Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending April 20

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art! Art! More Art!

Saturday, April 14 – On Friday night I drew a scene in my ongoing Large Artist Sketchbook in pen and ink, while I was watching TV. I meant to take a photo in the black and white stage but I didn’t get to it. So on Saturday I colored it and here it is:

AD 4-14 #1001

Well, things are on a slant in this picture, due to the fact that I was half-lying on the sofa when I drew it and didn’t have as good a view of it…as it obviously needed. Oh well.

I glued in some people and all of a sudden the picture had a story.

AD 4-14 #6002

This book is almost filled up. I’ve been doing a lot of art in it lately. I added this page, collage work (not done on the sofa but in my studio) inspired by scenes I’ve been greatly enjoying from a fellow blogger’s site, Jessica’s Nature Blog. I won’t tell you more, go and look for yourself, but here’s a landscape from my point of view:

AD 4-14 #2006

and here is a selection of the papers I used. Many of these are old book pages that I painted with watery acrylics – the soft old papers absorb the paint so beautifully.

Sunday, April 15 – I checked on the terra cotta clay tiles I cut the other day. They are drying nicely, and they have firmed up enough for me to clean up their edges with a small damp sponge. By doing this now, the clay is actually stronger then when dry – it then becomes very brittle – so I can wipe harder and make nice smooth non-sharp edges. By doing with a wet sponge rather than sanding the bisqued tiles later on, I also avoid creating and breathing in a lot of dust.

AD 4-15 #1008

Then I cut tiles from my remaining white clay. I’ve used up all my clay now – I’ll be needing to buy more to make anything else.

AD 4-15 #2007

I then zipped up to the studio and got out my sketchbook again, randomly gluing in leftovers from yesterday’s collage work, plus some other papers, plus a little paint. I’ll see what develops from this beginning later on.

AD 4-15 #3009

I worked on my two paintings. I think the reading lady is finished. Pretty much, anyway.

AD 4-15 #5010

The other one, we’ve decided, is a waterfall. We’ve narrowed the scene orientation down to two ways. Here’s how I worked on it today, yellow part at the bottom, and then the opposite, blue at the bottom. Getting close to finishing this one, so I’ve got to decide…

And I don’t like to waste paint on the brush. I usually slap it on to postcards or ATC’s – the latter are what you see here. I’ll save them and they will show up later on in my art practice, transformed or added to.

AD 4-15 #7006

Monday, April 16 – A dreary day, with pouring rain, ultra-pouring rain! I’m staying home and doing chores etc., today.

AD 4-16 #2004

I decided to take the opportunity to put my initials and date on the back of the small tile group I recently did.

AD 4-16 #1005

This step is the last one in getting these tiles finished. With the help of my cat, Paul Drake, and Perry Mason,

and Sharpies (I say the plural here because it’s a foregone fact that the rough clay will destroy at least one, wear it down right to nothing, so you’ve got to have a group of them) I got this job done.

AD 4-16 #4002

Tuesday, April 17 – I pulled out some little boards I bought a while back. I think they are Claybord and I have a shoebox full of these ATC-sized boards covered with a scratch-into-able surface. I bought a ten-pound supply of various sizes and used the other choices up – these are what is left and they’ve been waiting for their turn. I feel like embarking on a large series of something very simple (kind of like those 2″ x 2″ clay tiles I recently completed).
Here’s a look at the materials.

I was not sure what I wanted to do with them besides using acrylics. I chose about 15-20 pieces and I started putting color down. As I worked, I decided I wanted to do some faces and some landscapes. By the end of the session here is what I had.

Wednesday, April 18 – The two larger paintings have been sitting upstairs in my living room, “resting”. I brought them downstairs to work on a little today. The lady reading continues to evolve – guess I wasn’t done with her yet – but she still maintains her essential theme and form.

AD 4-18 #2004

The other one, well, I chose the orientation with the blue at the bottom, and I have decided it is a picture of a waterfall. So, what you see is a waterfall, just making sure you know it! I worked on it today as well. It has now reached a stage in which it needs more rest and and it is making me uneasy. So more will be done to it.

AD 4-18 #1005

I also worked on the tiny paintings. Now we have people:

AD 4-18 #3003

and we have houses in landscapes:

AD 4-18 #4002

and we have trees.

AD 4-18 #5001

I never tire of these themes. I believe that the landscapes and trees are close to finished. The people, I am planning to give them faces and details with India ink, next time I get a chance.

