Monday, January 3, 2011

Adventures with Claybord

24" x 24" acrylic on claybord

So, here is my LARGE work. Let me just tell you that it did not turn out at all like I thought it would. Here's a run down of my last week and my battle with this denizen of Hades known as claybord.

Monday, December 27 : I stare at the claybord and the drawing I've just made and fight the urge to run and flee when I run my hand over the completely smooth surface. We're talking smooth as glass. Insanely smooth. How in the world am I supposed to paint with watercolors on that???

I lay the first wash down and watch it get completely absorbed into the clay surface.

There's no time to pull it into place, or diffuse it for a soft edge. It. Just. Sinks. And stays like that. Forever. Wonky brushwork and all.

Huh. That's not what I expected.

Tuesday, December 28 : I keep hoping that with more layers of color I'll figure out the trick to master this bleeping claybord. But so far, no success. 

It's hideous. And I don't throw that word around lightly. 

I seriously begin to contemplate washing it all off and starting over. But I'm working under a deadline and I'm worried of running out of time. So I suck it up and go back in for round two.

Wednesday, December 29 : By now I'm starting to panic. This isn't working, I can't do this. I am a no-talent-lame-o and this is the worst piece of art ever created. Ever.

I go spray it off and think of what I can possibly do to make this work.

Thursday, December 30 : I give up on watercolors with this board. It just isn't happening. I go to the art supply store and check out the prices for acrylic paints and come home with a bag full of new paints and brushes.

I'm so excited with this clever answer I've come up with, and my bag full of artsy treats, that I have to resist the urge to skip my way out the store and to the car.

Though I confess I may have swagered a little bit. Just a little.

Friday, December 31 : Two attempts at an acrylic portrait later and I'm about ready to throw my shiny new art supplies out the window. They dry SO fast and I'm SO not used to this, and I'm starting to think that I may have developed an ulcer in the last five days.

That's not possible is it?

I go eat some antacids and try not to cry.

Saturday, January 1 : Who knew that you needed so much white paint when you use a medium other than watercolor? I mean what happened to all that pretty white paper I'd gotten so used to saving and protecting? I miss that pretty white paper.

I go to the art supply store and buy more white paint. This time I feel no urge to skip, I don't even swager. Not even a little bit.

Sunday, January 2 : Typically I don't paint on Sundays, but I make an exception today.

This is it, the last day.

This has to work.

I pray. Hard.

I wake up all of a sudden at 5:00 AM with a very clear idea of what I should do to make this work.

I run downstairs and spend the day working on my brilliant plan.


It works. :) All is well.

I take a break, but only for a little while.

Because you see, I'm DYING to get started on a watercolor portrait. I need to feel at home again. I've missed you, my little aquatic friends.

This is my piece for the International Women Celebrate exhibition. The deadline is today, and I finished with hardly a minute to spare.

Now I think I'll go take a nap. Or play the Wii with my boys. Or eat some chocolate. Or possibly all three. 


  1. Oh my goodness, it's really awesome! But the true piece of art here, is this post. I spit diet pepsi out my nose when you said "bleeping clayboard".

  2. Crystal, it is amazing! You may be on to something here. You definitely pushed yourself outside of the box and it paid off big time. congratulations!!! Aquatic friends, made me laugh.

  3. OK! You have another calling, Ms. Cook! Acrylic painting is definitely a strong medium for your talent.
    I want to see more! Fabulous brushwork. I know going outside of your comfort zone is hard and painful and frustrating but see what happens when you do and you don't give up at the first, second, or even third failure?
    I love the watercolours of course, but no reason why you can't work in more than one medium!

  4. I love you sweet girl :) I love to read every one of your posts!!! They never fail to make me smile or cry or show all emotions at once. You have a gift my Sister!!!! I'm so proud of you and I L-O-V-E!!!! the painting! GORGEOUS! :) :):) ;)

  5. Crystal, I absolutely love it. It is such a wonderful painting! I am so glad you finished it on time and so glad you made it through the struggle to get it done. It looks so beautiful! I don't know if I could have persevered as well as you did, I think I would have given up on the first day, but wow, just beautiful!!!!

