Toad!

We cut down a big pine tree that was looming in front of our house and starting to degrade… And this year, we have two toads living in holes in the stump.

This is the larger of the two basking in the sun… Or maybe lying in wait for insects.

If you’re having trouble seeing him, he’s in the center, facing the left. Just his head is peeking out.

 

This is what I started at lunch yesterday.

I did a similar piece with white clay and pan pastels recently and I was curious to see how it would look with brown (raw sienna Premo).

I did add color to it last night, but I’ll show that once it’s baked and sealed. 🙂

 

I got the rooster framed and wired over the weekend.

And I’ve also done a fair amount on the studio. I cleared behind the central table, and in front of one of the bookcases.

And I bagged up a couple feet worth of magazines ready to give away.

Dave put together a great pine drawer unit that I’m planning on using for beads. But first I need to figure out where I want the rest of the furniture and layout to go so I actually have room for it.

It’s like one of those slide puzzles… Move this piece so you can slide that piece over, then back…

Or maybe a Rubik’s Cube since it’s three dimensional. I want to take all the stickers off and line them all up, except I haven’t figured out how to do it yet 😉

 

I’m making progress on my Challenge on both the clay and decluttering side.

Here’s a few Alice’s and Caterpillars (Wonderland Series) that I started during lunch Wednesday (we have a little art group that meets for lunch at work), and antiqued at my new painting station last night.

And here’s the “before” for my central work table.

I was using it for painting and photography and framing and laying things out, and putting things on and next to as I decluttered other areas.


I got it COMPLETELY cleared off!

(The stuff under the table may look like a mess, but it’s actually a fairly well organized collection of frames and canvas and backer boards.)

And then I promptly filled it with papers because I’m sorting through everything from one of the bookcases 😉

Two steps forward, one sideways.

But it is improvement.

And my cats approved of the newly rediscovered floor space.

 

And in this case, I mean that literally.

So how’s the challenge going… Well, I’ve given up the tv rule. An episode or two of anime during dinner doesn’t seem to be hurting so far. 😉

Monday I gave the rooster a coat of matte varnish. Then tonight I came back in with some satin on the highlights because the matte dulled it down too much. It’s looking good but I’ll wait to show it again until I’ve framed it.

I also conditioned some old clay and prepped two tiles for new reliefs.

And I set up a painting station.

This was where my husband had his old paint booth. He does insanely complicated scale models of motorcycles and machinery but he hadn’t done any for the last few years.

It wasn’t being used, so ever so slowly, it just got stacked and piled over because it was a safe convenient place to get something out of the way.

It became a Dead Zone. (And I’m REALLY hoping that I’m not the only one or I wouldn’t post the picture.)

Dave started doing models again recently and got a new and smaller paint booth that fits on his large table. I was bemoaning my lack of space and he offered it up as a sacrifice.

I pounced on it.

I started this on Sunday and finished organizing and labeling drawers tonight. Even used it for the last coat of glaze on the rooster.

 

I finished sculpting on Sunday.

Any suggestions for titles? King of the Roost?

I could have stopped here, given it a dark wash and called it done. I really do like the blue.

But I also wanted to do my original experiment, so I got out the Pan Pastels*.

And here’s the finished rooster.

Still needs to be sealed but I think the experiment was a success.

I really like it. The only thing I’m not sure of, is if all that color draws attention from the sculptural forms… Something to think about.

Which do you like better?

*Amazon affiliate link to the first set of 20 PanPastels that I bought. (That means I get a small percentage if you buy anything from Amazon using the link) I’ve got ALL 4 sets now 😉

 

So, I sculpted on Saturday, but Thursday was an errand night.

I was pretty tired when I got home, so I watched the first part of a video, then finished it on Saturday – Essential techniques for pastel portraits with Alain Picard*.

