Tag Archives: animals

Sometimes Accidents Happen and It’s a Good Thing

These artist trading cards came about by accident, or serendipity, as it may be.

The first one is what happened when acrylic ink was sloshed on a gessoed surface, and then scribbled on in India ink, when the cat shape appeared, to be delineated in white and black marker. There you go. From April, 2018.

ATC black cat 4-18001

Next, this bird man emerged from the shapes I saw in the painted background. March, 2018.

ATC bird man 3-18001

This cave horse was inspired by the underlying scribbles in the background and the fact that I just felt like making a horse. From March, 2018.

ATC Red Cave Horse 3-18004

Sheep and Bunny

The title tells all.

Clay tile, 4″ x 4″, Velvet underglaze on commercially made terracotta tile, fired at cone 06.

Just Animals

Animals. Of some kind.

Acrylics/India ink on board, 6″ x 6″, 2/18.

(Art Diary reference – look here.)

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending April 13

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

Art Action!

Saturday, April 7 – This week I wanted to do some clay. I had some big plans. First thing, though, was to finish off an earlier clay project – open the kiln from Friday’s firing of the avalanche of tiles I just finished coloring. Success!

I’m very happy with these results. The colors look great and I got good color coverage. I think the latter is due to the fact that I’ve gotten my technique down – I water down the underglazes so that they are a little drippy, I use a Chinese brush rather than a regular one, and I do not stroke the underglaze on like a paint but work it more like an ink, kind of dripping and gliding with a soft touch.

I will show the whole array later on when I unload the kiln.

Now, back to my plan. I’ve been collecting ideas for a while and writing them on cards to remind me:

AD 4-7 #11018

I started on one of the ideas today – clay animals. Now, I have made very few animal-type things and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I thought I’d dive in and just experiment. I used white low-fire clay and made a couple of pinch pots:

AD 4-7 #5013

Stuck them together. Now I have a hollow ball.

AD 4-7 #6012

I made some more, using various ways to combine the clay to make a “body”. Most amimals are not round like beach balls, but – these will be. Just saying that already reality was out the window, but, I hadn’t been trying for it anyway.

AD 4-7 #7011

I rolled out some legs.

AD 4-7 #8010

I went off and left them for a while. The clay is very wet and the legs could not support a body at this stage, plus the bodies themselves are wiggly and prone to misshaping themselves (in an unplanned way, you understand, I’m not objecting to their odd look if I made them that way!) Later in the day I put legs and bodies together, put them under plastic so they would not dry further, and let them be.

AD 4-7 #10008

Sunday, April 8 – I uncovered the creatures-in-process, let them dry a little more, got out my tools

AD 4-7 #9009

and made necks and heads. By day’s end – animals in a little herd.

By the way, I made small piercings in their stomachs so that air could circulate and they would not explode when fired.

I then turned my attention to another item on the list – cylinder people. Except that I felt like making rectangle people. OK, same kind of thing. I rolled out slabs and let them dry out a little. Once again, fresh clay is hard to work with as it slumps.

AD 4-8 #3005

I made figures in two ways. One, I took a section of slab, wrapped it into a cylinder (here is where I would stop for cylinder people), and then patted it into a rectangular shape with my paddle. The person ended up looking like this:

AD 4-8 #6003

But I was better off creating a box from slabs, I decided. I cut strips:

AD 4-8 #4004

I put them together, added a top and bottom (hole cut in the base so that air could circulate inside), and then a head and an arm or two.

AD 4-8 #7001

Please excuse the poor photos, I will try for better ones later. Anyway, I ended up with several figures (they are all women, just so you know).

AD 4-8 #5002

I plan to color their flat surfaces in the same way I did those recent tiles – lots of pattern and color – and leave their heads and arms plainer for contrast.

Tuesday, April 10 – I’ve been busy the last couple of days, so this afternoon was the first time I’ve had to do anything art-wise. I chose to make cylinder people (from my list) today, the real kind of cylinder people. I’ve made them before and I like them because, like all the projects I am currently working on, they are simple forms but provide a lot of plain surface area to decorate.

I used terra cotta clay today and rolled out a couple of slabs.

AD 4-10 #1009

A segue – I had an irregular shaped slab. I gotĀ  the idea to make it into legs, then added some other bits, and there you see it – an odd person.

All right. Back to cylinder people. I rolled cylinders, leaving the seam exposed, because I like the look, and pinched the top closed.

AD 4-10 #4006

I added bases to them (I like them closed up, and it gives them a nice weight) – then added faces.

Nothing to it. I’ll let them dry overnight and then clean them up a little, but this is pretty much the construction process.

I had cut the remnants of the slabs into strips.

AD 4-10 #5005

My idea is to make some more square people, but I will do that later. For tonight, I covered them with plastic so that they did not dry out – tomorrow or whenever I work on them next, I’ll uncover them a while before I want to work so that they can set up enough to stand up well. Clay under plastic can stay wet forever, if it is well wrapped.

AD 4-10 #9001

Wednesday, April 11 – I took a look at my various clay figurines this afternoon – I had only a short time since I’d been out all day. Oops, I noticed a couple of them had split along their head seams as they dried – I had not properly compressed and integrated the seam and as the clay dried it contracted.

I took some fresh clay and smoothed it in – sometimes that will heal the crack. We will see in the firing. But – in case – I made a “hat” for the worst-affected figurine. I am not attaching it to the figure, just setting it on it. In case things don’t work out, he won’t have a giant opening at the top of his head.

AD 4-11 #1008001

I like the way this looks. We’ll see if it stands up to production. If not I’ll knit him a hat or something else will occur to me.

