Tag Archives: plan

the base for my dragon sculpture

It’s an odd looking base isn’t it. That big lip around it is hollow. I think it will be ok for my dragon because he’ll be tubular too. This could be his nest.

When I made a dragon long ago I didn’t make a base and should have taken the time to do it because the dragon’s talons got broken. This time I’m going to make him fit inside the dimensions of the base. 8 x 12. That way nothing will get bumped off since it will have feet with claws, tail, wings and head that might be in danger otherwise.

I turned it upside down to work on the bottom. You can see a foot on the base which won’t get any glaze to keep it from sticking to the shelf in the kiln. That much I remembered from my pottery classes long ago. A pot needs a foot. And you can see holes I put in the fat lip for air to escape. That will keep it from exploding in the kiln. Trapped air expands in the kiln when it’s hot and if it can’t escape it will break the clay. Also, I wedged the clay for around 20 min off and on to get any air bubbles out. That might sound like too much time wedging. I bet no one else wedges that much because its tiring but I feel like if I’m taking the time to make a sculpture I should take the time to wedge the clay to be safe.

I’ll put another 15 or so air holes in the dragon and between the dragon and the base as I’m building it. 4 air holes in the base is more than it needs. I could fit a finger inside that tube its so hollow.

Today I’ll wedge some clay for the dragon and I can probably get it done this week.

clay slab rolling hack

I’m working on a piece of particle board that I saved from years ago and took along every time I moved because I knew I’d work with clay again eventually. I used the same board to stretch watercolor paper too. It’s a heavy board, slightly absorbent and not splintering or warping.

When I was planning how to make the base for my dragon sculpture I had to decide, would I make a better base by trying to pinch an oval pot for it or should I try to make a coil pot or what would be the easiest to make a base as symmetrical and even thickness as I could? I decided on slab strips. You can make an even 1/2″ thick slab using a rolling pin and two yard sticks on either side. I thought that up all on my own but I wouldn’t be surprised if others are doing it to make clay sculptures.

If you need a thinner slab use only one yard stick on each side. If you want a thicker slab use 3 sticks on each side.

first pottery class / a 3 pot mess

The first class was about wheel throwing. The second class will be about how to use the extruder or whatever things they have for hand building pots. Whew!. Wheel throwing is hard. I didn’t really want to do it because I know how much practice it takes and I don’t want to put in the time to get that skill. I decided to go along with the class and gave it a try and the photo is my 3 attempts which I smooshed because they were sooooo bad.

The teacher was the best! When I tried wheel throwing years ago I don’t remember the teacher helping me as much. These still flopped but she was a big help with centering the clay.

I asked about the size and number of pots they would fire because on their site I saw something about 6 pieces that the dimensions add up to 24″ and she said there are no rules. I was glad to hear that! Now I can plan a larger dragon. I’m getting started on the base which is kind of worked out in my mind as an oval arch shape (picture an upside down boat) with a half round border on the bottom as a lip and decorate the lip with the Celtic design. If I can get that done by the next class and show it to the teacher, see what she thinks of the start, that would be good. Maybe I can get started on the dragon soon.

This is the 3 pot mess of clay that I started wedging. The teacher said it’s not necessary to wedge the clay off a new block but that’s not what I heard before.( Either way, you’d have to wedge the clay to use it after smooshing the wheel throwing disasters.) Clay is made up of microscopic plates that slide over each other. When you add water they slide more and that gives clay its stretchy feeling. When you wedge clay you’re trying to get the air out and compact the tiny tiny plates into a spiral seashell type thing by pressing down and folding over a bit of it with the heel of your hand, give it a slight turn and repeat until you get tired. You can see an air bubble breaking under my hand in this pic. I wedged this ball for 7 min and needed to take a break but it needs more wedging. I’ll keep going until I don’t see any air bubbles breaking for a few minutes. Then it will be a stronger clay to work with, no air bubbles, less cracks when drying, stretchier, safer from breaking in the kiln. They should teach wedging first but I’m no teacher or pro potter either. I always loved playing with mud even as a kid.

A plan for my dragon / Celtic design

I’m excited to start my pottery class tomorrow! YEA! I’ll be able to make a dragon to replace the one I gave away 30 some years ago! And this time I’ll do it better! I’ve been thinking about this for weeks off and on.

