Thursday, July 13, 2017

Silver Crescent - Fortune, Part 2

Getting down to business...

I went with Simona to Claytime in Shrewsbury which is a paint your own pottery studio.  This place would be my base of operations for May and June....and is like five minutes from Fortune's house and a frequent hang out for her household.  If you did not think I was paranoid she would just burst in while I was in the middle of painting, you are wrong.

In our first visit, Simona and I wandered around looking for a plate with a nice, large edge and a shallow bowl.  I didn't find what I wanted.  We wandered around some more, chatted, and then we find one.  It's the only one in stock, wasn't too big, and looked like it would work.

Having only done paint your own pottery twice before, I needed to re-familiarize myself with how this process worked.  After picking a base coat of a light sand/ neutral color, I determined the brushes were not going to cut it for the detail work I needed to do.  Even the adult bushes (re: smaller than the gigantic ones the kids use) were not going to give me crisp lines and would make the portrait sheer hell to paint.  In this first visit, we finished the base coat and I added my marker's mark (a blue daisy) to the back over the price (in case that didn't burn off).  This was used for the identifier to the piece so I didn't have to write my name on it.  Turns out an identifier wouldn't even be needed, which I'll get to later.

Graphite pencils were a no-go for tracing.  Claytime cannot guarantee all of it will burn off in the kiln, so they suggest using felt tip markers.  The other valuable piece of information Simona was able to pull out of them was I could use watercolor pencils to draw on the place which would then be hidden.  I had no idea these even existed and of course Marieta came to my rescue with these.  Thyra also introduced me to chalk paper (instead of the graphite transfer paper I was planning on using) which let me sketch normally instead of making a mess on the plate itself.  This was INSTRUMENTAL in getting most of the designs on the plate itself.

I joke that I spent hours at Claytime, but I also spent a fair amount of time sketching at home, transferring the designs, and generally yelling at paper.  The other thing I did?  Layout design and measuring.  I have never done so much math and measuring for a scroll in my entire life! The layout I decided on relayed on the circles being radially symmetrical and their background sections with stripes to be proportional.  First this meant the entire lip edge of the plate had to be measured and marked off evenly.  I used a template for the circles and the border/wheel on Fortune's heraldry.  Everything marked off was done in watercolor pencil.

More measuring...more measuring....

I begin the sketching of the leaf and vine motif and I'm happy with it.  I go to transfer it to the plate and it's waaaaaay too small.  My solution was to repeat the vine pattern to fill up the space.  To me, this made it feel like the color had more to contrast to and struck a nice balance.  This also left me room for the tiny bee on the right panel.

It's at this point that I started to put the paint on the plate....

Embarrassingly, I had a flair up of pain from my lingering tennis elbow issue (hence the arm brace).  Good news - when you paint with friends, they can take progress pictures for you!
Claytime was enormously accommodating to my long painting sessions and spreading out on the table at points.  It turns out that when you're happy to share a table with other people (I'll get to that) and you behave like a normal human, they love you.  After each session, I took the plate home and thought about the next steps.

You can see the lines from the layout design.  These were all done in watercolor pencil (thin lines).  The thick lines are the first instances of the paint going on.  It looks like blue now, but it will darken once fired.

A few sessions in and I have some clear progress.  Most of the staff now knows about "the plate" and I have one regular gal on staff who knows me on sight.

So many lines to many....
Most of the "easy" part is done.
And now we get to the part where I dreaded working on this...the protrait.  It's been said elsewhere in my blog that I hate drawing people.  I feel like a massive art-impostor trying to draw people because I cannot make them look right.  The amount of sketches I threw out that no one saw or that were drawn,had comments,hated, and then threw out are numerous.  Part of my problem was fear of the derp face (though it's period) and the other part was trying to blend a real like protrait style with the majolica style.  I ended up going with just a majolica portrait after receiving some wise and balanced input.

Sometimes you need to eat junk food and use your light table as a desk while watching  HGTV to be properly inspired.

The hair under went some revisions at the Quintavia Business meeting, but this was the most successful sketch.  I opted to do Fortune's hair uncovered as that's how she wears it to events usually and the bun is one of her signature styles for no-nonsense mischief.  Most of the plates depicted a veil or hat of some sort.  That idea was discarded after disastrous attempts of putting a coronet on previous sketches.  I used my light pad to traces the curly-queues of the banner because at this point it was 10pm and I had to go paint the next day.  The lettering hand on the banner is a humanist.  The portrait was transferred using chalk paper (my savior) and I was then good to go!

Take that, tennis elbow!  I'm mostly free of your sabotage!

Lookin' good!
The next steps were the tedious parts: the scales, the brush lining, and the signatures.  Remember when I said I would share a table with other people?  Yeah.  One session of painting I was at the end of a table near and aisle where one kid would constantly hit the back of my chair as they ran by.  (Child running in a pottery studio...think on that....)  The fifth or so time it happened, I think I actually swore because my brush skipped.  At that point, the dad of said free running child finally noticed what the kid was doing (because up until now he's been wrangling two other screaming terrors).  And lo, holy hell was reigned down on said child by their parent and many apologies were made.  I was actually more embarrassed and apologized for swearing.  The next session I was at, I sat with Captain Shakey-Table himself.  I kept my expletives to myself this time.

Boooyah!  This baby is DONE!!
Yeaaaaaaaaaaay!  I'm dooooooooone!

My artist mark.

My Claytime staff friend snapped this photo for me. :)
I may have said to the staff if it breaks in the kiln, I'll cry. 

Weeks pass and then I get this photo in a text message from Simona who went to go pick it up.
Dear god, I'm a lunatic for doing this....

But wait...there's more!  I decided this needed a scroll for the royals to sign the week before it was due (in between another scroll project and silk banner painting).

Eva wrote a lovely sonnet for this because she is amazing.

Calligraphy hand - Humanist by me
Words - Eva Woderose

Congrats, Fortune!  May you continue to smile upon Quintavia.

Special thanks to:

The ideas department: Simona bat Leon
Claytime painting company: Simona bat Leon, Marieta Charay
Sketch consultants: Nataliia Evganova, Eva Woderose, Thyra Eiriksdottir, Marieta Charay
Sounding board: Sergei Rozvad syn
Cheering section: House Strangewayes, Darostur, assorted members of Sharc and Lochleven

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