Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Jax 1 (Color) - Horse Drawing - Open Edition

horse drawing, equine art, horse head drawing
"Jax" 8x10 Horse Drawing
horse drawing, small horse drawings, horse head drawing
"Jax 1" 2.5"x3.5" ACEO Print

This guy is special, and is plastered all over this site. He's my first horse, and I adore him. He has a heart of gold with a mind to match - and it doesn't hurt that he's gorgeous as well! We've had our challenges over the last couple of years after discovering that Jax has a muscle disorder - I drew this just before getting his diagnosis, at a time when our future was uncertain. The main focus of this horse head drawing is the captivating detail around his right eye. Those deep, soulful blue eyes that hide pain on the bad days, but show such life and vitality on the good days. As his rehab progresses, the real-life version is starting to more frequently match the inquisitive version forever preserved in this drawing.

The original horse head drawing is graphite, and the dichromatic (2 color) finish was added post-production by both colored pencil and computer. It's an open edition, 8x10 print that will come sealed in a protective photo art bag, and fits into a standard sized mat. The ACEO (or Art Card) is 2.5" x 3.5", and comes preserved in an archival, plastic card sleeve. - Horse Art by Jen Pratt





About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax








Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my website!  Feel free to comment, like, or subscribe!





Thursday, July 9, 2015

Small Clay Lidded Box Demonstration - Simple Slab Construction Clay Tutorial

water-based clay, sculpting clay, pottery clay
Start with some clay. Choose the type of clay that is specific to your needs (certain clays are better for wheel throwing, others for raku, etc.). Also remember to use a clay that can withstand the temperatures that you intend to fire them at (use high-fire clays if you intend to put a high-fire glaze on later). Use either de-aired clay or wedge the clay. Wedging clay is a process wherein the clay is thrown against a hard surface (usually covered in canvas to keep the clay from sticking) repeatedly to remove all air pockets. Once the clay is wedged, place the clay on the work surface. The work surface should be a material that will not easily adhere to the clay (plastic bats work well - buy them at any clay supply store).

water-based clay, sculpting clay, pottery clay
Using a rolling pin, flatten the clay until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Make sure the clay does not get stuck to the work surface by routinely lifting it up from the surface while rolling it flat. If, while rolling the clay, bubbles start to form under the surface of the clay, then the clay was not wedged properly. Wedge the clay again, then use the rolling pin.

clay slab construction, building clay box, clay tutorials
Once you have determined how the piece will look, begin cutting out the pieces. Use a sharp knife that will not cause too much drag against the clay, deforming the edges and sides of each piece. This picture shows the front and back pieces being cut. Remove the excess and put these pieces aside. If you take a break, cover the clay pieces with a plastic bag to keep them from drying out. If the clay starts to dry out, mist it with water. Don't overdo it or the clay will get soggy and will not hold its shape.

clay slab construction, building clay box, clay tutorials
Once all of the pieces are cut, place them in the positions that they will occupy once the work is constructed. This picture shows the center piece is the bottom of the box, and (from the top moving clockwise) the back, right side, front, and the left side of the box.

scoring clay, clay slip, clay slab construction
Use the needle tool to score the areas where clay will be seamed to clay. This step is crucial to making sure the seams bond and the piece holds together. This picture shows the bottom of the box being scored so the front, back and sides can be attached.

scoring clay, clay slip, clay slab construction
Using a paint brush, apply slip to the scored areas of clay. The slip fills in potential air pockets, and also helps to adhere the two pieces of clay together.

scoring clay, clay slip, clay slab construction
Score and apply the slip to the edges of the pieces of clay that will be attached to the bottom of the box. Both surfaces of clay that are being bonded should be scored with slip applied.

scoring clay, clay slip, clay slab construction
Place the two pieces of clay together, and press them together firmly. Once the pieces have formed a bond, use a modeling tool to smooth out the seam and smooth any edges.

building clay box, clay lidded box, clay box construction
Repeat the steps on this page until all of the pieces of the main box are attached.

building clay box, clay lidded box, clay box construction

clay box legs, putting legs on clay box, hand-built ceramic pot legs
To make legs for this piece, get four small pieces of clay that are the same size. Roll them around on the work surface until you get smooth, rounded edges.

clay box legs, putting legs on clay box, hand-built ceramic pot legs
Score and slip the bottom of the box where the legs will be attached. Then score and slip the tops of the legs. Attach all of the legs to the bottom of the box.

entaglio, clay embellishments, ceramic entaglio
Now that the basic structure has been built, add any design details you like. There are many methods - the one to the right shows entaglio, or cutting a detail into the clay. If you wish to have a smoother-surfaced box, be sure to smooth the surface before adding any details.

