Category Archives: Paintings

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 19

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

Art Day. Today!

Sunday, October 14 – I took my pale canvas boards, 5″ x 7″, and spread them out on my table.

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I plan to use these as background for some TV-time art, art I do while sitting on my sofa and watching television at night. I want to paint backgrounds and then draw on them with pen. Like this one from a couple of weeks ago:

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The purpose of today’s activity was to put an initial coat of paint on the canvas boards. I bought very cheap ones from Blick, 25 for about $10 – but I think the quality is fine, but the gesso is slippery and paint can be kind of see-through. I’ll let these dry and then work on a more polished background look before I set to with my pens.

 

It’s a big mess right now but it will come out all right in the end, I promise you.

Monday, October 15
– My priority art project right now is that I want to finish the illustrations for my upcoming Minuscule story book – I am doing a pen and ink sketch for each little story.

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I did some more work toward this goal today.

 

I usually make more than one drawing (I enjoy the Chinese brush/India ink combination; I like making these drawings; the upshot being I always seem to want to make just one more pass and see if I can get a better result…things are going to move slowly, I think!). The upside is, there are lots of leftovers I can use for other projects down the line.

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Tuesday, October 16 – Another day of working on Minuscule illustrations.

 

My work table is a mess. I am using only one small section right now and the rest is serving as a landing place for future projects and other debris. I will clean it up when I finish the current project and then I’ll be able to see what I want to do next – until then – well, let’s just burrow in.

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Wednesday, October 17 – In the morning I put more paint on the 5″ x 7″ canvas boards:

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Here is a closer look:

 

Now I have a little dilemma. Some of these little paintings look nice to me just as they are, or with some augmentation.

 

Oh dear. I wanted to make nondescript yet appealing backgrounds so that I could draw on them. The drawings are intended to have nothing much to do with what the painted image looks like, if you know what I mean – I don’t want to see a person in my abstract image and then fill it out with pen, I want to see – nothing but a nice background – and draw birds or planets or slices of pizza on it. Does this make sense?

Even crazier because most of the time I am looking for the paint to tell me in which direction to go. I solved today’s issue by dividing the canvas boards into two groups (“looks like something” and “does not look like something”). So I’ll have some drawing-worthy backgrounds and I’ll think about the others for a while.

In the afternoon I did a couple more Minuscule illustrations. Oh dear, I made two for each story, and I like them both – but I’ll have to choose. later.

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Today certainly is not a decision-making day!

Friday, October 19 – More Minuscule illustrations. I’m making good progress. I think I have about 12 more to do and the book will be finished. I can see that my skills have grown over this project and I’m finding it easier to achieve my hopes for each picture with a little more facility than when I started things up.

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

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 5

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

Art every day and all week.

Saturday, September 29 – This afternoon we took a trip to the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA. I needed some underglazes. This store is always a treasure trove. I worked my way past the shelves of glazes:

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…stopping to look some over, for future projects, before I came to the Velvet underglaze display and chose my items.

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After that I wandered around the store a little. As always, I am fascinated by the huge array of tools that can be used in clay work.

Here is a sample board showing various clay bodies sold here. Different clays fire in different temperature ranges and are additionally of different consistencies – some very smooth, some gritty. It all depends on your purpose as to what clay you chose to work with. Additionally, each clay can be fired within a range of temperatures – the different samples show the same clay fired at various levels. As you can see, this display is very useful in choosing clay.

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Here you see a selection of kiln shelves. Since each firing requires the shelves to be configured to fit the clay work being fired, there are a lot of choices.

Here is a display of pyrometric cones. You may remember me as describing a clay item as being fired at “Cone 06” or that kind of thing. Before computerized controls, each firing required the use of a pyrometric cone, created to be specific to a firing temperature, which was designed to bend or slump when the correct temperature was reached (you needed to view the cone through the peephole in the kiln wall).

