Monday, September 16, 2019


Image size 17" x 24"
Acrylic on TerraSkin

I decided to play with TerraSkin again this week.  It is such a fun surface and painting multiple layers with the thinned acrylics gives a wonderful sense of depth.

I'm still plodding along with the clay mural that I've been working on for a couple of months.  It's really still too hot to work much in the garage, so not much is being accomplished at this point.  I did get the practice clay painting fired and it is really to glaze, but I am going to wait until I'm ready to glaze the large mural so that I can remember exactly what I did and what I need to change.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Scattered Thoughts

"Scattered Thoughts" diptych
Image size 9" x 10"
Acrylic on TerraSkin
I had so much fun creating the textures in this painting.  I haven't worked on TerraSkin for a long time and had forgotten what a wonderful surface it is.  I painted this as one painting and then cut it in the middle because there was a crease in the paper.  I think it is more interesting as a diptych, so a crease that could have been a mistake made a better painting (in my opinion).

I'm still working on the clay mural.  It is slow going.  I will probably start firing the pieces for the "practice" painting tomorrow.  I am cutting the clay for the larger side of the mural.  Here is how far I've gotten.  The extra pieces on the side are some that needed to be recut because they were too small.  I'm sure I will save them to make another project.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Palette Knife Clouds

"Palette Knife Clouds"
Image size 6" x 6"
Here's another palette knife painting.  I've decided that clouds are hard to do with a palette knife because they don't look very fluffy.  It was fun to try though.

I'm still working on my clay project.  I have finished cutting all of the pieces for the 18" x 36" painting that I'm doing as a practice project.  I was out of town for a few days this past week, so I didn't get any of the clay pieces cut for the real mural.  

Right now, the weather is in the 90's so working in my garage is pretty uncomfortable.  I can only stand to work for about an hour at a time before I'm sweating profusely... not a good feeling (or a good look).  It is supposed to be cooler by next weekend, so then it will be more comfortable to spend time working in the garage.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Palette Knife Wave

"Palette Knife Wave"
Image size 4" x 6"
Water Miscible Oils
This is another palette knife painting.  I love the texture and movement that can be achieved with the palette knife.

I spent a lot of time this week working on my clay mosaic mural.  I made a decision that will make it take a lot longer to finish it though.
I decided to re-cut the entire small side that shrunk so much, rather than trying to make it work by recutting some pieces and using some of the smaller pieces.  Also, I decided that the fish on this side were much smaller than on the larger side.  I guess I was paying more attention to how they fit into the smaller space when I designed it rather than having the correct scale to go with the larger side.  
I am using about half of the original pieces to make a mosaic painting that can hang on a wall.  I decided that it would be a good idea to be able to glaze a smaller version of what I'm doing to see how it turns out rather than glazing (painting) my huge mural and not being happy with the result.  Since it is hard to know how it will look once it is fired, I feel more comfortable having a trial painting.  So, maybe it's a good thing that the pieces shrunk so much.  I probably wouldn't have thought to do a trial painting otherwise.

I could have used more of the original pieces for this painting, but I decided that I didn't want the glass circles in this one.  I ended up cutting new pieces for about half of it.  I also moved one of the fish closer in so that he would be in this painting. When it is finished, it will be 18" x 36".  I'm a little worried about how heavy it will be, but I don't think it will be more than 50 pounds.  There are hooks for 100# paintings, so I should be okay.
Here is a picture of it showing the original pieces that will be used.  I have cut out the rest of the pieces and they are drying.  
So, this will probably add a couple of weeks to the finish date of the big mural for my yard.  It doesn't really matter.  Since it's for me, there is no 'finish by' date.  I'm usually just happy if I actually finish any project that is for me.

Monday, August 19, 2019


Image size 8" x 10"
Water Miscible oils

I wanted to paint Koi this week and thought that a palette knife painting would be fun and a bit looser than my usual.  I painted it on a stretched canvas that has been primed with Cadmium red paint so it has a very warm red underpainting.  I love having bits of bright colors showing through to give it some energy.

Most of my week was spent cutting out clay for my tile mural.  I finished cutting all of the pieces for the smaller side - about 125 pieces.  I know that clay shrinks when it dries (about 10%), but I underestimated how much that would affect the mural.  I want the grout lines to be about 1/8th inch and the pieces shrunk so much that if I placed them on the pattern where they belonged, the grout lines would have been about 1/4" or more.  In the picture below, I've pushed the pieces together and you can see the pattern around the curved edge and how much shrinkage there was.  The areas that are darker are where the clay isn't fully dry.  I will re-cut some pieces so that I can get it back to the original intended size.  It's all a learning experience.  Sigh...  Have I mentioned that I really don't know what I'm doing?  I've rarely worked with clay.

I've started cutting the pieces for the larger side and I am enlarging each piece by 1/8" all the way around each of the pattern pieces.  I'm sure I will have some tweaking to do once they dry and shrink, but that's okay.  I've heard that the pieces also shrink a little when they are fired, so this whole project is a big question mark.  Luckily, there is only one edge of each mural that needs to be accurate.  That is the side that abuts the sidewalk.  If the other outside dimensions of the mural are smaller, it really doesn't matter.  The only thing I need to worry about is having an accurate pattern to use to create the concrete pad on which the mural will be attached.

