Tag Archives: creative process

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 15

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

Happy Art Week to all.

Saturday, June 9 – After a walk in Norristown Farm Park, my husband and I stopped by the Ceramic Shop in Norristown to pick up an order I had placed earlier in the week.

I am very lucky to have this resource so close to my house – clay supply outlets are not plentiful and shipping is very expensive for clay (for example, I only bought 100 pounds, and shipping of $60 was more than the clay itself cost). Even better for me, this store used to be located in Philadelphia in a warehouse-type spot on one of those smallish city streets, and no parking. They moved here about a year or so ago and I was thrilled.

We parked in the lot:

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and went inside.

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You can buy just about any clay-related item here, from kilns to wheels to clay to tools to glazes. I have learned it is better to order on the internet and then go in a few days later to pick up – your order is all ready for you to take right away. I will show you some of the things clay people find in this store:

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Tools galore.

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This is the Velvet underglaze display, these being the products I use. Notice the sample board above the jars. It shows each color, fired at the correct range for the product, and how it will look with or without glaze. This type of display is found with each coloring product so that you can get an idea of what it will look like when fired. It’s especially necessary with glazes, as how they look in the jar is not how they will look when fired. At all.

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Underglaze pencils. They “write” on the clay like a colored pencil (you can see the samples on the mugs holding the pencils). I have used a similar thing, underglaze pastels, in my work, and I like the crayony look they offer.

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Whisks – Or you could just get the one out of your kitchen…

These  whisks can be used for stirring large buckets of glaze mixture. In large production studios, glazes are often mixed from powders and chemicals with water added. Production work requires large quantities of glaze so it’s more economical to do this, plus it ensures color matching for all items glazed from a particular session.

A bucket-load of glaze is literally what is needed – production work is usually dipped in the glaze rather than brushed on. Saves time and ensures a very even coat of glaze.

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Kiln furniture. These items are all used for glazed items that have a glaze coat on the bottom or otherwise can’t be set on the kiln shelf. Remember, a glazed piece will glue itself permanently to a kiln shelf if any glaze is on its bottom, ruining the piece and the shelf. These furnitures are set on the shelf with the nails up – the glazed piece rests on the little pinpoints of the nails and does not stick.

I wandered around for a while and treated myself to a couple of small jars of underglaze – new colors to try. I never can resist. When I had paid for them, we drove around to the street side of the building and they brought out our clay to us.

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I had chosen a couple of tile-cutting tools I carried out separately on my own. I’ll show them later on when I try them out in a new session of clay work.

Sunday, June 10 – Calendar note – I graduated from high school 42 years ago today. Just saying.

Last night and today I spent some time working on a project I mentioned some weeks back – I want to make a print book of my Minuscule story/poem combinations (read an example here) and illustrate it. The writing part of the endeavor moves along apace. I think I need about 100 entries to make a nice book and I’m maybe halfway there.

Illustrating a book is not new to me, but – I’ve always done the pictures first and fit the words to them later. This is a different slant – words first, pictures second. I have been wondering if I can do it. I decided to take the plunge right now and start to find out.

I printed out the writing done so far. I bought paper. I bought India ink (my idea is to do  B/W pictures, very simple, using the ink and my Chinese brushes).

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I got to work. Now, I am a newborn baby as far as this kind of thing goes. I have no idea how to illustrate anything. Be literal? Allude to some element of the story? Sketch something out first? Remember, these stories are only 2 sentences long. Imagine if I had a full-length work to illustrate!

All right. I decided to read over each entry and whatever came to me, that is what I would do.

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All right, after some false starts, in fact, many false starts, I got more of an idea of how to proceed. For me, it’s best to just read – close my eyes and imagine -draw. That’s it.

OK. I made a good start.

I feel sure I will be replacing or amending some of these images. Well, that is fine. I can see that by the end of this project I will be much more proficient and confident in my drawing skills as well as my ability to illustrate something. Plus, it was fun to work in this manner.

Some of the failures, well, I cut out parts that I liked. I am sure they will come in handy for some other project down the line.

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Monday, June 11 – I spent a lot of the day doing poetry work, so I had just about an hour to fit in some art time. I had this half-hearted attempt at a tree painting (6″ x 6″) that was really more of an excuse to use up paint from earlier projects.

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Suddenly I saw a man in my tree.

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And another one in that ATC. OK, now I’m going somewhere. To be continued…

I also did a couple of drawings for my Minuscule book project. I’ll say one thing – I anticipate using up a lot of paper. I try to remember – relax, and just work quickly and without thought. Secondly, not to try to be realistic in my depictions – it’s not in my nature. And last, the brush has its way of doing things, don’t fight it.

I did a couple of new images (one with two different versions; I’ll pick one later on) and re-did one from the other day I was not satisfied with. I have the feeling there will be many re-dos but you know, I don’t mind it. I’m in no hurry. And setting myself this kind of assignment, to illustrate this book, well, it will build my skills.

Wednesday, June 13 – Today I thought I’d get into some clay – just sort of play around with it. I got out my 25 pounds of terracotta:

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It’s very fresh and wet. I rolled out a couple of slabs.

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I had only a short time before I was going to leave the house, so I made a few cylinders, wrapping a slab around and joining the edges.

I worked on a figurine or two.

Then I loosely covered the works with plastic (dry-cleaning plastic, the workhouse material of clay artists everywhere) and went off to the gym. In the summer, my basement is very cool and while not damp, it dries items slowly (in winter, the heater and the drier air make a difference in this room). I probably did not need the plastic but it is better to be safe. You cannot un-dry clay.

In the afternoon, I refined my earlier pieces and added some more. Individual shots:

and a group shot.

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Notice in the background of the previous photo the clay cylinder with a dowel running through it supported at each end. I have set this contraption up so that the cylinder can semi-hang from the dowel (it just touches the table) and maintain a more rounded shape until it stiffens a little. I can’t make anything with it until it can stand up on its own.

