Wednesday, 28 January 2009

This Week's Classes

Once again I have nothing to show you from my clay class this week, but that's because I didn't manage to get there. My depression got the better of me on Monday, but I'd rather not dwell on that because the subject is so dull and... well... depressing!

So tonight it was back to my drawing and painting class, taking along the essential head wear so that I could listen to happy dance floor fillers while I was painting! And I couldn't resist a little boogie in my chair every now and again!

I had been shopping during the day and bought myself a larger sketch pad (A3), a brown pen, and some water colour paints (oh yes). I had a plan of what I wanted to do in class, but when it came to it I decided to follow Anita's lesson plan of learning to mix colours, which I sorely needed. I am so rubbish at mixing colours (I didn't even know that green and red makes brown!)so it was an extremely useful lesson for me this week. After painting our colour wheels we had to paint the silhouette of a tree against a colourful sky, mixing our own colours using only red, blue and yellow (and Anita also allowed us to use green, which I was pleased about because I used green a lot to make brown and it would have taken me all night if I had to mix the green first as well!).

I know this isn't the best painting in the world (and it certainly wasn't the best painting in the class) but I'm quite pleased with my first experience with water colours and mixing my own colours too. I'm sure I would have had better results if I had brought along a photo of a tree like I was supposed to! (When will I ever learn to listen to my tutor?!) But then I was expecting to work on something completely different, which I had brought photo's for! I'm not sure when I will get to work on this other project that I have in mind. Maybe next week.

Water Colour on heavy weight A3 paper.

Edit: Ooh, I forgot to mention - as I didn't make it to clay class this week I emailed my tutor to ask if Swanee survived the kiln. He replied saying that it's gorgeous! I can't wait to see it!

Monday, 26 January 2009

The Lovely Heart Award!

Yes! I have won another award! Do I have a lovely heart? I'm not sure. I think it depends on my state of mind at the time! Leanne obviously thinks I have though, so thank you Leanne for having faith in me!

The text to accompany the award reads as follows:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

I'd really like to give this award to my new clay tutor, although he doesn't write a blog. The reason being is that second sentence "They are not interested in self-aggrandizement" - I admire how over the years he has put the tutoring of others ahead of his own career as a potter and ceramic artist. This is testament to his love of clay, and his desire to share this joy with others.

There are other potters and ceramic artists who I feel have that same attitude, and I would like to pass on this award to those ones also, namely Leanne and Cynthia.

My remaining five are... Ooh, I have too many! Do I really have to limit it to eight? Ok, my remaining five are:
Philippa, and
Kari, who always replies to comments on her blog with an email, which I think is a lovely personal touch. (I can't do that on blogger because I don't get to see the commenter's email address)

Was that list predictable? What can I say? All my favourite bloggers have lovely hearts! There are others who are definitely worthy of this award, but some of them have been awarded it already (Connie and Queen Crafty Girl) and some are a little shy of receiving awards (Jafabrit)! And if I haven't listed you, that in no way indicates that I don't think you're lovely! If I link to you or follow you, you're lovely!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

This Week's Classes

I have nothing to show from this week's clay class - I continued working on my vase, ready to decorate with sgraffito. I didn't seem to get very much done this week, probably because I spent far too much time talking! One of the students brought in a book by Jo Connell entitled The Potter's Guide to Ceramic Surfaces, and I spent some time looking through that. From what I saw, it's a lovely book with lots of techniques, some of which I haven't seen before, so I think I may order this book.

On Tuesday I had my drawing and painting class with Anita. As usual, I was being completely rebellious and decided to do my own thing instead of sticking to the lesson plan! In my defence, I am not the only student that does this, and Anita is happy for us to go off in our own direction if we want to. I was really in the mood for doing a mixed media thing, with collage and colour, something along the lines of Rosa's and Kathy's work. I took my black pen along, but didn't use it in the end. I decided to make a piece inspired by Kathy's Daylight Over the Jemez piece, using the materials I had available to me - namely coloured tissue paper and loo roll!

Firstly I glued toilet paper over the surface of the A4 heavyweight paper. At this point I don't think I really knew what I was doing yet! Then I started gluing on the coloured tissue paper, and another layer of toilet paper on top of that.

