Thursday, September 29, 2011

within a touch of clay

Bee Puppets were on the agenda this week.  An art collector, who now owns Bee Puppeteer, had a mishap.  While in Europe her husband unpacked the piece and unknowingly, tossed out the puppet. So I am making a few to see which one will fit.  I will have to ship them to the gallery.  Cross fingers...........

While working on little bees,  I decided to use some too damp to throw with earthenware to make a wall figure.  It was like finger painting with clay.  It helps to do these smaller pieces.  Although some of the detailing around the face, hands and feet take just as much time as the full size work, the challenge comes in bringing across emotive sensibility and connection in small scale. I can get lost in this little world for hours........
Plus I can go crazy with little tools!  How sweet is that!

(white figure on left getting new arms)

after a couple hours ready to model---stuck to canvas board

something lacking

needs a headdress and bigger bird

head propped with wooden tools

head at wrong angle-cut to reattach--may leave it separated

need to wait to smooth out and refine features 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Leafing out and remaining cobalt carbonate true

first try with a leaf---scrapped

decided simple leaf better for this messy artist--just a little more work left

still not finished--took so long leaf fell off

my edges need sharpening--lifting with a damp stiff bristle brush

pencil lines so light had to gray scale

Artist Michele Petherwick asked me to join her in taking a one day botanical illustration workshop. Her work is beautifully realistic and richly composed.  Michele is a scientific illustrator and taking this workshop gets her out of her own home studio.  There's always something to gain working with other artists in a learning situation.  I, on other hand, have never taken any sort of painting workshop.  My only instruction in the world of painting came in the required art courses in college. This would definitely take me out of my comfort zone! I am a beginner when it comes to 2-D---a mere dabbler. 

The workshop was held at the U.C. Berkeley Botanical Gardens.  Absolutely inspirational.  The day was sunny.  The perennials in full bloom.  Artist Catherine Watters gave the workshop. Her instruction was clear and insightful.  I came away with a better understanding of the step by step layering of colors and the precision required in measuring the subject matter.

I thought clay taught me patience!  I wanted to pull out a blow dryer so I didn't have to wait for each wash to dry!  But I waited. And finally it paid off.  I was able to dry brush peacefully so involved with the minute that the minutes flew.  Wow, I thought.  I have always respected the skill and talent needed to produce such intimate, detailed scientific illustration, but the patience....

I love it.  It intrigues me.

I still love clay, though. I won't give up my clay job any time soon.  I remain cobalt carbonate true. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

away from clay and back again

It seems like a long time since I have touch any clay.  Usually in September there is a brief pause in this artist's life as though summer takes a final deep breath and sighs.  Then comes autumn's long thoughtful shadows and brilliant changing of hues.  It is a moment of anticipation, this cusp between the seasons, that sends me to the coast.  It is as though I need to prepare for what is coming, an  inner self  that still knows the rhythm of the earth.  So I go.

Walking across the headlands, tall grasses, dried in the colors of ochre and crimson, make striking vertical lines, knife-edged and full of sound, bobbing in the breeze.  Dying breaths of summer laden with seeds of promise.
I continue my walk and see that lacy white umbels of cow's slip have dried to a dense raw umber.  Their dark heads a stark contrast in the lifting fog.

Even the nearby gravel company, faded in the fog, seem painted in and mimicking  the craggy rocks along the shore. The buildings and machines dulled with age appear ghostly and abandoned.  A stoic testament against time's erosion.  Grain by grain, pea gravel by pea gravel, back to ocean it all goes!

After spending some time walking along the beach, watching sunsets and other visual delights, I had to go see the dahlias. Ah! the Dahlias!  Dahlias in the Mendocino County Botanical Gardens are perhaps unusual---considering all the odds against growing dahlias in coastal conditions:  salt, fog, cool evenings, snails and rodents.  It would seem foolhardy.  I think it takes courage and conviction.  And lots of volunteer enthusiasts.  It is fun to walk though the Bishop pines, gnarly from coast winds and graying salt sprays, to find this genteel grassy area with neatly tended dahlia beds.

