Tag Archives: drawing

Popular Blues

Sometimes I like to take a paint color brochure and draw in it – I use the names of the colors to inspire the tiny drawings. The photo, well, I just added in what I thought might look nice.

Done in April 2018.

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending July 6

 

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

And we are off on another Art week…

Note: Since we’ll be setting up for the Tinicum Arts Festival on Friday, I’m posting this entry in the Diary a day early. I’ll include show info from Friday, July 6, in next week’s post.

Friday, June 29 – I know it was part of last week, but I’ll show you the first attempt at clay sgraffito (look at last week’s post if you wonder what I’m talking about).

The underglaze dried on the tiles I had laid out – no longer shiny but instead dry to the touch.  (Note – this photo is from Saturday, but, you get the idea).

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I did not have the tool the You Tube video recommended so I made do with these small loop tools.

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Then I set to work. I realized fairly soon that the process is a lot like doing linoleum block print carving – it’s a subtractive rather than an additive process. I also learned that there is no need to dig hard into the clay. A light touch is better. I ended up with these tiles. Not great, but then, let’s face it, I never did this before, in this manner!

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Saturday, June 30 – We stopped by the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA, to get the tool that was recommended by the video. You may remember this store from the Art Diary of a few weeks ago. Here’s what I got – I’ve already forgotten its name, but it has a curved end and a straight one.

I went through the process of putting five coats of underglaze on tiles and letting it dry. Then I set to work. I had decided to make figures sort of like ones I had done in ink from the figure drawing book I mentioned earlier this year in the Diary.

The new tool really made a difference. I was better able to control the cutting process. As I said, all that’s needed is to remove the underglaze and the slightest bit of clay, so that the white clay is exposed. There is no need to strip away deep into the tile. In the end I had these figures:

It’s also recommended to use a clay with no grog (larger clay particles that make it hold together better, used for sculpture or tiles), but – I have clay with grog, and since I use it for a sculpture or tiles much more than sgraffito, I worked with it. I can see it would be a little easier to make clean lines with a more plastic clay, but…I’m happy with this direction I’m going, for now.

I also spent time in the studio today. I have a long-term project that I am embarking on, and I cannot reveal it until after I have completed it – it is a commission. I will show you hints of it, though, so you know that I am doing…something…

Sunday, July 1 – More sgraffito tiles in process.

Monday, July 2 – This week is shaping up to be another choppy one for art, I think. My computer fell ill on Sunday and so it’s off being fixed; shouldn’t be long but I was confused by not having it. My mental flurry was compounded by the need to deal with state bureaucracy involving my sales tax license (which I’ve had since the 90’s, do not owe money on, and yet is tangled in a snafu that the people at the state say they can’t figure out who should help me. We have now enlisted the aid of our elected state rep’s office to maneuver through the red tape after submitting paperwork and hours on the phone. Ugh. Nothing major, but taking a LOT of time. And not done yet.)

Paperwork is part of being an artist, too – that must be the lesson here?

Anyway. I decided to load the kiln. I won’t be running it for about ten days. I will not have many days at home over the next couple of weeks, and it is also not good for the kiln to be working in 95 F temperatures. But – the warm weather means that I can put items in the kiln that are not totally dry – they will be plenty ready by the time I get to firing.

I’ve got a different set-up this time. The tall woman figure has to stand on the bottom shelf. I had calculated her height, when making the figure, for this situation.

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This means I can use only half-shelves to stack up. I have just two – you can see that if I had more I’d have room to put more work in, but – I also estimated the number of items I could fit in pretty well – I’ve got everything in here that I’ve made since the last big firings a couple of months ago.

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You can also see that I put in some terracotta clay “rocks” on the top shelf – they are darker because they have not dried at all. I will make sure they are ok before I fire the kiln, but ten days out here in the garage and I think they will be…DRY.

I also worked on my secret project a little…

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Tuesday, July 3 – I had just enough time to work on these little paintings/drawings/whatevers. I’m heading them in the direction of the small images with text that you might remember from earlier. (Think Ogre Babies.) They are 6″ x 6″ and good for picking up when I have a little time.

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Wednesday, July 4 – I spent the afternoon in the basement (the cool refreshing basement – it’s about 95 F outside) working on some more sgraffito tiles. This time I rolled out terracotta clay (actually yesterday, but you’ve seen enough shots of rolled out clay, I think…)

I put black glaze on most of them but I also decided to try some white.

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I am wondering how the white will show up against the orange of the terracotta. Here’s how the tiles in white looked at the end of the session.

And here are the black ones. I have full confidence in this color scheme – I’ve made lots of black on terracotta clay and the results are strong and very striking, I think.

I wish I could fit these into the next kiln load but there is just no more room. I am sure they will be included soon, though – glaze loads are less tightly packed, because the items cannot be stacked, so that means the current bisque load in process will take 2-3 loads to work through with color, and these red tiles will slip in there.