Then it was a trip to the toilet to dry it off under the hand dryer, before starting to add colour with pastels!

I wasn't really happy about that little brown mountain in the middle, but one of the students suggested I turn it into a wigwam, which I think worked.

I still might fiddle with this a little bit, but I think it's mostly finished now. Any tips are very welcome. Thank you Kathy for being such an inspiration!

Next post - I got another blog award from Leanne! Thank you Leanne! I will be passing it on in my next post!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Back to Class

Yes, as previously mentioned I went back to class last Monday, with a new tutor. There are some things that are better in this class and some things that are not so good, but so far the tutor seems friendly and willing to help, which is the most important thing.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the class was the large selection of glazes! There is a wide variety of colours, compared to just six at my last class. Also, there is more than one clay to choose from to work with! Sounds good eh? One of the things that is not so good, although not a major issue, is the fact that there is no machine to make our coils, so I'll be getting lots of practice at rolling my own! The other thing is that the whirlers are old and crusty, and don't turn very well, whereas they were new at my old class.

This new tutor fires at a lower temperature than the tutor at my old class - about 1180 C rather than 1220 C - which he said means my work would be classed as earthenware rather than stoneware, even though I'm using stoneware clay. I understand what he's saying about the clay not fully melting, but I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing. I know this will mean that my pieces won't be water tight, but will my Mum still be able to use her mug once it's glazed?

What I found amusing was that after explaining a little about the glazes they use at this class, the tutor said something like "you wouldn't have known that because you've only done a 10 week course". He wasn't patronising at all, but I just found it slightly amusing because if truth be told, there are a lot of things that I wouldn't know if I had only depended on the information given by my last tutor! But, thanks to the wonderful potters I communicate with online, and additional reading I have done, I know a little more than I would have done, and I have read about some of the glazes they have.

One thing I noticed a big difference in was the kind of work that was produced by the students. In my last class it seemed that everyone made vases, bowls, and door plaques. In this class the students work is much more sculptural in nature. Since that is the direction I would like to go in, I feel I may fit in better here. I just don't want to stand out and draw attention to myself, which I think may have become a problem in my old class simply because my pieces are so different from everyone else's.

In saying that, although I have lots of ideas for sculptural projects to work on at home, when it comes to class my mind goes completely blank! So on Monday I started making... a vase!! I thought I would try to make a large-ish vase so that I have lots of surface area to try some more sgraffito - then I found out that this class doesn't have any coloured slips! But the tutor said he would order some and even asked me what colour I would like! See what I mean about being friendly and helpful? I think I'm going to like this class!

The wheels are completely different to the ones at the previous class, so at some point I shall have to try them out, although to be honest I've lost interest in throwing at the moment.

In other news

Anita's drawing and painting class also started again last week, but I had to take a trip to my old class to collect these unglazed pieces.

One student commented that she hoped she could produce pieces like these one day, which was a great compliment but slightly embarrassing once we realised we had been taking classes for the same length of time. I put it down to my great online tutors!

And a niece and nephew of mine stayed over on Friday night and we did some claying together (in-between watching three musicals! Yes, three!!) Asriel started making a coil built cup, but got bored had a better idea and left that to make something else. He wrote "Made in China" on the inside with a smiley face!

The something else was a masked cartoon character on a hover board, which sadly came apart a little once it had dried, so Asriel decided to finish it off!

And Mariah decided to make an African tribal mask, which I think is fantastic!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Sloppy Slip and Slippy Slop!

I didn't realise until some time after that my last post was actually my 100th post! Go me!

So anyway, this past week seems to have gone by fairly quickly without me actually accomplishing very much. I did make myself some slip for slip trailing though, which was an interesting and very messy experience!

Previously I had broken up some drying clay into small pieces and soaked them in water in a large bowl. Last week I finally got round to blending it in the blender to give it a smoother consistency.

Improvising, as I often do, I thought this unused sauce bottle would be suitable for the slip, seeing as the nozzle in the second hand slip bulb that I have is big enough to pass an egg through! (Ok, slight exaggeration, but you get my point)

Unfortunately, it seems the nozzle on the sauce bottle wasn't much better! I need two things - a finer nozzle and a lot of practice! Just look at those splats on the top right hand corner!