These cones are still used today, even in computerized firings, for a variety of reasons – to make sure a certain item gets to the correct temperature, as kilns can have hot or cold spots; or to check that the kiln’s controls are accurate, for instance. I don’t use them, as my work is not that temperature-specific and my kiln has computerized controls – but obviously lots of people do. There is a large display of them here.

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Sunday, September 30 – My husband and I went to a play this afternoon at Allen’s Lane Art Center. You may remember other productions we’ve seen here – it’s a small theater and the seating is cafe style. This show was lightly attended, being a Sunday matinee, and we got a place right up on the edge of the stage.

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I got out my trusty sketchbook:

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but I didn’t have much time for drawing the audience as I usually do here, because I was downstairs for some time chatting with my friend Lisa, who runs the box office. Just saying. Anyway, here are a few quick things:

Monday, October 1 – I fired up the kiln. It may look like it’s just sitting and doing nothing, but that number on the front means it’s 1200+ degrees F inside. And that’s not the whole story – it will go up to about 1830 degrees…

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Let me back up a little. I forgot about these. Remember when I went through that box of little scraps last week? I pulled out some that I wanted to color. I’ve spent some of the last few evenings doing just that with my markers. I’ll figure out what happens next soon.

Back to today. I felt like slapping a little paint on a surface. I got out one of the 18″ x 24″ 1/8″ thick masonite boards I recently bought, as well as two of the 11″ x 14″. They have already been gessoed in black. I started working away. We’ll see what happens. I remind myself that the large board cost $3.50. I have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, October 2 – I opened the kiln.

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I was happy to see everything sitting in its place, nothing blown up, nothing fallen over. There is a variety of objects and tiles in this load. Tiles -(commercially made terracotta base):

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Sgraffito tiles – made from terracotta that I rolled out myself. I realized after I’d done them that they are only 1/4″ thick, and these days I like 3/8″ – but I was using up already-rolled clay, that’s why. Anyway, all good.

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Various figurines:

and remember this vessel? It came through the firing well – no seams opened up. I think I will do a little work on sanding some rough areas, and I’ll clean up the rim with a better black coat around it. Then I need to decide – will I glaze just the inside or the whole thing? Because for it to be functional the interior (at a minimum) must be glazed or it will not hold water.

Then there was this little stray tile…

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After congratulating myself and the clay items for completing a safe trip through the firing, I decided to go upstairs and work on that painting thing I’ve got going on. Today, I decided, would be ink day. I pretty much stuck to adding only India and acrylic inks to the picture, though I did put some more paint on, too.

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Where is this thing going?

Thursday, October 4 – First, a few more of those ink drawings turned colorful.

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I worked on the large painting. It continues to progress. Then I brought it upstairs to sit in front of me and let itself rest for a while.

I worked a little on the small painting, too. Really, all I did was to decide to turn it the other way around and to outline the person in ink, but…it’s still something…

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Friday, October 5 – I brought the recently fired clay into the laundry room/face painting venue to start the coloring process.

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Using Jet Black Velvet underglaze, I did my usual routine: paint the faces and other relief details in black and then wash off, leaving the color in the crevices.

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I got the whole gang done and set them on my work table. Next step: giving them a black coating all over their bodies to form the base for the bright colors I plan for them.

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I may do that this afternoon. Or I might work on that painting. Or I might sit on the sofa, watch TV, and finish up odds and ends of art tasks and paperwork. I don’t know. So I’ve decided to cut off this week’s Diary entry here. I’ll post this afternoon’s work (if I do any, as there is always option #4: I might just lie on the sofa and read) tomorrow. Happy end of the week!

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

Chatter

These mixed media pieces were done in August, 2018. They have a lot to say, don’t they? Oh yes.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending September 28

 

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

Art on the mind…

Saturday, September 22 – We spent the day at the Community Arts Center’s Fine Arts and Crafts Festival, held in Swarthmore, PA. The art center, located a few miles away, is a really nice place, offering classes in many disciplines as well as children’s classes and camps, exhibits, and music events. I taught collage classes there for some time and I know many people connected with the organization.