OK. I left these guys to their own devices and I got out new tools I bought on Saturday.

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What are they? They are tile cutters. You roll them through the slab, then cross the slab, to make the tiles. I read up on their use before I tried them. Interesting thing – you can use them on the clay, straight, to make tiles with sharp angled sides, or you can roll over plastic to make rounded edges. I thought I’d try the plastic option.

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I got some nice results right off the bat. I learned a couple of things. One, things work better when the clay is just not so fresh – let it dry a little and firm up. This reduces the distortion that can happen when the criss-crossing is done.

Two, move slowly and make sure you follow the previous track carefully so as not to double-cut an edge. Three, make sure you take off at a 90-degree angle when you criss-cross, to make certain of square tiles.

I’ll let these firm up a little and tap their edges to re-square them, but I really like the look of them.

Interesting note – if you roll the rollers directly on the clay, it sticks. The recommended treatment is cooking spray on the roller. I will try that next time.

Once I finished up with clay, I went back to painting black edges on paintings…

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Friday, June 15 – This morning I set out all my paintings for review, for two reasons. One, I’ll be at a show this weekend, and I needed to decide which ones to take.

The show will be held in a park and my booth will have all sides available for display, but the car can only fit so much work. So, I had to make some decisions.

Second, I needed to make an inventory of paintings that I will take to my upcoming gallery exhibit in July so that the organizers can make price cards and so on. Not all my work will be hanging but this way, they can make choices what to display without saying – Oh no, we have no information for this piece so it sits out the game!

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My clay work is drying very slowly in the basement. I plan to work on it a little, if time permits. In that case I will show what happens in next week’s Diary. I thought I’d get this one done early today because I have a variety of non-art things to get out of the way. So that’s it for this week!

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

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 8

 

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

Saturday, June 2 – We spent the day at the Saucon Creek Arts Festival. I’ll show you the show process for an outdoor show, and at the end of today’s entry, you’ll know how things go from the exhibitor’s point of view.

First we stop on the way to get coffee. Always.

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We arrived at the show at our pre-assigned set-up time. Since we’re at the front of the show, we were one of the last ones to arrive. The black arrow shows my location at Space #4.

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First thing we unloaded the car, setting up the tent very quickly and putting our things beneath it. Now, remember the forecast was for rain? No, not a bit of it (not that we were sorry, believe me, setting up in the rain wears down your mood very quickly). Still, it’s best to get the tent up first if possible.

All around us people are setting up.

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We progressed through set-up. Once the racks are up it gets easier. You see my husband attaching the weights to the tent legs. Weights are a MUST. We have two sets, both made of PVC pipe filled with concrete (we made them). We are using the lighter set today – no real wind is anticipated and we are not leaving the tent up overnight. We have bigger, heavier ones for bad weather/overnight, plus, we also stake into the ground for overnights, if we’re in a place where we can do that.

Now you see the finished tent all set up. If you look around the top edge of the tent, you can see rolls of fabric. These are detachable sides. If needed, we can roll them down and zip along the sides to enclose the tent. Since the forecast was for rain, we set them up. We always use the sides when going to a show where we leave the tent up overnight, but not always, when we’re on site just for a few hours.

I also want to mention that my planning paid off. I fit every painting into the display that I had selected. No extras. Well, I’m a little proud of that.

Here are some views of the show. The day turned out to be oppressively hot and humid, the kind where you sweat just sitting still. Very different from the rain we had expected.

We did get a couple of showers, enough to roll down the sides for a short while. On the whole, though, the weather held, and that was especially appreciated during takedown (another time you just don’t want any problems). We are very fast at disassembling the booth – we have done it hundreds of times and we know our roles.

We were on our way home less than one hour after the show closed. As far as things went at the event, it was a very well-organized and easy event to do. Attendance was satisfactory but sales were almost non-existent, for all of us exhibitors.

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I could go on and on how shows have changed over the past 15 years; it’s been a source of discussion among the exhibitors I’ve known and showed with for a couple of decades for some time now. We all remember typical shows of the past, where crowd interest, willingness to buy original art and craft, and a larger variety and number of patrons existed.

Today, more and more, people view the artists’ exhibits as just another part of a day out, being willing to browse, but much less often do I interact with people who have that spark of interest or understanding or curiosity about the art or artist that leads to conversations, much less sales.

I don’t have any solid explanation for the changes and I won’t get into my speculations. I do see that it’s less and less satisfying to exhibit, and I also see that younger people don’t seem to be taking it up (at this show, I would say the average exhibitor age was about 55 or so).

I am sad about this trend. I’ve found a lot of meaning in showing my work; I’ve met so many people and talked about all kinds of art ideas. I’ve made life-long friends in this world and even among show people I’ve just met, well, we always can find plenty in common to talk about, wherever we are. I’ve also earned respect for my work from buyers and from fellow artists, and that means the world to me. I hate to let go of this, and I am sorry if younger people won’t be able to experience it.

Well, anyway. I am pretty sure I will not do this show again. I’ve given it three years to develop, and results have been thin. All right, we live and learn and move with the times. That’s requiring some thinking, and some letting go, for me.

For 20+ years I have focused on making art with the idea that, though I emphasized my personal vision and expression, still, I would exhibit it and sell it.

Now, I see myself moving into a new phase of art-making where selling is not a factor. This year I realize I am evaluating shows, finally discarding the non-productive ones, and I am facing filling that gap with some kind of way of doing things differently. It intimidates me and yet it is possibly liberating. Time will show me the way.

Sunday, June 3– I unfolded the tent sides and laid them out to dry out in the basement. Even a little moisture makes them mildew. I’ll leave them here for a few days.

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I got my husband to sand down a couple more paintings I wasn’t happy with. Do you remember this one?

