Monday, May 4, 2009

Painting in the Hollow: The Pines, Zbukvic, and Results from the Cone 6 Glaze Fire

I'm later than usual with my posting, but I wanted to wait 'til I finished and photographed my painting of the Pines in the hollow as I had said I would in my last post. Also wanted to give a report on how my glaze firing went, so here it is:

Painted our pine tree logs that I allowed the 'tree guys' to roll down into a small ravine directly behind the house. Silly me, I was running around after the guys felled the pines hauling them to a place in the back yard to save so that I can later do 'something' with them, what just yet I don't know. And with each one I would pass up, it was as if it were saying 'pick me, I don't want to go!' (I'm weird like that). Well, as it turned out, the guys were having a problem with the city (a place has been designated for disposal of trees from the ice storm damage) accepting the pine lumber (so they said). So I was very content to allow the men to leave all the pine with us. I really did not want those beautiful logs hauled away. Pine breaks down quickly and it just seemed right that they stay here. Oh, and the oak trees? Well, we've got enough fire wood for years to come!

I touched up the pines and added some highlights here and there in the studio.

The Pines, wc, 9 1/8" x 12 7/8"
I was so frustrated with it while painting in the woods, but kept reminding myself of what Joseph Zbukvic says, to 'keep going' when painting your subject outdoors and 'never lose faith' because as soon as you do, you'll fail at your attempt. He is so right! I kept painting, and although I wasn't satisfied, I did feel the painting had some potential. After about an hour, I was getting stiff from sitting on the ground, and also felt I may be getting a tick or two (which I later discovered was true) so I lumbered back to to studio, untaped my painting, threw it around here and there trying to decide what to do with it. Toss it to the done that pile, or keep going? The logs were only partially painted, but that was really the only thing left unfinished, aside from adding a little detail to the foreground trees. I just didn't want to give up on this painting. It held a lot of meaning for me. The hollow represented the final resting place for Daddy's pines. They represent 30 years of our life here, the lives of our girls, our pets, and a constant reminder of my father and his love for nature...nope, it was worth trying to save because as I looked at it, I could feel the emotion I had while painting them. It may not be the greatest painting, but it enabled me to work through the emotional and physical process of losing 'the pines', and hopefully viewers can be reminded of similar things that matter to them also.
Well, unfortunately, I was not so satisfied with my glaze fire. None of my cups turned out like I wanted, as the patterns I slipped on them barely show. The firing also went to cone 7 on the middle shelf and probably on the bottom shelf too (didn't use a witness cone on the bottom). However, that only seemed to compromise the brightness of the blue slip on one of my jars, but it may also be the reason for my slip decoration not showing up on the cups. I really think though, that [the slip doesn't show up] because my glaze application was too thick and my slip was too thin.
But I did have a couple of pieces turn out pretty good, such as the blue and white facetted 'safe jar' seen in this picture. The one in the foreground is the one that the blue slip did not come out on. The blue slip used on the inside however, did fine (fired it with the lid on). I may re-fire this piece later, as I've had success with the blue colors working on re-fires. Don't like to re-fire though. Always afraid the piece will break and create a mess in the kiln. Luckily, this has not yet happened to me. If I do decide to refire, I will only take it to about cone 5.

And my 'grass' cups turned out good:

These are some of my pendants. I'm have fun making them. I love making small clay things because of the portability. I can just sit anywhere and work on them. I carry everything I need around in a little shallow cardboard box and put a small amount of clay in a ziplock bag to keep it moist as it dries out quickly and will lose it 'malleable' texture if exposed to the air too long. I use food freezer paper, the waxed side as my surface to work on (sometimes getting a shape started by using the palm of my hand) as it leaves no marks on the clay. I draw out my patterns 1st on newspaper, then trace them using a felt-tip/sharpy pen on plastic tops of margarine and 'Cool Whip' bowls. These become my templates.

One final note for all you die-hard Joseph Zbukvic fans (like me) out there. He FINALLY got an official website, and also his new video, Watercolour Impressions with Joseph Zbukvic, is now available in the US via The Artists' Place. I bought it and very pleased with it. I could watch that guy paint all day. Maybe, just maybe one of these days I'll be able to take one of his workshops.

Well, that's all for now. I'll be posting again next week on a paint-out. Oh, and I've ordered the Sun-Eden watercolor tripod set. Will let you know what I think of it. I just can't keep lugging that 11 lb. french easel around; and so much wasted space, not to mention it's killing me. My shoulders, back, and knees, Oh my! Now I'll have one less excuse for plein air painting, as every time I'd think about all that weight, I would talk myself out of going somewhere to paint. I also plan on posting about my new macro lens (was my Christmas present from Santa) sometime in the near future. Until, then, happy painting, potting, photographing, or whatever makes you happy!


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