entaglio, clay embellishments, clay slip
Another way to add detail is by building a pattern up on the clay surface. Place any pattern you choose however you choose on your artwork. Be sure to score and slip where needed.

hand-built ceramic pot, hand-built ceramic box, hand-built ceramic box demo
Once you know how your pattern will look, you can start designing the lid. The process for buildling the lid is the same as building the box, the only difference here is the rounded top. This lid will be constructed of three parts, the rounded top, and two crescent shaped sides.

hand-built ceramic pot, hand-built ceramic box, hand-built ceramic box demo
Once the structure of the lid is laid out, you can begin the pattern for it as well. Just as the legs were added to the box, a simple spherical detail is added to the top of the lid.

clay tutorials, clay demonstration, clay box demo
Finish the detailing of each piece and let dry. If you add detail to the lid while it is on the box, be sure the two parts have not adhered themselves to each other. If they do, use the needle tool to break the unwanted bonds.




About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax








Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my website!  Feel free to comment, like, or subscribe!





Clay Panther Sculpture Demo p. 1 - Armature for a Clay Sculpture

It is recommended that if you are new to working with clay, that you check out the basics of working with clay page and the small clay demo before attempting a sculpture. These pages will explain some of the techniques that are used in this demonstration. Step 1. Putting together the armature - once this step is complete, the armature can be used for almost any type of clay sculpture. If you already have the armature built, skip this step. Click on any image to see a larger image.

clay sculpture armature, building an armature for a clay sculpture

An illustration of the armature setup. The plywood (I use different sizes for different sculptures, in this case, a 15" x 22" board) has a hole cut in the center to accommodate the metal adapter (a plumbing part which you can buy at any hardware store), which is attached with nails or screws to the bottom of the plywood. The pvc adapter is then threaded into the metal adapter through the hole in the plywood base. A decorating wheel is then attached, upside down, over the bottom of the metal adapter.


building a clay sculpture armature that turns, building a turning clay sculpture armature
The base of the decorating wheel should completely cover the metal adapter and fit tight against the plywood base. Nail it down to the plywood securely. I used an Amaco No. 5 Decorating Wheel, because it attaches perfectly to this setup.


building a clay sculpture armature that turns, building a turning clay sculpture armature
Place the top portion of the wheel onto the shaft of the bottom section. When you turn the armature over, it will now spin freely so that you can work on your sculpture from any angle.


how to build a clay sculpture armature, build a pvc armature for clay sculpture
A close-up of the male adapter threaded through the armature opening into the metal adapter below.


how to build a clay sculpture armature, build a pvc armature for clay sculpture
When the armature is finished, sections of 1" pipe cut to fit the size of the sculpture will be used for the main support of the clay. For ease of use, cut sections and have them ready for when you need to use them (my standard sizes are 9", 10.5", 12", 13.5", and 15" - the 9" is the size I will use for this demo).
*Note - this process of sculpting leaves some newspaper in the sculpture body for firing (on larger horse head sculptures, for example, the bottom opening is large enough so you can remove most of the newspaper. On figure sculptures, however, there is a greater chance of destroying the sculpture than there is of removing the newspaper with the sculpture intact). The newspaper creates a reduction environment in the kiln, meaning reduced oxygen. If you are going to fire glazes, do not fire them with a sculpture that has newspaper, because it will alter/ruin some glaze colors. Also, if you are firing in an electric kiln, reduction environments can reduce the life of the elements in your kiln. The damage to the metal kiln parts can be somewhat alleviated by leaving the top peep hole open during the entire firing process. Removing as much newspaper as possible will also help alleviate some of the potential damage to the elements. Even though the life of the elements may be reduced, you will still get a good number of firings from the elements (if you take the precautions above, you may not even notice a reduced life span of the elements).



Page 1 - Armature      |      Page 2 - Sculpting      |     Page 3 - Finishing Touches
Page 4 - Unfired      |     Page 5 - Firing      |     Page 6 - Build Base




About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax








Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my website!  Feel free to comment, like, or subscribe!