Where It Is Safe 24 x 36 2-18006

I struggled over it when I was painting it. I’ve looked at it for a couple of weeks now at shows and – I am not happy. It does not reflect a good feeling to me, and – I felt that I was just reworking an old idea. So, I worked on it on Sunday afternoon – gessoed it black, ironed clothes, came back, and did this:

Nestlings and Egg 24 x 36 6-18

So far I am calling it “Nestlings and Egg” (24″ x 36″). I like it. Let’s push away the “should” of deciding what to paint (I mean to follow my evolving feelings, as I said in yesterday’s entry) and I FEEL LIKE PAINTING BIG COLORS AND SHAPES.

Capital letters to remind myself. All right. I also worked on this little one, another rehab, this one 12″ x 16″:

It may need more. Maybe not. We’ll see. So far it is called “Eggs Outside”.

Eggs Outside 12 x 16 6-18

Monday, June 4 – Well, I’m just trying to settle down and it’s not coming to me yet. I’m running around the house doing housework and chores and getting things all tangled up. This mood spilled over into painting. The poor little eggs painting from yesterday,  well, I worked on it enough to make it – hideous. So I blacked it out again and this afternoon tried to paint calmly and:

OK, now I am happier.

Forgot to show these last week. A couple more pages of figure drawing with the India ink or acrylic inks, and Chinese brush. The idea was working with an initial shape, like a C curve, and making a figure to fit it.

And, I got this mat for the studio. I am having a lot of trouble with achilles tendinitis and arthritis in my feet and…this mat is here to help.

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Tuesday, June 5 – I’m still scattered but hanging in there. Today I started on a boring but necessary task. I need to clean and repaint the black edges of my paintings. Clean them, because show life is a hard life, and they get dusty. And repaint the edges because…I am always in a hurry to do this task and I don’t do it well. And, show life is a hard life and the edges really can get banged up.

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I’m going to do a few a day and take my time. This way, they will be done when my exhibit comes in July.

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Here’s an update on the Nestlings and Egg painting:

Nestlings and Egg 24 x 36 6-18

and then I worked on it later in the day:

and I worked some more on these weird cartoon-like things – they are acrylics, inks, crayon, and colored pencil on 6″ x 6″ 1/8″ board that I gessoed. I had a nice time with these, a kind of off the cuff improv.

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Friday, June 8 – I did some more black edge-painting. And I did a little work on this last page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook. I had colored it with markers the other night and I added a little collage on Wednesday. Today I finished it up and put some paint on the inside cover of the book (this “last” page is actually the first page, that I had skipped when I started the book, why, I cannot tell you).

My next step will be to spatter paint the blank pages, one by one (the artwork is done only on one side of each page). Then I’ll turn it over to the Poetry Marathon Claudia and see what she does to the book.

I got out some recycled cardboard pre-cuts and started putting some paint on them. This is the first step in the creation of postcards and ATC’s – it’s nice to have a starting point all laid out for future projects.

Oh, I forgot. I glued on the poetry that I had created a couple of weeks ago for these little cards. That was also a Poetry Marathon activity. Now I don’t know what I will do with them, but they are nice-looking, I think.

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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 1

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

Smile, it’s time for Art!

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 25-27 – We spent this time at Mayfair in Allentown, PA. I’ll give you some info.

As background, this incarnation of Mayfair is the third one of this long-running show. For many years it was outdoors in a park; it then went indoors to a local convention center (which is where I first came into the story), and this year was held on the campus of Cedar Crest College. The show has a bumpy history – it was not held at all in 2017 for financial reasons – and so this revival was kind of a test.

Mayfair is a combination family festival, music festival, and art festival. I had stopped doing the show before it took its hiatus for reasons of – no sales! – and I thought I’d try things out at the new location. No expectatations, just a let’s see how it goes.

The campus is lovely. Very open and green.

Many kids’ activities. I saw one little girl go down the bouncy slide like a sack of flour, hit the barrier at the end, jump up laughing, and immediately start climbing back up to the top to do it again.

We left our mark on the Chalk the Walk.

I stopped and talked to the people who were running the pony ride. Wish I could have taken a turn but I am too big now…

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I noticed a lot of women (and a few men) wearing these yellow t-shirts mentioning “Tap Ties”. Turns out it was National Tap Dancing weekend and each day performances were put on by a multitude of tap dancers on the second stage. I stopped to watch a few sessions. Dancers were all ages – very young to a group from the Allentown Senior Center.

As this man filmed the performance, he was moving to the music, and I have the feeling the video will be a little – bouncy. I figured one of the girls onstage was his daughter. Made me smile, he was so obviously into it.

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The main music tent was enormous and was not only filled each night for the headliner performance but also the lawn beyond it was covered in – people.

And of course, many food vendors.

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I show you all of this to portray the nature of the festival – it’s not focused on art but on the community having a variety of activities. Now I get to the art part.

We arrived and unloaded on Friday. The show went three days, noon to 8 PM.

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I had chosen an inside spot in the gym. There was also an outside section.

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I had a nice space and the accommodations were just great.

Overall, the show was really pleasant and easy to do. I think this revived version of the festival was really enjoyable and I know the organizers were very pleased. For me, though, sales were almost non-existent, and while I am not focused on that aspect as much as others, I do need more revenue from the show to make the work and time worth it.

Now, there is certainly the case that maybe things just didn’t fall my way, etc. I have been to many shows where my work generated interest but for whatever reasons, it didn’t turn into sales. Here, though, it was clear this crowd did not come to buy a painting or spent a lot of money on art – we were just part of the overall scene at the festival. There just wasn’t much interest in my work; though I had  a few nice conversations, overall, most people drifted in and out, or looked as they walked by.

I had wondered if this scenario might be the case. I  know that paintings fall at the end of the impulse buying spectrum (the bad end, if you are talking sales!) Show attendees need to come to the show wanting to look at art and understanding the price ranges in order for me to have a chance at interesting them. Even someone who was caught by my work was not necessarily expecting to be thinking about buying a painting. And since most people regard a painting as an investment, something you live with for a while, there is a need to be in a mindset open to making this kind of decision – regardless of how much you are taken by an artwork.