I like how these turned out. I am getting more sure of myself in working in this way. I did do one thing wrong in this group – I forgot to keep the tiles under covers while I was working, and over the hours that passed, well, some dried out more than I should have let them. It was noticeable in the white ones – I left them until last.

It was harder to carve with precision and I found the tool scraping and bouncing at times. Also, the terracotta clay has a lot of grog (grit) in it, and that causes swerves when the tool hits.

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Well, that’s all part of learning. I’m very happy with these results and I’ll be very interested to see how they and their white clay companions fire.

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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 29

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

Here we go with another week of Art!

Saturday, June 23 – I did a little work in the studio – first I did some more illustrations for my Minuscule story book.

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I always have some extras, some experiments, or some “use up the scrap paper” to save for some other project later on.

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I put some colors down on these 6″ x 6″ boards. I think eventually they will become some more of those sort of cartoon/painting things I’ve done a few of recently – think Ogre Babies.

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Monday, June 25 – I had a little time today to get to the basement and work on some clay. Here’s a tray of dried tiles from last week, ready to be fired.

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Here are some more plain puff people. Now I will have enough of them to experiment with color applications and see what I think looks best. Once they are fired, of course!

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I had some extra slabs, so I made some cats.

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And then the ever-popular clay rocks – these are formed from bits of clay that I feel are drying out too much to do anything with – I just form the clay into a rough shape and then tap it (hard) with a paddle. These items have to be very well-dried before they go into the kiln or they will explode, being solid. But since they are not very big, I don’t anticipate trouble.

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Tuesday, June 26 – this week is shaping up to be busy and choppy-scheduled. I grabbed a little time late in the afternoon to work on some more Minuscule illustrations.

I’m falling into a rhythm with these pictures. It seems to work best if I think of what I want, then just go right to trying to depict it, with the idea I’ll make a couple of tries (at least). So I’m ending up with alternates. Well, I’ll pick the one that I think works best for the book and the others will find their way into some other format – keep your eyes peeled in the future and see if you notice them showing up.

Thursday, June 28 – This art week is being fitted into nooks and crannies of time. I was out all afternoon and most of the morning I continued catching up on a lot of long-put-off computer-oriented things and paperwork (including entering a couple of fall shows). I did squeeze in a couple of small things.

I want to do some clay tiles incorporating the technique of sgraffito. All this means is, I want to scratch into the clay to make images. There are different ways of doing this. I looked at a couple of You Tube offerings to see what I could pick up. I’ve done sgraffito before but I thought I’d just check and see if I could improve previous results.

I rolled out some tiles in white clay.

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Pretty ordinary looking. Well, what I need to do is let them dry to a leather-hard state (leather-hard being clay talk for dried enough not to bend but still moist). Then I need to put 4-5 coats of Jet Black Velvet underglaze on them (I could use any color, and maybe I’ll switch around, but I am thinking a black/white finished look).

Then I’ll carve into them, removing black and leaving white behind, until I’m done. I’ll check these tonight before bedtime – they might be at leather-hard, or not, but no matter what, I’ll put them under plastic to stop the drying process and resume things at my next session.

Here’s an art-drop-off project getting ready – My husband spray-painted the lids of these pimiento jars black and then…

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I’m filling the jars with little wooden people I made about three years ago, I think. I will also add a little note telling the person who picks up the jar that it’s ok to take it home.

I bought the wooden people blanks from Dick Blick and decorated them into tiny women figures with acrylics and markers. I gave some away, and now I want to finish things off by leaving these out in the world. Maybe this weekend or next week.

Finally, I think I’ve completed my last group of edge-repainting. Good. I’m glad that is all done.

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Friday, June 29 – A short little session (I was at Poetry Marathon today).

I got out my notes I took on sgraffito work in clay.

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My tiles are at a good stage for a trial. I took out four of them and started on the coats of underglaze. It takes time – there needs to be drying in between coats and at the last, it must be dry to touch.

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These are not. I got out a fan to blow on them. Drying will take time, here in the basement. That’s ok, I can do other things while I wait. I sprayed the remaining tiles with a little water to keep them from continuing to dry (they will do it even under the plastic).

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I’ll save the revelation of my first attempts at this technique for next week. So, until then…

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

Drawn Up and Set In

The postcards from March and April 2018 were made from little sketches that I took out of the various notebooks I’ve got going. I have paper in every bag or purse I have and I draw in all kinds of circumstances, with no order or theme.

I cut out sketches I liked and added to them to make these postcards. The postcards are from spring 2018, as I said, but the sketches themselves, well, they could go a couple of years back. You can see I also added more sketching, such as the audience for the band concert, in some cases. That was fun, to extend the story the original sketch was telling.

Black and White with a Little Color Sometimes

Here are some postcards done in pen and ink. I added some color to a couple of these, too, with markers.

They were done in March 2018.

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.

Step Into My World

I like to take real-world images from magazines and add drawn elements to them. I also like to take drawn elements and set them into a painted background. I also like to put the drawn elements into a background and then figure out what is supposed to be going on.

Oh dear, you see how quickly things get away from you.

These postcards were done in March 2018.