Most fun of all was seeing some Naked Ladies encroaching this showcase of royalty.  Right in the back edge of the beds.  One thing to look forward to driving along the coast in late summer is the appearances of  these now naturalized non-native amaryllis.  They pop up everywhere in clumps. 

Amaryllis Belladonna


Now it is time to go back into the studio.
what I brought back with me is a desire to do some forms with great detail and uniformity
get out of my comfort zone for a little bit
 so I begin with drawing and painting
and playing attention

and see what happens....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

...What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind...

...The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
to me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

William Wordsworth

Friday, September 9, 2011

Think Twice @ Healdsburg Center for the Arts

Healdsburg Center for the Arts
Allegra Burke       

Jerry Takigawa--False Food Series
Opening Reception is this Saturday, September 10th.  Allegra Burke's mixed media work makes you really think twice!  Each mask has an beautifully embroidered germ.  I can't remember the title.  It stopped me dead in my tracks.  I've seen her work in various venues throughout the Bay Area.  The "petrol babies" are made up of plastic shopping bags.  Another piece are garments made entirely of designer's labels.  I will try to get better images.  Jerry Takigawa's photographs are stunning.  When you get up close you realize that it's all bits of plastics found along our coast and other places.  Curators, Vesna Bresnikar and Janet Howell, installed this show with great care and it flows beautifully (this section of the building once housed wine barrels.) 

Friday, September 2, 2011

What goes up must come down eventually.....

far right:  Tiffany Bozic -"Traveling Light"

Last weekend for the Outlandish! Contemporary Depictions of  Nature at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek. The blog Electixart has some great images of the entire exhibit.  Lots of work and each pix has artist's name and title.  I feel very honored that I was invited to include my work in this wonderful exhibit.  It is an amazing selection of work by outstanding artists from around the nation. It is so beautifully installed with thoughtful and insightful placement of such a diverse group.  Exotic, fantastic, geometric, eerie, sketchy, morbid, urbane, dreamy, humorous, minimal with a punch, abstract, painterly, interactive are all there.....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Silent eyes

Tap Roots

Receding Crosses  (18" x 12"  x 8")

Finally got to see these on the wall.  I never know what they really look like until nearly finished and I can put them up.  As these two are fresh out of their final firing, I quickly took some photos and packed them.  Off they went with 20 other companions.  I generally feed off of the last pieces completed.  There might be something about how the glaze pooled or crawl.  Or the emotive quality of how a certain color against another starts a need to explore that little bit of essence and push it further. 

Tap Roots started with an idea of using terra cotta clay and porcelain clay together.  I wanted to mainly used oxides stains and leave large areas of unglazed ceramic.  The white roots are porcelain which were removed and fired at cone 6.  The remaining piece is made of terra cotta clay so fired only to cone 1.  After the firings, the porcelain root tips were glued in using some 04 glaze clear. Next  RIO/Frit3134 wash.  The white was made from the dried porcelain that I ran a wet brush over and then applied.  There is some rutile wash on the lips.  Finally the tree stumps were worked on with 1) stains then 2) crawl glaze finally 3) details with black ceramic ink.

For me, terra cotta symbolizes ancestry, common ground, honesty; porcelain represents purity, truth. In this piece I wanted a feeling of something rooted and so deep. That although human life seems alienated and cut off from wild nature there are these roots still seeking water and nourishment. The whitewash heart around the face represents the love/hate relationship that we have with nature.

Receding Crosses was the last head I made.  When I began this one I had just finished Tap Roots.  This one needed to feel more playful with a quiet power.  I wanted to cut into the clay and show deliberate marks.  I needed the lines to show this feeling of barbed wired fences cutting off a snowy field.  The deliberate heart coloring on the face (the rest remains gray) warms the piece and is more inviting.  There is a quiet beauty, a quiet history of this landscape, of the march of time, in its few and select remaining evergreen trees .  The smaller iris eye is what I call the silent i

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