It still counts for the May challenge – just not as an active clay day 🙂 Friday was just a movie night though – Fantastic Beasts* came in from Netflix – which I thoroughly enjoyed. And I guess it was a bit on the artistic side since it gave me some ideas for new dragons and critters.

I’m in the voracious information gathering phase on pastels. Whenever I come across a new interest, I inhale everything I can find about it. I’ve been watching YouTube videos and reading books and researching how you frame a pastel painting and anything else I could think of.

Normally I’d be buying ALL the supplies too, but I’m trying to hold out and see if I’m really interested first. Sometimes once I learn enough and get good enough to be decently competent at something, I’m no longer as interested. Sometimes it sticks around.

It’s never a waste though. Whatever I learn will be applied to other things in interesting ways, sometimes not even consciously.

Anyway, the pastel portrait video was really good if you’re any kind of artist. I’ll watch it again in a few months when I can get more out of it on the pastel side, but I found that a lot of it could even be applied to clay.

It starts off with lighting and positioning your subject, so you can get something worth painting from the start. Then he goes into a discussion of value, and how to draw your subject accurately from a photograph.

He blocks out all the colors (very similar to my roughing in masses with clay for a relief sculpture) then comes back in to refine the details. He makes it look easy but you can tell it’s not.

*Note – Amazon affiliate link which means I get a small percentage if you order something from Amazon through the link. I finally signed up as an affiliate because I was thinking of doing some book reviews and wanted to try it out. They’ve made it really easy to include the images and links now. (But let me know if it gets annoying)

Check your local library first on the pastel video though since I think it’s temporarily out of stock.

 

Here it is with the head masses roughed in after another hour or two.

And now that you’ve seen the complementary color underpainting that I did in the pastel workshop, you can probably guess why I’m experimenting and sculpting a blue rooster.

I’m planning on coming in with red, orange, brown and pink over the top of the blue. But my husband thinks it’s cool as is and that I should just leave it that color.

I’m starting to think he might be right. Opinions?

I’ll wait and see how it looks on a bit of scrap clay when I’m done… Either way, it’s been a fun experiment and taken me out of my color comfort zone.

And this is where I finished today.

I’ve got quite a bit of detail work to do, but the rooster’s there now.

And I AM having fun 🙂

 

Michele did a wonderfully inspiring demo. She started with an underpainting but then did a 48 stroke painting which took it from roughed out color to 98% finished.

It was a marvelous example of what you can do with deliberate mark making. And how great something can look when it’s still fresh and not over worked.

Here’s my color study and underpainting. I dumped the landscapes since I don’t generally find them inspiring and went for this photo I took of a Rhode Island Red.

And here’s the finished work. Not too bad considering how new I was to the medium. I’m really glad I took the workshop.

I do think the class should have come with a warning label though. I don’t NEED another medium. I don’t have room, pastels are expensive, you can never collect ALL the colors so there’s no end to it, etc etc.

But I really did love it. I’m going to experiment with the materials I have first, (PanPastels are great but quite different than stick pastels) but I already have my eye on a set of Great American pastels selected for animal painting. 🙂

 

This past weekend I took an amazing pastel workshop with Michele Poirier Mozzone at the Wickford Art Center. Take a look at her website – her work is filled with gorgeous water reflections. Surreal and abstract and realistic figures all at once.

It was my first experience using pastels (other than dusting them over clay) and actually, my first “painting” workshop. I paint on clay for my relief sculpture, but I really haven’t tried to do a painting as a finished work since school.

So, it was a lot of fun, and rather intense over two full days. Michele taught us all about composition and underpainting, and we did color studies and I experimented and learned so much.

For the next few days, every time I watched a movie or saw a scene I liked I was thinking about color and highlights and which pastel colors it should be. 😉

This is what I ended up with from my first day. I was using PanPastel mainly (along with some harder stick pastels from Dick Blick) so it filled in a bit more tooth of the paper than normal soft pastels until I learned to deliberately leave some white space.

 
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