Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Festival of Trees 2010 ideas for the Philbrook

trees imbeded in side of pot

cut out trees to add to pottery surface

a variety of size and shapes to play with landscape idea

makes for fast Christmas decorating!

my collector trees making new variations every year

working on small affordable versions of my landscape pots for Christmas giving

landscape as patchwork collage feel in clay, another festival idea

So here is what I've been working on this week getting ready to add a few new pieces to the Philbook show.  I think I have done this show for about 16 years. Time flies I suppose. So here are some ideas in the works.  These pieces are raw clay and will later have deep bright colors on the surface. It is a continuation and variation of my landscape series. I want trees in the project but not really Christmas trees.  Who wants to put a nice pot away for a year? So here are the ideas in the works.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When an Object Becomes More than an Object.

Beatrice Wood Pot, low fire with luster
Stuff, things, crap, treasures, icons.

There I laid soaking in a hot steamy deep bathtub trying to figure out the importance of objects again. A beautiful cool day, sun is beaming through the bathroom window and the vision of Beatrice Wood's golden goblet and tea bowl with her Dada figures dancing around the edge kept coming to mind.

Spiritual. Sunday morning. The golden work of Beatrice is the most spiritual object I can imagine.  It radiates golden light. I also remember the lighthearted figures dancing around another bowl creating the lighthearted free spirit feeling I have deep in my soul.

I remember as a child in a very conservative Lutheran Church in southern Indiana overhearing conversations about those threatening Catholics who worshiped idols.  There was the Mary thing and the statues, and crosses and rosaries, they felt were just so wrong in their opinions.  This was being said below their gold and white statue of the German looking Jesus with his open palms.
My hand, copied on a machine and made into a stamp with the journey symbol on my palm.

I remember  having a critique of my painting in Italy by a famous super realist.  He described me as an icon maker/artist.  And my feeling was "Of course, I make icons every day.  I am a potter and sculptor. What do you expect and what is wrong with that idea?  Choose an idea and make it sacred or at least special."

A beautiful teapot I spotted in a thrift store. Paid $18, worth $1600. Why? Famous maker.
My cash register only goes up to $1.90 and sometimes that is all I need.
Then there is the stuff dilemma. What about all this crap I have accumulated over 40 years.  Gee I really wanted it all at the time and now I have to separate through it just to see it.  Perhaps if I had my walls of my house completely loaded with adjustable shelving I could see it all.  Spread it out and stand back and look. When I lose something, which happens a lot,  I am amazed at what I find when I start digging in my house.  I am afraid a lot of my stuff owns me.  It holds me down.

But how to separate from my treasure and pass it on.  I don't think of myself as a very materialistic person.  Maybe it is a time thing.  Boring people have clean sparse houses. They do nothing but clean and watch TV and there you have it. The perfect unlived in looking house.  There must be balance in there somewhere. I usually don't have or want to make the time to sort.

Stuff. When is it important?  When does it become valuable?  How long will people hold on the beanie babies, even the defective ones thinking they are so special?  The craze was proof how everyone wants to find or own something that is valuable and special.  They tried to make that one happen.  Yes, somewhere we have a few beany babies in the basement.  I hope we bought them because my daughter liked them.  But, we still have them and she doesn't want them any more.
Pots I made for a wedding.  Now they are more than just vases.

A few months ago I went to two different lectures where objects were discussed. Ying Yang.  No Impact Man was all about the green philosophy to the extreme. Give it all up and see what you think to the extreme.   And then about a week later I heard a talk about Objects and Memory which discussed  the importance of things we own and our memories. I stood and asked a question at the end of the lecture expressing my confusion of the importance of objects.  What counts?  What is an important object?

One of the most debatable art objects I have seen. Who calls this art? A museum so it must be true?
Objects become important to me when I feel a deeper meaning associated with the object.  It may reflect another culture, or help me remember great travel experiences.  Good objects are usually well designed to do what they need to do.  Some of it is simple sentiment.  The family Bible my Mother gave me when I was little.  I wrote in it, "I will keep this always too."  There it is, in print, in heaven forbid, a Bible.  It is full of little treasures, clips, ribbons from my Brownie days some 50 years ago.  Crap to someone else, meaningful in some odd way to me.  And of course my first note from a boyfriend is in there as well. He could not spell.