Maybe it sounds too psychological, this analysis, but it’s what I’ve worked out over the years. I don’t need a large crowd to sell or to have appreciation, I just need the right crowd. And you don’t know this until you try out a show.

So, now I know. I won’t do the show again, but I am glad I was here, and the pleasant location and the great organization of it lessened my disappointment. We packed up the car after three days, said good-bye to our show-mates, and headed home.

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Monday, May 28 – We spent the day starting our recovery from the show. My rule of thumb is that it takes two days for every day spent at the show. We’ve done 5 days of shows in ten days, so we’re down five days!

When I went through my work to pack for the show, I decided that several older larger paintings had to go. Plus some smaller ones, too. (When I say older, they are about 2 years old. Things do not stick around here – one way or another they move on! I don’t hang on to my own art.)

I felt they were not up to current standards. So I got my husband to sand them down and then I gessoed them black. I’ll set them aside for later.

Wednesday, May 30 – I’ve spent most of my time today working on putting together one of my print poetry books (getting the manuscript ready to be published, I mean). Ran out of time for anything else. I will mention a clay-oriented book I just finished reading – I checked it out of the Montgomery County Community College library last week. It’s full of info on handbuilding in clay. I can recommend it – I learned quite a few things from it. I find that in almost any book I can get some tidbit of info or another that makes my work easier or better.

Friday, June 1 – Art time today consisted of getting ready for tomorrow’s show at Saucon Creek (near Bethlehem, PA). I’ve done this show before and so I know what to expect, which makes things much easier.

This event is a small but classy one benefiting the Saucon Valley Conservancy and is held on the grounds of the Heller Homestead. It’s a one day show, nice because it is less tiring, but we will have to set up and take down in the same day. No big deal, just requires different planning.

Unlike the previous two shows, we will be using our tent set-up. I will try to take pictures of that process for next week’s Diary. What it means is – I needed to do some planning.  The tent, its weights, and side curtains (since rain is expected tomorrow) take up room in the car. Also, the rain issue means that I don’t want to take a table to set outside the tent (where I usually display smaller items).

On the plus side, I know from the site plan sent to me by the organizers I have a neighbor only on one side, so I can hang art on the outer side of my racks (though if I have to keep the tent sides down, that advantage will be negated somewhat).

So, I developed a plan to figure out how much art to take. I’m in the position of having a lot on hand right now because I’ve worked hard in the last few months to create pieces for my gallery show in July. Usually I don’t have to leave anything at home and I’d just be packing the car with whatever I have.

First, I figured out how much hanging square footage I had to work with.

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This cryptic notation just means that I have 12 rack sections to cover (top and bottom counting as one, though the racks themselves break into half for transport). The inside ones are priority as they will be most protected in case of bad weather. The outside ones might have covers on them at times.

I got out my work and started to array it around my studio in configurations relating to each rack section. Each grouping is an upper and lower section together, and each section is 3 ft. x 3 ft. for a total panel of 6 ft. x 3 ft.

I’m a hands-on kind of person – this is the way I make sense of the situation! The quilty coverings you see are bags I made a long time ago (when I was still exhibiting collage, which is what they were sized for) and they work great to pack art in that they are padded and yet very easy to put around the work (essential for packing up. You just want to go home!).

I also transport some paintings in cardboard boxes that I got when the boards were originally shipped to me – I separate each painting with foam board. Now, cardboard is not a great thing for wet weather. I will need to be careful to keep these off the ground tomorrow.

I also packed a box of 8″ x 10″ paintings – these will be the smallest I take to this show. Here is the group I selected from.

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Once I was finished, here was the result.

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I realize my display may be a little crowded, but I’m not worried about it. I expect that the show will have less attendance than usual if the weather goes as they say, but this show also gives prizes (I won an Honorable Mention last year). I always like to be judged, and though I don’t anticipate winning, many judges will talk with you about your work, a professional assessment, and that does not come along that often in the art fair world.

After I finished this work, I went to the grocery store. Another thing I’ve learned over the years – you cannot count on what kind of food the fair will offer. Take your own meals, as well as drinks and snacks.

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OK, that’s it for this week. Cross your fingers for manageable weather and pleasant art conversations!


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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 25

 

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

Art is out in the world.

As a note, I say in the post title that this week is ending on Friday, May 25 – but I’m posting it on Thursday the 24th. I’ll be at a show, Mayfair, in Allentown, PA, all weekend, including Friday, and things close up at 8 o’clock each night – so, after we drive home and so on, well, no energy on Friday for a post! I will put the show info into next weeks’s Diary.

Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20 – We were at the Tile Fest all weekend – you saw the set up on Friday. Here’s a little wrap up.

Saturday was a miserable day, weather-wise. It rained all day, and much of it came in downpours that pounded the tent roof. It was also chilly and really just…miserable uncomfortable.

I made one trip to the bathroom through the rain and came back soaked; I had to change my shoes and socks (Note: always take extra clothes to a show. Always). Since we have had a lot of rain recently, the ground is saturated and the water ran down the hill through the tent when the deluge got heavier (you see the straw put on the ground to soak up mud). You also can see everyone wearing coats and long pants. Show attendance was light and sales followed suit.

Two bright spots. All of us vendors are friendly with each other, having come to this show for years, and newcomers get gathered right in. We support each other and make jokes about the weather and so on. It helps.

Number two – the show organizers have the tradition of putting on a really nice dinner on Saturday night – this year we ate inside the Tiles Works building. It allows us to relax and talk to fellow vendors, and the food is always good. We all really appreciate this consideration, and this year it cheered us all up after a pretty long day.

Sunday, the weather really improved! Sunny and about eighty degrees.