Thursday, April 19 – I don’t usually do any art on the same day as I do a Poetry Marathon session, but – I started looking at the larger painting (it’s been sitting upstairs in the living room where I’ve been eyeing it for improvements) and I was just going to do “one little thing” to it, and ended up working on it for about an hour plus.

AD 4-19 #1006

I did feel better about the direction of this painting when I was finished.

Friday, April 20 – I worked on both large paintings this afternoon. They inch toward completion, but I think I am REALLY close (have I said that before?).

I got out those ATC-sized paintings I was working on earlier in the week. For the portrait set, I added details with India ink and acrylic inks. I will post individual photos sometime in the future so you can see them better, but here is a group shot:

AD 4-20 #5003

After looking over the landscape and tree groups, I liked them as they are, so – they are finished. Once again I’ll post close-ups in the future.

I went down to the basement to check on the tiles. I believe they are ready to be fired. You can see they have a different appearance than when wet – they are paler and chalkier-looking. Terra cotta and white clay are shown here.

Another test for dryness is – you put the item to your face. It will feel cold at first, always. Then, if it is dry, it warms up. If it still has water in it, it will stay feeling cold against your cheek. These all are showing the signs of readiness for the kiln. Not cold! I will try to get them and the sculptures in there next week.

Thanks for reading!

See you next week! Thanks for following along with me.



The postcards were painted in acrylics and then had a little more done to them to finish things up.

Who Am I, and Who are You?

Yes, you may ask that question, and what answer will you hear?

Clay tiles.  The first one is 4″ x 4″, Velvet underglaze on commercially made terracotta, January, 2018. The second one is the same, except for the tile is handmade terracotta, @ 3″ x 7″.


Person and Cat

Person and cat times two, but always the same story. Cat knows, person wonders.

Clay tiles. The first is 4″ x 4″, Velvet underglazes on commercially made terracotta, January, 2018. The second is @ 4″ x 4″, Velvet underglazes on handmade white clay tile. Both fired at cone 06.


Here are those small tiles you have been reading about in the Art Diary. The whole group presents itself for your inspection!

Assortment of low-fire white clay or terra cotta clay, fired at cone 06. Velvet underglazes for the colors. April 2018.

Look here for Art Diary references: April 6 and  March 30 and March 23

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending April 13

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art Action!

Saturday, April 7 – This week I wanted to do some clay. I had some big plans. First thing, though, was to finish off an earlier clay project – open the kiln from Friday’s firing of the avalanche of tiles I just finished coloring. Success!

I’m very happy with these results. The colors look great and I got good color coverage. I think the latter is due to the fact that I’ve gotten my technique down – I water down the underglazes so that they are a little drippy, I use a Chinese brush rather than a regular one, and I do not stroke the underglaze on like a paint but work it more like an ink, kind of dripping and gliding with a soft touch.

I will show the whole array later on when I unload the kiln.

Now, back to my plan. I’ve been collecting ideas for a while and writing them on cards to remind me:

AD 4-7 #11018

I started on one of the ideas today – clay animals. Now, I have made very few animal-type things and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I thought I’d dive in and just experiment. I used white low-fire clay and made a couple of pinch pots:

AD 4-7 #5013

Stuck them together. Now I have a hollow ball.

AD 4-7 #6012

I made some more, using various ways to combine the clay to make a “body”. Most amimals are not round like beach balls, but – these will be. Just saying that already reality was out the window, but, I hadn’t been trying for it anyway.

AD 4-7 #7011

I rolled out some legs.

AD 4-7 #8010

I went off and left them for a while. The clay is very wet and the legs could not support a body at this stage, plus the bodies themselves are wiggly and prone to misshaping themselves (in an unplanned way, you understand, I’m not objecting to their odd look if I made them that way!) Later in the day I put legs and bodies together, put them under plastic so they would not dry further, and let them be.

AD 4-7 #10008

Sunday, April 8 – I uncovered the creatures-in-process, let them dry a little more, got out my tools

AD 4-7 #9009

and made necks and heads. By day’s end – animals in a little herd.

By the way, I made small piercings in their stomachs so that air could circulate and they would not explode when fired.

I then turned my attention to another item on the list – cylinder people. Except that I felt like making rectangle people. OK, same kind of thing. I rolled out slabs and let them dry out a little. Once again, fresh clay is hard to work with as it slumps.