Clay Panther Sculpture Demo p. 2 - Sculpting the Panther

Once you have a drawing of the sculpture you want to make, a good reference book depicting muscle/bone structures of your subject is invaluable for creating a good sculpture.


building pvc armature for clay sculpture, building newspaper armature for clay sculpture
The Armature - use loosely smashed-up newspaper and form the general position using masking tape. Make an opening in the bottom for the pvc pipe, and using masking tape, tape the newspaper around the pvc pipe (do not tape the newspaper to the pvc, this will make removing the sculpture from the armature difficult later). 


building pvc armature for clay sculpture, building newspaper armature for clay sculpture
The picture to the left shows how the armature corresponds to the finished sculpture. Remember to make the newspaper form thin compared to the finished sculpture so that you can get a good, thick application of the clay (1/4" minimum to 1" maximum thickness of clay).



how to sculpt a panther out of clay, building clay panther sculpture, building a clay lion sculpture
Start adding clay to the newspaper, starting up on the back above the pvc pipe. Work your way under the sculpture to create a complete ring of clay, then work back to the hind legs. 

Make a general form of the back legs to support the sculpture as you work on it. I used small amounts of newspaper to roll the clay around in order to keep the back legs hollow. 
 
how to sculpt a panther out of clay, building clay panther sculpture, building a clay lion sculpture
I also placed newspaper under the legs to build up a clay base (see the picture to the above left). This will make attaching it to the base after it is fired easier. Do not start on details here, you just want the general form until the entire sculpture is laid out. Start your way from the pvc pipe to the front of the sculpture, laying out a front leg for more support, then working towards the head. Build the neck up thick at this point, that way while you work on the head the neck will not be too delicate and break. - When adding clay to the sculpture, use the scoring and slipping method, especially if the clay is slightly dry.

 
how to sculpt a panther out of clay, building clay panther sculpture, building a clay lion sculpture
Once the entire sculpture is laid out, start on the main muscle masses of the sculpture. Do not finalize any sections too early, you will probably have to change things as you go. For example - The back leg that is closest to the head was too long, and I had to shorten it after the sculpture was further along. If that part had already been finalized, the effort would have been wasted. 

Every once in a while, take a break from your work. When you concentrate for long periods of time, sometimes you only see the idea that is in your mind, not what is actually in front of you. Taking a break clears your mind and allows you to come back and see what you actually have. If you will be taking a long break, cover the sculpture (see bottom picture).

sculpting a lion, sculpting a clay mountain lion sculpture, sculpting a clay panther sculpture
Now that the main muscle structures are in place, start working on the head. Wait until you get most of the head complete before whittling down the neck and refining the details there. After putting in the major details to the front leg, add the other front leg.


sculpting a lion, sculpting a clay mountain lion sculpture, sculpting a clay panther sculpture
This picture shows most of the details intact. There are still areas of the sculpture that need bulking up, and still many more refining details, especially to the face and feet. Add and remove clay until you have the "feel" that you want, then begin to refine all of the details until the sculpture is complete.


sculpting a lion, sculpting a clay mountain lion sculpture, sculpting a clay panther sculpture
Once the sculpture is completed, it is time to smooth out the surface. Using either a smoothing tool or your fingers, rub over the surface once it has slightly dried to smooth it out. The dryer the surface of the sculpture, the better this works - to a point. Do not let the sculpture get too dry, but the clay should not readily give without some pressure. Touching the sculpture should not leave fingerprints. 

View the Unfired Sculpture page to see the difference between the surface of the sculpture here and the surface when it is finished.


clay sculpture how to, clay tutorials, working with clay tips
*Note - if the clay begins to dry out while your are sculpting, use a spray bottle to mist the clay and keep it pliable. Do not over spray the clay or it will sag. When the sculpture will not be worked on for a length of time (10 or more minutes) it is advisable to cover it with a plastic bag so it will not dry out. Be sure to cover every clay surface, and remove as much air out of the bag as possible.

If the clay surface is too wet, the more weight you add, the more it will sag and warp. If you get to a point where the clay will no longer support itself (a leg droops or the neck will not support the head) either work on a different area to let that part dry slightly, or if adding more clay anywhere will mess up the entire sculpture, let it sit uncovered for around 15 - 30 minutes to harden the clay (you can cover parts of the clay, leaving uncovered only the parts you want to harden).

If the sculpture droops but the clay is not too wet, then either your armature wasn't built correctly (in which case you can probably just tape in some newspaper), or you just need to make the clay a bit thicker in that area to strengthen the sculpture - do not go over an inch thick or it is likely that the sculpture will bust in the kiln. 




Page 1 - Armature      |      Page 2 - Sculpting      |     Page 3 - Finishing Touches
Page 4 - Unfired      |     Page 5 - Firing      |     Page 6 - Build Base




About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax








Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my website!  Feel free to comment, like, or subscribe!





Clay Panther Sculpture Demo p. 3 - Venting and Preparing to Fire Sculpture

Once the sculpture is completed and before it is allowed to dry out, you need to punch some holes through the sculpture to make sure there are no air pockets. Always make sure that when you punch through the clay that you will break through to the newspaper armature under the clay surface. Otherwise, you will be creating air pockets, and the sculpture will have no chance in the kiln.

