Birds

Sisters Collaboration

My sister, Kristin Shields, is a terrific quilt artist.  She uses a liberated style to build her quilts and they are so much fun.  She was chosen as the Featured Quilter at this year's huge Sister's Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon.


Kristin Featured Quilter OregonThat is her - far left of picture in white shirt and brown hair - and a tiny portion of the folks that stopped by her space on Saturday, July 13th.

So, last year we had an idea - let's collaborate!  Our parents' 50th wedding anniversary is this year and so we decided to make a hanging for them.  I made a reverse glass painting of a tree with intertwining trunks and limbs and little birds all in the favorite colors of each of the family members (parents, kids and grandkids). 

I sent that up to Kristin in January and she ended up making a little quilt the same width of a close up of the two red birds (our parents' favorite colors) on a limb with leaves.  She used almost all fabrics she had died herself.

Kristin had both pieces mounted and framed together and the we presented it to our parents this past Tuesday while I was visiting them all in Oregon.

Glass and Quilt 1

Mom and Dad glass and quilt 1

This was a fun little project and it was exciting just sending off a tile and getting to see the finished project all put together.  Maybe we will try another pairing some time - have a little show of them - that would be fun!


Online Selling

I feel myself extremely fortunate that I have very sweet and loyal fans.  At my most recent art show in Alpine, CA, I had the pleasure of having some very enthusiastic ladies come to seek me out.

One woman had seen a piece that a friend of hers had purchased at the same show last year.  She was a funny and interesting lady who ended up buying 5 pieces!  She is a bird watcher as well as an adrenaline junky and we had fun talking about the motorcycle she is planning to buy.

Another lady I had met just a couple of months ago at the Circle of Art show in Borrego Springs.  She was there before I was and patiently waited while we lifted the sides of the EZ Up to let her see all of the new goodies I had brought to the show.  She ended up purchasing 2 pieces and custom ordering 2 more.

I just had a conversation about sales this morning with a friend.  You see, I don't offer pieces for sale on my website because since everything is one of a kind, it is very difficult to keep up inventory.  I would have to be updating frequently, or hold items at home that I want to sell online.  However, I have found that while people frequently look at my website, they very infrequently purchase anything from there - even my Etsy site.  Since I am out at shows about every other month or more, it just makes sense to bring all of the inventory to each show.  That way those "in-person" customers can see the full range of what I have available.  On Etsy, I tend to list items that I make multiples of (like my plant markers and greeting cards) but I have recently listed some of my other art pieces on there as well.  The problem with this is that many of those pieces are also for sale at the co-op gallery in Lake Arrowhead and if an item sells in the gallery, I might not be aware of it for up to a week.  Which means, if someone also purchases it online, I am in big trouble - only one item, two sales.  I am having to go and look at my items in the gallery much more frequently and hope that scenario does not happen.

I am wondering how other people may deal with this kind of thing.  I know that many artists are able to list and sell prints of their paintings online and then keep their originals for galleries and shows.  However, all I can do are some cards, not prints due to the nature of my art - it would take away from the fact that my art is on glass, not paper or canvas.  Suggestions or ideas are more than welcome!!

I leave you with photos of the custom orders just completed--

Acorn Nut 2

"Acorn Nut" - Acorn Woodpecker

Waterborne 1

"Waterborne"  Great Blue Heron


Freedom

So, for 2013 I have started to go back to allowing myself a little more freedom with my drawings and paintings.  I will probably always be a fairly "literal" artist in that I don't "do" abstract art.  I can appreciate it and love the flow and feel of it, but am a more restrained artist myself.

But for the past couple of years I have been focusing on drawing birds and animals in a mostly lifelike manner.  Trying to get the colors right and focusing on the animal itself.  This year I am going to explore my own interpretations a little bit more and see what I can come up with. 

I still like to add in all of the detail, but I think it will be more in a fanciful and determined way.  My first batch of pieces (besides the large totem I am still working on) have come out of the kiln and been mounted and titled.  You can see that I have taken liberties with the colors and have been working on creating an atmosphere with each little piece by expounding on the backgrounds and settings that each bird is in.

