Author Archives: Claudia McGill

About Claudia McGill

A person who does art and writes poetry. That's me!

Minuscule Illustrations: Observation

In October 2017 I came across an internet blog challenge for a story written in two sentences. I wrote a story. Liking the format, I did another one. Another one. And another.

Quite a few stories later, I had enough for a book. Not only did I have stories, but I had written a short poem and created a brush and India ink illustration for each one as well.

The result was Minuscule, published in 2018. I’m now going to show you the book illustrations as an ongoing feature on this blog, once a week. I’ll link back to the story (they have been published one by one on my poetry blog).

If you want to hold the entire book in your hand, the print version is available on Amazon.

“Observation” is the title of the story. Look here to read it.

Minuscule #6 Observation 6-1856

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Tiles

These tiles are the end of the work I have to show you that I did at my studio clay class that I attended in fall 2019 and winter 2020.

I made the little people by collaging clay on top of a slab. The small tile was made with one of my personally-created stamps.

Both of these were dip glazed and are done in stoneware clay fired at cone 6. They are about 2 inches each, more or less, in size.

Maybe there will be another clay studio class in my future. Time will tell me that answer to that.

Stick Ladies Part 3

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. I will be showing you the results of those efforts over the next couple of weeks while describing the process and any changes I made.

Here are two more stick lady figurines I recently made. I’ve discussed the process in previous posts so I won’t go over it again, but I will tell you a few details about constructing them.

  1. First of all, choose wood that has been off the tree for a while, but is not rotten or soft. Test a branch or stick by banging it hard against a tree or sidewalk. If it breaks, don’t use it.
  2. Learn to use a drill. You will need it for drilling holes through the arms and you will also be making holes in the body, head, and base, for the screws to go into. I improved my drill skills a lot in this simple project (because I had virtually none to start with…)
  3. Woodburning is lots of fun. Try it and you will like it. remember that the tip gets very hot. Just saying.
  4. A hand saw is plenty good for any sawing you will be doing in this project. That was important to me because I have a tendency to cut body parts (off, sometimes) when using sharp blades (no casualties in this project, before you wonder).
  5. I think these figurines could go anywhere you want them to. Make them clothes, wrap them in wire, paint them…I think of many possibilities I would like to try. But I also always want to pay attention to the wood. Each stick is beautiful, with patterns and designs already in place.

OK, here are the two remaining tall figures.

Lady #5:

Lady #6:

Next time I’ll show you a group shot of all the figurines.

I Hope

Like a lot of people these days I’ve been doing some cleaning around the house. I had a painting I did on a large cradled board that I’d never been happy with. And oh dear, it was the second painting on that board that I could never come to feel good about.

I was ready to throw out the board, but…it was large and I hated to waste the money. So one afternoon I started painting over the past, as you might say, and ended up with this new direction.

I like it and I think it is the one that will stay.


“I Hope”

24″ x 36″, acrylics on masonite board, June 2020.

 

I Hope 24 x 36 6-20

Stick Ladies Part 2

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. I will be showing you the results of those efforts over the next couple of weeks while describing the process and any changes I made.

In this next group, I will show you the next phase of stick lady construction in my recent project. This group has attached arms and…attached heads. Yes. Just take a look.

As I have said before, I collected the body sticks, and for these, I was looking for moderately substantial branches. Once I had found what I wanted (testing them against rotten or decayed wood by banging them against a tree trunk to see if they broke) I sawed them into lengths and went through my dishwasher sanitizing process and let them dry.

I took a smaller-diameter stick and cut it into “head”-sized pieces, matching them with bodies.

Stick Ladies 6-18-20 #3c

Then I chose arms and attached them as before, first drilling a hole and them nailing them to the body.

arm

I created features and clothing with my woodburning tool.  I cut bases from a plank and painted them black.

Stick Ladies 6-18-20 #4e

Then I  assembled them. Today I will show you two, in detail, and later on the other two, that I made in this way.

Using dowel screws I first attached the head and then connected the body to the base. I used differently-sized screws because it was important to get the proportions right. On my first try I chose screws that were too short for the “legs” portion and the figures look squat and ungainly. A longer screw corrected that problem.

Here are two figurines. They range in size from 16-18″ tall, all parts included.

Lady #3:

Lady #4:

I have two more to show you in a later post.

 

Minuscule Illustrations: Caffeine

In October 2017 I came across an internet blog challenge for a story written in two sentences. I wrote a story. Liking the format, I did another one. Another one. And another.

Quite a few stories later, I had enough for a book. Not only did I have stories, but I had written a short poem and created a brush and India ink illustration for each one as well.

The result was Minuscule, published in 2018. I’m now going to show you the book illustrations as an ongoing feature on this blog, once a week. I’ll link back to the story (they have been published one by one on my poetry blog).

If you want to hold the entire book in your hand, the print version is available on Amazon.

“Caffeine” is the name of the story…

Look here to read it.

 

Minuscule #19 Caffeine 6-1811

Stick Ladies Part 1

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. I will be showing you the results of those efforts over the next couple of weeks while describing the process and any changes I made.

Most of this project involved making stick ladies. These I will show you today are derived from the ones I did in the past, which were all in one piece:

I gathered a selection of branches that I thought would be suitable for bodies. I was looking for something a little thicker than the ones I had used in the past.