The first dragon from long ago came out good but the claws broke off somehow and I glued them back on. This time I want to put my dragon on a base to protect his talons so I thought a half round pinch pot base would work to support the dragon. I couldn’t decide, should I make 2 pinch pots, one for the front legs and one for the back legs? I decided to make only one base and put all four feet on it. A pinch pot base would be stronger than a slab. A boxy slab base might cave in when its fired, I don’t know, but the arch shape of a half round won’t cave.

Then I was wondering if I should decorate the base. I decorated pots in the past with Celtic knots. I have a great design book that teaches you to do the patterns and I adapted a few to fit previous pots. This is one of those designs from long ago that I saved and I think I can adapt it a little more to fit what I make for the dragon.. And I need to put a lip on the base around the bottom edge to make it easier to pick up for loading the kiln.

This is only my plan for the first step. I’m still working out how to build the dragon and how to glaze it.

Since two of my favorite places to hang around have too much construction going on around them which makes it a hassle and risky for my tires, I’m looking forward to doing some pottery and probably less painting in plein air. I still have an unfinished painting and the weather has been too windy for plein air on days when the tide is right. I can’t do both pottery and painting because I only have space for one at a time.

The Dragon Cometh / mixed media

Darn it, he’s not scary at all. Looks like he’s smiling and waving at you.

I signed up for a pottery class starting in March. I took classes years ago and thought it was fun. I tried to throw pots on the wheel a few times but hand building is more for me. I made a dragon once out of clay and it came out good. He had a personality! My mother in law wanted it so she could give it to my brother in law but I said no because it was one of my favorites. Eventually I gave it to my brother in law. I want to make another dragon. I should get a plan worked out for the pottery class.

This is a mono print with palette knife scraping and smearing to make horns, legs and face. You can see some scraping in this close up. The background is oil pastel.

This was fun to do and I took step by step photos to show you the process, in reverse order posted below.

I pulled the print off my wax paper onto this bright orange and onto pink but I like the orange more. The paint is thick on there and the orange is so bright it was vibrating my eyeballs so I wanted to kill the orange with its opposite, blue.

This is how thick I glommed the paint onto my wax paper with my palette knife, trying to make a snake shape and have it be thicker for a head and thinner at the tail.

This is a close up of my palette, a plastic lid. I’m letting the layers of acrylic build up instead of cleaning the palette. The white, yellow and green are today’s colors on top of what was left from the iris painting, which is dry.

I only scraped through the colors once then scraped it up in smaller blobs with the palette knife to make the snake shape on the wax paper.

Doesn’t that remind you of a flower? I love the sculptural texture of a blob of acrylic. This is a step I like to see but it doesn’t last because I needed this paint to do the dragon.

It would be fun to make a dragon sock puppet for my granddaughter. That would be a sewing project. They make good subjects and you can do a dragon any way you want to.

charcoal sketch from Rivers Casino

That was a fun thing to do today since it rained and I wanted to get out. I found my way over to the casino but got lost in Norfolk on my way home. It’s a straight shot over to Portsmouth on 264 but coming home I was in the wrong lane and got funneled off the highway. I got turned around somehow and made a circle but avoided going through another tunnel. Finally I found the way home. My car has gps but you need a phone with blue tooth and I never hooked it up because I have a little old flip phone. That’s ok. Getting lost in Norfolk isn’t scary.

The casino is pretty with all those bright colorful shiny sparkly machines. It’s big and a ton of people were there. People have been complaining about the smoke but they have a non smoking section and I sat at a table where I could see these pretty machines. It looked like I was in a cafe section but it was closed. I was the only one sitting there and propped my sketchbook on the table to draw. They didn’t know I was sketching and no one said anything to me which is good.

The slot machines don’t look like the old time pictures of slots except that they still have spinning pictures that line up to give you a win. I saw a guy win $25. I don’t see what the fascination is for all those people to be sitting at the machines watching the pictures spin but to each their own.

They had a section for big stakes poker but you can’t go in unless you’re playing. I saw craps games, sports betting and black jack. If I ever decide to gamble I’ll learn how to count cards so I at least have a chance of winning at black jack. I think I could do it with practice. It’ll probably never happen, just a pipe dream.

I want to go back and try to sketch more. If I want to do a painting 10 sketches of different machines might be enough. Then I can arrange all the pretty machines and they don’t have to be in rows. I could do a cubist version and have the machines and people all over upside down and sideways.

Still life subjects

I guess the two new big ones are Pampas Grass and the wild Sea Oat is in the middle, but I’m not sure if I have the right names for these grasses.