Using the needle tool, punch holes in the thicker areas of your sculpture, making sure to reach the newspaper underneath. Do this on large muscle masses and anywhere else that the clay feels thick. You cannot be too cautious on this step, it is better to create too many holes than not enough. Even one tiny air pocket can damage your sculpture.

venting a clay sculpture, clay sculpture air pockets, removing air pockets in a clay sculpture

venting a clay sculpture, clay sculpture air pockets, removing air pockets in a clay sculpture







Once you have created the hole, use your fingers to smooth the clay back over the exterior of the hole. This will make the surface appear just as it did before the hole was created, while making sure that any air pockets that may have been present are now opened up to the larger air pocket in the body cavity. - Information at the bottom of the page will tell you how to release the air from the body.



venting a clay sculpture, clay sculpture air pockets, removing air pockets in a clay sculpture
This picture shows 3 general areas of concern on the front of the sculpture that should be vented to the inside:
  1. The cheek
  2. The large masses of neck muscles
  3. The large masses of shoulder muscles
Take care when venting in highly detailed areas, such as the eye and face areas. If you used the scoring/slipping method with the eye, you should not need to vent there.


building a clay sculpture, clay panther sculpture, creating a ceramic lion sculpture
After smoothing the sculpture back over, it is time to sign your work. I like to place my signature somewhere inconspicuous, but where it can be easily found if someone is looking for it. On figures, I usually place the signature and date that the sculpting part of the artwork was finished on the inside leg, just below the torso. Sometimes I will place the signature on the clay base, but usually that area does not support a large, clear signature.
Where the signature is placed on this sculpture, it cannot be readily seen just from viewing the artwork, which makes this the perfect placement for this sculpture.


building a clay sculpture, clay panther sculpture, creating a ceramic lion sculpture
The head of the sculpture, with all of the final
details and after the sculpture has been vented and
smoothed back over.

building a clay sculpture, clay panther sculpture, creating a ceramic lion sculpture
The back leg that I had to rework because
the bottom portion was too long.
Removing the armature is fairly easy. Once the sculpture is leather-hard, the clay base will come loose from the wooden armature. Place your hand under the stomach of the sculpture and pull straight up, being careful not to pull the sculpture sideways. If it doesn't come up easily, twist the sculpture around the pvc to loosen the clay from the pvc pipe. After removing the sculpture from the armature, the openings in the sculpture where the pvc pipe was placed can be filled in with clay (make sure the clay is still wet enough to do this by scoring the clay opening of the sculpture and adding slip before attaching the new clay). You can also leave the hole there and fix it later (see page 7 - Fixing a Broken Sculpture). Either way, make sure there is some sort of opening somewhere in the sculpture for the air inside the body to be released during firing. If you made the back legs hollow, turn the sculpture upside down to check and see if the opening goes all the way through the bottom of the sculpture.

If you will be firing the sculpture in someone else's kiln and need to remove the newspaper, you may have to cut a hole in the bottom of the sculpture. Once you have the sculpture off of the armature, use either a needle tool or a sharp knife to cut out the entire stomach of the sculpture. Do not twist the knife, but use smooth strokes so as to do as little damage as possible. Once you have removed the newspaper, let the pieces dry separately, fire them, and then put them together as demonstrated in the Fixing a Broken Sculpture sections.

Once you have finished these steps, lay the sculpture on its side to dry (put it on a smooth surface, otherwise the texture of the surface could be transferred to the surface of the sculpture). In most cases you want an artwork to dry and be fired in the position it will be when finished (a standing sculpture should be standing, not lying down). This is because the clay can warp slightly while drying. However, on this sculpture I don't want to place weight on the hollow legs until after firing. Even once the sculpture has dried I'll fire it on its side (if a leg breaks during firing, the whole sculpture will not fall over, making it vulnerable to breaking worse or landing on an element and burning part of the sculpture).





Page 1 - Armature      |      Page 2 - Sculpting      |     Page 3 - Finishing Touches
Page 4 - Unfired      |     Page 5 - Firing      |     Page 6 - Build Base




About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax








Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my website!  Feel free to comment, like, or subscribe!





Clay Panther Sculpture Demo p. 4 - The Unfired Sculpture









Page 1 - Armature      |      Page 2 - Sculpting      |     Page 3 - Finishing Touches
Page 4 - Unfired      |     Page 5 - Firing      |     Page 6 - Build Base




About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax








Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my website!  Feel free to comment, like, or subscribe!