Swarthmore is also a familiar place to me and I have many associations with the town and the school dating from my collage days. For example, my husband and I have participated in the town’s New Year 5K several times and I had a solo exhibit in Borough Hall/Library in 2012.

So when we pulled into town we knew what was what, as they say! We arrived at about 7:30 AM.

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We set things up without incident.

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The day started off warm and humid but it grew cooler and windier as time went on. Still, the weather held.

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One of my near neighbors made these very intriguing and functional fire pits, or as she called them, fire sculptures. I like them.

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We were centrally located near the raffle tent and the entrance to borough hall was right across the street. The latter is a plus because…the bathroom is in this building. At street shows, an indoor bathroom is a huge plus and being near it is even better. Just saying.

I took several street shots during the day. I think these show you a very typical street fair scene.

In this one, the man in the green shirt to the far right is the executive director of the Community Arts Center. Remember him.

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The show features artist demonstrations. I have done this job myself in the past and it is fun. Here is an art friend of mine, Jane, showing her watercolor technique.

There is also music at this fair, in the small amphitheater to the left front of the borough hall. We could hear the music all day.

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I told you to remember that man in the green shirt…here you see him again, filling in on the drums (the regular drummer had an emergency and could not be there) in my favorite group of the day, the Swarthmore Ukulele Orchestra. You have not lived until you have heard a ukulele rendition of Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind” and watched a group of six-year-olds dancing their hearts out to the tune.

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The show was a pleasant end to my painting season for 2018. The crowd was appreciative and though sales were light, my work was well received.

Sunday, September 23 – My husband and I went to his office for a few minutes to pick up artwork he’s had on his office walls (he displays various pieces of my art at work and has done so for years). His office is moving and he thought he’d change out his art. I found this old piece there. I remember it – it was a collage done on a 12″ x 12″ board that was awful, and then I painted this house over it, and then I gave up in disgust. I am not sure why it was not in the trash.

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Ick. So while I was watching TV at night, I decided to work it over with pens and markers. If it turned out ok, great. If not, it would make that trip into the trash. Here is where it ended up. I think it actually turned out well. Saved from the trash one more time.

Very Busy Home 12 x 12 9-1801

Here they are side by side for comparison.

Monday, September 24 – First I gessoed some more boards that I had gotten my husband to sand off their previous occupants. I’ve got quite a supply of second-time-around painting surfaces now.

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I started some tiles. I have five more spaces in the kiln (I’ve partially loaded it) and these guys will fill them.

I was going through some old artwork and I found these two tiny landscapes.

They are the only ones that did not get taken during the Small Landscape Giveaway in 2015-2016 or by a friend here in my everyday life. I felt sorry for these little guys, but – I also saw the opportunity to do the same thing to them as I did with that previous house picture. Update or renovate, whatever you may want to call it. So while I was watching TV I worked on them and here they are. I’ll show you the old and new versions side by side.

It makes me want to order some more of these tiny canvases (5″ x 7″) and get cracking on some embellished landscapes gone wild…

Tuesday, September 25 – More tile work. I’ll show you the whole sequence, including yesterday’s work.

Pretty much finished with these, I think, but I’ll look them over later on and see if any amendments need to be made.

Friday, September 28 – I had some time this afternoon to work on art, resuming studio time after a couple of days away. I’ve cleaned up a work table:

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and for right now I want to sort through some odds and ends. I don’t feel like starting up anything too serious right now. I got out the plastic box that I toss odds and ends of drawings into and set the contents out on the table. Most of these items are practice drawings in Chinese brush/India ink for my ongoing Minuscule (story and accompany poem) book illustrations.

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And some closer views – there are a lot of funny little things here.

I pulled out some items to color with markers. Others I will leave alone. I will use these in collage projects.

