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Monday, March 28, 2016

More Clay Creatures

Over the past few days I've been working in clay and now have these four completed.  They're sitting on top of my large kiln drying for their first firing, although I will actually fire them in my small kiln as they just fit and it will mean a lower firing cost.

In the past it's taken me so long to finish pieces that I've sculpted in clay, but this time I'm going to try to speed up the process by getting right to the glazing after they're bisque fired.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Something so Cool!

It's probably three or four years ago now that I made this necklace.d  I sculpted the otters, waterlilies, and lily pads from polymer clay then used them as focal points and a beaded and fringed necklace. I was so pleased that this piece won a Gold Medal in Fire Mountain Gem's seed bead competition that year.

A few days ago I got an e-mail from Fire Mountain Gems notifying me that my "Otter Romance" necklace would be featured in their full page back cover ad in "Ukrainian Fashion and Handicraft Magazine."  They sent me a complimentary copy of the magazine and I was absolutely thrilled to see the ad in Russian.

Fire Mountain Gems is a company that is very supportive of artists, and I greatly appreciate them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Something Different

Our local art club had an art challenge last month and the subject was "trees."  Here's the piece I did, entitled "My Tree is My Temple.  It's mixed media.  Unfortunately, I didn't take photos throughout the process, so all I have to show you is this finished product.

I began by developing the overall concept that the center would be a watercolor portrait of a tree on Masa paper, while the outside would be a collage with acrylic pastes and paints, then the calligraphy and birds.

So I began by applying the masa paper to the center part.  I crumpled the paper and let it soak in water for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, I coated the part of the board (oh, I should have said that the surface is a cradled board that I made from hardboard and pine strips) with PVA glue watered down to half strength.  I wrung out the masa paper, uncrumpled it, and smoothed it over the glued area.  You can, to some extent, control how smooth the surface is by rolling - or not - with a brayer.  I rolled a little bit.

The next step was the collage around the edges.  I collected the papers I wanted to use and "glued" them down with matte gel medium.  I prefer to tear the edges.  Sometimes I overlap the papers, and sometimes I fold them down over the edges.  When I was done, I obscured some of the paper with a thin coat of gesso, then applied molding paste and coarse molding paste here and there, usually with a palette knife.  This is how I built up the "frame" around the watercolor paper.  The whole time I was working on the collage, I was careful not to get anything on the masa paper in the center.

Next I completed the watercolor of the tree.  I wanted to finish it first so that I could key the values in the frame to not overpower the tree.  I stenciled the diamond shapes at the bottom with a cardboard cut-out, and did the lettering with a brush.

Using Golden fluid acrylics, I then washed glazes of color over the collage area until I was happy with the color and values.  The next to last step was to paint the birds, which I also did in acrylic.  Finally, I applied the gold paint, which is also Golded fluid acrylic.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another Young Rabbit

I needle-felted another young rabbit - just for fun, and for my Etsy shop!  It's always fun making these little creatures, and especially fun dressing them.  I didn't make underwear for Claire - just the little romper.  Maybe wild rabbits don't wear underwear.  But the do have dolls!

One of the most useful techniques I've developed is one I use for wings and large ears.  I cut the basic shape from wool felt, two for each ear, sew them together around the edges except for the bottom, slip loops of wire into them, then wrap the wire around the head part way through the felting process.  The key is to use wool felt so that the wool fibers will stick without having to build up a thick layer.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Annie Cat's Finished!

All done now!

I put tea in the cup, strengthened the shadows, did more work on the spoon, and that was it.  Adding the tea to the cup was scary.  I was using transparent Burnt Sienna, and I figured that I couldn't rework it and so had only one chance to get it right!

I'm not sure I like this painting all that much.  I have the nagging feeling that I should have thought it through more before I started.  But still it's a nice addition to my suite of tea paintings and will fit well in my dining room which I've converted to a tea room.

I'm honored to have been able to paint this sweet and fortunate cat!

Friday, March 18, 2016

More Annie Cat

I pretty much keep working on Annie Cat herself in each painting session.

Beyond that, this time I added the patterns to the teapot, cup, and saucer, working on the cookies and more on the spoon.  Also, I washed vertical highlights and shadows on the curtains to make it look more like they are handing in folds.  With the shadow washes, I darkened the area behind the teapot.

Then I set up the painting next to my TV and spent the evening looking at it and figuring out what to do next.  I didn't quite like it, but wasn't sure what was wrong.  But one of the "wrong" things that became clear was that the color patterns on the back end of Annie made it look like there was a hip and thigh there that were a bit too far back.  Hmmm.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Working on Annie Cat

I did quite a bit of work in this session.  I worked more on the cat, added the damask pattern to the tablecloth and the pattern to the lace curtains.  Then I establish the basic shapes of the teapot, cup and saucer, and plate, along with their gold trim. I painted the lemon and the first attempt at the spoon.  I also added shadows on the tablecloth.

This session was pretty much just hard work, plodding along to establish all the basic shapes and local colors.  From here it will be a process or correction and refinement.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Starting a New Painting for the "Tea Suite"

As I may have mentioned before, I'm aiming for four painting with tea and animals as the theme.
This is the beginning of the second one - actually, it's the second one I'm working on, but will be the fourth in the eventual set - "Tea in the Hedge" (hedgehogs), "Tea in the Tree" (squirrels), "Underground Tea" (badgers), and "Tea with Thee" (this one!).

For my model, I'm using a photo from an Etsy listing for a teacup which I bought (with the photographer's permission, of course).  "Annie" is a beautiful cat who started life with a sad kitten story, but then was found by a family of angels and has lived happily ever since.  I am honored to paint her.

The teapot in the background is one that I've purchased on Etsy.  I'm going kind of "tea room" crazy!  But it's so fun collecting these beautiful bone china treasures.

Anyway, the plan is that the pink part is a pink damask tablecloth, and the green area will be lace curtains eventually.  Right now I'm just blocking in the basic colors.

This painting is oil on paper that is attached to a board with acrylic matt gel.  I did a careful drawing on the paper.  The perspective was a challenge!

Monday, March 7, 2016

To the Foreground - Finally!

I finally proceeded to working on the foreground.  It was nice to add a touch of a brighter color with the yellow dandelion blossoms.  The rock was sort of interesting to paint, but I'm not sure I like it because the colors don't appear anywhere else in the painting.

The giant butt of the forward groundhog youth still bothers me even though it is now cut off by the grass.  The black and white "stripe" effect you see outlining it is because each hair is striped, with brown at the base, black in the middle, and white on the tips.  But even though it may be "correct," it still has to look good.  This is definitely something that I need to keep working on.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

This time I've worked on the background - the mossy bank above the groundhog's burrow.  I particularly like working with green, and working with a liner brush.  So I was really enjoying this, especially the little roots hanging down.  I also did a little bit more work on the groundhogs.

The forward groundhog didn't seem quite right, and then I realized that the body was too tall.  You can see a faint white chalk line that I drew to remind me where the top of the grass in the foreground should be.

Basically, it's just "keep on going..."