Ground Cover 1"Ground Cover"

Blue 1"Blue"

Extended 2"Extended"

About Town Card Holder 3"About Town"  Business Card Holder



We will see where this takes me.  I will probably still do some realistic birds to please the audience (and stay in practice) but I am really liking the freedom of color, pose, shape, etc you see in these pieces.


Whimsy

Here are the photos of the other two finished whimsical little bird drawings I had done.

Fly Away Home

"Fly Away Home" 
This guy took the afternoon to just relax in his nest with a good book.  But he definitely has a good decorator - note the tassles on the comfy pillow.

Warm and Dry cropped
"Warm and Dry"
This adorable couple decided to go for a walk on a cool, drizzly day and you can see they are staying warm and dry together under nature's umbrella. 

Here it is mounted in the frame

Warm and Dry


Swing Time

I saw some art from an artist recently that I just loved.  It was a drawing of a bear with a little girl.  The artist is Graham Franciose and you can see his blog here.  And you can see other artists I love on my Pinterest Boards here.

I love illustrations like this and it got me thinking about my art.  I personally think that my style looks a little like carved stamp impressions.  The texture work that I am doing now has that etched/carved look.  And it reminds me of an illustration style similar to what Graham is doing.  

Now, I know it's not anywhere near the same.  The medium, subject matter, style, etc.  But similar to my eye all the same.

I decided to try my hand at some more whimsical/surreal styled birds.  The first image came to me at once.  A bird in a tree swing.  The original drawing took up the full page of my sketchbook.

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I chose a long, tall dark piece of wood to put the glass on, so the finished piece had to cut off a little of the tail and a lot of the tree, but it still tells the story.

Swing Time

You can see how the drawing, while detailed, does not have the texture and depth that the finished piece has.  That is all done in the shading stage of my painting. 

Swing Time 3

I am having so much fun with these little birds.  They can be doing so much!  This idea came to me while running on my treadmill the other day.  It originally had a regular umbrella, but it didn't look 'right', so I made the umbrella from leaves and it works now.  A photo of this one finished will definitely become a greeting card.

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This one titled "Warm and Dry" is in the first stage of painting in the kiln right now.  I painted this one on a large square (8" x 8") that I will frame when it's done. The birds appear to be floating in mid-air here, but rest assured, I placed them on a twig-lined pathway in the final picture.

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This one is called "Fly Away Home" and shows my bird relaxing at home with a good book.  This is an example of the "reverse-ness" of my art.  You can see the title of the book had to be written in reverse so that when the image is complete and turned over, it is correct. 

This one is actually also in the kiln now.  This photo was taken before the nest was finished, but the final piece is a smaller oval and that portion of the nest and most of the leaves will not be in this finished glass painting so it didn't matter for now. 

Can't wait to see these last two designs "fleshed out" as well!


Shoreline

This latest piece, titled "Shoreline" is an example of technique and material coming together to create a unique art piece. 

I am getting ready for a booth space I will have at the Monterey Bay Birding Festival this coming week and wanted to make a bunch of bird pieces and especially some shore birds.   While rifling through my extensive pile of wood pieces, I realized I have some great driftwood pieces - perfect for shore birds.

Also, do you remember the double sided hanging birds I made a month or so ago? And the totem I made just last month?  Well, they brought together two techniques that melded together to create this shore bird piece.

I cut two exact outlines of the shape of this Black Necked Stilt.  The beak is quite thin and was quite a challenge to cut.  Next I painted the details of the bird in my 4 part process, firing it after each painting stage as I do all of my reverse paintings.   But on the final firing I inserted a small piece of fiber paper a short way under the bottom of the bird to become the hole where the metal rod would be inserted.  Both sides of the bird are glued together and the rod is glued in the void space to create a "bird on a rod". 

The wood was sanded and varnished and came out a lovely, rich, dark brown - which I adore.  A hole the size of the metal rod is drilled about half way straight down into the wood.  I then glued some well worn pebbles and  a couple of shells that we picked up years ago during a vacation to Catalina Island in a meandering path along the top of the wood.  The rod with the bird is inserted into the hole of the wood and Voila! "Shoreline" is born.

Loving this piece!!

Shoreline

"Shoreline"  Overall 18" x 4" x 10"

Shoreline 4


Broken Wing

Okay, so I finished the long task of adding the colored paint to all of the pieces of the totem last night. Added the frit and got them into the kiln just before heading to bed. 

