31 January 2007

the whale & the marigold

You know I don't plan the relationships my images have with one another but you can see here that there is something going on with the whale and the marigold. Just look at the way the whale is smiling at that there flower. He is up to something or maybe he is just charmed. Either way I think they are off to a wonderful start and make a fine couple! What do you think?

large shallow bowl 13"x13"x3"

26 January 2007

sunday fog

whale & black bird platter 16"x16"

Sundays can be difficult for me. I often find myself at a loss with what to do with myself on Sundays. I know most people relish their weekends but being a person who worked weekends for twenty years and then suddenly having them free is well, a little unnerving. You see I got very used to doing things in the off times of the week. Taking Thursday off, for example, was completely normal for me. I never vacationed when everyone else was vacationing and often I did not participate in weekend activities because I was working. I find it a little strange to be out in the world when everyone else is out there too.

Sunday, the end of the week. It is kind
of like night time for me, the end of the day, not my favorite time of the day. I am much more of a morning person. I am optimistic and cheerful in the morning with the possibility of the day ahead of me. By night fall I am ready to stop and my creative juices go into temporary hibernation until the fallowing morning. Today for example, I was feeling a little blue and in my usual Sunday fog. I went out for a walk in my neighborhood and visited a couple of my favorite shops but felt assaulted by the clamor of happy Sunday people. It made me want to hide away. I came back home and thought, okay now it is time to have some coffee! I am not a regular coffee drinker as it does not always agree with me. Though when well timed and not overdone, coffee has can have an uplifting effect on me, which is helpful when I am feeling a little down. So I made myself a delicious cup that closely resembled a milk shake (lots of cream and sugar) sipped it down and then let the effects of the caffeine do its work...
Then I jumped in my car, turned the music up nice and loud and headed to my studio. When I walked into the studio I felt happy and comforted. I finished some more tea bowls, wrapped up some packages to be shipped, loaded my kiln with a whole bunch of new work along with the enormous 23" bowl I just finished for my show (it barely fit in the kiln). It made me feel better to go to work. I feel satisfied and ready for Monday now, ah yes, Monday...I know most people don't like Mondays but me I love them, after all they are a beginning of the week, like mornings they offer up the possibility of the week to come.

24 January 2007

360 of 160

Today was productive. My studio is starting to feel a little like the Arc. There are birds, whales and bears, some in pairs, some all alone and some mixed together. Here is the first of the polar bear pieces. It was quite difficult to get a shot of the polar bear where she did not look distorted and stumpy.

and here another view. Sometimes I think filming my pieces spinning might be a good idea. It is a difficult to capture the three dimensional quality of the bowls with the drawings moving around them. Here is my attempt at a 360 view.

Bowl dimensions; 10"x 10"x 5"

23 January 2007

i'm it

I was tagged by Mary Anne so I guess I have to pony up and reveal some deep dark (and not so dark secrets).

  1. I have a fear of scaffolding. I always think it is going to fall on my head so I always avoid walking under it.
  2. I am not married and I do not have any children.
  3. I can't stand the sound of people clipping their nails with nail clippers on airplanes. Drives me insane.
  4. I am the only person in my family to have a college degree.
  5. I have and immense amount of faith but do not adhere to any one religion.
  6. I hate mayonnaise on my sandwiches (though I like it with other things).
Guess it my turn to tag some folks so here I go...Mel, Josie, Shannon, Whitney and Karin (there is a theme here...they are all ceramic making people :) Now you are it!

above photo; hand pinched tea bowls. I have been making these since the beginning of my time as ceramic artist. They re-emerge every now and then, changing and not changing. These three are for my upcoming show in February.

21 January 2007

a whale of a time

It's about time I say! I am so excited to show you the first of the series I am working on for my upcoming show at Xen Gallery. I know I have been talking a lot about polar bears and I have something to show you in that category too but you will have to wait... I can't reveal it all at once! I have also been using this new whale imagery. There is a little more of back story to this new work which I will let you in on now.