And I decided to make the new ones with arms. Accordingly I collected sticks of a smaller diameter than the body materials I was looking for.

I peeled or cut off any bark, cut all the sticks into shorter lengths, and ran them through the dishwasher to get rid of any bugs. I let them dry outside for about a week.

And…the arms. I cut them to a good size to fit the figures, first drilling a hole through them and then nailing them on to the body. By drilling first, I reduced my chanced of splitting the wood when I nailed.

arm

Then I got busy with my woodburning set and gave them faces and clothing. I made bases for them from small blocks of wood that I painted black and attached the two pieces with dowel screws.

Here are the results:

Stick ladies group 2 6-20

These two figures are about 12″ tall in total (including the “legs” and base). Here are some detail photos.

Lady #1:

And here is Lady #2:

I like how the natural curve of the wood gives the lady figures a posture and an attitude.

Stick Animal

I recently showed you some stick figures I made in 2016 and updated in 2020. The project made me want to try some more figures. I will be showing you the results of those efforts over the next couple of weeks while describing the process and any changes I made.

Here is the first example of the recent stick figures I made, though it was the last one I did, and it’s created out of leftovers. Let’s call it Stick Animal.

Stick animal 1 6-20

What started me off on making an animal rather than a person was this knot on the wood. I thought it looked like an eye and I could not stop envisioning it as such.

Stick animal 5 6-20

I tried to figure out how to match it. I ended up taking a small piece of a thin stick and jamming it tight into a washer. Then I drilled out the “body” and inserted the “eye” into it, gluing it tight.

Stick animal 4 6-20

Spoiler alert, all the stick figurines I made in this project have arms, so I had some small stick pieces on hand. I took four sticks at random and nailed them to the body, not worrying about making them even – I was able to move the legs enough to adjust them to allow the animal to stand.

Stick Animal 6-18-20 #1d

So far so good. I decided the animal needed a tail. I had saved the wire from some wirebound notebooks – I cut a piece, stretched it out, and nailed it to the animal.

Stick animal 3 6-20

Now it needed a mouth. This body part had to wait a while – I didn’t know what would be the right thing. Then one day I saw a red bottle cap on the ground. I picked it up, washed it, bent it in half, and nailed it to the animal. Now…he had a mouth with teeth!

Stick animal 6 6-20

I felt this animal was just as he should be. Here he is again.

 

Mirror Image Women

I made this image as a demonstration for one of my students in the mixed media class I taught in Winter, 2020. I wanted to show an incorporation of stenciling on layers of paint and my explanation in words was not making sense to her.

I cut out a woman figure. Then I painted a piece of watercolor paper (9″ x 12″) in sections of  random color.  Next, I set the stencil on the paper and painted around her; then I flipped her over and painted the other side of the paper in different colors.

The figures protect the original colors so that when the stencil is removed, there it is.

The whole thing took maybe five minutes to do. The student saw the process and I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Sometimes good things happen very fast, and the key is, don’t mess with them just because you think it should have been harder. Sometimes…it is easy!

 

Mirror Image Women 1-2020 8.5 x 10.5003

Outdoor Art Time

On June 30 a couple of art friends and I got together in my back yard to do some art work and visit a little. I think it was a good way to assemble in a safe way and enjoy ourselves, in these times as they are. Here’s what we did.

I met these two friends in the mixed media class I taught last year. We have stayed in touch and wanted to get together. But how? I volunteered my back yard. We picked a day, and luckily it turned out great weather-wise, sunny, but not too hot, and no threat of rain.

Here’s what we did:

First hint: have shade available, or a shelter from the sun. I figured I could set up my tent (that I use in art shows) but it was not necessary. Our yard is very shady.

Second hint: Make sure there is a comfortable amount of room to spread out. We decided to wear our masks as we set things up, then, as long as we remained at our table, or ten or twelve feet apart, we took them off. Then we put them back on to clean things up. Having plenty of room made things comfortable.

Third hint: Bathroom. I had one available nearby, involving walking in my back door into my studio and going only a short distance inside the house. I did a **SPARKLE** clean on that tiny room and had towels ready for hand-washing so each person could have her own.

Fourth hint: Tables and chairs available. Or some kind of area to set up so that each person can have a good space to work. Alternatively each person could have brought her own chair and table, or whatever she needed to work comfortably, but this needs to be settled up front.

Fifth hint: Cleaning items. I set up a table with hand sanitizer, spray cleaner, and towels if anyone wanted to clean anything, and I also put out some bug spray, just in case…

*******

Well, we had a great time. Here are some pictures. Here is where I sat:

IMG_6822

IMG_6819

and here is our general set-up. We were facing each other so that we could talk or show each other our work.

IMG_6817

Mary Ann made a lot of painted papers and she set them on the grass to dry.

IMG_6818

I put out the red buckets of water for washing brushes and so on. The hose was just around the corner of the house if we had needed more water.

IMG_6821

Here are Mary Ann and Andy cleaning their things up and packing after the session.

IMG_6823

Things went smoothly with this set-up. We were comfortable and felt safe. All of us are living very cautiously right now, and this allowed us to get together and experience a bit of an activity we really value – doing art with others. I am so happy we were able to pull this off, it meant a lot to me.

Shout out to Andy and Mary Ann, for a real spirit lifter!