The remaining unblended slop was laid out on a piece of plaster board to firm up enough to wedge and re-use. It took days!

I now finally have a ball of soft clay to use for the dish to go under my plant pot! But now I am waiting until I have a finer nozzle to decorate it with!

In other news
I started back at class last night, with my new tutor. More about that next time!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Swanee, how I love ya, how I love ya...

Yes, my dear old Swanee is now complete with wings!

She's become known as Swanee in our house - Al Jolson style! We just sing the one word, as in: "How's the Swanee coming along?" or "I'm going to do more on the Swanee today"! She measures approximately 7 1/2 inches high, 6 1/2 inches wide and 15 inches in length.

In case you missed it in the last post (which was quite long) I completed the portrait of my Mammy as a young girl as well!

6B sketch stick on A4 heavyweight paper.

Friday, 2 January 2009

An Amazing Year

2008 was an amazing year for me, artistically speaking. It was a year full of first time experiences. It has been an emotional roller coaster - swinging from believing I could do anything to having complete confidence crises - I hope I am starting to find a balance now.

Review of 2008

In January I started painting for the first time ever, although at quite a basic level. Now that I have rediscovered clay I'm not sure if painting is something I will work on improving, but never say never! I also started writing this blog to document my progress, which I'm glad I did because looking back through the blog I definitely feel I have made progress over the past year.

February saw the first time I took part in Rosa's Found Art Tuesday!

In March I started experimenting a little with pastels. Oil pastels were not completely new to me, although it had been 20 years, and yet I felt more comfortable working with chalk pastels, which was another new medium for me. I definitely plan to work more with pastels in the future, and possibly give oil pastels another try. In March I also started experimenting with mixed media for the first time, using sand in my little painting of Footprints in the Sand.

April included lots of Found Art Tuesday pieces and more mixed media, using pastels and acrylic paint together, and using items such as CD's to paint on. I used techniques and styles that were new to me, such as using a wet paintbrush with chalk pastels, and creating a "stamp effect" image.

May was another month of firsts - my first triptych paintings, and my first life drawing class!

In June I Shocked myself with my first portrait ever. I think it's fair to say that I discovered I had a talent that I didn't know I had, and this is definitely an area that I want to keep improving in. In June I also entered my first art competition with my first major art project - Footprints in the Sand - using plaster for the first time. I definitely want to create more of these 3D pieces, and plan to do so in the warmer weather.

One of my overall favourite pieces of 2008 - Footprints in the Sand

I didn't really try anything new in July, but I was busy making plans for my future development - preparing for my first exhibition and finally finding ceramic classes.

In August I had my first joint exhibition! I also joined the Fellowship of Professional and Amateur Artists.

In September I received my first blog award! I also went to my first ceramics class and made my first pinch pot ever! (which then became a little head, when joined with another pinch pot)

In October I made my first coil built pot, believe it or not. It's just not a technique I was ever taught at school! I also tried sgraffito for the first time.

Let me see, in November I made my first slab built mug. Actually it was my first mug, full stop. I also tried lino cuts with clay for the first time and I had my first experience with glazing. I used a potters wheel for the first time, and although I wasn't able to produce anything, I did manage to centre my clay.

And lastly, in December I created my first coil built sculptural piece, although this isn't quite finished yet.

Phew!! What a year! July was the only month I didn't try something new!

Greatest Improvements

My greatest improvements from my point of view have to be my portrait drawing and my clay work.

This is my first portrait from June.

And this is my fourth portrait, finished last week.

My first slab built mug was good practice, but thin in places and incredibly wonky. Just not a good mug.

This was my fourth mug, but even my second mug was stronger, rounder, and just altogether a better shape. By my third mug I started experimenting with giving the mug more shape at the bottom.

This was my first coil built pot. A reasonable start, but a bit wonky.

Since then I have made a couple of small, shallow roasting dishes and a vase, before moving on to this more challenging piece of sculptural work.

I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me so far through this journey, both by commenting on this blog and by answering so many of my questions! I hope we all have a very creative 2009!