3×6″ pan pastels on black polymer.

This was a fun one since I really didn’t have anything in mind other than a dragon. It was probably working on the sea turtle that made me think of a water dragon.

The interesting thing is that it didn’t turn out much like a dragon… I started with a dolphin head, and it just went on from there, ending up looking more like a sleek prehistoric beast instead. That’s the great thing about sculpting fantasy creatures, you can let the clay take over, without worrying about making it look like anything specific.

I went fairly light on the pastels – just a bit of white and two shades of blue to highlight the shape.

If you like this sort of sculpture, and you’re in the RI area, I’ll be teaching a class April 8th on sculpting dragons at the Wickford Art Association.


For the first time during this challenge, I’m invoking my flexibility rule. I still didn’t finish my piece today, but it was going so well, I didn’t want to rush it or take a break and work on something else.

And since the whole point of this challenge is to be more creative and productive, I figure that’s ok.

So, here are some of the early stages of a sculpture.

First I sketch out the design on the clay, then I usually lay down the eye, because at that point it starts looking like a real creature.

Then I build up the basic forms. And work on refining them – adding clay, carving it away and texturing as needed.

If I’m working on a real animal, I make sure I have one or more good reference images. This one isn’t mine, (it’s from MorgueFile.com) even though I have some gopro videos of similar turtles from a couple dives and snorkel excursions that we did.

They’re really amazing.

This is where I’m at now… Still quite a ways to go, but it’s really coming along.


I’ve started a more complex piece, but it’s nowhere near done, so tonight is another experiment.

This time, translucent clay and pan pastels. I formed shallow bubbles using thin Premo translucent (#9 on Atlas pasta machine) then adhered those to a raw translucent over white background using diluent.

This is a good example of how differently the pastels stick to baked and unbaked clay.

Once the clay was fully baked, I ran it under water to cool it slightly, then rubbed some of the background blue off with paper towel.

Interesting… But I’m not sure what I’d do with this technique yet.


Tangled briars and a rose in the center. I was curious how something like this would come out with the pan pastels.


This was going to be a dragon, but soon informed me that it wanted to be a griffon instead. Since it had such a cute beak already, I went with it.

I think I may be making more griffons in the future… When I got to the edges, I was a little disappointed because I couldn’t finish the rest of him.

This is another tiny miniature, though it won’t fit in any of my frames since it’s thicker and overlaps the edges.

I baked the clay first this time, and used the pan pastels afterwards. I wanted a softer subtler look for the feathers.


Super Weasel! Up, up and away!

Don’t ask why. There is no why. 

There is only the tired brain and whatever happens to flit across it. 

And a 4″ canvas painted with acrylics to look like the sky that I wanted to experiment with. I did add a little white pan pastel to the clouds. 

I found out that at least this type of mini canvas can be baked in the oven. And that Genesis medium works really well to adhere raw clay to canvas. 

I also found that canvas is really too flexible to sculpt against so I sculpted the heroic Weasel freehand then attached him to the canvas before baking. 

I usually use a background of clay but that limits me to the size of my oven. Good to know this is an option if I ever want to make larger pieces. 

There’s really no reason the clay had to be baked on the canvas in this case. I was just curious if it could be. 


This was another previously started piece from a demo/talk I did for the wild life service. One of their big programs is the protection of the piping plovers on RI beaches, so it seemed appropriate.

I also love how the plovers run along the beach, their legs moving so fast you can barely see them. Then Full Stop! And they’re off again…

Here’s the finished sculpture, with the addition of a little spice – literally. I added some really old black pepper as black specs in the sand, and for the tide line.

I used straight acrylics for the painting this time around. A combination of antiquing, dry brushing and detail work with a tiny brush.


This is one of my favorite bits from Alice in Wonderland – based off the original Tenniel illustration. When Alice meets the Cheshire cat.

“It looked goodnatured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt it ought to be treated with respect.”

I’d sculpted the cat’s face and front paws as a pin quite awhile ago, so I re-used that part. I sculpted Alice and the tree, and added a few fading strips and the Cheshire cat’s tail. The text is a toner transfer on to translucent clay – you’re looking through a thin layer of polymer to read it.

This is the stage where I baked it. All this color is from the pan pastels.

Here’s the final version. I was happy with most of it, but I wanted to add a little more depth to the tree, and details to the cat. I came in with acrylic paint and a tiny tiny brush to highlight teeth and claws, and repainted the eyes. I also used some lavender to tone down the colors of the cat a bit…

I think this is one I’m going to revisit – try a couple more color variations and ways of including transfers with sculpture.


And finally the white rabbit! He came out wonderfully.

Or am I allowed to say that about my own stuff? Considering I can usually see more flaws than anyone else can, I think I can enjoy it once in awhile :) Just look at his tiny watch – I re-sculpted that 3 times before I got it right.

I used the Genesis heat set oils again, but sparingly and I wiped quite a bit away before setting them.

Here’s a good example of what I mean by antiquing. And I baked that layer of paint so it wouldn’t smudge into the color I added afterwards.

The gold watch is acrylic paint.

I made the Cheshire Cat and a Dodo awhile ago. So I’ll have to decide on the next Wonderland character to sculpt.


The caterpillar (with elements from a couple versions of Alice in Wonderland) is one of the pieces that made me say previously unfinished work is fair game. This sculpture took much more than a single day. I worked on this and the white rabbit (tomorrow) off and on over a couple months, refining and tweaking tiny details until I was finally happy with it.

But it’s been baked and unpainted for a few months now.

I’ve been afraid.

Seems rather silly to be afraid of a piece of clay, doesn’t it? But I was so happy with how it came out that I was afraid I’d ruin it in the painting stage.

I am planning on molding it and turning it into a pin/pendant, so there will be other opportunities to paint it, even if I did ruin the first one.

But it didn’t seem to matter. There was that block – the sure knowledge that as long as I left it alone, it would stay forever perfect in my own head.

But it’s kind of hard to wear a virtual pin ;) So that’s one of the best things about this 30 day challenge. It’s helping me get over my perfection procrastination and fear of failure. I just have to finish it.

It doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t even have to be good.

It just has to be done.

I can always make another. Or something else.

So… After all that, I didn’t ruin it. I love it and it came out really well. I can’t wait to mold it and try a few more versions. :)

There was too much tiny detail for pastels on this one. I used Genesis heat set oils (not really oil paints – they’re closer to polymer clay in formulation). The great thing about them is that I could paint in layers, and set one area before continuing on.

The brass effects were from metallic acrylic paint.

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