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.


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.


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.


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!

Tree Boxes

I had a brilliant idea!  Well, we all have them from time to time, don't we?

Turn some of my glass on wood pieces into boxes!  These could be for jewelry, paperclips, found shells, pet ashes.... the list goes on.

Early Dawn Tree Box 2

Early Dawn Tree Box 3

I took chunks of tree limbs, cut off the bottom, slice into the edges of the rest of the chunk to create a cavity, then glue all those pieces back together.  Then take a slice off of the top of the piece from the inside to glue onto the bottom of the glass for the lid. Then, of course, make the reverse glass painting to fit the box.  Once glued together, the box is heavily sanded and has a coat of satin varnish to protect the wood.

Remember Me Tree Box

Remember Me Tree Box 3

So far I have only done some of my tree designs, but I could see all kinds of animals and even pet portraits for pet urns.  They are all around 4" in diameter and varying heights from 2-1/2" to 5".

Willow Tree Box

Willow Tree Box 3

Love them!!


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"  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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.



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--


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.  

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.

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

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

Robins are known for their yellow beaks....

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.

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".  


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

"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.


"Long and Tall"

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


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

Rusted 2


Western Tanager 2

"Western Tanager"

Full and Round 2

"Full and Round"