I’m showing you the bathroom building. It’s made of concrete, like the Tile Works and Fonthill, Henry Mercer’s home, which is a short walk away. Anyway, it’s like a little cave of a building, and it always makes me laugh.

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Attendance was better on Sunday and we were all more comfortable.

But I think the show’s momentum, for me, and for others, too, never really recovered. I believe that Saturday is generally a more active and buying day, and we lost that with the weather. I’ve had better sales years, but, overall, I was satisfied. Plus, I stress, this show means a lot to me in meeting fellow tile makers, renewing friendships, and just being in a show where people care about each other.

When it was time to pack up, we did so, and got on the road home. The orange cooler is the marker for where we spent the weekend.

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Monday, May 21 – How this week will go is an unknown for me – I’ll be getting over being gone all this last weekend and then getting ready for the long show coming up. Here is a postcard I made and sent last week. The story is, my friend Steve sent me the card with a space drawn in it, saying – Make art here. So I did, and then I kept on going. I sent the card back to him last week but I thought I’d show it (hoping it has made it to his house by now!)

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I used to exchange a lot of mail art. Not much now, but I see it happening again in my future. And, if you happen to read this and want to send me something, I will send back, yes I will.

Tuesday, May 22 – Odds and ends and then some inspiration. That was today.

First, I took some tiles I had set aside from the show. Let me explain – there is nothing wrong with these tiles. I like them ok. But seeing them in my display, well, I just wasn’t loving them, and I don’t like to exhibit or sell things I don’t love.

Sometimes people buy these things before I remove them, that’s ok. People often like pieces that I don’t, because my attitude toward a piece is not necessarily how “good” I think it is. It’s hard to explain my criteria, let’s leave it at that.

Once I’ve decided an item is not up to par, it is doomed, in its present state. If it’s a painting, well, it may get a remake or be entirely obliterated for a new start. Tiles, not so easy. They are what they are.

Anyway, I pulled these out, marked out my name on the back, gave them new names, and voila! Art to be left out somewhere in the world. I think I always knew I was making these items for this purpose, and trying to sell them never felt right. OK. Rebalancing things.

Note: I like that flower tile a lot, but, it is the last one of a group, and they never get the attention they deserve in a show. As take-away art, they are on stage alone – the star.

I’ve also been itching to paint, and I’ve had the idea of making something big and colorful and abstract. No theme, no idea, just paint and see what goes. I got hold of the largest board I have right now, 24″ x 20″ (wish it had been twice that size, a size I never do, but somehow that idea appealed to me…but anyway, this is what was on hand).

I gessoed it black. And I also pulled out some of those 6″ x 6″ squares to use up extra paint (I anticipated a frenzy of painting, you can see). I chose 2 each of black and white gesso.

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All right. Here is what I ended up with at the end of the afternoon. The large painting:

The small ones.

OK, I feel better now. I’ll let these sit and see what happens next to them.

Last thing today – I  have this page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook to work on, if I want to, maybe tonight while I watch TV. It is certainly a conglomeration hoping to cohere…

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Wednesday, May 23 – I worked some more on this painting. I think it is close to being finished, that’s what I said at the end of the afternoon.

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I also arranged some more of those 6″ x 6″ small boards on my table, two gessoed white, two black. This time I painted random colors and shapes on the surfaces, the same for each color, two different sets. Take a look.

Now you see what a difference the gesso color makes. With the white, I will need to do more layers just to cover the white. The black, different story, the color is richer from the start. I have the feeling I will be using this black gesso a lot.

Later I’ll do something with these boards. For now, I was just wondering what the results would be.

I finished this page in my current Large artist sketchbook. I have been hanging on to this page for some time. Done! Now I have only one more page left in this book. What do you know about that. I was surprised myself.

 

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Later in the evening, I had the larger painting upstairs for me to study, and suddenly I had to do some more work to it. Here it is:

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I think this painting is done. Or maybe not. In any case, done enough for me to paint its edges and take it to the show tomorrow? Yes, I think so. Now I’ll stop writing and get that little task done – plus load the car and so on for tomorrow. Thank you for reading.

 

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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 18

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

Always time for art…

Saturday, May 12 – This week, I warn you, will be a bumpy ride for getting some art time. I have several appointments and will be out of the house; and on Friday, I will be setting up for the Tile Festival next weekend. So I’m thinking this will be a week of little bits here and there. In fact, I think the next few weeks will follow this pattern – I have a show over Memorial Day weekend and then another smaller one the next weekend, plus more appointments and obligations. Well, it goes like that sometimes.

Back to art. On Friday afternoon, I went over to the high school across the street to watch a softball game in the beautiful weather. I sat away from the crowd along the first base  outfield line. It was Senior Day and a lot of cheering family and friends were in attendance.

I took my sketchbook with me. I am trying to sketch wherever I am, just catch gestures, outlines, etc. I’m not trying to make anything finished; I need a lot of practice and so…here is what I came up with.

I love how trying to draw something really makes you look at it.

Now, on Saturday, I was busy with home chores, but I worked a little on those tiny paintings I started last week. Where are these going? I don’t know. Maybe they are finished. I’ll check on them later in the week.

Sunday, May 13 – My husband and I went to a play at a local art center – I’ve mentioned this place before. It’s a cafe style theater, small, and really pleasant. See those two tiles? They are staying here when I go home, an art trinket drop-off.

Before the show, I looked around the small gallery – ceramics are on exhibit and I know a couple of the artists.

As I did the last time we were here, I sketched the people around me before the play started (and one actress on stage sitting on the sofa). I am a fan of the technique where you look at your subject and let your pen go along on its own as much as you can. I love drawing in this manner, and it seems to suit me style-wise and results-wise.

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Monday, May 14 – I went into the studio and gathered up some odds and ends. Collage materials, black gesso, India ink, acrylics – then I threw it all into a big pot, heated it on the stove, and drank it right down. Yum!

