Sometimes You Keep Trying

I’ve got a couple of tiles here to show you that illustrate this idea – if you aren’t satisfied with your work, don’t live with it, see if you can correct it. Both of these tiles went through several stages to get to their final look.

This first one, a bird. Originally I painted (with Velvet underglazes) a bird on this tile. I hated the way it looked and washed it off. Sometimes by doing this I get a nice weathered look. I don’t have a photo of how it looked before I washed it off (that would be before the 2nd firing that sets the color) but here it is after that firing:

Clay tile WIP bird @ 4x4 7-195

I like the look of the terracotta clay showing through, but I am not happy with the bird’s look. I took some Amaco TP glaze (the “shiny”) and added it in green. Another firing and here is the end product:

Clay tile bird 7-19 @ 4x42

The photo does not do it justice, but believe me, it looks better with more green definition, and I like the contrast of matte and shiny.

Here they are together:

Next up, a sunshine and a little creature in a house. I had the same problem with it as the bird tile – I hated my initial image and I washed the underglaze off the tile, leaving some of it for an image. I also put clear glaze over the sunshine and the house area. Here is stage one after firing:

Clay tile WIP blue @ 4x4 7-196Not quite what I wanted. I did not like the roughness of the big open blue area. So I added a little of a white translucent glaze in the open area.

Clay tile WIP stage #2 7-191

Ugh. No good. I considered throwing the tile away but I liked the figures a lot and I thought – one more try. I added more black around the sunshine, I dappled white underglaze in the open area, and I gave the roof of the house some color. (Please excuse the bad photo, I can’t seem to get a good picture of this tile at this stage. I need work on my photo technique for glazed items and their bothersome reflections.)

Clay Tile @ 4x4 8-19 sun looking down at animal in a house1

Now I was happy (take my word for it, the tile looks happy now). Here are all three versions together:

I can’t say these are masterpieces but I like their look now.

Renovating artwork is often worth doing, but it is also important to know when to give up and just throw the item away – when your time will be better spent on something new. What kept me going was that I liked my drawings and I thought I could make things work out.

9 thoughts on “Sometimes You Keep Trying

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I think after all their efforts they turned out well. I keep them in my studio for company and to remind me not to discard based on first impressions. And, mostly because I just think they are funny. Make me smile.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I think after doing lots of tiles I am sensitized to when the image is finished and when it is not – there is usually nothing to point out, just that it feels wrong. I’ve been talking about this idea of when an artwork is finished to my class I am teaching, and it’s something they want a firm answer to. All I can say is…stop and let it rest, and the answer will come to you. Like so many things, time is your friend in making these decisions.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      There are very few I throw out. I just don’t like to waste materials or ideas. Although sometimes it’s just better to let it go, but mostly, something can be made of it.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I like that idea. I remember my aunt had a parakeet when I was young, green and yellow, and I thought the idea of a bird in the house was so nice (it stayed in its cage sometimes and others flew where it wanted inside). Very exotic, I thought.

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