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You may also have noticed some of those phrase cards I make with cut-out snips from old books, the ones that I use to write poetry (as in this Poetry Marathon post). I’ve got a lot of these now too. I used acrylic inks to splodge color on them – I’ll use them for collage, too.

I worked on the three small 6″ x 6″ crazy paint/ink/crayon/oil pastel things I do. These are getting close to being finished. I still think the lady on the right looks like a mailbox, now with someone trapped inside. Oh dear, I’d like to think of a more happy story.

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Last, I opened my latest Large Artist Sketchbook to a new page and used the phrase cards as stamps on a couple of pages. This is the first step in doing some kind of image – who knows what – for these pages.

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This is how the sketchbook thing works for me – a pinch of this and a handful of that, and then I turn it into a …cake? pie? broccoli casserole? Only time will tell.

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

Transformed and More to Say Now

These paintings were first done back in March, 2018. I liked them fine, but as time went on, I felt they needed a little more…zing. So in August I gave them their chance. Here they are in the first stage…

And then, later.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending September 21

 

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

Let’s say hello and do some Art!

Saturday, September 15 – Today was the day to find out if my brainstorm on how to store my clay work so that I could pack for a show without stress was really any good. And I am happy to say it was. At tomorrow’s show I will take two six-foot tables and I chose my inventory to fill that space. I took about 30 tiles, a box of small tiles, and all my current figurines. They fit into these boxes:

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I am thinking I might want to make a little more clay work after all for this fall season. However, in all of my following clay shows I will have no more than an 8-foot table to work with. I probably don’t have to worry. Still, going through my things, I did have a little itch to make some more figurines and tiles… So we will see.

Sunday, September 16 – We spent the day at the Pennridge Gallery of the Arts outdoor show. It takes place along Main Street in Sellersville, PA, about 25 mile from our house. Sellersville is a town that began its existence in the middle of farmlands but now, decades and centuries later, is now being touched by suburbia. The show is part of the town’s efforts to showcase its downtown features.

We arrived a little before eight AM and got into line at the fire house. This show’s set up routine is elaborate but works well. Artists arrive first, pick up space assignments, and proceed into the street a few cars at a time. We unload and move out the cars so that the next group can get in. We are arrayed along one side of the road. Here is how it looked first thing in the morning. Foggy. And loads of very helpful high school volunteers to assist us in unloading and set up.

Crafters arrive later on and go through the same process, setting up on the other side of the street. Meanwhile, we artists are waiting for visits from the judges. The show officially opens at noon but people come early.

Here are some booth set-up images.

And as the day went on and the crafters came in, so did the sun.

Some shots of my set-up in final form:

The day was very hot, humid, and sunny. More like July than September. We had good crowds all day. These shots were taken just as the show opened. Soon the street was filled up.

I had wondered how my clay work would be received – this is the first time the figurines have been shown. The answer is, it went well. I had really good sales.

I also wondered if I had brought the right amount of work for my set-up. Once again, I was very happy with how it looked. Not too crowded, but with a good selection of price ranges and choices.

And, I was thrilled to win a prize – first place in my category, 3D. This is the first time I have ever won an award for my clay work. It was given for this tall figurine.

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Friends stopped by to see us – shout out to John G, Missy, and Bill F, plus art friend/fellow show exhibitor Joan. I was also flattered that one of the judges came back and bought some tiles.

Here is a photo, courtesy of my friend John G, with me and two other award winners – by some strange luck, we were all booth neighbors. On the street, it was Mandy in the sunglasses was doing her first show; then me in the white shirt; and then Barbara in the blue shirt, a veteran like me. Three different mediums: painting, clay, printmaking.

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In shows, you and your booth neighbors become friendly very quickly – it’s just how it works – and if you keep doing shows, you can build up friendships that last for decades. Another thing I like about doing shows!

All in all, a really good day. I was happy and grateful as we headed back home.