Friday, April 13 – I finally unloaded the kiln. I am really really happy with these tiles. I’ll give them their own post tomorrow, I think, so you can see the whole thing. Here is a preview:

Small tiles 4-18 group #2007

I’ve been giving thought to my clay work this week – what I want to be doing with clay, I mean. You know, I’ve made loads of items over my ten years or so of working with this material. Sculptures and relief tiles were my focus in the beginning. That’s why my mind still runs along those lines – I’ve got a lot of history to draw on.

I have enjoyed this week, making 3-D things – but I don’t have the urge to keep exploring in this direction, I realize. In fact, I was starting to feel…impatient.

What I really like doing is tilework – flat surface tiles with scenes and abstract designs, using the bright underglazes – and that is what my mind keeps going back to.

So I’ve decided to run with this feeling. I plan to cut tiles out of my remaining clay (I especially want to do some more of those 2″ x 2″ tiles, and some abstract face tiles in larger sizes) and be happy. I started off by cutting my remaining rolled out slabs.

AD 4-13 #3001

Either I use a needle tool and a straight edge, or for larger ones, I have a tile cutter:

AD 4-13 #1003

You press on the wide handle to cut into the clay, then you press the plunger and lift from the handle to pull the cutter away from the tile. You get nice big tiles (about 6.5″ square) like this:

AD 4-13 #2002

Here are tiles I cut from my remaining terra cotta clay. I’ll do white clay on a different day, so that I don’t smear them all over each other in passing.

AD 4-13 #4006

Next, I went upstairs to my studio and worked on the two paintings I started last week. Here’s where I picked them up:

Well, the one with the chair, I was impatient with it, so I turned it upside down and worked it in an abstract way. I’m not sure if it might not go back to being a room portrait, we’ll see. How about this, take a look – first I’ll show you the way I worked on it, then the way it was, and then the other two aspects. See my problem? I kind of like them all.

I also worked on the portrait of the lady reading. She didn’t get obliterated – I like her. Let’s see what happens as I work on her some more.

AD 4-13 #9001

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

I Like Cats

so, I made some cat tiles. Velvet underglazes on lowfire clays, December 2017, fired at cone 06.

Swirly Lines

Here are some artist trading cards I made in October. Each one incorporates swirly lines. Some of those lines I made myself and some came from the magazine photos I used in making these collaged cards.

Animals and More

Here are some clay tiles done in October, 2017.

The theme here is animals, insects, birds…

Yes and No

I was interested in the idea of etegami, a form of Japanese mail art. I bought some paper meant for this subject, postcard-sized and very soft. Following my version of the technique, I drew the figures in India ink.

Then I used watery acrylic paints to color the images.

I was not having a good time with this project. The paper is very soft, I think I said that! and I tend to scrub at my surfaces with my brush. Oh dear, the paper began to pill. I let the images dry, very sorry for hurting them.

The next step would be to write something on each card, a few words. I just did not feel like doing that, so I left them blank.

I am not going to do etegami, I decided. I’ll just do these.

I will say I like the philosophy behind etegami-making: anyone can do it and imperfection is welcome.

Three With a Family ResemblanceĀ 

I often make several artworks at one time. This way of working keeps me from fussing too much with any one piece. That is something I find very easy to do. So I do it. You know what happens next – and it’s ugly.

Anyway, group sessions work well for me. You can often see a continuity of materials and mood in the pieces I work on together.

Here is an example. Three artist trading cards from June, 2017. Mixed media, acrylics, ink, and crayon.

Family Home

About a year ago, a friend of mine asked me if I would do a painting of his family home. Sure, I said.

Well, time moved on, we kept talking about it here and there, but finally this summer the stars aligned and the project was done. Here is the story, and it is special to me.

My friend, John, lives in the home where he grew up. It was built more than 100 years ago by his grandparents, lived in by his parents, and now by him. It’s an end-of-row rowhome located in what was a small town about 35 miles from Center City Philadelphia.

The area is now suburbanizing and there have been a lot of changes, but the house is still as it has always been, rising up from the street in a dignified way.

As well as a doing a portrait of the house, John asked me to include his dogs: Ava, Maggie, Nikki, and Winnie. Other than that, well, it was up to me.

Normally I won’t do commissions. I dislike feeling the future owner’s hopes hovering over my shoulder as I work. I extra dislike the idea that I could disappoint the recipient. In this case, I know that John likes my work; he has been a big supporter of me, always.

But I also knew that this house means more than just shelter to him. It is the embodiment of a lifetime of memories for him and the setting for all his family’s history for a century. I felt a lot of responsibility.

But, I figured, I’ll get to work, and if it doesn’t please him, well, I’ll just…just…try again!

I want to show the process of this project, and I will break it down into its parts. Because I decided there would be paintings rather than painting.

Here are my ideas. I would do a small portrait of each dog; I’d do the house; and I’d do a picture of the front door and steps. In this way I could represent all the parts that seemed important. The house, of course. The dogs deserved their own spaces; I felt they would be insignificant inside the larger painting and I didn’t like that idea, since they are so important to John. And I just liked the front steps; that’s the way everyone who’s ever been there goes in and out, all those years!

My husband and I drove out and took pictures of the house in June. John sent me pictures of Ava, Nikki, and Maggie; I took a picture of John and Winnie in July.

Now you know it all. Here are the results.

Let’s start with the dogs.




And John and Winnie. I met Winnie myself; John brought her to the Tinicum Festival of the Arts and I took her picture.

Here is the close up of the steps and front door.

And now. The house!

Here are the finished pieces all together…