This Marvelous Bird

This painting has been in process for a very long time. Especially if you count the time it spent being a previous image, or in fact, a previous one to the previous.

Yes, this version is round three on this surface. Each time I painted something, didn’t like it, sanded it off and gessoed it, I thought, why does this keep happening?

Well, there is no answer to that question. I do think this is the last version. Mostly because I am tired out by this seemingly innocuous 24″ x 26″ cradled masonite board…

Anyway, here it is – This Marvelous Bird. Acrylics and some crayon, 24″ x 36″, May 2019.

This Marvelous Bird 5-19 24 x 36 small


Sidewalk Art

Not too long ago I checked out an interesting book from the library. It’s called Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun and it’s by Carla Sonheim.

One of the projects involved taking photos of sidewalk cracks and using the images as inspiration for drawings. Well, the idea appealed to me. I took a few photos and gave it a try. Here’s what I did: I used the same photo but turned it in all four directions, and made four drawings. Take a look. First, the photo rotated through the directions (I used north, east, south, and west to designate them).

Then the sketches – look for the N, E, S, or W to figure out the corresponding photo:

Give this a try. I have realized that I’m not limited to sidewalk cracks – how about tree branch patterns in shadow? scattered stones? tree roots? food on your plate?

More Baby Cylinder People

Here is another set of baby cylinder people. They are made from low-fire white clay and colored with Velvet underglazes. Take a look at these portraits first.



I’ll remind you how I color these figurines. After they have been fired once and are durable, I paint their faces with Velvet underglaze Jet Black. I then take a wet cloth and scrub at the black; it comes away from the raised sections and stays in the crevices. It also stains the white clay a pale black/gray. It depends on how hard I scrub as to how much color remains.

To make their colorful outfits, I cover the entire figure (except faces) with Jet Black. Then I paint other underglaze colors on top, letting the black show. After I’m finished, they are fired again and all the colors are permanent.

OK, now you know their secrets!

These figures were done in February 2019, fired at cone 06.


Revisits: Grief

I did some illustrations for an event at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine specializing in short stories. It’s called “Revisits”. In it, the magazine revisits “the best of the back catalog”, as editor Laura Black says. Every two weeks through August, a different theme will be explored.

Look here for the first post, Love, which also offers an overview of the parameters of the art aspects of this project.

Today, May 22, the theme is Grief. Here’s the image:

Image 7 blog

In earlier projects for Fictive Dream, as you know, I made a couple of images for each story. I followed that trend with the earlier Love and Abuse and Growing Up. At this point in the process, though, I was feeling more confident of the direction of my work in general, as far as interpreting themes, and for this theme, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. I figured I’d give it a try, show it to Fictive Dream editor Laura Black, and see what she thought. If it didn’t work, our discussion would give me direction and I’d just take things from there.

I took my inspiration from several things. First, as far as the color scheme, I wanted to reflect the emotion in grays, browns, and dark blues – a sere, devastated kind of landscape with an overcast sky.

The shape of the tree needed to reflect the emotion as well – I felt downward reaching branches would give the right feeling. When people grieve, shoulders slump, the head is down, they draw into themselves and the feeling, and that’s what I wanted the tree to portray.

I had two visual sources I worked from. One was the recurrent motif of the willow tree, with its downward flowing branches, found in mourning samplers from the 1800’s (look here for an example). I have had an interest in needlework throughout my life and have learned a little about the symbolism and history of mourning embroidery.

The other source was a photo I took some years back. It’s a tree standing in front of a local elementary school. I found the branch patterns dramatic. I entered it in a camera club competition and it won a prize, so I kept the image and was able to refer to it.

Schoolyard Tree small

With these pictures in mind, I created the representation of the tree. When I showed it to Laura, she liked it, and so, the image for Grief was done!

Thanks for reading! And take a look at the stories:  here at Fictive Dream.