Wednesday, February 20, 2013

White Bowl

The snow is falling.The color of this winter day is white. It covers the pathways around my studio. It weighs down the branches of the trees and the rose buds peeking out from their stems. It reminds me of this recent bowl I created in the picture below.
It is rather large, measuring twelve inches across and three deep.On the corners are the petals of white flowers. The outside is the brown stain from an oxide, like a stem. I like the color white.It shows off what is in a bowl so definitively. A red apple stands out so clearly. A green salad is a visual delight. 
What  I am actually doing is using  a clear glaze over  the porcelain clay body. What you see is the color below. Like many things I guess. We see a reflection and assume that is the truth. It can be in art; relationships; many facets of our lives. Sometimes it is more than we expect. Occasionally  it is less.This bowl pleases me. So that is my final criteria.
The snow outside is just another  reflection.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Lessons of Teaching

Despite a snowstorm, the class in pocket bookbinding went on as scheduled this past Saturday. Here is  a picture of Sid and myself,   working on one of the projects. I am the one on the left wearing  my well worn studio apron, and layered for the winter weather!
This class was  different from what I am  used to teaching. It was an informal group of fellow bookbinders, all with some knowledge of this art form. As I often do when writing, I went  to my dictionary to read  their definitions of teaching. " To import knowledge by lessons; to give instruction in; communicate the knowledge of."
 I think I like the last one the best.To communicate what I have figured out through study, practice, trial and error. There was often some of the latter experience. I wanted my presentation to be easy to follow, so everyone left with a finished project. One of my goals was to help them avoid making all the mistakes that took up my time and energy.
What I found was that everyone invents their own, original deviations. During my preparation, and there was a lot of it, my mistakes could  upset me, discourage me, and take a lot of time to resolve. As the instructor, I was  expected to have the answers, since this is something new to the others. So I put on my teacher apron; dug  deep into my past experiences; and helped work through the dilemmas that came up for others. I must say, I was impressed at my cool under fire. Maybe that was part of my lesson, to know I could do it. 
I guess it came down to figuring out how to translate whatever happened,the good and the not so great, into a new and better art form.  Not to forget another lesson. It was fun!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Pages of Time

Well, here is a picture of the pocket calendar book I will be teaching tomorrow. As I run around trying to get everything done in a timely manner,it realize I am looking at the pages of this month, this year, this lifetime, as they unfold.  
In most parts of the world, it is the Gregorian calendar now in general use. It was first prescribed in 1592 by Pope Gregory XIII to correct the old Julian system to the astrological year. Of course we always have that little old leap year to make up for that  extra day. Not in this year of 2013,however. Just 28 days in February. 
I spend my time making things by hand. It is what I love to do. It can be frustrating as the glue sticks to me rather than the cloth; when I make a major error and have to start over. Yet it is the path I have chosen willingly. 
This bookbinding skill is tied to my calligraphy. All books and writing were done by hand originally. Here, there is an actual  formed pocket,into which you slide the removable calendar.It is  made of the same book cloth that binds both sides of this little book together. Since a year will be over in 365 days, it is possible to slide in another calendar when this one is finished. Seems to me a metaphor of how life seems to slide from one year into the next.Do we make the most of those precious pages of time?
 As I take the time to cut, measure, and  glue,I hope I remember to be grateful for each of these tiny moments of knowledge and even growth as an artist I am experiencing. These are the pages of my life.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Art and Concentration

I have spent the last week concentrating on preparing for an upcoming workshop I am to teach.It has to do with book arts, hence the picture of me surrounded by the books I made and exhibited in my last show.That little black and orange clam shell box off to the left will pertain to what I am lecturing on.   
Wow. Interesting how two hours of total focus on solving problems and figuring out measurements can feel like so many hours of concentration. Do people actually realize how much exacting mathematics and organization go into creating something of a particular size or dimension?  Do I even realize before I start that perilous journey? Well, deadlines have their value.  
A friend of mine talks about " creative tension" that comes when doing something entirely new. You are so nervous and uncertain about how to get to reality from that image in your mind. Your stomach can hurt and your palms can sweat. I often get an invisible band around my forehead when I am concentrating so strongly.  It isn't a headache, quite, just  a comment to my body that I my thinking capacity is in overload. 
The dictionary defines concentration as " close mental application or exclusive attention".That is what occurs. I shut out the world; never look at a clock; and just take it one second at a time.Only after a tangible creation, or a solid hint emerges, can I breathe easier and even go for a walk to get some sun and oxygen. Then I return to my concentration until I can perhaps see a glimmer of completion.