No, not really.

What I actually did on this afternoon was to move along some small things. I got out my plastic box of bits and pieces and spread things out.

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I painted postcard backs in black gesso – I want to glue some art on top of these and I thought the background would set them off.

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I spent a good bit of time creating people portraits, using an ink and Chinese brush technique I learned a while back from this book:

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using India ink and Chinese brush. The theme here is people in the rain and I mean for them to go on this page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook. Somehow. I’ll be working on this some more.

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I added people to cards – all components already made some time ago. Some things just have to evolve and these have more stages to go through…

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I had some painted ATC’s that I took India ink to – drawing around what I saw in the swirls of paint. Some finished, some will be added to.

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The point here is, if you have odds and ends at the ready, you can sit down and begin arranging, and soon the ideas flow. So my advice here is – build up this kind of stash and see how your fingers start to itch to make something with it.

Oh, and I stepped on my smallest Chinese brush. Crunch, it said.

I said, go to the hospital and get fixed up, and you can come back to work when you feel better.

Thank you, masking tape.

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Tuesday, May 15 – More small stuff. I finished up the tiny ATC-sized paintings. Some are abstracts:

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and these are abstract portraits. I decided not to add any ink-in features or any detail at all. I’ll let the paint do all the work. These photos are not great, and I promise to post better quality images pretty soon.

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Sometimes less is more. I think these small ATC paintings, all of them that I have been doing over the last few weeks, have given me more confidence to try this kind of thing on a larger scale. Simplifying, and abstractifying. I feel a pull in this direction. We will see what happens as time goes on.

Anyway, these tiny boards are all used up. Now I’ll figure out something to do with them, no sense in them just sitting around.

Wednesday, May 16 – Today is our 31st wedding anniversary. Just wanted to mention that!

Art-wise, the recent  phase of the intense work of the last five months or so is coming to a close. I will be doing shows the next three weekends and I have a packed schedule of outside activities in the intervening weeks. I do not plan to start any projects that require deeper thought or mental peacefulness right now. There is a natural flow to my work – I go all out, and then I rest a bit (the run-walk theory of doing a marathon!).

I decided to clear up some remaining bits and pieces. These will give me something to work on, being small and easy to do in short bits of time.

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I pasted “rain figures” on the rain page in my Large Artist Sketchbook – the one I was working on earlier this week. I am not sure where this is going. I think now it needs some pen and ink.

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I pasted these semi-Miro scribbles on to the black postcard backgrounds I had prepared. These darn Miro things have sure been through the wringer. They started off as salvage from the paper covering my art table some time back, were a folded book, were book pages, were de-bookified and became individuals, and finally they are this. And this is where it ends, I hope.

And then I cleaned up the studio. It will be waiting for me when I want to work, if I have some time next week or whenever – it makes it easier to step right in when the surface is clear and empty.

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Now I plan to spend some time getting things ready for this weekend’s show. I need to make some price signs and review my info as to set-up. Tomorrow I will be at Poetry Marathon, and on Friday afternoon my husband and I go up to the location for early set-up and can put the display together. Don’t worry, this art week still has plenty going on. I will show you!

Friday, May 18 – This afternoon my husband and I went out to the Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, PA, site of the show we’re doing this weekend. I won’t go into the details of this show, because you can read a summary and background here from 2017’s show.

Instead, I’ll show you what we did to get ready for tomorrow. On Thursday night, we brought the boxes of stored items out of the basement (the cat is lying where they usually are)

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and put them plus other supplies into the garage.

I checked other items – I found I needed to replenish hangers. When I sell a tile I also offer a hanger the buyer can glue to the back if they so desire. I have different styles to suit different tiles.

Today, we drove to the location and pulled up near our tent to unload. It’s very easy to work this show and set up is one of the reasons – see how close we are able to bring the car. Shout-out to my husband who is wrangling the boxes.

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Inside, it’s pretty empty. We’re not early set up people but we are not the last ones, either.

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We gathered our items inside the tent. They stood waiting expectantly for instructions.

Now, I do very few clay shows and my display is minimalist, to say the least. I have tables and I have covers I made for them, and I go for the rustic wrinkled look. Clay for me is very low-key, but for others here, it’s the way they make their living. Our neighbors have a fantastic display and a lot of equipment, and they drove here from New York state in a motor home pulling a trailer.

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I’m telling you this so that you know – this is a really nice show and I am lucky to be able to be in it, and that such a thing exists so close to my home.

OK, back to set up. We have a site with no neighbors – four open sides. We set the tables in a hollow square and sit in the middle.

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I open up the boxes and unload the tiles. I try to group them in theme groups as I unpack them.

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That theme idea gets me only so far and then I just let the tiles go where they look nice. I tend to crowd my display. I have decided that I’ll overlook good merchandising principles in favor of having my whole selection out and available. People at this show seem to cope; they are all tile-lovers and take their time. In a regular show with a mix of items, I would pay more attention to the visual impact of my booth.

I am sure you recognize some of these tiles from various past blog posts.

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A quick look around. You can see the first tent from inside ours; and also here is a view of the interior courtyard of the Moravian Tile Works, with the dining tent set up.

Here is a view from inside our space. We have no “backstage” here, so people will see the blue price stickers from various directions, and well, that is fine with me, if it is a little cluttered. Because having three sides for sales space, well, that is really a prize.

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The weather is threatening stormy tonight and I know from experience that these large tents sometimes have drips – so we slapped a little plastic over the wood-framed items. Everything else will be fine if it rains.

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We talked to a few friends, catching up a little – in this business you know a lot of people who you see only once a year and yet – the relationship is bonded by our shared activity, making art and selling it. I was chatting with a couple from Michigan and after checking up on each other’s general situations, we fell into a familiar and always-pleasant theme: shows, bad shows, good shows, shows with rain, shows where the tent blew over, shows where a lot of people bought a lot, shows where the food was really good, shows…you get the drift. Shop talk!

