Sunday, June 11, 2017

How do Artists Sell their work in Paris?

Here I am last week at an art "exposition", over in Paris, France. I was staying in the Marais area, which is full of quite sophisticated art galleries. But this was something different. 
In a large room named Halle des Blancs Manteaux, 
 (Hall of the White Coats) there were some 60 artists exhibiting their work for the weekend. To do this, they had to pay the promoter about $1,000 euros each.  A euro is about $1.15 each. So we artists always seem to pay to show, it's just quite pricey there.
I had a fun time going around and talking with various exhibitors. Speaking French is a big help. We had literally stumbled onto this opening on a Saturday evening. It closed at 8pm in the evening. Maybe to  go to eat dinner.   They
do that later over there. Have you ever tried to find a restaurant serving food in Sedona after nine pm?  Believe me, it doesn't happen here in rural Arizona.
The artist with me is named Hortense Varillon and she had the most cunning images on glass, almost in a shadow box. I had not seen anything like it and we got to talking. Funny how some things are universal. "Are you selling", I asked and got a spiel about how difficult it is to sell art today . I found this the common complaint from other exhibitors in the Halle, and the level of work was quite high. I bought her a beer, since I was not the optimum art customer this trip.
So how do artist try to sell their work in Paris? They do  whatever they can do, just like us.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Native Sculptures

Here are my latest "Native Sculptures". They stand about a foot tall each, and even though they are two separate creations, they like to hang out together. Such new pieces, they are still here in my studio display shelves.
As you can see , they are well dressed and bejeweled. Real Arizona turquoise on their neck and ears. From my study of southwestern and other tribes, plus  historical evidence, adornment is definitely observed by both sexes. I like using real stones, making them more authentic.
Their robes are likely blankets, which has long been a custom for outer wear. I have taken artistic license and my turquoise glaze seemed  appropriate for my desired results. 
These were constructed as large clay slabs, built around a loose form. High fire porcelain shrinks quite a bit, so you can imagine how tall these forms seemed when first they entered my kiln. I constructed their heads separately, and then attached them. Faces are always a challenge. How to create charater starting with a piece of the earth?
I feel my Native Sculpture  show their personalities.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Ceramic Tree

Some people grow trees in the forest, but me, I like to create them in my art studio here in Sedona, AZ. 
 This is a vase I made a while ago. There were two of them originally, similar, but each unique. Then, because I make my living this way, I sold one to a nice client who wanted a tree for her living space. 
You see, it is actually a vase, with a hollow inside that is glazed an elegant blue. Maybe it is the  sky reflected inward. You can use it to hold flowers, or just as a sculpture to enjoy.
This is a hand rolled piece, created from a slab of dark clay, which I inscribed with this bark pattern. It stands about nine inches tall. It is not  smooth, but has  texture, to which  I added an  iron stain for emphasis. As with all high fire clay, there is always the element of surprise, a variation in hues depending on where it was in the kiln, or how the kiln gods felt on that particular day . I have created a one of a kind ceramic tree.
But then, what in nature is exactly the same?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

"Cloudy with Lightening in Today's Windchimes"

Today is a cloudy day here in Sedona. It reminds me of this recent wind chime I created  for a client. He wanted lightening and clouds and all in blue. Here is the result. 
It was an adventure creating a whole new pattern for my porcelain  chimes. There is  the aesthetics of the creation; the shapes to create; the  cobalt blue color I paint onto into the bisqued clay pieces before their second and final firing. Because I fire these pieces to a very high temperature, it makes them stronger and the resulting sounds are sweeter.
Chimes have been around for a very long time. Since I work in clay, this is my choice for this creation. Every set I make has a unique design. Custom orders always add an incentive to expand one's abilities as a artist. They can also drive you crazy. This was fun.
I roll out my porcelain clay body into rather thin slabs of clay; create a pattern on the surface, then cut out the designs. While cutting out the clouds and lightening pieces, I was planning how to string the finished pieces on the fishing line. I love the tinkling sound created by  the different pieces lightly bumping  into each other as the wind moves them. Actually,  chimes are a form of a percussion instrument, just using nature as the artist to create the sounds.
So the final weather report for today: Cloudy with lightening inn today's wind chimes. 
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Calligraphy: the Art that Lasts


I am in the library of the country club here in  the Sedona area, standing in front of my own calligraphy. This commission came from the interior decorator redoing this room. Her idea was to have framed quotes about books on the walls. 
On the top are the words of Cicero:" A room without books is like a body without a soul". This Roman, who died in 43 BC, was obviously  a reader. Below is a quote from John Ruskin, (1819 -1900.) " No Book is worth anything until it has been read".  There are a few other framed selections around the room.
My work is dated 2004, which  kind of caught me by surprise. Where did all those years go ? The good thing is I am still pleased with how it looks, which as an artist is always what we want.
 I chose to write in  the Uncial style of alphabet, historically one of the oldest, used in  the earliest manuscripts. I like this hand and it seemed the correct choice since I could add decorative embellishments. It's fun to do that.
Calligraphy is such an ancient art form. It has stood the test of time and reminds us how important a tool is the the human hand. I am pleased to see my own calligraphy is still an art form that lasts. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Art of the Maze

Here  I am on the road to  completing the "Maze book with Rod -edged Bindings", yet another of my hand made books.
 That's a a complicated title, isn't it? Simply stated, this is what is known as an accordion style book which uses metal rods along the edges  as a means of attaching each page another. Yes, these are pages, blank as of this moment .Later, perhaps it may contain my calligraphy about some theme that inspires me. 
I cut out each of my ten pages  from mat board, cut into four inch squares.Then comes the hunt to find tiny little metal rods , no thicker than the diameter of that board. The cover is slightly bigger, decorated with  that fancy paper  you see peeking out. Each rod is covered in book cloth, which is then meticulously glued to each side of my standing page. Holes are pushed out with a Japanese  hole punch, a nifty little device that I had to borrow to make this project.Finally, each page must be sewn to another, both top and bottom to make that binding frirm. Very elegant to look at, I think.
 I'm part of a group of extremely talented book makers, who are generous with time and materials as we all take turns teaching a new book to the others.We artists work so much alone, it can be very inspiring, as well as informative to observe how we all interpret the same book in our own style.This is a work in progress. I will see what turn the maze next follows!.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Art of Letting Go

I sold "The Red, the White and the Blue"  platter  this week. I was so happy when the customer said " I'll take it." Aren't we are in business to sell? The justification of all our hard work; the recognition of our talent? Yes, of course.
So why do I feel a sense of loss ? Well, I genuinely liked this piece, feeling I achieved what I set out to create, and then some. We don't necessarily have success from an idea to its reality .
 People say, " Well,  you can just make it again." Not always. Ceramics is a tricky business. You follow all the rules and the piece cracks, or the glaze isn't clear. As I tell my clients, there Is always the element of magic involved.
Perhaps  my lesson is that I must remember there is an art to letting go of one's special creations. To know that it makes someone smile when they look at it, this has got to be the real payment. How do you other artists feel about this subject?