Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Make a Handmade Book

       In this photo is one of the handmade books I have in my show entitled Rock, Paper, Fire at the Jerome Coop.  Alas,  the show must come down this  Wednesday. It has been interesting to see how people react to these books I have created.
 I think the first thing  people notice is the outside cover. I like to pick a handmade paper with some sort of a design that sets the color theme.This paper came from England. I have a large flat file with  my large sheets of paper, and I am all about using what I have first. So I have my blue and brown and tan theme. Then I want to pick my inside sheets, which  here are a white shade. I add a " ghost page " to each of my signatures, and in all of my handmade books. This is a translucent piece of paper made from a natural source. Must give  credit to a fellow calligrapher, Joyce Bank on this style.
 These pages are then sewn together into a signature,  an even number of sheets, because  your stitches are down the center of the paper, which get folded over for your book pages. This is exactly what they do for any  book,where the binding covers the  stitches. In this book I leave the signatures, which I do sew together, showing out the back side, for decorative purposes. I always add beads and decorations to my books.  I like   each one I make  have its own "home" to live in. This  is a decorated  cigar box with a tarot theme. It  can be harder than making something from scratch, because you want to insure it closes properly. So, this is what I wanted to share with you today. Comments ?

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Goddess Within

 I like especially to draw or  sculpt the female form. Our bodies contain  lots of shapes,  planes, and contours.  I call this piece " The Goddess Within". It is made of porcelain, burnished to a high sheen, and fired to a lower temperature in order to maintain  that desired smooth  look. I purposely leave her face not fully portrayed, because I want to convey an abstract of all womanhood, not a specific person.  I believe  all  we woman  have a goddess within us. Certainly we are able to carry  a new life, and that alone seems holy.
 I was with a group of women today and it seems that  when getting together, we create a sisterhood more powerful  than the individual. Of course we can also take the low road and laugh a lot. The Greeks and Romans always gave their Gods and Goddesses human forms and names, and told stories about all their foibles and adventures, or often misadventures. But always there was a deity within. And so , much as I admire many men, I am glad to rejoice in my goddess within.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


It's about the feeling of space out there. Often it is inspired by  a location. This calligraphy piece is entitled "My Alaska Vision", after spending a summer in that great country. Quite vast; lots of sky; green; endless open canvas. Somehow I wanted to leave the viewer with that sense of majesty. Black creates a deep background that I feel draws you in. I wanted that  stark contrast, just like in the land and those who dwell there, both two and four legged. White jumps out at you saying " look here". Black and white. Yin and yang."Look closer", it seems to invite you the frame. 
. And always proportion. More empty than filled up, more quiet than busy,   just like the land that inspired it. 
 So how much to include in your artwork, how much room  to leave open? Space has power. It can have a stillness, or it can add to the drama of what you are creating, in the studio, or in your life.  Space, the last frontier.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reiki in Calligraphy Form

I am feeling kind of mellow this morning. The soft Sedona sun is filtering in from the east; is is a Monday, which is the beginning of a new work week, and I like my work; I have people in my life that I care about and I feel I matter to them. I was reminded of this calligraphy piece that is in my current show in Jerome.It is a collage piece, about 24" by 36", in shades of tan and brown. Just in case you cannot read clearly, it is called the 5 Principles of Reiki, which a healing modality that I don't really know too much about, but am curious.
It goes something like this.... Just for today I will live the attitude of gratitude...I will not fear or worry... I will not be angry...I will do my work honestly...I will be kind to my neighbor and every living thing.
So that is my task for myself today: to go forth and to live out my own art work, and catch myself when I go into those old patterns of reacting to things , without being mindful of my intention.
What are your feelings on this? care to comment?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Playing with Fire

It is a hot day today in Sedona, AZ .It feels like summer is coming upon us. And heat is what I play with when making ceramics.This Raku jar is in my current show called Rock, Paper, Fire at the Jerome Cooperative. Notice the title, no accident there. I play with fire, and that means I must have some care,and yet some creative abandon. Kind of what we deal with every day, isn't it?
With Raku, I must reach into an extremely hot kiln with tongs ,while wearing gloves and lots of protective gear, and pull out my red hot creation.This piece then goes into a trash can with lots of paper as I watch the flames ignite and quickly close the lid to create a perfect reduction environment . Sounds technical, but out comes this beautiful jar with its lid entitled " Shimmer".
Of course this entire process of ceramics is extremely dependent upon the good will of the kiln gods, however they appear to each of us. I used to make a small figure for each kiln load. Why did I stop doing this I wonder?
I did said my prayer to these spirits this morning when I got up early to start my glaze firing. I could see the red glow of the heat when it finally turned off hours later.I won't even look at the inside of the kiln for 24 hours.Too much of a shock to the ceramics to let in cold air. Fire, heat, shimmer. It is all around us, inside us when we are filled with passion, about our art, our love, our life.
What are your feeling about fire and heat?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Color Turquoise