  6. Stunning ... both of them ... the painting and the post. Loved every word. ;-)

  7. Lol, nice save Crystal! Turned out rather fine I reckon; will you be dallying further with acrylics? I do use them from time to time, when I'm going for a bold look. I don't do subtle with acrylics, but that's what makes them fun!

    And I've never used clayboard - I'm intrigued...

  8. EEK!!! Your story frightened me. i've been wanting to give aquaboard a try.

  9. Reading your post did make me artists journey can be a roller coaster of emotions and experimetations, but it has come out great and wish you the best with the exhibtion/comp

  10. I think it looks wonderful even with all the stress involved. :-)

  11. I got a good chuckle from your story. I work with acrylic all the time.
    I think your painting is very good. I know you have expectations from your working with watercolor but if you give the new work a little time you will see that it is really a good work of art. It is loose and free and expressive. Your previous work is tight and controlled. You have moved out of your comfort zone yet you show you are up to a new challenge.
    Well Done.

  12. Sounds like you had a battle with that clayboard.......oh, my!
    Don't think I'll try any of that soon. I'm still learning on that nice white paper you love so much. Your lady is very interesting though. Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2011.

  13. Oh my gosh! This is absolutely STUNNING!!! I LOVE it! I love your watercolours so much - and you should never stop - BUT, you also have a clear talent for acrylics too. It looks as though you have been doing this for years!! It's wonderful that you have the ability to create two entirely different types of art in such an equally exceptional way! Once again it's the eyes that make this so special. But I just LOVE those lively brush strokes. You should really do some more of these! After all, variety is a wonderful thing and doesn't it feel great to try something new - and succeed? I hope you do another very soon!

  14. I love, love this post. You write so well and expressed the sheer joy and frustration that can happen when painting. Good luck in the exhibit.

  15. What a treat of a post. I lived every second along with you.
    The chocolate was delicious! :)

    Actually, so is the painting. For all the pains in its creation, its really rather good. Allow yourself to skip a bit! :) xx

  16. Oh Crystal...wonderful post, as usual..and this painting is wonderful!!

  17. Jeannie, thank you! :) Although I'm sorry about the diet pepsi. :D

    Thank you so much Carrie! I'm glad you liked it. :)

    Karen, thank you very much! I think I'm going to be doing more of these acrylic paintings. It was fun! :)

    Jenny Lee, LOVE YOU!!!! :):):):) Thanks big sister. I feel so happy now. :D

    Rachel, thank you so much! I tell you I was SO tempted to just give up, but for some reason I just couldn't. I'm a bit stubborn that way. :)

    Thank you very much Jon, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    Thanks Sharon! :) I think I'm going to be doing a lot more with acrylics. You're right, being bold is what makes them fun! :)

    Kathryn, don't be frightened! It was an adventure for sure. And honestly, I actually ordered the wrong thing. I thought I was getting aquaboard. I hear it's much easier to work with.

    Thank you very much Vic! I'm glad you stopped by. :)

    Thank you Crystal! :)

    Thank you so much Stan! That compliment means a lot. :) I felt so free painting this last one.

    Thanks Steph!! :)

    Thanks so much Carol! :) I hope you and yours are doing well too. And you are doing lovely things with that white paper.

    Sandra, thank you my good friend! :) It felt wonderful to finally succeed with this. And you know the brushstrokes are my favorite part. I'm planning on doing some more soon. :D

    Hi Ann! Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the writing too. :D

    Pat, thanks dear friend! Glad you liked the chocolate ;) And I think I will go skip a bit now!

    THank you so much Hilda! I hope you're doing well! :)

  18. Oh it is beautiful! I hope you rewarded yourself with all three possibilities. Thanks for posting the struggle too. I will remember it the next time I find myself there.

  19. Hurray for stubbornness and persistence and expressive :) Love how it turned out!


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment they really do mean so much to me! Because not all bloggers have their email enabled so I can reply directly through email I will try to reply here in the comments. If I don't please forgive me, life must have been hectic that day! :)) Huzzah!!

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