June 27, 2010

Painting with clay: "Creation"

I did it, Blog!  I did something artist-y!  That is, I created something that I came up with myself, including some new techniques I invented myself.  Woo-hoo, every once in awhile everything comes together.  I can truly say the completion of my "Creation" clay painting was serendipitous from beginning to end.

So here it is, Blog!  What do you think?

Well, I can't say that I didn't have some inspiration for this work.  It was the clay-on-canvas creations of Gera Scott Chandler, whose stuff I just adore.  It never even occurred to me that you could use polymer clay as a "painting" medium till I saw that she had done it.  Seemed like the perfect venue to explore my love of organic colors and textures.  So, I had this idea to use a combination of media on canvas to express the "bursting forth" of some of nature's main building blocks:  sky, sea, sand, rocks, and plant life.

As I recently posted, I love making rocks from polymer clay.  So that was Step 1, and my pal Martha assisted.  I had a nice sackful of rocks ready to go.  Next I sketched the plan on paper, then transferred it to card stock and made templates for the various pieces of clay.  I also sketched it right on the canvas itself, which by the way is 12" by 9".

Step 2 was the creation of what I call "the God engine."  I wanted to create a ball of energy, reminiscent of the sun but somehow more magical-looking.  And Blog, it really had to look magical.  I wanted it deep and hot and glowing and sparkling, like you'd imagine the origin of the universe would have to be.  I had a theory of how to achieve this but hadn't seen anything quite like it. 

I started by cutting a hole in the canvas, then made a shallow cup of swirled colors of clay.  I embellished the surface with gold and copper Perfect Pearls embossing paint so it looked like copper or bronze.  The trick then was to layer UTEE (ultra thick embossing enamel) with layers of glitter and metallic leaf flakes to create a solid pool of glittering depth.  I did three layers, baking each one.  I have to say, I was amazed at the result:  even better than I dreamed it could be!

For Step 3 I made the sky layer, blending blue and white clay to suggest a slightly hazy summer sky.  The trick was to have the colors swirl into the God engine so the effect would suggest the sky (and other elements) pouring out of it.  Step 4 was the sand layer, using Premo "marble" clay (white with flecks) mixed with tan, and incorporating tan and black craft sand.  To add to the texture I lightly pressed the surface with the rough green side of a scrubber sponge.

For Step 5 I created a mottled blend of two greens and a brown and laid that down on the canvas.  With the sand and the land in place, it was time to put down my rocks!  They are placed half on the sand area and half on the land area.  To insure the rocks would stay in place, I "glued" them with colorless liquid clay.

For Step 6, I used some mixed moss I got from Michaels' floral department.  I glued it down with liquid clay, and then gave the whole mess a good soak with the stuff, pressing it down a bit to flatten.  I used some leftover clay from the land layer to make the long leaves, and affixed them with more liquid clay to the moss.  (I was really pleased how firm and secure this technique made the flora area after baking.  Awesome.)

Step 7 was the sea, and I used I technique I invented on my Beach Box project a year or two ago.  I used a swirled blend of dark green, teal, and pearlized dark blue for the water.  Then I blended white, pearl, and translucent clays to make the "foam."  Step 8, of course, was baking, 25 minutes at 270 degrees.

When the piece had cooled a bit, I did the final Step 9, which was glazing the water area (foam included) with two coats of Future.

And as the French magicians say when they make a lemon merigue pie appear out of nothing...voila!  And like I said, Blog, I couldn't believe how (a) everything came together in less time than I ever dreamed (about seven hours), and (b) the picture turned out even better than the what-I-thought-was-highly-optimistic concept in my head.  How often does that happen? 

It was clearly time to celebrate with Davie on the patio with a glass of Roaring Dan's Rum and Sprecher Diet Cream Soda with a dash of bitters!  Yay!

So not everything I do comes out like the three-quarters complete doll that lies in my cupboard now like a scary apparition from Hades, Blog.  Once in awhile the muses and whimsical forces beyond the beyond all come together to make something lovely happen.

I like it!  I even think I bizarradore it!


  1. It looks awesome!

  2. Wow Diana you really DO rock!!! I am totally impressed! I am soooo happy for you! You did it you really really did it!!!!!

  3. WOW!! Diana!! AMAZING work! Breathtaking!

  4. Nifty!
    I had no idea you could paint with clay (or on canvas with it!). Your piece is really interesting looking (and has a wonderful dimensionality to it! Thanks for sharing it!

    (and thank you for adding the google connect widget! Now I can follow you & not lose the link!)

  5. That is awesome!! You did a fantastic job!

  6. Thanks so much, Anonymous! Erica, I didn't know you could either, and I was thrilled how well the clay affixed to the canvas, both before and after baking. As far as the widget, I think Google must have done that for me cuz I didn't change a thing! :-) Jen, thank you--much appreciated from an artist like you!

  7. Diana, that is superb! I love the colors and all the textures. Love it love it love it! :)