Birds

Sophie and More

You remember that I had a booth at an art and craft show in Alpine, CA several weeks ago?  Well, a woman saw my sign and sample for custom pet totems and ordered one of her little dog, Sophie.  I could tell right away that Sophie was very special to them.  They had a small photo album with just pictures of Sophie in it.

DSC_0026"Sophie"

They were also describing their backyard and we discussed ways for them to display her portrait. After some debate and deciding, they went with a tile portrait mounted on metal with a chain so that they can hang her outside on their stone wall, but still be able to move it around as they please if necessary.

I have also been busy making more pieces to show at art faires this summer.  I finished several last week that I had available at the Art & Wine in the Pines show in Crestline on Saturday.  And I am working on more for a show that I am doing called Art on Millionaire's Row in Altadena.

Blondie 3"Blondie"

There is an artists' reception on Friday night from 6 to 9 where you can meet all of the artists and purchase some art.  If you are around this weekend, please stop by and say hi.  The actual show is from 10am to 6pm on Saturday in the Library parking lot.  The weather should be perfect for it!

Majestic 1"Majestic"

 


Color Failure

I guess I should tell you about my failures as well as my successes here.  I had a somewhat major failure here this past week.  I am working on painting some more bird pieces and had 7 more that I fired over the weekend.

Out of 7 pieces, I got only 3 usable ones.  I have never had this happen before.  I have had some paint colors turn a slightly different shade before. Or get a bit darker than anticipated, but I have never had 4 pieces at one time not only change color, but become so completely unusable.  

Here is the problem - the yellow turned gray.  And with these birds it is quite noticeable and unacceptable.

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Not only should this Lesser Goldfinch have a yellow chest, but the flower is supposed to be yellow!

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You can't have a Yellow Rumped Warbler with no yellow on him...

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Robins are known for their yellow beaks....

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And this Kestrel should have yellow around his eyes and an orange/yellow mustache.

So, between the loss of time, paint, frit and electricity, needless to say I was a bit frustrated.  But, I am in the middle stages of completing these pieces again as well as a piece with two Magpies that I am excited about and 2 other birds as well.  Hopefully these will be more successful than the yellow catastrophe.


Clay Fun

So, a couple of weeks ago I had decided I was going to try making some of my jewelry pieces with porcelain clay instead of the precious metal silver clay.  I kind of knew a little about porcelain, but really not much.  After some research about firing it and looking at info on my glass kiln, I realized my kiln does not safely fire to a hot enough temperature for porcelain (over 2200 degrees).  Bummer.

So I bought another packet of silver clay.  It is very expensive.  I have not opened it yet. 

Today Mark and I were at Michael's and I decided to see what they offered in the way of clay I might be able to use.  I settled on an extremely inexpensive packet of white Sculpey III clay.  Some of you may be familiar with this clay.  It is used for everything from jewelry to buttons, sculpture and a lot more.  

I did not know much about it and found a couple of interesting articles and videos, but nothing that really told me exactly how to do what I wanted to do.  Most of the online info is about making millifiore canes or beads.  So I just went for it.

It's properties make this such a wonderfully workable medium.  And the best part - it only has to cook at 275 degrees and DOES NOT SHRINK!!  I can insert my glass with absolutely no worries.  I am very excited and thrilled to present my first piece of polymer clay and glass jewelry. 

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Like I said, this was made from white clay.  I layered a base sheet, stamped it with this attractive tree shape, then centered my glass on the front of that, wrapped a "snake" of clay around the glass, then layered strips across the top all the way around the glass.  With my fingers I smoothed it all around, poked the holes, trimmed it up a little bit, then cooked it in my oven.

Then the work began.  I used a tiny carving tool to carve all of the grooves in to the face of the frame.  I also used an exacto blade to trim all the way around, round the corners and clean up the inside edge of the frame.  I sanded it all over with a very fine sanding pad.  

As I was carving I accidentally carved a hair too deep on one of the corners and the glass poked through.  I thought "UhOh" but did a tiny little patch and refired it and it came out perfect. 

I then put some black acrylic paint on a rag and just basically painted the entire piece black.  Then I took a clean rag and rubbed it all over so that the black stayed in the texture and crevices.  After the paint dried I brushed on a coat of clear satin acrylic finish to protect it.