Well , here I am again on my colors. This particular color has been an important part of my life for years. When I first moved to Sedona, over 25 years ago from southern California , I thought this hue was the meaning of the southwest. The beautiful jewelry that the native tribes created. The first Navajo rug in my collection that came from the shop in uptown had the most lovely colors of turquoise and dark red . I chose to build my home decorating theme around this shade.
So how does this relate to the art world? If you want to make it in that venue, it helps to to create a signature style, so your gallery and your patrons recognize who you are without having to read the little name and price tag next to your creation. Your collectors will want to add more to their collection of your works. For me, I found that in my ceramics, my particular color and texture of this color glaze, with my unique and individual handmade style, could sell. And we want to sell so we can keep creating, make our living and contribute to the gallery's fiscal joy also.Then everybody's happy, and we all like to be happy.
So , turquoise and I are dear friends and I still have the rug and I still create my handmade pieces. This creation is a large platter that hangs on the wall and is , decorated with , what else, turquoise stones.
Is this a color you relate to? Comments?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Color Gray

Here I am continuing with my color series, it seems. The color gray, like the old snow and misty fog in the sky and mountains around Sedona. The color gray is a hard one. Just think about matching that gray wall or trim when you go to the paint store without a specific sample.
As an artist, you have to decide which of your papers you will use before you even start your artwork. Does it have a slight blue gray tone to it? Is it have a warm or soft tone ?
It could be a parchment white, with little swirls of a grayish pattern in it. So many shades of gray. And that of course will influence the color you use to paint with, or in my case, do my calligraphy . Maybe sepia ink will have more harmony in the body of the text than just black ink? Or maybe I should just mix up some Paynes gray and write with that? So many decisions to make before I even commence. So don't ever think that gray is just a muted black, or a mixed up white, it is its own color.
Any favorite thought you care to share about the color gray?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

Well here it is the 14th of April and it's snowing! The leaves are out; the blossoms on my fruit tree are blooming; the roses are getting their buds. Yet here come the big, cold, wet slashes of white stuff onto my garden. It isn't supposed to snow this late in the year!
The unexpected. How often does that happen in art? I have the layout all organized in just the right proportions, and then a word of calligraphy must go on the next line. There goes the " expected," and I must rally quickly and figure out how to make the unexpected look exactly as if it were planned out precisely that way.Is it a mistake, or a chance to be even more creative? Sometimes it works out even better, and sometimes you just have to make the best of it.
Kind of like life , I am thinking. You've planned out just how you want the day to work out, and then Boom, something happens and everything must change to work around the unexpected.
My lesson for myself is to just get over my expectation that I have control over these events. Why do I get upset over things that are out of my control? Mother Nature certainly has more power than little old me. So that is my mantra " Expect the unexpected";aka... go with the flow; roll with the punches, make chicken soup out of chicken bones. Now comes the hard part, living out these words.
Please share your thoughts on this with me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Color Green

Well today it's all about the color green. The color of trees; emeralds; the leaf on your flower ;mint; jade; asparagus and avocados. It is the color of the bottle of Perrier that sits in front of me here at my desk while writing this blog. And , of course, it is also the color you get when you mix your blue and yellow watercolors in your palette.
But this blog contains a photo of a recent book I made that is in my current show entitled Rock, Paper, Fire, in Jerome , AZ . It is part of my series of hand made books and the boxes that hold them. This is called book arts. Not only is there a green book,with my handmade porcelain beads, but it lives in the cigar box covered in gossamer green tissue paper and other decorations. I wanted it to return to a nice home .

