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Friday, September 30, 2016

A Big Project

I'm planning to enter a show that requires a set of 30 6" x 6" paintings.  Here are the first ten as well as the drawings for the next two.

My subject is - surprise - American wildlife - and my medium is a mixture of collage, painting, and drawing.  Each piece features a pencil drawing of an animal as a collage element.  I then tint the background.  I don't necessarily think the pieces are finished at this point, but I want to get all 30 to this stage before I do anything more with them.

I'm enjoying the drawing, and it's good practice.

The Blackbird Pie is Finished

I glazed and fired the Great Twenty Four Blackbird Escape and attached the hanging wire to the back, so it's ready to take to the show Sunday morning.

When I took it out of the kiln I was dismayed to see three problems.  First, the pie crust had cracked - you can see the crack under the left wing of the bottom bird.  Second, the mouse's tail cracked.  And third, the pie crust colors came out AWFUL!!!  I did test fires of my colors, using the same clay as the pie and firing to the same temperature with the same firing sequence and they were fine.  But, somehow in the actual firing they came out different.

I always seem to have problems working with stoneware in a fairly large size.  I don't like the fact that the bisque fire is at a lower temperature than the final fire.  With eartenware, it's the opposite - the bisque fire is at a higher temperature than the final fire.  I think this means that with the stoneware in the final fire the clay still shrinks and reacts to the heat.  

For the first few pieces of stoneware that I made I fired the bisque firing at the same temp as the final fire - cone 5 - and everything worked OK.  Then people told me that the bisque firing should only be to cone 04 or the glaze might not stick.  I just don't know.  I'll have to research it I guess.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Traveler

I think it was about a year and a half ago that I made a wild pig monk.  I liked it so much that I kept it, but now I've made another, this time for my Etsy shop.

I used a rubber stamp for the design on the front of his habit, but other than that I've sculpted this completely by hand.  I enjoy trying for the tattered look and using forest colors.  This green glaze is Kelp Green and it has a nice matte finish while sinking into the indentations to make the pattern stand out.  I think the tusks are a nice touch!

His walking stick is a piece of oak root.  We had some excavation done on the property this summer and is exposed these roots which have such wonderful twisting shapes.  They are every bit as hard and tree branches and they're an absolutely great find!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Miss Chipmunk is All Dressed Up

I'm happy with the way the glaze turned out on this little chipmunk, especially the "lace" insert on her dress.  I impressed the clay with a stamp I have and used a glaze that pools in the low spots to be sure that the pattern would show.  The flower is a vintage porcelain earring of mine.  I think it's the "1928" brand from the 70s or 80s.  The only thing that I wish had come out differently is the glaze for the dress itself.  It's a combination of turquoise and brown but I wish more turquoise had come out.  It probably has to do with how thick the glaze was applied, but I'm not sure in what way thicker would vary from thinner.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Little Bear Forest Wall Shrine

When I finished this piece I liked it so much that I wanted to keep it for my personal collection.  But, in the end, I went ahead and listed it in my Etsy shop.  After all, if it sells and I still want one I can make another one for myself - a benefit of being the artist!

Anyway, glazing this piece was a real pain, especially the backdrop with all the little spaces between the leaves.  With glaze, you can't just cover the whole piece with the background blue and then put the greens for the leaves over it.  You have to paint each bit separately - and with three coats!  So, it took a long time, but I think the results were worth it.  I really like the colors.  (No surprise there since these are the colors I seem to drift to time and time again.  In fact, it takes effort to use other colors!)

I think the little bear's pose almost makes him look like he's preaching the to birds and animals of the forests.  I hope he finds a nice home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Great Four and Twenty Blackbird Escape

My friend, Cathy, and I are going to be in an invitational ceramics show.  Each artist begins with a 13" bisque plate to make a plate-shaped slab from, and we each follow our own muse from there.

As soon as I saw the bisque plate, I thought of all the pies I've made and how my favorite part was always crimping the edges.  My inspiration was the four-and-twenty blackbird baked in a pie, but my interpretation would be the great four-and-twenty blackbird escape!  There are only six birds in the pie (one of which you can't see from this angle) because the rest have already escaped!

Here's the finished sculpture after it's been bisque fired.  I'm so thankful that it all held together.  It was quite a heart-stopped putting the green piece into the kiln.

My challenge with the glazing will be to make it interesting although the natural colors of piecrust and blackbirds are rather dull.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

And a Black Bear

Here's the third one - a black bear.  Isn't she beautiful?  I used the same technique as the other two, but this time I extended the painted berry branches out from the central painting and onto the background image.  For the extra collage elements, I added a feather, an acorn cap, and a little clear glass pebble.  I am really enjoying these.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Little Calf

Here's the next little painting - a Hereford calf.  The image I used for the background is a lovely summer farm scene.  You can just see a few of the buildings in the lower right.  I added narrow strips of text behind the torn edge of the painting.  I didn't have any other items to add for a collage, so I left it like this.  Adding the branches finished it.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Little Cabin Style

I was so pleased with this little piece that I'm making more with different birds and animals as the central subject.  

It's a simple collage on a 6" x 6", 1" deep cradled board.  I get these boards from and I like both the quality and the price.

I've collected several pages from old magazines that are whole-page photos of beautiful outdoor scenes.  I'll be using them for the backgrounds for these pieces.  The one I used here is a scene from Giverny.

Anyway, I began the piece by completed the painting with acrylic on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  I work thin, so it looks like watercolor.  To get this edge, I scored straight lines partway through the paper with a craft knife so that when I tore the edges, the edge of the top, painted layer would be mostly straight.

I wrapped the board with the magazine photo, using Golden Soft Gel Medium.  I then used the same medium to adhere the little painting in the center.  The torn edges were awfully white, so I toned them down a bit with a thin acrylic wash, bringing out the purply-reds of the berries.  I added other collage elements - a scrap of vintage paper on which I wrote "a small voice in the wilderness," a metal stamping of a butterfly, and a tiny metal medallion embossed with a bee.

For the final touch, I added twigs to the edges to emulate a frame and give the piece a "cabin style" look.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Another Collage

Here's my latest collage.  It's on an 11"x 14" canvas board and is primarily snippets from magazines plus a few pieces of text from old books.  I also did some painting on it extending the motifs from some of the magazine images.  Examples  are trees in front of the old buildings and leaves extending outward from the fragment of a mural with leaves and birds.

I began with the piece with the horses in the upper right.  They suggested such wildness to me - perhaps horses from the past in Ireland or Britain.  From there, I selected some pictures of old buildings and also skies, clouds, and trees. My thought was that the old buildings, even though they are very elegant, are made from wildness (stones and timber) and wildness will eventually reclaim them.  This set a mood for me and I tried to keep that mood in the piece as I worked.

I carefully arranged the pieces before I glued anything down.  I glued them down in two or three layers, adding thin washes of fluid acrylics between and over the layers.

Unlike the collage in the previous post, every inch of this canvas is covered with glued-on element.

I was tempted to add some text explaining, or perhaps only suggesting, my inspiration.  But I decided it was better without it.  I would leave interpretation to the viewer.  My sister likes it and describes the piece as "evocative."  I appreciate that!