AD 4-8 #3005

I made figures in two ways. One, I took a section of slab, wrapped it into a cylinder (here is where I would stop for cylinder people), and then patted it into a rectangular shape with my paddle. The person ended up looking like this:

AD 4-8 #6003

But I was better off creating a box from slabs, I decided. I cut strips:

AD 4-8 #4004

I put them together, added a top and bottom (hole cut in the base so that air could circulate inside), and then a head and an arm or two.

AD 4-8 #7001

Please excuse the poor photos, I will try for better ones later. Anyway, I ended up with several figures (they are all women, just so you know).

AD 4-8 #5002

I plan to color their flat surfaces in the same way I did those recent tiles – lots of pattern and color – and leave their heads and arms plainer for contrast.

Tuesday, April 10 – I’ve been busy the last couple of days, so this afternoon was the first time I’ve had to do anything art-wise. I chose to make cylinder people (from my list) today, the real kind of cylinder people. I’ve made them before and I like them because, like all the projects I am currently working on, they are simple forms but provide a lot of plain surface area to decorate.

I used terra cotta clay today and rolled out a couple of slabs.

AD 4-10 #1009

A segue – I had an irregular shaped slab. I got  the idea to make it into legs, then added some other bits, and there you see it – an odd person.

All right. Back to cylinder people. I rolled cylinders, leaving the seam exposed, because I like the look, and pinched the top closed.

AD 4-10 #4006

I added bases to them (I like them closed up, and it gives them a nice weight) – then added faces.

Nothing to it. I’ll let them dry overnight and then clean them up a little, but this is pretty much the construction process.

I had cut the remnants of the slabs into strips.

AD 4-10 #5005

My idea is to make some more square people, but I will do that later. For tonight, I covered them with plastic so that they did not dry out – tomorrow or whenever I work on them next, I’ll uncover them a while before I want to work so that they can set up enough to stand up well. Clay under plastic can stay wet forever, if it is well wrapped.

AD 4-10 #9001

Wednesday, April 11 – I took a look at my various clay figurines this afternoon – I had only a short time since I’d been out all day. Oops, I noticed a couple of them had split along their head seams as they dried – I had not properly compressed and integrated the seam and as the clay dried it contracted.

I took some fresh clay and smoothed it in – sometimes that will heal the crack. We will see in the firing. But – in case – I made a “hat” for the worst-affected figurine. I am not attaching it to the figure, just setting it on it. In case things don’t work out, he won’t have a giant opening at the top of his head.

AD 4-11 #1008001

I like the way this looks. We’ll see if it stands up to production. If not I’ll knit him a hat or something else will occur to me.

Friday, April 13 – I finally unloaded the kiln. I am really really happy with these tiles. I’ll give them their own post tomorrow, I think, so you can see the whole thing. Here is a preview:

Small tiles 4-18 group #2007

I’ve been giving thought to my clay work this week – what I want to be doing with clay, I mean. You know, I’ve made loads of items over my ten years or so of working with this material. Sculptures and relief tiles were my focus in the beginning. That’s why my mind still runs along those lines – I’ve got a lot of history to draw on.

I have enjoyed this week, making 3-D things – but I don’t have the urge to keep exploring in this direction, I realize. In fact, I was starting to feel…impatient.

What I really like doing is tilework – flat surface tiles with scenes and abstract designs, using the bright underglazes – and that is what my mind keeps going back to.

So I’ve decided to run with this feeling. I plan to cut tiles out of my remaining clay (I especially want to do some more of those 2″ x 2″ tiles, and some abstract face tiles in larger sizes) and be happy. I started off by cutting my remaining rolled out slabs.

AD 4-13 #3001

Either I use a needle tool and a straight edge, or for larger ones, I have a tile cutter:

AD 4-13 #1003

You press on the wide handle to cut into the clay, then you press the plunger and lift from the handle to pull the cutter away from the tile. You get nice big tiles (about 6.5″ square) like this:

AD 4-13 #2002

Here are tiles I cut from my remaining terra cotta clay. I’ll do white clay on a different day, so that I don’t smear them all over each other in passing.

AD 4-13 #4006

Next, I went upstairs to my studio and worked on the two paintings I started last week. Here’s where I picked them up:

Well, the one with the chair, I was impatient with it, so I turned it upside down and worked it in an abstract way. I’m not sure if it might not go back to being a room portrait, we’ll see. How about this, take a look – first I’ll show you the way I worked on it, then the way it was, and then the other two aspects. See my problem? I kind of like them all.

I also worked on the portrait of the lady reading. She didn’t get obliterated – I like her. Let’s see what happens as I work on her some more.

AD 4-13 #9001

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.