My son tried to do me an unasked for favor recently. Bad idea.  He did not like the crowded office in my shop and decided to clean it for me even though I specifically asked him not to as I left town.  I came back to a mixed blessing.  Where is my little painted table for my phone?  Where are my two coffee pots I use for hot drinks at openings? My rolling rubber made cart I bought in a yard sale? What?  He had the nerve to write free on them and put them in a parking lot of a nearby restaurant. Not a good idea.  It was my stuff. A simple phone call and a what do I do with this would have made our relationship better.  Don't mess with other peoples objects.  You cannot tell which objects are important. 

Thousands of penny pieces of green candy made into art in a contemporary art museum in Fort Worth.

 Form follows function, the saying surfaces so often.  What is the function of all this stuff?  Does everything around me have to have a function? Boring!  How much is enough? Does the form meet the needs of the function?

It is part of our culture.  If you have ever traveled to another country or exotic place with a group, you know how we spend our time. Shopping and eating.  Mostly shopping.  Enough said.

 So there it is. Objects. Things. I'll keep thinking about it and hopefully will find the time to figure out what really is important sooner or later.  And there is always the "rotate it" idea.  That is my advice to customers who come in my shop and want something and have not more space or cannot justify it.   Meanwhile I will keep making stuff and hope somebody wants it.  I feel the urge to use lusters again to make it all glow.  I will leave behind literally thousands of pots.  What a big pile that would be if they were all in the back yard. It takes thousands of years for pottery to turn back to raw clay.  It will be a while before I "leave no footprint."

Undoubtedly a fine art object and a source of inspiration.  A friend owns this lovely Adelaide Robinaeux pot. I created many pots inspired by this one in my friend's studio.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There is a Very Moody Chair Sitting in my Garden.

moody blues
life is precious
age and wisdom
positive thinking
inner light
I looked out my bedroom window and this is what I saw.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Landscape Pots to be Shown at Rogers State University Gallery Faculty Show

It is all about using the clay like a canvas for me and the New Mexico Landscape. I always think I want to paint but I cannot leave the clay behind.  Interpreting earth shapes form and color in clay makes so much sense to me. So here are the latest vessels averaging about 15 inches in height. I apologize for the snapshot like photography. Want to get these on my blog and not wait for the perfect photo.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just trying to make a living making pots.

Potters always wring their hands trying to figure out what they should make.  I have asked myself this for about 35 or more years.  Should I make show pots or should I be the village potter?  I kick the dirt around and the I always come to the same conclusion.  You don't have to choose. Make both.

  Recently one of my students who is a great marketer suggested to Ian my son and struggling artist, that he have two lines.  He spends hours carving and laboring over every pot he makes.  He keeps complete notes on his glazing and that is something we all strive to do and most of us don't because we think we will remember. I have a lot of empty notebooks because I just want to do it, glaze and fire.  I think I will take that advice as well, two lines of work.

I have gratefully gotten into a really good show titled Vision Makers.  I feel lucky because the juror only chose 23 out of 185.  I had the pots made way in advance taking time to make "show" pots not my village potter pots. I did not make the pots for that show.  I just wanted to make some really nice pots.
  I would love to only make show pots because I have spent a lifetime making thousands of little pots.  My philosophy was to make pots my friends could afford for everyday use and thought that would help fill the world with handmade usable everyday objects.  That is a big task. Next, you find yourself worn out with no extra money and everyone expects you to make cheaper things.  Guess it kind of bit me in the butt.  Nearly all my students pots became more expensive than mine.

So then what happens? Well.  Unfortunately it is true that most people measure the importance of art by how much it costs. Before long, the ego gets involved and confusion sets in.  Most potters bail out at that point because they cannot afford to make pottery and they don't feel so good about it anymore. Of the 12 people I went to grad school with I believe on 2 or 3 of us actually tried to make a living making pots.  Others turned to real estate, education administration etc.  Not me, I just kept making until my body yelled "slow down lady!

Looking back, I think maybe I made a few too many village pots.  I live in an area where there could be a better understanding and support for the arts. When I first opened my shop, people came in surprised it was all one-of-a-kind work.  They asked me where I kept my molds. We have come a long way but there is always room for a lot more improvement.

One awakening for me has been the Vision Makers show. Several people came up to me with great compliments on my work saying things like, "Gee Linda, I have never seen such beautiful colors in your work."  Or "Now those are really great." I felt very appreciative of all the compliments.  But it was a reminder to me to keep making the good stuff.  It is kind of like when a woman gets a compliment when someone says,  "Gee, you look great when you wear makeup."

The juror was a great communicator and went from piece to piece with a critique. It had been many years since I had a critique of my pottery. It was enough to make me sit down my wine glass and food plate to hear what she would tell me.  And, it was rewarding. She got it.  She knew they were landscapes, she loved the colors, she knew they are built from spontaneously ripping the clay.  She also knew the time involved is in the glazing.  She had no negative words, only compliments and understanding.