We will be at this show all weekend. Looking forward to it.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!

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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 11

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

Art is a refuge.

Saturday, May 5 – I spent the day either running in the park or cleaning my entire house. So, not much time for art. At night, I colored in this drawing done last week in my current large Artist Sketchbook. I used various markers.

I also looked over this landscapy thing I’d done on the next page – it was a way to use up paint on the brush when I was working on the tiny tree portraits from last week. I’m trying to think what to do to it next – it needs more, but what?

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I’m also thinking about another project I want to do. I have been writing very short stories called Minuscules (look here for more info and to find out how to read the ones I’ve posted so far). I want to make them into a print book (if you follow my poetry blog you know of my love for print books, and for making my own words into print) and I also thought I might illustrate each story with a black and white pen and ink picture. (Because, as you know, color illustrations make the book cost a LOT more, plus – I like the idea of using my Chinese brush or my dip pen and making pictures.)

Anyway, I’ve printed out my current assortment of stories and I bought watercolor pads that I think would make a nice surface to work on. I have them in my studio and ready for when I settle into the process. Maybe I’ll start this week…or at least start thinking about how to go about things.

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Sunday, May 6 – I’ve decided that I will finish up the current clay items I have in process and then see about that book illustration idea when the clay is done and out of my brain. Accordingly, I got to work on clay. I covered the remaining small tiles and “rocks” in Jet Black Velvet underglaze (dropping one rock in the bottle in the process – luckily the bottle was very low, so I could fish it out. Messy…).

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Here are the small items partway through the session and then at the end.

The face tiles were done on clay rolled thinner than usual, leftovers from when I put together the figurines. I don’t like skinny tiles, and I won’t sell them, so I have decided these will be art drop-off material – I’ll leave them around for people to find, out in the world.

I finished up these figurines:

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and started on these guys.

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Later that evening, I was trying out a function on my phone – Notes – where there are simple drawing tools. Just doodling. I made a lady (an actress in the “Murder She Wrote” episode we were watching on DVD) and then I made an abstract (scribbled over a photo chosen at random from my photo albums.) I like drawing with my finger. One day I’m going to see about an iPad and drawing programs.

Monday, May 7 – I finished up the coloring of my clay work – these figurines were done:

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and I applied Jet Black Velvet underglaze to the edges of the many small tiles. If I were intending these to be used for practical applications, such as on a wall or a table top, I would not bother with this step, as the edges would not show but instead would be covered by grout.

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As a note, for these tiles to be used in a functional way, I would have to glaze them. Grout will adhere to unglazed tile, discoloring it; and an unglazed tile will not repel water and will absorb whatever is thrown at it. If these tiles were bowls, say, they would need to be glazed to be food-safe.

But, I intend these tiles just to be for fun, for decoration, etc. They could be displayed individually or they could be glued to a board and framed (without grouting).

Now I really need to clean my kiln shelves, so that I can fire these items.
As background info on kiln wash and kiln shelf care, look here.

Tuesday, May 8 – A really beautiful day outside, so…I decided to get to work on those kiln shelves. I only have two that need work. That’s nice.

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I carried them outside to the picnic table.

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First I scrape them with a … scraper. Now you see why I do this outside.

I then gather my kiln wash, some water, and a brush. There are various recipes for kiln wash and I have no idea what is in my version – I just buy it from the supplier. It is a very fine powder, almost like talc in consistency, and for some reason they always pack it in a paper bag, so I put it in two plastic bags to store it better,.

The idea is to mix it to the consistency of buttermilk and apply thin coats. I gave my shelves a couple of layers.

Then I went off to the park to run and came back a couple of hours later. I got a nice surface – no chips or bubbles. I can use the shelf right away – I do not have to fire it first.

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I went into the garage to give the kiln a little bit of a cleaning. I removed the shelf that always stays on the bottom and swept up debris, then vaccumed it out.

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I repaired the cracks in the kiln wash on the bottom of the kiln.

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Then I thought, why not? and loaded the kiln up. Since this is a second firing, it will go pretty quickly – about 6 hours – and I figured since it was only lunchtime I could do a firing and it would not finish too late in the evening. I don’t have to turn the kiln off, it does it on its own, but I want to know when it is finished.

The load is not crowded at all. That’s because I’m not doing any big tiles this time. I set the controls and tomorrow evening I’ll be able to open it and see how things went.

Wednesday, May 9 – I opened the kiln and I was thrilled. I don’t say that very often about my work, but this time I felt the kiln had done an extra nice job. I am really happy with the colors – so brilliant and rich.

OK, I’ll give you an array of photos showing the kiln, the unloaded work, and some details. I will be doing a post on the various items in more detail later on (I didn’t have time for taking nice photos today) but here you can see how things went.

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Well, that was a nice end to my latest clay work projects. The rest of the afternoon, I gessoed some more black panels:

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finished up those small tree portraits:

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and prepared the rest of the ATC-sized Claybord surfaces for…something. I decided to start off with blue. That does not mean things will stay blue. Oh no.

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Friday, May 11 – I have assigned myself an art task today that I don’t much like – photographing my art. All that clay needs to be documented (I love record-keeping, just saying…) and I can’t put it all away until I’ve finished all the tasks that go with the process. There is a business side to things, so to speak.

I got out my camera and went to my studio for the photo session. I had done the tiles earlier in the week – that’s easy. Just lay them on a white surface and point the camera.

Clay tile small people 5-18 4 x 2

The figurines and animals, though, are full of trouble for me. I’m not a great artwork photographer to start with and I don’t have the kind of lighting and so on that makes the art look its best. That’s ok, I just want a reasonable picture for my records.

For this kind of thing, I usually set up two white pieces of matboard or canvas to make a little environment.

