Friday, June 29, 2007

Fear and Watermelurns

mixed media
Not a great photo. Not my best piece. But I had to move on to other things. Actually, I did try to work on more than one urn for this show, but in the end, I had to focus on completing one, and this was it.
I'm reminded of a story in "Art and Fear", a book by David Bayles and Ted Orland, in which a class of ceramics students are divided into two groups, with one group being graded on the quantity of work they turn in, and the other group on the quality of work turned in. What emerged was this: the best work came from the "quantity" group.
"It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."
It's not "dead clay" but it would be fun to see where I could take it, if I'd had more time and more urns...Frankly, I like the name best!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On Fire

My town is on fire.

My son took this picture of the Angora fire, with its heart-shaped cloud, from a spot 1.5 miles from our house. The last two days have been surreal, but we are fortunate that the fire did not come this way. I have been working in the studio, and my colors all seem to represent fire...

I'm feeling sad, and yet I am still focused on my work. Obsessed, almost. It's odd, when others are losing everything, to go about our daily routine.But while there's nothing much I can do to help my community at this point, I can still keep going with my own work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

How I Came to Be in My Backyard, at 1:00 am, in my Underwear

Last night, I broke a mercury thermometer. Let me back up: I had spent the day going from project to project, without ever getting focused on what I really needed to do. Then my older son got sick (throw-up sick) and I panicked because the last time that happened in my house, I ended up having an expensive ambulance ride to the ER. So there I was, shaking down the thermometer, and I thought "I should do this over the sink, so if it breaks, it will all go in the sink. And it broke. Only it didn't go into the sink. It went all over the floor, and I freaked. My husband cleaned up some of it, thinking it was good enough, but I was worried. So I went online to find out what to do. Some of the sites would have you call the HazMat folks, and some people say not to worry. I took the middle ground, found a site with clear instructions, assembled my tools, and went to work. To be specific: on my hands and knees in the dark bathroom with a flashlight, searching for miniscule particles of elusive, toxic mercury. With the gas mask on. I'm trying to pick up these tiny balls with duct tape, only you don't want to touch it really, so I've got rubber gloves on. Ever try to work with duct tape while wearing rubber gloves? In the dark? At 1:00 in the morning?

It's amazing I wasn't crying.

Anyway, the site said to dispose of the clothes you had on, so....well...I didn't want to take them off INSIDE, so as to spill toxic mercury beads everywhere. I stepped out back and pulled off my clothes and thought: "this is interesting". Then I took a shower, and whilst showering I told the Universe (ever so politely) that I didn't want to be whacked over the head when I was getting out of balance and not being present. Instead, I told it, I would like something more gentle, like, oh, say, my back going out. Then I realized: my back HAD gone out last week. Guess I didn't pay attention.

My friend Kristen kindly suggested that I go for even more gentle: an insatiable desire for a cup of tea and a moment of peace to get centered.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Earn your Urn

The Big Idea I had for the ClayNichols Urn Show was originally called "Earn" and featured a collage made of photocopied money. Then I started working on it, and couldn't figure out how to make it work. So I abandoned the idea completely (difficult for me!) and just went with some other things that came along...My friend Kristen thought it might come back around, but I couldn't see how.

Well, the urn IS becoming the "Earn", in a roundabout way. I was playing with some of the elements this morning, and I glanced over at the scraps of photocopied bills, and went "aha" in that way that your whole body knows THIS is going to work... a quick little jolt of excitement.

I'm so excited to finish it now. I don't think I'm even going to keep going with my back up-urns until I get this one done, because I think I can pull it off. I've posted some working photos here...this is NOT how I usually go about things, but I had to get the elements on there to see if they were going to work together!
(My son just informed me that I should not use the money on the urn....hmmmm....)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Thought for the Day

Just quickly, as I've got to run to Little League games this morning...
This quote, by artist Shelley Hocknell, really struck me.

"To me it’s a form of meditation, similar in principal to painting and climbing - overcoming your perceptions of what you are (or are not) capable of doing, by mentally relaxing in a challenging situation and allowing yourself to succeed, rather than ‘trying hard’ and often failing."

She's talking about something called "slacklining", but what I like is the idea of overcoming my perceptions (often limiting) and learning to relax in a challenging situation. I'm not likely to find myself slacklining anytime soon, but as my adventures and challenges mostly take place in my studio, I found this inspiring.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

the Idiot Zone

"If you find yourself stuck on the sidelines of a creative dream, ask yourself if it is because you are a lily-livered coward or are just ignorant of how to start. Then, tap into your desire to try it, your sense of adventure, and that child-like enthusiasm for learning something new. And have fun!"

-from Cynthia Morris's online newsletter, "Original Impulse"

Keep Going, and in Different Directions

My "Earn" is turning out to be more of an "urn"...

I had this clever idea for the urn I'm creating for the ClayNichols Urn Show (see sidebar). It was going to be called "Earn" and be made with images of money; maybe it still will. But right now it's not going that way. I haven't been able to make the money part of it work, quite. And suddenly that pink scrap of tissue looked a heck of a lot better, next to the green areas I painted already. I struggled:

"But I had this terribly clever idea!" vs. "This pink has intriguing possibilities!"

I didn't get anywhere with this yesterday, except to realize that art has a life of it's own, if you let it. (My design background left me a tad goal-oriented, so this was actually a big step.) I was thinking of Dale Chihuly, and how he does these amazing sketches, but then lets the pieces go off in different directions, if they want to ...

And my urn wants to go off somewhere else...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Peeking Out

Underground Artists rock. (that will take on a deeper meaning soon...but that's still a secret!) We had another meeting yesterday, and I mean to tell you that I could not survive without this group of women. Three of us are artists and moms (and one is "mom" to her dogs...) and that helps too.

It's like this little spot of sanity and grounding in my life, and I couldn't stay as focused without it . We are going to be starting an Underground Artists blog soon, and will be working on the website too. We are underground, but everything I'm reading says that, as artists, we've got to "show up". So, we're peeking out. But stay tuned.