Monday, February 27, 2012

lost in a quote and making marks pt 2

Getting ready for a second firing. This striped piece went in with no clear vision.  It came out of the kiln, blank, lifeless and sat looking very forlorn on the shelf for several weeks The stripes look intriguing, but needed something more.  I put down a clean sheet of paper and put the piece on it.  The head is separate and needed propping.  Just putting it on a clean sheet of paper gave it a space of its own. I then went for my walk. When I came back I was ready to find the story in this piece and start making marks.

"You can either set brick as a laborer or as an artist. You can make the work a chore, or you can have a good time. 

You can do it the way you used to clear the dinner dishes when you were thirteen, or you can do it as a Japanese person would perform a tea ceremony, 

with a level of concentration and care in which you can lose yourself, and so in which you can find yourself.” 

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

Lost in a quote and making marks pt. 1

I walk along the shoreline several times a week in the early morning.  It isn't a pristine vista.  It is urban, industrial, noisy, messy and scrappy.  There's a bridge on one side (one of 5 that crosses this huge bay) with its constant swooshing traffic and the feeling of rush, rush, rush in its sound.  The trail across the protected wetlands is a gravel service road with saltwater ebbing and flowing on either side.  Pickleweed and feral New Zealand spinach make a patchwork pattern along the muddy islands.  East are the rolling hills dotted with houses and industrial buildings.  Northwest, San Francisco appears as a sparkling crown on a clear day.  When there's fog, it wraps around the industrial noise, utilitarian buildings and even the housing studded hills.  Covering it all, hiding it all, silencing it all. Giving the wetlands a chance to breathe.  Giving back its primal beauty. 

After a walk, my head clears a bit.  I can get down to work.  I find a bit of blue ceramic on the gravel service road and put it in my pocket.  I turn east and head home.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A little wire, a little slip and one porcelain leaf

This piece looks a little space alien.  At this point I wanted to have leaves over and hanging from the face.  To make sure they will adhere without dropping off I needed to wire the hanging ones.  

It is very delicate thing to push wire into these little leaves.   Better to push the wire into the back, cover with slip, add little coil, smooth, add details. 

I continued the un-wired leaves around the back of the head.  The head also detaches.  It is the only way I can work around the head.  Later I will epoxy it permanently to the torso. 

It is hard to really know what it will look like hanging on the wall.  Even when I take photos of it from above it can only give me a little visual.  At this point I have to make some decisions about the shadows, the angle of the head and where I want the viewer's eye to go.

a leafy cover up
The leaves appear almost ghostly.  That appeals to me.  It gives a haunting effect on top of the little whimsy.  I am liking the eyes without color, too.  Except I think they will need the lightest of color---perhaps yellow or pale green especially if I decide to leave the leaves white. This will bring them out from under the shadows of the hanging leaves.  They will take on a more piercing look. They are a focal point and essential to the narrative.  The small scale of these pieces makes for a more intimate viewing.  Every detail becomes magnified.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gathering Clay Leaves

It is misty, winter foggy out.  Now I know when people think of the San Francisco Bay Area weather---fog is on the top of the list and  it's always room temp here.  Well, it is, for the most part, but we have hundreds of micro-climates within miles. In a day we can witness all the seasons (yes, even a little snow.)  I know the climate in my front yard is different from my backyard. Two blocks down it is windy.  There's more fog here (I live near the east shoreline) than 8 blocks away where once stood dairy farms and cherry orchards.  My house has its own micro-climates as well as my work.  It takes on a rhythm.  An ebb and tide.  And depending on the day, fog or sun, rain or wind, I work fast or slow, messy or neat, singularly or repetitively,  intuitively or with a blueprint, or do not work at all.

For the changing climates inside my artist life, I have these canvas covered boards I can carry around and work outside the studio.  They are my sketchpads in a sense.  The tools and clay bits are from various pieces worked out on this board. It looks like a mixed media composition of interactions with my work and my day.

 working on arms and leaf placement on Sheath (l.) with Leaf Gatherer (r.)  nearly done

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.        
                                                                                                ~Henry David Thoreau

flotsam and jetsam

Monday, February 6, 2012

Making Porcelain Leaves

In the back of my mind, I have wanted to do some pieces with lots of leaves.  I mean, LOTS.  Right now I need repetition.  I want to get up in the morning and know today I need to make one thing over and over.  

Using an oval cutter, a toy rolling pin and porcelain clay I began.

Placing the finished leaves on a damp cloth until they go into a damp box at end of day.
As I used scrap porcelain from other projects, some of the leaves had a bit of R.I.O and other had Mason stain Grass Green wedged in.

After cutting out the shape with an oval cutter, I pinched the edges.  I have a small wood modeling tool I used for the veins.  

I guess I should say I needed lots of   little  leaves.  One would think it tedious to make hundreds of little leaves.  Somehow it isn't.  In fact, it is very relaxing.  It gives me time to think about the process of making art. Also about the care. The leaves need to stay damp until they are used on a piece.  I have to spritz them with water.  Cover them lightly.  Even turn them.  As if incubating eggs.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

the weight of clay

It's February already.  How did that happen?

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
                                                  ~John Steinbeck


At the beginning of January, I struggled with making some Valentine pieces for a gallery. They wanted some small gift items.  I tried, but I wasn't in the mind set to do it. It was too last minute and I could not give it thought. I could not give it care.  Because of that, I avoided getting any work done.  I began to feel anxious and out of sorts. I even stopped dreaming. Any ideas I may have had disappeared. This was not a good feeling. I put the clay hearts aside and listened to my own heart.  And this is what it said.......


...and a weight was lifted from my heart....

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