January 29, 2016

"Tea in the Hedge" session 2

At this point, I've blocked in the far background, working to establish the fundamental colors and values.  When I was done, I noticed that the right side is quite a bit darker than the left side.  I didn't intent that, but I like it because the left part of the background seems pushed back father than the right side.

I've painted around the branches and fern fronds because I didn't want to lose my lines.

So far so good with painting on the drawing paper mounted onto the board.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Tea in the Hedge" session 1

I prepared the painting board by sealing a piece of 1/4" hardboard.  I then dampened my drawing, applied a layer of matte gel medium to the board, then smoothed the drawing in place, rolling from the center outwards with a brayer to remove any trapped air.  At first the paper buckled a bit, but it flattened out completely after drying overnight.

But I did learn something important.  I first drew the hedgehogs, then found that I needed them to be a different size.  So I re-sized the drawing on the computer, then cut it out and pasted it to a plain sheet of paper, them continued with the drawing.  This may have been a mistake, for two reasons.  First, the printed paper from the computer buckled a lot worse than the drawing paper.  Second, the line where one kind of paper ends and the other begins shows on the painting, even after a layer of oil paint.  So I will avoid this cutting and pasting in the future.

Anyway, I then coated the board with two coats of transparent gesso and when that was dry, began painting with my oil paints.  The paints went onto the surface beautifully!  And I didn't have to transfer any drawings!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Barn Swallow is Finished

Here's the finished barn swallow painting sitting in a frame.  The differences from the last photo are small but, hopefully, important.  Mainly I've lightened the sky holes in the background and darkened the lower portion.  On the bird, I lightened the shadow under his left wing, deepened the tips of the tail, and worked more on the feet.

The barn swallow is the only swallow with a deeply forked tail, which I think is so elegant.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Second Swallow Painting

Following the painting of the cliff swallow, I am now starting on the second of three swallow paintings, a barn swallow.  I forgot to take a photo after the initial painting session, but here he is after two sessions. The feet are always the hardest part!

I still have some work to do, especially in the background.  I need more contrast there to not make the bird look so much like a cut out.  And also I need to work on those feet and lighten the shadow under his left wing - it's so dark that it looks like a continuation of the dark blue on the back of his head.

I'm a little uncomfortable with setting him a tree.  Mostly I see these birds on telephone wires. I should have thought this through a bit more in the beginning - nothing new there!

I am really liking painting in oils...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Glazing - Finally!

I sculpted and bisque fired these pieces back in November.  While I was waiting for the frame for my "Tea in the Hedge" painting to arrive, it seemed like a good time to finally get around to glazing them.
I actually also took a photo of the pieces in the kiln before I started it, but I accidentally deleted that photo from my camera.  It's a shame because it would be interesting to put the before and after shots side by side and see how dramatically the colors change with the heat, but....
I was pleased with the way the glazes turned out, and will post each one of these little characters separately.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Next Step for "Tea in the Hedge"

I've now gone as far as I'm planning to on the drawing for the "Tea in the Hedge" painting.  I've ordered a vintage frame from Etsy and the listing said that the inside dimension is 9 5/8" by 13 5/8".  I'm thinking she measured the actual opening on the frame rather than the size of the rabbet on the back, in which case, the painting itself would probably be 10" by 14".  But I'm not going to cut any board or go any further until I have the frame in hand and can be sure of the measurements.
Meanwhile, after drawing all this - what I consider to be - detail, I'm wondering how I will transfer the drawing to the board for an oil painting.  If I were working with acrylics, I'd work back to front and transfer the different elements as I needed them.  But I'm not sure I can work that way with oil.  For one thing, the paint might not be dry when I need to transfer, and for another I'm not sure whether the graphite paper impression would stick to oil.
So, I have a radical thought!  I think I might glue this drawing to the board then coat it will transparent gesso and go from there.  For the first layer, until I had all the elements established, I'd be painting around elements rather than over them.  In other words, I wouldn't paint the whole sky then paint the branches and leaves over it, but would paint the branches and then paint the sky in between.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I'm Beginning a "Serious" Oil Painting

It felt like it was time to do a painting.  And, coincidentally, I was looking through the latest issue of Best Friends' Magazine, the magazine of a wonderful animal rescue organization in Utah.  As I turned the page I was transfixed by two small photos of an enchanting hedgehog!  It immediately seemed that "Tea in the Hedges" would be a fun theme to paint.