I have often told students, it is not always the time involved when you make something.  More hours does not equal a better pot. I am not saying don't put in those long hours to learn the process. I am saying you cannot always make it better by working it to death.  And then we have the different approaches to creativity as well. Some people need lots of structure and to work tightly and some go with the flow.  There is no correct way.

I had to question the "time put in" idea as I delivered my work to the gallery having jumped through the jurying hoop.  I looked around a little as I placed my work on the table.  OMG there were woodworking pieces that took so many more hours than mine.  There was a piece with more that life sized cast body cast that looked like it belonged on front of a ship.  There was reflective glass in large pyramid shapes with stones inside.  There were baskets and intricate fabric and hours and hours of well executed art work.  I looked at my work, produced from what I see in my environment, from my heart and I felt like maybe I should go home and see if I could find something bigger and better.  Another artist bringing her piece in as well gave me the knowing eye because she felt that way about her work as well.

We should never take to seriously being included or excluded from a juried show.  That is so easy to say when you get in and so painful to the artistic ego when you don't.  Maybe that is one of the reasons I have not entered many shows in the last 20 years. Now it it a little more difficult technically with sizing photos and the professional approach you have to take.

I have an old friend from graduate school who worked on her degree in weaving. When we first got out of school we were ready to set the world on fire.  In a nutshell, later we both kind of shrugged our shoulders realizing even if be became incredibly famous in our areas probably no one in our general community would really care or understand.  Both of us just wanted to do our work and lead creative lives and we gave up on being superstars.  Just make it and they will come was our approach.
   I look back at the 60's -70's pottery books and the pots are photographed in warm lovely environments.  Not any more.  Now they must be properly lit with no distractions and look kind of like they are floating in space.  I get it but part of me wants to rebel and photograph  my pots in natural complimentary environments. "Mother Earth" would not make it into any competitions with that attitude.

My next eternal obstacle is still pricing.  It has to do with feeling humble, not wanting to play the game and not being very realistic.  I have told my students it a left over 60's way of thinking and I have a hard time letting go of that.  It has not paid off.  Several people once again scolded me for pricing too low again.  "Three times more than that!  That would be about right." some told me and I know they were right.  But they did sell and that reinforces those old bad low pricing habits.    I have about 10 new pots heading to an opening of a new gallery next week.  What to do.  Same old problem.

Vision Makers.  What a nice compliment.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Pots for First Opening at Baird Hall Gallery at Rogers State

What a pleasure to be on the faculty at Rogers State and get to participate in the first show in the incredibly beautiful new gallery.  I am continuing to work on my landscape series as I use the clay like a painters canvas. As you can see, these are works in progress.  I am now moving on to wall pieces, round and square, treating the clay even more like canvas.
  Many times I think I want to stop working in clay but I cannot help myself.  I know the martial so well and I love 3-d.  It is so basic.  It helps to literally ground me.
  I love the smell, the way it bends and the glassy surface that always surprise me at the end of the firing.  It is a real pain to lift, to hang around in the dust and to never be finished.  But how can I resist.  The clay calls my name.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blackbird fly

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,

Beatle's lyrics

Pottery and Cupcakes

So what is the best cupcake recipe I have ever tasted doing on my Pottery blog?  Anyone who reads this knows I write about life and pottery and this recipe did come to me my pottery class.  I was talking to one of my students and she said she was divorced and the best thing she got out of the marriage was this recipe.  It was her ex mother in law's recipe.  Somehow the name of these cupcakes will have to reflect that fact sooner or later. We ate and enjoyed and tried to stay away from having a 2nd one.  We were like bees and honey.

And then this wonderful quiet woman brings a surprise to class.  The cupcakes. We ate and enjoyed and tried to stay away from having a 2nd one.  We were like bees and honey.  Just when I thought I was over chocolate moving on to raspberries and yogurt ice cream as a favorite, these jewels to the tongue appear.

She told me I could share it so here goes.

The Best Damned Chocolate Cupcakes from an Ex Husbands Mother 
 Hi Linda,
Below is the recipe I mentioned in class tonight.  Enjoy.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1 8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 6 oz. chocolate chips

1 ½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vinegar

Mix filling ingredients together.  Mix cake ingredients.  Add cake mixture to cupcake holders, filling ½ to 1/3 full.  Drop a spoonful of the filling mixture into each cupcake.
second place cupcake is in Denver downtown at Cook's fresh market
The jewel of the tongue

Bake 25 – 30 minutes at 350 degrees.