Thursday, October 18, 2012

Quinces and more Quinces

The quince has a strong apple aroma that's heavenly. The scent filled the house making everyone crazy with thoughts of quince jam and buttery biscuits.
It was time to do a quick stretch and take a good look at the hues and tones.  I wanted to record all this quickly, because I really needed to cook that quince! 
I started out drawing a quince on tracing paper. This way I could transfer and position the outline onto watercolor paper clearly and cleanly.  I quartered a full sheet of hot press 140 lb. paper.  I transferred the sketch to two sheets.  That way I had two to work on at same time. Quickly I went into that quiet, timeless world.

 In the meanwhile, the clay quinces were finished cooking in a sense.  They were cooling in the kiln.  Out they came---lifeless, drab and yucky pink beige. The clay I use bisque fires to this color, but oh it dresses up right pretty. It takes on terra sig, slips, glazes, washes and anything else you throw at it beautifully so long as you give it the respect that it deserves.  The kiln was filled with other lovely things, but those untanned quinces got me all excited!  I put aside my watercolors and pulled out my oxide stains, underglazes and glazes. 

One of the first things I do with sculptural work fresh out of the kiln is to give them a rutile/frit or a red iron oxide/frit wash.  Areas that I need light I sponge away the wash completely.  I do like spots here and there, so I will leave those and any scratches, nicks, and nooks.  The rutile wash fires to a earthy yellow and adds warmth. The frit, I use Frit 3134 or Gerstley Borate, gives the oxides a little shine, a little twinkle.  Next I brush on two coats of white underglaze or slip (formulated for bisque.)  It's like gessoeing a canvas. The subsequent paint will clearly show its best hue. Same with underglazes and quinces. 

Now there's one layer of wash and two layers of white (dry to the touch.) The quince has shades of green left from its youth. It shines out from underneath the veil of yellow summer sun.  It makes sense to put down some bright chartreuse green and let it dry.  The next layer is a thin coat of yellow.  The green will peek through here and there.  It will add dimension and interest.

The leaf is a very dark green on a quince.  I really love the contrast of its dark, gray green leaf with the bright lemony hue of the fruit.  Even though I knew I would darken this leaf I still did a base layering of white.  There's a wash of red iron oxide, then a layer of blue, followed by yellow.  Finally a wash of black. Smudging any harsh edges helps to blend the underglazes so brushstrokes will not show after a firing.  I tend to daub and smudge. Once the color is where I want it---it goes in for a second firing. 

unfinished---needs more work
Now the quinces are ready to cook!

"The things I like best in T.S. Eliot's poetry, especially in the Four Quartets, are the semicolons. You cannot hear them, but they are there, laying out the connections between the images and the ideas. Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath."  

Lewis Thomas 
from The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Clay persimmons fresh out of the kiln

Remember the square box pattern?   One pattern and only four seams?  Some straight edges turned into curves, v cuts in the corners and wah la!
 Add some fruit---nature's fast food
(all fruit from my studio 100% clay based and enriched with terra sigillata)

from 5 July 2010 post
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked 
down the sidestreets under the trees with 
a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! 
Whole families shopping at night!  Aisles full of husbands! 
Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
--and you, GarcĂ­a Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
from A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's October and it's time again for clay fruits

Quinces and pomegranates are showing up in the farmer's market now.  Quinces are so voluptuous.  I find them visually yummy although tastier if baked.  They have yellow fuzzy skins with peach-coral blushes reminiscent of their blossoms. There is a hint of wondrous green at the stem end.  Their puckered belly buttons pull in a deeply secretive way. How could I not make some quinces?  They look like pears on steroids, too!

It is easy to start them as I do the pears.  I pinch them out of one big lump of clay and model them a bit with a wood tool.  The leaf is actually very thick in the center.  It has an illusion of being thin by placement and shadow.  The ones made of sculpture clay will have color galore.  The ones in porcelain I may leave white.  For now I need to let them dry a bit.  In the meanwhile, I am going to pull out my watercolor things and paint me some quinces! 

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