After fooling around a bit with the drawing, this is what I came up with for the central figures.  I'm still working on a mouse to share the cookies with the hedgies.

A bit later I was surfing Etsy and decided to look for vintage picture frames.  I found two vintage examples of what are called Adirondack frames.  They are carved dark wood - perhaps walnut - and are in the shape of branches crossing at the corners.  Also at the corners are carved leaves.  One of those seems perfect for this picture (with the slight use of artistic license that hedgehogs don't live in America in the wild).

I'm waiting till the frame arrives to cut the wood panel for the painting as I want to be sure of the fit.  But in the meantime I'll be developing the drawing.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Evangeline's Outfit

I've finished Evangeline's dress and here she is holding her little toy rabbit.
As with all my animal doll clothes, this dress is completely hand-sewn.  It opens with a placket in the front down to her waistline.  There are two tucks on each side of the front of the bodice.  There is a small pocket on the right side.  The neck opening, sleeve ruffles, and pocket opening are edged with vintage pink baby ricrac.  The button is a small vintage pink plastic button in the shape of a little flower. 
I didn't originally intend for there to be a ruffle around the bottom, but I cut the dress pieces a bit too short, so corrected that problem with the ruffle.  I began to run a row of ricrac around the top of the ruffle, but I took it back off because I think it was too much.
As for the rabbit toy, I needle felted it over a cut-out of wool felt.  The ears are wool felt.  The eyes and nose are glass beads.  I used chalk to add a bit of color to her cheeks and the inner ears.  The final touch was a ribbon around her neck with a ribbon rose.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Finished Cat Clock

I've finished the clock.  After finishing the painting I added some details that hopefully make it look vintage.
First, I added a truly vintage glass cabinet knob to the top.  The knob is pressed glass - a fairy simple faceted design - with an aged brass base.
But the most fun was adding the crackle finish whose details you can see in the picture below.  This is a Delta product and comes in two parts, both of which dry clear.  After adding a coat of the Step 1 finish and letting it dry about 20 minutes, you add a coat of the Step 2 finish and let it dry thoroughly, ideally overnight.  As the step 2 coat dries over the step 1 coat it forms tiny cracks.  I sealed it with a coat of satin varnish.  You can then apply an antiquing coat to bring out the cracks. 
For the antiquing, I used a 1:1 mixture of Burnt Umber Americana acrylic paint and Americana glazing medium.  Virtually as soon as I brushed this mixture on I wiped it back off with a small piece of an old t-shirt which left the brown glaze in the cracks.  I worked in small areas to be sure that the antiquing glaze couldn't dry before I wiped it off.
There were a few scary moments during this process when the coating, which was supposed to be clear, clouded up.  Fortunately, it cleared up again as it dried!
The one thing that the finish did that I'm not sure I'm happy with was to dull the bold brushwork.  I considered painting over it to brighten it up but decided against it because (a) I wasn't sure I could do a good enough job of painting directly over the original strokes and (b) I thought it might look strange with that part not antiqued.  Anyway, there it is!

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Cat Clock

I'm starting a clock with a cat painted on  it.  I made the clock base from pine.  The large hole is for the clock "fit up" while the smaller hole going all the way through is to press the fit up out from the back to change the battery or re-set the time.  I got the clock fit up from

I painted the base blue and light cream.  The blue is actually a mix of two blues, one slightly turquoise.  I had puddles of both colors on the palette and moved randomly from one to the other when I reloaded my brush.  I outlined the cat and the hole for the clock with a float of a turquoise-green.

At that point, I did the liner work with metallic gold.  I really like Jo Sonja's Pale Gold and Rich Gold.  Those paints are acrylic gouache.

Then on to the cat.  As you can see, I based the fur with Yellow Ochre.  From there, I painted the eyes, then began on the fur, using tiny strokes.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Pantaloon Onesies for the Rabbit Child

The child rabbit finally has some clothes.  Not that she really minded running through the fields in her birthday suit!  But she quite likes her new onsies with the longer legs and crocheted trim around the bottom.

Actually, in this photo I've only as yet done the crochet work around one leg hem, but the other will be done soon.  Then it's on to the dress.

I have some very cute fabric for her dress.  It's new cotton fabric, but a tiny 30's style print of little rabbits in boats.  The fabric has a cornflower blue background and the rabbits are white with tiny touches of pink.  I'm thinking a simple pinafore style that will let the crochet on the pantaloons hems show.