Another issue that I had with the clay is that my pieces wanted to curl up as they dried.  I googled that issue and one person said that it was because the top of the piece was drying more quickly than the rest of the clay.  The suggestion was to place the clay pieces on a rack so that air could circulate around the entire piece.  I know that the bottoms of the pieces weren't drying quickly because they were sitting on plastic.  I covered the pattern with plastic to protect it, but that also kept the bottom of the pieces from drying.  I'll see if the rack solves the problem.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Sky study in Pastel

"Sky study in pastel"
Image size 7" x 10"
I was still playing around with clouds this week, but using pastels this time.  This was done from one of my photos and it looks like it was taken as a storm was clearing.  I love how dramatic the clouds look.

I've set up my mosaic patterns out in my garage on my work tables.  One of the tables is 4' x 8' and I thought the larger mosaic would fit on that table, but it is about 4' longer than the table so I will have to extend it with another table as I get more involved with the process.  I've covered the master pattern with plastic so that the clay doesn't ruin it and have taped all of the background pattern pieces in place.  I will have the garage doors open as I work and I don't want the pattern pieces blowing around.  I need to cut the pieces out in numerical order so that whatever texture I add can run through the adjoining pieces while the clay is wet.  Here is the big pattern and you can see that a portion (about 4 ft) is rolled up, waiting to find its place on another table in the future.

And here is the small side on another table.
I also made a couple of color charts.  One is just the colors I'm planning to use and the second is the blues overlapping the colors I will be using for the fish so I can get a feeling of which colors might work best.  Some are semi-translucent and some are opaque so the effects will differ.
When painting with glazes, it's very hard to tell what the finished result will be since the colors change (some dramatically) after they are fired.  Here are photos of the charts before and after firing.  In the first set, notice how some of the greens were a rust color before they were fired.
Before firing
After firing.  I put two coats on the right side of each color to see the difference and can choose to paint a veil of color or a thicker layer for a more opaque effect.

Layered colors - before firing

This is turned a different direction, but you get the idea.  You can see where I let the glazes be thick and thin so I would have a good idea of what effect could be achieved.

And, of course, I don't think my kiln is working properly.  I'm surprised that these charts came out okay.  My kiln is supposed to turn off automatically when the correct temperature is reached.  From memory, I think it used to take about 3.5 or 4 hours.  After 5 hours, I turned it off because the temperature didn't seem to be advancing.  I thought that I would see unfired glazes when I opened it this morning, so I was pleasantly surprised.  I don't know if the problem was user error or if there is a problem.  I have called a kiln technician and hopefully, I will hear from him soon. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Calm Lake

"Calm Lake"
Image size 15" x 22"
I finished this watercolor that I started last month.  I wanted to do a cloud study and this is what I decided to paint.

I also worked on my ceramic mural.  I still haven't cut any clay yet, but I have finished cutting out all of the pattern pieces for the two murals.  I'm having work done in my garage this week and as soon as I get it put back together, I will lay the patterns out on my work tables and start the real work!  I'm excited to start.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Mosaic Mural - small side

Mosaic mural - small side
Image size 27" x 40"
I did the pattern for the smaller side of the mosaic mural this week.  I just noticed that I didn't add any circles for the glass beads, so I need to do that.

Here is a picture of how they will look in my yard.  I took this before I designed the smaller side.

I know this looks pretty rough, but you get the idea.  Once it is installed, I will do plantings that overhang the edges so that it will look more like a pond.

I also spent a lot of time cutting out pattern pieces from the larger side this week.  There are over 400 pieces on that side, not counting the circles.  I have cut about 300 of them.  

I'm keeping track of the time I spend on this project just for fun.  So far, I've spent more that 40 hours on it and I haven't even touched a piece of clay!

It's a slow process, but very meditative.

Monday, July 22, 2019

mosaic mural pattern

Mosaic mural pattern
Image size 4' x 8' approx.
This isn't a finished painting, but it is a finished pattern for a very large project I'm working on and I'm thrilled to be able to finally start on the fun part.

Each of these pieces will be formed from clay, then textured and glazed with colors to create a "Koi Pond" for my backyard.  The background (which isn't colored on this pattern) will be various blues and the circles will be glass beads.  I just colored the fish and lily pads so that I wouldn't get too confused as I'm working on it.  

My next step will be to number all of the pieces and cut patterns for each piece.  This is my master pattern and if this gets destroyed, I will be in a bad place.  

I purchased my glazes and 75 pounds of clay to start.  I am guessing that it will take about 100 pounds or more to finish it.  There is also a small area that will be on the other side of the sidewalk so it (hopefully) looks like the stream flows under the walkway.  I haven't designed that yet.  It is much smaller than this side.  It's probably about 3' x 3.5'.  That will be for another day.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Encaustic Eucalyptus

"Encaustic Eucalyptus"
Image size 18" x 24"
I painted this from a reference photo that I took on an early morning walk close to where I live.  The sun was just peeking over the hill and I love how the sun is hitting the trees in this picture.

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