a whole month of drawings…if only I could figure out the technology to collage them!

I supposed to put up a collage of drawings from the 30 in 30 days sgraffito challenge (about fifty images).  The problem with having a second hand computer and some shared systems is that all the software I loaded to try these – flipagram, flikr, picassa etc, seemed to immediately make vast numbers of photos pour into my computer. As this computer is eight years old already (an antique in computing terms) it crashes all the time just trying to cope with software upgrades on the minimum set of functions I need, so this sort of behaviour panics me.

So, for the moment, no collage, though I have rephotographed the drawings so that I have a complete set of fired images. I’ll close this sequence for the moment with  drawing of me and Einstein..and to say I have had a fantastic time working with an amazing bunch of people from around the world on this project. Lots to learn still, but I feel I know much more about what is possible and have some techniques which will allow me to continue the journey.

einstein fired self portrait fired


Einstein is easy…the self portrait challenge

SP 2 overview

We all struggled with Einstein, some ending up dreaming about Old Albert, and one person using the excuse that her husband knocked hers over just before she finished with a tennis ball.

Having worked for two days on that portrait we then had to take a photo of ourselves (howls of anguish) and do that in powdered glass.  It should be easier, we should know our own faces…but it turns out I have no idea where any of my features sit in my face.

I took a bunch of photos with sidelight from the kitchen window as I thought that would make it easier.  For the first attempt I put the glass and photo upside down and sifted on a good layer of glass powder in the areas with the darkest shading.  I then turned it around and tried to get everything in the right place.  I found it hard to remove powder in any sensible way if I had too much, unless I took all of it off.  I know some people became good at removing just a bit of the powder with a fingertip, but I felt it just made the piece look like I’d got my fingers all over it accidentally.  I worked quite hard, showed my husband, and he said he thought it was good, but was it a picture of a man or a woman.  So, it isn’t just me that doesn’t know what I look like.

self portrait 1

Today I tried again, after waiting for the studio to get up from its early chill of 10C.  The kiln had been on overnight but it is so efficient that it doesn;t leave the studio warm.

This time I started with the eyes.  I did this because the nearly invisible eye on the far side of the face had completely confused me on image one.  I worked on these, then added extra powder, did a bit more work, added more powder and so on.  I think I have ended up with quite a weak and innocuous image, so I am not very pleased with it. If I did another one hopefully I would get some of the good attributes of each and make a stronger image.

self 2aself 2bSP 2cSP 2dSP 2f

SP 2g

Einstein – two intense days of trying to do his portrait


Around the world went the cries of anguish when participants in th 30 in 30 days Sgraffito Challenge read the task for these last two days, followed by waves of despair and destruction.  We were to work with this photo of AE and, starting with the image upside down, sketch in the light and dark areas and gradually work on the piece whichever way we wanted and with any tools.

Einstein 1

sifiting powder upside-down

einstein 2

beginning to add details

einstein 3

some weird Colonel turned up!

einstein back in jar

back in the jar

I decided I needed to understand the eyes, so did a quick sketch of these.

einstein eyes

I sifted powder on.  Got completely muddled about which the chin line was.  Fiddled.  Tipped the powder back into the jar and started again.

einstein v2 with photo

einstein v2 1

starting again

einstein v2 2

einstein v2 3 trying to tidy his chin- realising everything is the wrong place

Tipped the powder back in the jar and started again.

einstein V3 5 rotated

Version 3 – where should the chin be !!!

einstein finished?

keeping this one.

Kept this final piece.  I realised that, like most of the others posting progress pieces, I was relentlessly centering AE’s eyes in the image instead of giving him a partial profile.  Even with starting upside down, which should help us to see what is actually there and not what we think is there, I was sticking his features where I thought they should be not where they were.

So, a difficult challenge and a not entirely successful outcome.  However, when we compare the work we did on this piece with the way we handled the powder back on January 1st we can see how much our technique has improved.

I wanted to increase the tonal range (made the darker areas darker and the light areas lighter) but I felt as if I’d lose any sense of AE being amused in my image if I fiddled any more.  I’ll fire this one when the kiln is free and see what it looks like.

If you want to see other participants work you check out the links at the base of this blog.