Monday, September 17 – Today I unpacked the clay, since I won’t be doing another show for a month.

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I decided I definitely do need to do some clay work – I feel I have plenty for my next show, which is a small one, but I need something more for the November-December run of shows. So I rolled out some clay and cut some shapes. I have some ideas…

but some of them will have to wait until the clay stiffens up. I did make some people today.

I’m giving thought to my population. I sold a lot of puff people (the three-legged ones) this weekend. After some thought, I decided to make a modest number of them, since I have a couple of shows this fall that attract a craft, holiday shopper looking for lower prices. I don’t really like making puff people; I’ve created hundreds of them in the past (the kind that looked like this:)

Puff Creature #2 3-26-12 small

and I don’t want to make them any more. I am thinking I will choose clay shows more judiciously next year, leaning toward more a more art crowd (or I hope to), but for this year, well, I’ll do a few more puff people, yes, I will.

I am hoping to do a few more really tall large women figurines.

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Like the one you see in the above photo, but even a little taller. That’s my goal, after I get this cylinder people group finished up. I do want a variety of sizes for that group, and you might notice I have given some of them modest-sized head wear. I might try some more of that kind of thing.

Tuesday, September 18 – I got to work on all that clay I had rolled out. I knew that I had maybe given myself a lot to do – and I was right. At times I overdo things with my enthusiasm.

Early in the day, I rolled these tall cylinders and set them up so that they could dry a little. They are too wet to stand up on their own right now and cannot be worked.

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After lunch – I had decided to do some sgraffito tiles, so I started the process of coating them with black underglaze. Meanwhile the cylinders were ready to be handled.

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After some time, here is what they became.

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I then put the curvy-shaped pieces together (see the earlier photo above of clay rolled on the table), gave it a bottom, and ended up with a vessel.

I forgot to take pictures of this process, but it is the same as making a box – you slip and score the edges and put them together, with the additional challenges of fitting along the curves. Once the joins were made, I reinforced them with a coil of clay smeared along the interior (like caulking a joint). Then I put the bottom on it, following the same slip score procedure. And then I had a vessel. What to do with it next, I did not know. So I set it aside and did sgraffito tiles.

By now the clay vessel thing was drying up. I decided in the pressure of the moment to do sgraffito on it, too. By now I had lost hope of any inspiration, but I had gone to the trouble to put the vessel together, so…I slapped a couple of coats of black underglaze on it and got to work. I had to move faster than I wanted to because clay was drying fast – so I just carved. The flat sides got scenes and the curvy ones got a simple design.

All right, I think I salvaged this poor thing. I remembered why I like working with tiles so much – doing sgraffito is hard on an upright object. And it is never good to be in a hurry. Anyway, I’ll fire it and then I will glaze the interior, so that it could hold water and be a vase. Whew.

Wednesday, September 19 – I finished up the gesso work on those 18″ x 24″ boards. Now I have a whole group ready to go when I want to paint.

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In the afternoon I got the idea to work on some tiles. I got out four commercially-made 4″ x 4″ terracotta tiles, painted a couple of coats of black underglaze on them, and got to work using the Chinese brush. I wanted to do a version of the sgraffito work, where the background envelops the figure rather than starting from the figure itself. I kind of did that, and kind of did not. I need more practice in thinking this way and planning better. Well, I think they turned out ok and I’ll be trying this again.

Here is a progress set of photos; though I didn’t get photos from the very beginning, you can see some of how things went:

Thursday, September 21 – I worked on tiles again today. This time I applied four different underglaze colors as the first coats. Then I used black to mark out the main figures. Then I did more colors on top.

I am feeling my way, but experimentation is what will teach me. Here are the results.

Friday, September 21 – It’s been a busy week. My body and my creativity needs a rest. I gathered my paintings to have them ready to be packed in the car for tomorrow’s show. And I made a price list. That was pretty much it!

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I think I’ll finish cleaning up from this week’s activities and then sit on the sofa and read.

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