In some lights it actually looks like silver, but it is very lightweight and not as shiny as silver is.  I attached silver filled chain with beads and a lobster clasp to finish it off.

I am bubbling with excitment and looking forward to making a whole series!!

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Wild Birds Unlimited

I am very excited to announce that I now have a small display of my bird pieces in the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Riverside.  You can see their website at www.wbu.com/riverside or pick up some awesome bird loving stuff at their store at 10456 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, CA  92505.

Wild Birds Unlimited 2

I was contacted by the owners who saw some of my work at the Lake Arrowhead Gallery.  They thought that some of my reverse glass paintings of birds would fit well in their store.  They have never had any artists on consignment, so I am the first.  They brought in a special curio cabinet just for me!!

Coneflower Snack"Coneflower Snack" - Anna's Hummingbird

I quickly made about 8 pieces, added a couple from my stock at home and dropped off 10 wood pieces and 1 framed piece last Saturday.  Mary called me on Sunday to tell me they sold one.  Wow - pretty cool!  She also asked if I could make more hummingbirds since they were holding a seminar on Hummingbirds this Saturday (tomorrow - March 17th).  Of course I could.  I made 4 more pieces and delivered them on Wednesday.  I am quite anxious to see what the response was.  

Winter Plumage"Winter Plumage" - Hooded Oriole

Anyway, this was really cool - to be recognized for my art at a store that specializes in wild birds.  I am hoping the relationship works well, that they sell some pieces and make money for both of us.

A Mothers Work"A Mother's Work..." - Anna's Hummingbird


I Was Framed

Several weeks ago I sold a framed glass tile piece at the Mountain Arts Gallery in Lake Arrowhead.  I have a small section to hang some of my art on there as well as a glass display case.  Since most of my work is 3 dimensional and does not need a wall, this is perfect for me.  

I had not made any framed pieces in some time, so when I looked in my inventory at home I realized I needed to get to work.  I went down to Michael's and picked up 6 frames.  (I love their buy one, get one 50% off sales.)  I looked for some frames that were more long and skinny than usual in order to accomodate some tall tree paintings.  I ended up getting one that I really love the shape of - it is 10-1/2 x 16" overall and I cut a mat with an opening of 4-1/2 x 10".  

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Here is the close up - much better to see the glass

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"Twist and Shout" 

In another long, tall frame instead of a tree, I ended up going with this gorgeous Scrub Jay.  I drew this one from a photograph taken by a friend of mine - Lee Reeder - he has been doing some wonderful bird photos lately and gave me permission to use them as I needed as reference material.

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"Long and Tall"

I painted 3 more birds and another tree to fill all 6 of the frames.  

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"Morning Song"  - Purple Finch (also from a photograph by Lee)

Rusted 2

"Rusted"

Western Tanager 2

"Western Tanager"

Full and Round 2

"Full and Round"


Parliament

I know that I have heard before that a group of owls is a parliament, but while looking for a name for one of the 3 owl pieces that I am going to enter in the juried salon show in June I came across the term again.  It fit this piece just right.

ParliamentAproximately 5 x 5 x 17"

This burrowing owl is on the look out for his afternoon snack.  Hence the name "Two O'Clock"

Two OClockApproximately 5 x 5 x 24"

And the large piece I told you about in my last post - I titled it "Night Owl".  If you recall, this is now the largest piece I have made to date.  I am actually quite happy with it.  I played around with the painting in order to add light shading and pale coloring.  I ended up washing on a very watery color in some areas as well as full strength paints, then used white frit to color in the whole owl.  The color wash shows up as a much more natural light color that would not otherwise be possible with just paint or frit.  It is difficult to see it in this picture, but there is just slight color in the individual feathers of the front wing and as a shadow on the underside of the owl.

Night OwlApproximately 16 x 8 x 27"

I think the worst part is that I won't be able to show or try to sell these pieces until the salon show or afterwards.  I will be printing out the pictures and sending them in with the application this week.  If they are accepted I won't be able to substitute them - they have to be there for the show.

