New Work: Wheat fields with a draw

I worked intently to finish a new piece this week before we drive up to Nebraska for ten days (posting time will probably be slim next week). Five ceramic storms sitting around the studio awaited prairies. A few weeks ago I laminated boards together from around the studio in preparation for the prairies. I started working one lamination, although couldn’t figure out exactly where go in finishing the surfaces. So I jumped to another one. I didn’t have time to set up my table with a backdrop, but wanted to share this today so here’s a scrappy cameraphone capture.


This is moving in the same direction as my recent storms, with a little more thought going into the prairie. The fields are tiered and were roughed out by freehand router. The draw was roughed out with the Lancelot tool for a grinder. The three “barns” in the lower left corner are inset padauk. Colors are oil and acrylic paints applied with brushes and rags. I sanded fine the fields, but left the draw rough after shaping with a sanding disc on the grinder. The roughness took the paint beautifully.

The colors are a little more intense than I’ve imagined for this kind of piece. They very closely emulate winter wheat fields nestled in the red dirt of Oklahoma. Normally I like to let the colors of the wood — oak in this case — come through the finishes. With the thinned out oils on top, the grain still shows, but the warmth of the wood itself is gone. In the future I hope to make the prairies a much more mixed media venture.

Proportions aren’t exact either, although this doesn’t bother me. The overall impression is there, and even if I pay more attention to proportion in the future I think this is a successful piece. There’s still work to be done, but I’m happy with it.

And as bonus coverage, I’m including a video — since I had my cameraphone out already. Be warned though, the camera camcorder takes very poor videos. Resolution is lousy, and the video was cut off half way around the work. People have suggested this for my three dimensional work in the past though, and I haven’t forgotten their input. So here goes.


The clay is a mid-fire Texas white, fired to cone 04 and later smoked in the same electric kiln. It’s epoxied to the boards.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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