Veering Off In A New Direction?

I’ve been working on a new tile project for a little while and now I have some results to show.

I decided that I’d like to focus on painting tiles right now, rather than continuing to make tiles with relief images, as I’ve done for a couple of years. I just wanted a change, for one thing, and I also wanted to integrate my acrylic painting and my tile lives a bit more.

I did some research on products and ordered a lot of supplies. One big change for me was the decision to work on commercially made bisque tiles. Their uniformity and smooth, even surfaces were factors. Also, the fact that rolling out clay, cutting it into tiles, letting it dry, firing it, would all have to be done before getting to the part I wanted to be working on, the painting – well, buying tiles was no decision at all.

I also used underglazes, glaze pens, pencils, chalks, wax resist, and a kind of clay-coated “carbon paper” in my work. All the tiles were finished with a glossy glaze. Everything was fired to cone 06, a low-fire temperature.

I decided to work pretty freely and just try out the various techniques and materials. I learned a few things, the main one being that I need to be a little neater in my work – leaving crumbs of glaze turns into blobs of color where I don’t want them, plus marring the smooth surface. But overall, I found it pretty easy to translate my painting techniques into working with the clay.

I’m going to make more of these. They are really fun.

OK, here are some examples and a few comments. First of all, before I worked on the tiles themselves, I filled a sketch book with drawings so that I would have some idea of where I was going. It’s harder to rectify mistakes with a clay tile and glazes than with acrylics. I scanned the chosen sketches at the size of the tiles, 6″ x 6″, so that I could use them with the clay “carbon” paper and not ruin my drawings.

Here are tiles made from that technique. I placed the clay paper on the tile and set the scanned drawing on top, and then just traced it. Just like carbon paper! I did some with dark lines and then some with white on black-underglazed surfaces.

For this next group, I looked at the sketch and re-drew it on the tile with pencil (the marks burn out in firing). Then I used underglazes, glaze pens and pencils, and glaze chalks to make the images.

Here are the sketches for the above tiles. By now I was feeling more confident and so I drew the figures and objects for the lady-not-answering-the-door tile straight on the tile with no reference.

Finally, I made a series of faces, just right out of my imagination. A few strokes of the pencil to divide up the tile and then I was off. I used these as a chance to try the materials in all kinds of combinations.

There are imperfections in all of them, but – I like the results and I like the process, so I will be doing more of these.

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12 thoughts on “Veering Off In A New Direction?

  1. agnesashe

    How very interesting. I can see it’s your work, your style, but the change/combining of two processes has definitely opened a new, successful creative avenue – I particularly like the sunflowers and the close-ups of the eyes. I’ve been thinking about introducing a new approach to some of my stuff and seeing yours has given me that extra push to try it out. Thanks for your inspirational post – I’m fired up to get going.

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    I’m glad you saw that in my work! I guess I’m passing on the favor someone else did for me, then – I was inspired to take this step by the work of an art friend who I saw at an show we were both in earlier this year. What I ended up with is not like hers, but, it was her work that gave me a little spark. So, I will be interested to see where you go with you work.

  3. Claudia McGill Post author

    I love shouting when it’s so enthusiastic about what I am doing! Thank you!

    I am really happy with the results here. The flaws I see how to correct, they are mostly about using the materials better and learning more. But I can see that I can do what I was hoping to do – and – it was pleasurable and fun in the process. I feel like I have started off on a good path for me with these.

  4. agnesashe

    Yes, observing other people’s working processes is not just informative, but makes you rethink your own approaches. It’s certainly not copying even if you’re working in the same medium, I think it’s more like adaptation. Have sketched out a few ideas, but am nervous about putting them onto the silk – need to plunge straight in I guess! May or may not post the results 😉

  5. Claudia McGill Post author

    I felt the same way. Unsure.

    I hope you do post the results, good or bad, because I’d be interested in your working methods as well as the results…

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