Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rainy Day in the Canyon

There is something about a rainy day in the mountains. This picture was just taken today, as I was driving down Oak Creek Canyon from the north country here in Arizona. It was a somewhat nerve wracking drive. Will a huge boulder loosen itself at an inopportune time? This does happen and one is so aware of one's own mortality. Today, the gentle, meandering Oak Creek is now a raging, silty,  powerhouse of water that will find its own path and  level, no matter what we mere mortals desire. I passed by the low water crossing which leads  to where a friend lives. Totally under water. I wonder. Will she show up at my house tomorrow as planned? Are we in for another serious  flood season like some years before ? Time will give us that  answer.  
When I look at this photo I took, I am reminded of my Porcelain Pueblo bowl series. I add hand carved  borders around the edge,  based on what I see outside my studio, and as I travel in my mountainous surroundings. I always  find inspiration for my art from the nature  around me. Northern Arizona  has a majesty to me , especially this little corner I inhabit.
Rain. Three days of rain. It  makes me aware of how I am just one person  in this  grand  scheme  of all that surrounds me.  Especially when it is a rainy day in the Canyon.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bird Mask

Here is a picture of a  recent "Bird Mask" series I am creating. I added a fair amount of color, yarn, and decoration to this one.
 I enjoy creating  masks. They appeal to my sense of mystery, and history. I like to travel. Everywhere I  visit, including my own corner of southwestern America, I find indigenous people creating masks to represent some spirit form. Maybe I made this to represent the birds I love. Actually, I find the clay often tells me what form it wants to be when I am in my creative process.
 I start with somewhat of an idea. Somehow, as I roll out a slab or coil in the white  porcelain clay I like to use,the shape and form will evolve. Then when I start to play with the feathers, or yarns, it can change into in a different finished mask than I first envisioned. I  like the colors of the feathers and decorations  to  be harmonious with the glazes I have chosen. 
  I have been selling masks in this month of January. Why this is my popular form right now I cannot say.It seems to go that way in this art business.  One style of  work  will continue to sell, while others do not. Maybe it is mask energy flowing right now! If I am in the gallery with   people, they  often  ask me what is my inspiration or the meaning behind my masks. I say what I just wrote, which often is not specific enough for them, but is truthful.Besides, everyone gives their own meaning to what they choose, and that is fine with me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Some Thoughts on Growing Old

This is a piece I created for a show on aging  a few years back.The title is the first line,
" Some Thoughts on Growing Old". I like to use photo images with my calligraphy, not necessarily in a neat, linear mode. I enjoy some twists and turns, some  ups and downs,  as in life. This was one in a series of this style of calligraphic imagery I continue to enjoy using. It is a fairly large piece. I like working large, plus how do you shrink someone's life to something petite?  I asked my subject to tell me his thoughts on what is felt to grow older. I used his own words, except when I chose  to edit for profanity and artistic placement.
Today the process of life seems to be much on my mind. Why is that? Perhaps because there are birthdays floating around this January of  people that matter to me. That seems to be  a time for celebration of the true start of a person's real new year. Also, it can be a time to look back at what the last year did or did not accomplish for them. Possibly my friend's sorrow at the death of an older friend makes me remember how fragile life really is. All we have to do is look at our own photos to see the passage of our  life's journey. First our youth. Then the young adult, followed by middle age leading to the finale. This piece has outlived its subject.
So I am guessing it is a reminder to me about really listening to what I know. That is to appreciate and value what I do have right now, and never wait to express this to those I care about. 
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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Birds of Ancient Egypt

I am not quite ready to leave all the wonderful sights I saw on my recent trip to Chicago. There is an Oriental Museum on the University of Chicago campus.Their special exhibit was the on the birds of ancient Egypt. I am a birder so the exhibit was of particular interest to me.
 This is a picture that was drawn back in the era of the Pharaohs, which is way before the time of Christ. To the left is the mighty lion,then the egret with its long filmy feathers called aigrettes which they have in breeding plumage.On the right is the hawk. In Egyptian mythology, there is the hawk headed god of the sun named Horus. I have been to Egypt and seen this figure in many representations, including  walls in the Pharaoh's tombs.
 What impressed me about this picture is its absolute clarity and beauty. 
 I imagine  it is drawn on papyrus, which was  their paper made from that plant which grew along the Nile.For color I am guessing  that they ground up rocks, or even precious jewels, for their pigments.This is a practice that is used to this day, as in colors such as cobalt blue and the red pigments. The artist must have studied his subjects. Was there a sketch book before the finished product? Were artists well regarded, or merely slaves from a conquered country that served their master? Something this old makes me reflect on so many things. What I do know is that birds have added interest and intrigue to our lives  and artists have always tried to capture their image.