I am also playing around with the natural colored background for the photos.  The shadows are killing me - I really need to work on the lighting, but I think the pale color looks as nice or nicer than the black and really brightens up the overall feel.


Shading and Texturing

Here is a glimpse of the second stage of all of my reverse glass paintings - the shading and texturing.  The grid lines you see are coming from my new LED light table.  That table is coming in very handy for this stage.


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After the first firing of the black outline, the entire piece of glass is painted with a thin wash of black paint.  When the paint dries I use sticks and paint brushes to remove paint to create highlights and texture before firing it again. 

IMG_0626Click on the photo to be able to see the detail - especially in the wing feathers.

This is a large owl piece I am working on.  If you look carefully along the top edge of the forward wing you will see a cut line that runs diagonally across the piece.  The overall size of this glass is 14 x 21" - just slightly too big to fit into my 24" round kiln. Really it's just shaped wrong (retangular instead of round).  So, I had to break the glass up somehow and I thought this was just the right place for this design.

The piece of wood this is going on is a large chisel shape standing straight up.  I am planning to enter this into a salon show in Altadena in June.  Of course, I have to get it done, take pictures, send them in with my application and hope it is selected to be shown.  The show is juried, so IF I am accepted, I will then cross my fingers for an award.  I will be entering two other owl pieces as well since each artist is allowed up to 3 entries.  

I will post photos of all three when completed (hopefully next week).


Higher Ground

Higher Ground

That is what I named one of my new pieces today.  Naming is always a problem for me and it can be hard to come up with new and interesting titles for my pieces. 

I paint a lot of birds and trees.  Sometimes they are the same breed of bird and my trees are my trees - they often look pretty similar even when they are quite unique - that's what makes them mine, I guess. Mark has helped quite a lot by shooting out interesting titles when he looks at a new piece.  Of course, his aren't all gems, either.

I tend to use the colors of a piece in the title frequently.  Like "Gold and Grey" or "Purple Perch".  That works, is descriptive, but doesn't seem very creative to me.  

So, I had 4 pieces I was signing and titling today.  

Atop 2
"Atop" - Aptly descriptive and a somewhat unique word, I think

Purple Perch 2
"Purple Perch" - One of my "color" names...

Remembrance 1
"Remembrance" - This title is actually somewhat connected to the color.  Mark and I were thinking of names and, of course, the word yellow came up, he says "Tie a yellow ribbon" and that got me thinking about why we tied ribbons around the old oak tree - to remember our loved ones and to guide them home.  Remember the trees I finished in December titled "Simplicity", "Harmony", "Serenity" - I like these really calming and soothing titles.  They are what I see in trees, I suppose.

Higher Ground 1
"Higher Ground" - I love flickers.  I keep suet out on the tree just outside my office window so that I can watch the flickers, nuthatches, woodpeckers and chickadees.  The flickers are quite common here and always wow me with their color, but also their calm assertiveness.  They are no-nonsense birds.  So, color references seemed very natural to me to use in the title for this one, but that would be too safe, too "done".  I was listening to the "Red Hot Chili Peppers" while contemplating and decided to look at the song titles on the cd - lo and behold "Higher Ground" popped out at me.  I am pretty certain the band did not have flickers in mind when they wrote this, but the title was perfect.  It takes into it that feeling of having to look up at the bird, high in the oak tree surrounded by sun-kissed golden leaves and full, round acorns.  

I hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about my titling process.  It isn't always this fun - sometimes I am in a hurry and get lazy - but every once in a while........


 


Trees, Trees, Glorious Trees!

I finished 9 more pieces last week, just before my last show of the season in Altadena, CA.  I made 7 trees, an owl and a hare.  

Fall Moon
"Fall Moon"

I have discovered a new way to layer the background frit using transparent colors and creamy vanilla to make subtle, but vibrant skies and backgrounds.

Serenity in Red
"Serenity in Red"

Some of these were very hard to even put price tags on - I would love to keep them all!

Harmony in Red
"Harmony in Red"

Nurturing
"Nurturing"

Simplicity 2
"Simplicity"

Windblown
"Windblown"

Intensity 3"Intensity"

Wish Upon A Star
"Wish Upon A Star"