I was out scouting for a good place to paint and walked a couple miles looking down the side trails at First Landing State Park, got a sketch started of a pretty dead tree in the marsh but didn’t finish it because I was tired already. Not every expedition out in Plein air to sketch is a success but the walk was nice.

I have a painting planned from a scene at Back Bay but there’s construction on the Sandbridge Rd and I picked up another screw in a tire. That’s two screws in my tires in only six months. I can go for 20 years without getting a screw in a tire then get two in less than a year?! Fortunately, I paid for an extended warranty on my new tires a couple months ago and they gave me a new tire, and at least I didn’t have a flat out on the highway but the tire pressure light came on close to home. This is a little concerning.

The road construction is everywhere. I don’t know if I’ll go back to Back Bay or Sandbridge. And how is it that so many screws fall out of trucks in construction zones, or is that just my luck?! weird.

We have nice weather again tomorrow then cloudy on Sun. and then a chance of rain four days in a row if the forecast is right.

Pretty backwater at Back Bay / charcoal and chalk

This is a new plan for a painting at a spot I admired many times but thought it would be better in the winter because it’s next to a gravel road about 50 yards from the parking lot and in the summer a lot of people are walking or biking past. Today I had it to myself for a while and got started on the sketch. I need a larger paper or canvas and I might go back tomorrow.

It’s a little cold and windy but sunny and will be the same tomorrow but we have wind and rain coming in a couple days then it’s going to get colder.

You can’t tell much from this sketch. It’s the leeward side of sand dunes with rows of scrub brush and marsh grass and the water looks black. It’s not really black but the bottom might be. This water flows in and out with the tides. It’s kind of bleak. I bet I could paint it with only a few tubes of paint because I like the stark beauty of it and don’t want to force color into the scene. It’s mostly gray greens, white sand, blue sky and the sky reflects on the black water, and the sedge which is yellow ochre kind of. Painting the water might be a challenge.

I saw a lot of real pretty sea oats with the sun shining through them and was wondering if they would look good in a vase. They’re taller than me so I’d have to cut the tops off and bring them home. Then the sun won’t be on them unless I take them out back to the baseball diamond to paint a still life. That would be funny, setting my vase on something out there to paint it. People walk through all year but not tons of people.

And I’m not sure about that gravel road to this spot with the black water. They might close it when the birds migrate. That would be a bummer if I start a painting then they block it.

Right off the bat your Plein air artist has to make all these executive decisions, hahahah

sketches of kids for my painting of the tide pool

Boy making sand castle

This is close to the size I need. I have 2 more figures that are too large but I can draw them smaller then I’ll have 4 for the painting.

I should probably paint them before I paint the sand so they don’t look weak. A couple years ago I tried to paint a man on top of an already painted background in a scene and I thought the man didn’t look strong enough, like he was an after thought.

Boy throwing sand

Yesterday it was windy and rainy all day from the left overs of the latest hurricane / tropical storm. Today it’s so nice out! Kids were playing in the water! Tonight rain. Tomorrow will be cloudy in the morning and cooler. they say. I might go back to First Landing and work on my painting again if it clears up early enough.

pix from my new hang out

This is a popular dead tree. I sat on it to do my drawings for the painting I’m working on. I was about 5 feet down from the root and leaned my drawing board on that second broken branch. It wasn’t too bad for balancing the drawing board and sitting there.

I knew it would be crowded today and I didn’t take my painting and supplies but I walked on the path with my camera a little. Lucky I found a parking spot. A lot of people were on the beach.

A boy around 6 climbed onto the trunk and walked all the way up to the roots and then climbed through the roots to the top and had his own recliner up there on top. He was talking to his Dad the whole time. I didn’t ask if I could take his picture up there because I was afraid the answer would be no.

When I was there working on my painting it was sunny and I sat on the sand under the big pine on the right of this photo in the shade. Big black ants were crawling on my legs. The kind of ants that eat wood. They don’t bite and I kept brushing them off but I must have been right on the ant trail. Then the shade moved so I moved around the tree to stay in the shade and the ants didn’t follow me. Ants, a problem for your Plein air artist.

This is the scene I’m trying to paint. My drawing doesn’t look like this. Oh well. My photo doesn’t do the scene justice. If I worked from a boring photo to start with my painting might be boring too. A pro photographer might be able to get a better shot.

I was thinking of painting some kids in the scene but didn’t sketch any so far. Except I have some sketches of kids I did over the summer at the beach I might use. They’re so tiny in this pic I don’t know if I can use these kids.

The water is warm because it’s flowing out of the marsh which is on the left out of the picture.