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Sometimes I do it outside but today it was too windy, and the set up blew around. So I went back inside. One by one I put the items up on stage. Here is where questions come in for me. How many views? What angles? Oh dear, this is my favorite part of this particular piece, I must get a shot of it. How to photograph an animal looking up at you? Tiles just do not cause this kind of trouble.

I took a lot of shots. Thank goodness for digital cameras vs. film. I would be bankrupt with a film camera.

I’ll show a few results, but I plan to do some posts devoted to these items later on, with a full array of shots.

Now that I have finished this task, I am relieved. I will set these items in the cabinet in my studio with earlier work. This is where I keep them, so that I can see them, and if anyone comes by and takes a liking to one or more, I can hand it right over.

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Now, I’ll tell you what I am thinking. It’s a beautiful day and I see that the softball team over at the high school (across the street) is warming up for a game. This computer work has given me a desire to get outside and away from tedium. So I think might walk over and watch the game for a while. I’m going to post this week’s Diary now and if I do anything else today, well…I’ll add it to tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, as always.

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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 4

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

Art! That says it all. Art!

Saturday, April 28 – Here’s a TV time artwork I completed last night – it’s the finishing of a page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook. Before and after: (I used the photo from an exhibit I visited at Arcadia University as my reference).

In the afternoon I worked on the various clay items again. I continue to add color using Velvet underglazes.

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Here’s the large squarish figure I worked on yesterday – I’ve straightened out his troubles as mentioned in the last post and he looks ok now.

I finished another little animal and another cylinder guy – the small square figure needs more work, but here he is so far.

And more tiles. Those rectangular ones are going to be people, once they get their eyes and some more work done on their faces.

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Sunday, April 29 – This morning my husband and I decided to take a walk. We started off at Norristown Farm Park and into the state hospital grounds, circled for a while, and came back – about five miles. I decided to leave a couple of stick ladies (like these) along the route. I remind you that I have decided to resume dropping off small art pieces here and there – something I used to do in the past. These small figures were made some years ago. It’s a new art goal to make items I can leave behind, but I’m starting with ones I have.

One was left in the wishing well near the parking lot:

and then we went through the park to the hospital grounds. I will not repeat information about Norristown State Hospital beyond saying the farm park and the hospital were once one institution; now the farm is a county park and the hospital is almost closed down, awaiting repurposing, and in the meantime hosting a number of operations besides the medical ones – community garden, social service agencies, etc. But most buildings are closed and many crumbling. For more info and photos, look here.

I set another lady here.

On the way home we passed a church near us with a new sign – Labyrinth. I love labyrinths and did not know this church had put one in. I left another lady in the center.

In the future I will write about my art drop-offs in my Confused blog, where I did so back in earlier days, but I thought I’d mention this new art resolution here in my art world. I have neglected this particular aspect of my creative life,  the writing about everyday things that are to me, not so ordinary, but spring is here. A new start for a lot of things.

At home, I worked on clay. I finished up the remaining square guy from yesterday:

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some tiles, including these rectangular ones I’ve made into people:


and I put Jet Black Velvet underglaze on the remaining figurines so as to have them ready to color. Somehow the tall ones reminded me of nuns in old-fashioned black habits.

Monday, April 30 – More work on clay items. The pictures say it all.

Tuesday, May 1 – More clay work. I finished up a rectangle person and started on a cylinder person:

I also managed to knock over a jar of light green underglaze (no photos!) – just ugh. I then cleaned up my work area and reorganized my underglazes – a messy workspace has consequences. Once I got back into action, I colored these two tiny — whatever they are.

You may have noticed that I usually position my figures with uplifted faces. I think a slight uptilt makes the face a lot more visible than one looking straight ahead, especially since the items I make are pretty small and you’d likely be looking down at them wherever you put them.

I also finished up the “self-hugger” (thank you, Sharon Mann! for that great name). I had the idea to leave her (as I see it, she is a her) in a plain black outfit once I saw her in the initial black coat. She has plenty of visual interest with her crossed arms and I did not want to distract.

Wednesday, May 2 – at the risk of getting boring, more clay work. These two are done:

This large one is in process:

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and here are small tiles.

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The last couple of nights I’ve been drawing (TV time, again). This image is a page in my current Large Sketchbook. I combined two photo inspirations into one scene,  an image not necessarily making sense. The photo of Megabus came from Philadelphia last summer; I was fascinated by how the bus just pulled over on Market Street at about 10th, maybe, in the middle of the city, and then this roil of people getting on, off, suitcases, bags, went into action.

The man leaning on his office window was from Pittsburgh in 2015.

I might color it. Haven’t decided yet.

Friday, May 4 – This week has been a difficult one to get to concentrate on art. I have had some family issues to deal with and that have taken time all week,  and today, we had a new front door installed (the old one was losing pieces off the bottom, so…) I did a couple of small things today – first, I gessoed some 6″ x 6″ boards with black gesso.

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Two things. First, I wanted to try working with black gesso; I’ve always used white. I have the vague idea of doing a series of small paintings, different images but with similar colors, and see if I can tell a difference.

Second, I am using these hardboard panels that I buy from Dick Blick; these are the very most inexpensive ones (this size, they cost less than a dollar each) and I can use them as if they were paper, not worrying about the investment in the surface.

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Also (now I’m on to three things and more, I know) – they do not take up much room, if I kept them – they are saleable as they are, as paintings on paper would not be – and, they are easy to give away or mail, if I want to do that. Anyway, here is the first set of them gessoed:

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The door guys were still working so I got out some more of those ATC-sized claybords and turned them into future trees. I will need to do more to these, but there is only so much time you can put into something this tiny before you turn it into muddy colors. I set them aside to dry to finish another day.

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Well, then the door guys left, I let the cat out of the basement, and I went there myself to continue clay work. I have these three figures almost done:

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and here are some small tiles and clay “rocks”:

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All right. That’s it for this week!

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