I am really bad about changing directions midstream. I will have a color in mind, then part of the way through I will see something else in the horse. I think I must have developed this habit when I was still doing mixed media work, because it isn’t really a problem there.
That cannot be said when working with underglaze. It’s a medium with a lot of constraints, so each color requires a plan that works around them. Where will your handholds go? (Raw underglaze cannot be touched, and fired underglaze is only slightly better.) What might get overspray? (There is no removing it once it’s on.) Which colors fade with multiple firings? (Those have to go last.) Mapping out a plan is a bit like piecing together a puzzle. Needless to say, rearranging your pieces after the plan is underway is a bad idea.
But the temptation to create a color you can suddenly see as “perfect” for the horse is really strong. Which is why the medallion above has all that purple SaranWrap on it. I originally planned to make him a true grey with dark points. That meant I could mask and spray his mane, then go back and do his neck dappling and face shading. It wouldn’t change the mane color, because I wasn’t going to hit the neck really hard, and any overspray was just more of the grey already used on the mane. The black already on the mane would overpower it.
But when he came out of the kiln with his first layer of grey dappling, I couldn’t help but imagine him as a rose grey. What I saw was the kind of bay-going-grey that retains a lot of reds in the dappled areas, but has cooler grey tones on the lower face and mane. Unfortunately I had added a color to his glaze to make cleaning up the edges of his mane easier. But I wouldn’t want the color to scratch off easily if I needed to mask it! And I would need to mask it if I wanted the mane and face to retain their cool color. I decided to cut pieces of the plastic wrap to fit the mane tendrils, and anchor them with latex masking (which is always slightly tacky to the touch) on the back and on strategic points on the mane. Those were the points were I thought I could convincingly handpaint detailing to obscure any marring. Oh, and my finger there was holding the piece in a way that masked that mane piece and the upper neck.
So far it did work. None of the mane got marred, and he’s cooling in the kiln. But I’ll need to pull it off at least one more time with another layer of dappling. I think he’ll turn out really neat. Or he’ll be a really good lesson on how I should put as much effort into the initial color selection as I do into color planning!
(Lisa, if you are reading this, yes, that is your show donation that I’m getting reckless with. I promise if I really hose him up, I’ll make you a new one!)