I was so happy to be on schedule for getting the whole piece finished and to the show this weekend.

Until I dropped one of the wing pieces.

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I have not dropped a single one of my reverse painted pieces and had it break.  Ever. Of course I have broken plenty of glass in my time, but this one killed me.  It hit another piece of glass in my lower shelf storage on it's way down which is probably the reason it broke instead of just bouncing off of my rubber floor mat.  Bummer.

I wanted to cry.  But Mark was quite reasonable and just said - "well, just re-paint it and we can get this done".  He was right.  Firing just this one small piece by itself I have been able to rush it through 3 firings today.  

And while the kiln was running Mark helped me work on the wood base portion.  He had gotten it sanded for me yesterday so today he varnished it and we fashioned an awesome base to stabilize it and I added wire wrapping with beads to tie the whole thing together.

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You can see the all of the smaller pieces in the background cut and ready for sand and prep.

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Close up of the wire and bead portion of the base.

These pictures are a little washed out, but this wood is stunning in person and I can't wait to see the glass all finished on it.  

Here is a little sneak peak of the glass pieces before the final firing which will happen tonight if I am lucky, but probably tomorrow morning.

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Totem Pole

Regarding Totem Poles:

I have been mulling over ideas for glass totem poles for at least 2 or 3 years.  

I created the idea of the glass animal and pet totems that I custom make from a customer's photographs.  

I would love to see a full size mountain animal totem pole erected in my town and maybe some day I can get a grant or funding for a public art installation of one.

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So, when one of the logs we carried home recently had a couple of sections that were of decent size in diameter and pretty darn straight I decided to take advantage. Keeping in mind that I wanted to be able to carry this piece easily to shows.

We cut a length about 32" then cut a flat face for most of the length on one side to apply the glass to.  I mulled over some ideas of what should be on my totem pole and looked at images online every evening.  I had originally imagined it with wild animals similar to what I have done in a smaller scale in the past.  But the faces I found online really took me to the crux of what I wanted - raw, bold colors and shapes.


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Inspiration

I sketched out some faces and an eagle body.  Then I cut the glass to fit the shape of the wood.   Many traditional totem poles have an eagle or "thunderbird" on top. In this vein, I drew out an eagle head and wings.  The glass will be applied in segments with the head and wings added on in a unique way.  You will see as this progresses how it all comes together.  

Working on a flat surface as opposed to the artists and craftsmen that carve into the wood was more of a challenge than you might think.  It's hard to get the feeling of depth and shadow on a flat surface.  I am hoping the shading stage of my painting gets that feeling across.

For now, here is a taste of one of the segments in the making--


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I should be finished with this totem in time to have it at my booth at the Art on the Lake show in Big Bear this coming weekend.  I will post more progress and finished pics here, but if you are nearby please come and let me know what you think.  Maybe this piece will speak to you or I can make another one that suits you.  


Inspiration

Last fall we took a trip in our RV to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Santa Fe is a very art centered community.  The eye candy is everywhere.

One of the places we went to was a gallery with bronze, metal and glass.  The Shidoni Art Gallery has a large property and had outdoor metal gardens and was so much fun to walk around and be amazed by each different art piece.

In the bronze gallery we came across some shelves of small sculptures.  My favorite was a man who made little animals, some stacked on top of others, that were made into little pull toys.  Not for actually playing with, but just perfectly adorable little sculptures.  I wish I had written down the artist's name, but, alas, I did not.

But I always travel with my sketchbook and when we got back to the RV I made some sketches of birds on pull toy bases.  My idea was to make a double sided glass bird, mounted on a wooded base with wood wheels.

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This idea sat in my book for all this time.  Last week I was looking through my book and when I stopped on this page, it triggered something.  I suddenly saw these birds flying in front of my window.  Bright and colorful.

So, some glass cutting, painting, fusing, glueing and some assembly.  And the two samples are finished.

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You don't get the feel of the three dimensionality of them by looking at pictures, but they have depth and are fun to look at and touch.

Like I said, these two were my first, but I plan to make a bunch more in a rainbow of colors.  I am also thinking of putting them on metal stakes for garden art.