Last year I visited (in the interest of love) the island of Bequia. Bequia is an island in the Caribbean. There they have a long tradition of scrimshaw. While I was there I had the pleasure of visiting some local scrimshaw artists and I learned a little about this old tradition of the sailors. After hearing about the process and looking at the imagery I thought, this is what I do...only on clay (but I am not a sailor!). The seed was planted in my mind and I have been thinking about creating a body of work that is inspired by this ancient tradition. Originally scrimshaw was done on whale bones and teeth by sailors, often using pictures from newspapers and books (and the occasional risque girlie picture, wink, wink.) Nowadays scrimshaw artists do their fine work on horns, antlers and other types of bones from non-endangered animals. My intention is to re-create a modern interpretation of this ancient tradition, not using the bones at all, but instead clay and to celebrate the animals in which the bones were/are traditionally used and many of which are now on the endangered species list. So here is the first of the series. I'll be back soon to show you some more.

platter dimensions, 12 3/4" x 10"

17 January 2007

working in the arctic

Okay, so I lied about the temperature of my studio in my last post...it has actually been 47 degrees in there. I finally broke down and turned on my kiln (with out firing anything) to help cut the cold. My fingers get really mad at me when I work in the cold. They swell and my knuckles ache and well it can't be good for me. Who says I don't suffer for my Art ;)

I am posting this preliminary drawing, with some trepidation, of a piece I am about to start. My intention is to have it be two 17" platters, side by side, to make one unit. I was taught in school, that drawings should always accompany the work. Which when making in ceramics, is not always the first inclination. One usually just wants to go straight to work with the clay. The habit was instilled in me and I am thankful for it.

I started the drawing with many ideas and had put in many elements, my usual flowers, etc. and then erased them as I felt they detracted from the piece. I also felt I was leaning too heavily on what I know works and I was not pushing myself. I was using that imagery as a crutch. When I removed all the extra embellishments from the drawing I realised that the simplicity and starkness (the feeling) of the drawing was what I wanted to convey with the the piece. So I have left in unadorned. Now to attempt it with the clay. A completely different challenge. I have anticipatory concerns about what could happen once I start trying to execute the piece. One of my concerns is that it will look trite, contrived, that the medium will scream utility and the sense of the piece will be lost. My gut feeling is that it can work though. The utility aspect is good and sincerely nothing to be ashamed of and can be exploited but needs to be done in a subtle manner. Ahh yes, subtlety, such a difficult thing to achieve in Art. To know when (and how) to be loud by being quiet. I am liking
this challenge and really enjoying thinking about my work in this way. Don't worry, the pretty flowers and other pieces are still happening while I am working away on these more serious pieces. More on that later...for now I am letting myself be inspired by the arctic temperatures of my studio.

10 January 2007

51 degrees

Folks, it's fa fa freezing here. Yes, I do live in San Francisco and you are right, I have absolutely nothing to whine about when it comes to weather. Still it is very cold here, it dipped under 32 degrees last night and much lower in areas surrounding San Francisco. I hear the North East of the United States is having it's warmest winter on record according to my dear friend, finder of back roads and keeper of miscellaneous weather facts, M.C. Why am I talking about the weather you may wonder? Well as I mentioned before I am preparing work for my show at Xen Gallery in February and some of my new work has a lot to do with the weather and how the change is affecting climates which in turn is affecting wild life. Think polar bears.

It is not like me to use my work as a platform to talk about global warming. I usually don't go for the big statement or the political and I am not trying to spread world peace with my work. I make my work from a very personal place. Beauty has a lot to do with it. I like beautiful things and I am not ashamed of making beautiful things. I love nature. I find people fascinating. I find life often has quiet, small stories with bigger meanings woven into our everyday activities. I take all of this information and translate it into my own visual vocabulary and record it on my work. Kinda simple, huh? So what has changed? I am asking myself this very question as I work. I haven't quite come to any final conclusions yet and it is challenging for me to talk about it, much less write about it. I am very excited about this new direction with my work but also feeling a little unsure. It is like making a speech in a language you just learned. I know I'll be saying a lot of sentences backwards and certain common expressions may sound awkward. None the less, I can't wait to start showing you what I have been up to. Images will be coming soon.

To keep me in check and to help me experience the full effect of our unusually cold temperatures I have been making the work in my very cold studio that does not have warm running water. The thermometer inside the studio has been reading 51 degrees this past week. There you will find me bundled up, five layers deep in clothing, etching away and thinking about the plight of the polar bear.