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Color Blue

Isn't blue a lovely color? it reminds us of sky, water, Paul Newman's eyes, our best denim jeans. It is considered a good counterpart to its' hot cousins, yellow and red. It is called a cool color. It is recessive on your canvas, and has restful energy that translates well
either in a bedroom or in a painting.It is kind of a safe color, you can't go wrong wearing a blue shirt, gentlemen.
And yet when we are not feeling happy, we feel " blue' . And many a Mississippi Delta singer can tell us the sad story of " when my baby done left me , an' I got nothing but the blues".
I have a blue glaze I admire, softer than pure cobalt.I like the way it seems to shimmer in the light, like facets on a chandelier. . Does it sell? Not very often.Go figure. Now my blue jewelry, which I call Denim blue, that people seem to like . Probably goes back to those favorite denim jeans you own.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What do You Really Want?

I just got something in the mail that talked about the importance of going for what you Really want. But here is the big question. Do we know what it is that we really want?
I have found the universe will listen if you are very clear on your manifestation, but don't be vague, or that is what you get. Case in point. My art career in a certain gallery I belong to has a drawing every 6 months for a new location. That is important, where you are when the customer walks in. So I said to the universe, give me a number between one and three for my new spot. I drew a 13. Not a low number. I wasn't specific in my request, to myself, to the universe. It is necessary to give a hierarchy to our wants, not on the small stuff.
How much of what we go after are old desires from childhood or society's conditioning? ...The knight in shining armor who will sweep us off our feet so we will live happily ever after; the career for which everyone envies you, but you are miserable; the time we spend with people who make us feel worse, not better? Sound familiar?
Easier to write about than to do, for sure. But I call it my fantasy, others call it their dream. I decided a long time ago I wanted to be a professional artist, and Clay and Calligraphy are what I love, so there were my fantasies to act upon. Difficult, oh yes. Obstacles, to be sure, but I had my direction. However, I think it must an on going process. We evolve; our needs change; our dreams change.
Any thoughts you want to share on this subject?

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Art of the Story

I was talking with a wise woman yesterday, and the topic of " the story" came up. No, Not the one you read to your children, rather, the ones you tell yourself. In the world of the artist it might sound something like this. " I will never succeed at an artist ; my sculpture is a total failure; that gallery owner doesn't like me and that's why I didn't get accepted ".
Are we feeling discouraged and that is projected out into the land of " forever ?" Could it be a fabrication, the little ego playing with our head and offering up a hook on which to park our uncertainty about ourselves today?
Here's the sad thing about the story. It means we are out there in the future and therefore not present. It blocks our heart to the joy of the moment. Trust me, I am not on a soapbox to preach to you, I am on the journey to stay connected to myself and live more in the moment. Really, isn't that all we have? I am not going to post a picture. Everybody has their own story up there in their head.When we can get out of our head , then chances are we can get into our inner selves more. Care to share your feelings about this?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to Write Your Blog

How to write a blog? It's similar to this blank journal that I created. All that open space, just waiting for you to fill it up with meaningful words, designs, and images.
Well, I think the first step is sitting down at your computer. There you are, waiting for inspiration to hit you between the eyes. Doesn't happen, then what is on your mind at that particular time, in that particular space ? For me , it's all about writing what thought is in the foreground of my brain at the very time I sit down before the screen.
How is that like creating art? Well, sometimes, who knows what your body , or your mind , or even your hand is capable of commencing? Sometimes, just taking the clay in your hands, feeling it squish between your fingers, rolling out a coil, or a slab, that can be the impetus leading to creation. Sometimes, you can take a word, or a color and out that comes an abstraction. "What a surprise'", you say to yourself, " I like that". Ever been there?
So, for me, I do not lay it out, make a list or preordain. As I said on my very first blog, I just " do it". Maybe after many blogs, I may choose to be more scientific, but not just now. Is any of this a help to you out there saying to yourself " how do I write my blog?" Please send me comments, good, bad or indifferent.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Making the Mark

I did get a comment on my blog and I thank you. More pictures of my art , I was requested and so I am responding. This is the latest" hot off the press" piece. And that leads to my title, " making the mark". Really it is about leaving your imprint on whatever you are doing. In this particular large platter, I am dealing with the element of surprise, since the mark I make with the horsehair has a certain random quality to it.
Isn't that the way life is? Do we know what a chance act will lead to? Is saying hello to a stranger going to open up a whole new friendship? In art, when the "plan" goes by the wayside , then the forces of the medium can seem to take take on a life of their own and it can turn out brilliant, even better than we planned. That can be a real asset, or maybe something we need to change asap. That first step we take, that first stroke of the pen, the black ink on that stark white paper, well that is surely our mark. Just as each one of us makes a mark everyday in the way we choose to venture forth, in the studio called life.