I begin my process by gathering photographs of images that I think will go into the painting. I make a drawing based on the photographs that I choose, and then reverse the drawing, and transfer it to a sheet of wood.
I then carve a woodcut with hand tools and with my dremel tool. As a press mold its depth must be reversed so that the deepest part of the woodcut becomes the highest part of the clay painting, and the lowest part of the same woodcut becomes the deepest part of the clay piece. Finishing a woodcut can take weeks before I begin to work with clay.
I roll out a slab of clay on a press called a slab roller and place it on the woodcut and press the image into the clay. While the clay is still moist I make other impressions mostly from found objects. I will press everything into the clay that I think will add to the texture and look of the piece such as rock, wire, bark, yarn, a part of a catalytic converter, a part of some farm machinery, stamps, jewelry, sandpaper, and many other tools and found objects. I usually leave the edges torn so that it has the look of age and wear, and when I am satisfied with the result I leave the clay to dry completely.
When the clay is dry I paint it using ceramic stains and underglazes. I like to approach each piece with a fresh view and will often vary the colors a bit here and there. This helps me expand my tools and techniques of expression, and makes each painting unique.
All work is done before placing it in the kiln and while the clay painting is still somewhat fragile. It is then placed in my kiln and fired to 1940 degrees F. The firing is a long slow process that takes 3 days to complete, and when the clay painting is taken out the colors are permanent, light fast, and ready to be mounted. I mount my work on ultra light MDF wood that has been painted black for contrast.
My process continues to evolve as I research and try new materials and techniques.