05 January 2007

a good combo

Back in 1999 I had the honor and pleasure to attend Penland School of Crafts on a teaching assistant's scholarship. It wasn't for ceramics though, it was for a drawing class. I liked my drawing class well enough but being the teacher's assistant made it difficult for me to concentrate on getting any of my own work done. I spent most of my time in class helping the students and teaching them some of my own drawing techniques. Finding myself distracted I wandered about the campus, in my free time, only to find myself loitering around the clay studio, hmmm imagine that! At the time an amazing potter, Cynthia Bringle, was bestowing her golden wisdom on the lucky students who were taking her workshop. I kept going back to the clay studio until I got the nerve up to say hey, to some of the other students. I immediately befriended Adrienne and Mark who were the teaching assistants for the class. Before I knew it I was in the studio in all my spare time, often at midnight, drawing all over everyone elses pots. I was in heaven! I tried to stay low key and out of the way as to not disturb and take up the students, who were actually taking the class, time and work space. Cynthia would walk by me and look at what I was doing, scold me not to blow on the pots as I drew (clay dust is deadly) and then one day she asked me if I had ever worked with clay before. I shyly nodded my head with a yes response and then lowered my head back down to work. I had already making work (out of school) for seven years but the presence of this woman and her skill was to say the least, intimidating. She is one of the best teachers I have ever encountered. Teaching, aside from one's own craft, is a true skill, and she is both a skilled crafts person and teacher. By the way, I immediately ceased blowing on my ceramics then and there and think of Cynthia with great gratitude anytime I am tempted to do so.

What was so exciting about working in the studio at Penland was that I was exposed to all kinds of materials and methods of firing that I usually don't have access to. It is pretty hardcore stoneware, highfire pottery country in North Carolina, with a strong emphasis on wood and salt firings. Some of my favorite potters reside in that region of the United States. None of this namby pamby, west coast, urban dwellers, electric firing with bright colored glazes that I am used to (and make). This was the real deal.

Mark, the teaching assistant, was happy to hand over his beautifully thrown pots to me and let me go wild. Mark's pots were a perfect canvas for me.
Strong form with clean simple lines. I was a little challenged by the engobes available, everything was dark and that does not lend itself well to my drawings being visible. I did find some white and a wee bit of albany slip (the brown) to use. They were salt fired in a kiln that Adrienne and Mark nurtured and tended throughout the night. The pitcher in the photo (one of a pair, Mark has the other one) was the result of our collaboration.

Collaboration has been on my mind quite a bit these days. Mav and Steph have a wonderful new thing going on over at 3191. The result is gorgeous and inspiring. All the Artist's and Craftspeople with Lisa, Stephanie and Gerry at the helm, collaborating together for the greater good to help and support the Kim Family. I hear the other Lisa is up to something collaborative these days too. Any one else out there collaborating? I would love to hear about it.

If Mark were to invite me back to North Carolina to draw all over his pots again, I'd be there in a minute, well maybe five minutes. I left Penland with new friends, new ideas, new experiences and this pitcher, which is one of my most treasured pieces, to remind me that working together can produce some amazing results.

02 January 2007

let the bidding begin!

This is the piece that I have donated. It is a 17" x 17" stoneware clay platter, fired to mid range with underglazes, stains and glazes. It is ready to hang in that special place in your home or to live atop a beloved table. However you choose to display it remember that the money you spend is going to a good place.
All the proceeds will go directly to the James Kim Memorial fund. You can bid on it here.

new news :: new year

I am not going to give you my list of resolutions. Why? Because I don't have one. I am not a resolution kinda gal. Yeah, I could be a bit (lot) more organized with the paper work and so I always wanted to be a world class gymnast but that is NOT going to happen. So why have a list! I do have news though... So much more fun than resolutions, don't you think?

As you see here in the photo I am already working on the 2008 calendar. Oddly enough it has to be finished by the end of January so it can be shown at the Tokyo gift show in Japan in early February. It has been a little strange thinking about 2008 in 2006 when 2007 hadn't even started yet. The other news is that I am having a show in February at Xen Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri . I am very excited about it and have already begun preparing work for it. I have to get fifteen pieces completed in the next month. (Please kiln gods, be good to me.) I am working with new some new images and am keeping the color scheme black and white ( with maybe a little red). I'll be posting the new work as it progress.

I also have a piece up for bid in the kim family benefit art+ craft auction. The auction opens on January 3rd so mark your calendars. I hope you saved some of your Christmas cash to buy yourself something nice. The proceeds are going to a such good cause. Plus I gotta say I am so honored to be in such good company of so many talented folks who have all donated their work for the auction. Lisa and Stephanie have put together a gorgeous site all on their own (and very little extra) time. A BIG thank you to the both of you for making this happen!

So, I am off and running from the gate...look out 2007, here I come!