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?

AD 5-5 #3

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.

AD 5-5 #4

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…).

AD 5-6 #1

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:

AD 5-6 #3

and started on these guys.

AD 5-6 #4

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:

AD 5-7 #1

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.

AD 5-7 #2

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.

AD 5-8 #1

I carried them outside to the picnic table.

AD 5-8 #2

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.

AD 5-8 #20

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.

AD 5-8 #12

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

AD 5-8 #13

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:

AD 5-9 #13

finished up those small tree portraits:

AD 5-9 #14

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.

AD 5-9 #15

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.

AD 5-11 #1

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.

AD 5-11 #2

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.

20 thoughts on “Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 11

  1. Evelyn Flint

    Lots of interesting things happening in your studio this week – I especially like the figurines. Do you not have a local gallery or similar that would consider selling them for you… ?

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I’ve sold in galleries in the past, not to any great effect – Philadelphia is loaded with artists and art. I have sold very successfully on my own in street fairs and park shows for 25 years – used to do 20 + shows a year but now just do local ones I like. I don’t need the money and enjoy giving gifts, so many of these things go that way these days.

      1. Evelyn Flint

        Perhaps you are best to keep selling on your own then at street fairs etc. and it is nice to pick and choose which ones you do. It’s just that your work is so lovely and original – and they make perfect gifts…

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you, I am happy. I really think I have improved my coloring skills and developing a way of doing it that I like and looks good. And people wonder why I don’t glaze the tiles so that they can be functional, but – first of all I don’t care, and secondly, I really dislike the change in color and depth the glaze makes. I really like the matte velvety look they get this way.

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    As always, it’s fascinating to watch your process. I love that you work in series but multiple series at once. It invited all sorts of connections and contrasts.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, the lines cross over into each other, I like that, I envision a multi-ply yarn running through with the strands interwoven and affecting the look of the yarn, when I think about working this way.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      It was an interesting week, that is for sure, and shows the side of art that is not necessarily creative but has to be done to support the rest of the process.

  3. Jeanette Clawson

    I always learn from you. I had very little exposure to ceramics and it is wonderful to see the process. This is a really lovely collection of pieces and the display is just right for them.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Clay is not hard to do, but you are right, it is a process, and require patience. Also, handling clay is in itself a lifetime quest, I think. And then there is the glazing…I really recommend it, there is an infinite variety of activities with it, and it is the kind of thing that you slow down and enjoy, hurrying gets you nowhere.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I bought it at a thrift store for about $50, I think, we took off the back and painted it white so the art could show up, and painted the drawers, changed the handles, and a whole new piece of furniture and perfect for the room and the purpose, I still like looking at it!

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          Thank you. I haven’t kept a lot of my art over the years, but these clay figures, I like them, and I am glad to have a place for them.

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