Monday, December 31, 2012

Planes and Angles in Chicago

I just returned from a trip to Chicago. I was staying in a lovely part of the city near the University of Chicago. I  could walk to the campus, where my Dad graduated from law school back in the thirties.That was a bit of nostalgia for me. 
In the midst  of all the Victorian houses, Gothic churches, and gingerbread buildings was an American icon. Here I am standing in front of the Robie house, designed by Frank LLoyd Wright, and finished around 1910. I was surprised at what an early example of his architecture it was. The planes and angles of his "prairie style" creations resonate with me. It contains 3,000 square feet, but does not seem massive or out of proportion. The inside has these same lines in the stain glass windows, fireplaces, and built in furniture which he liked to include in his buildings.
 It was so radical for its time, yet still fits perfectly into today's desire for clean lines and harmony with our surroundings. I really enjoyed this visit to the past, Mr. Wright's as well as my own.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"The Joy that You Give to Others"...

This  is a  quote I found from an American poet of long ago, John Greenleaf Whittier,1809-1892. I chose to make it into a card for the holiday season. It is actually a smaller version of  a rather large calligraphy on original tie dye fabric that  I did for a show. I had never really done much tie dye, but I wanted to create a colorful background for a this piece, and so I just "did it" !  There is always an element of surprise at how these colors actually turn out. Hint to viewer, directions are not always a reliable source . I like to add the element of surprise, even to myself, it appears. I then wrote out the words in ink on a heavy paper. I cut slits into the fabric to hold them in place. I like the juxtaposition of the irregular color spaces to the linear white lines of poetry.                                                  To give joy, or help, to others,is a lovely thought. I feel I am  building up my reserve of the positive. Vibrations, karma, the golden rule,whatever we choose to call it.  It doesn't always come back right at that moment, but I like to think of all this good energy floating around me. I feel good that I have made someone smile. It can be the littlest thing. We have no idea the affect our words and actions can have on another. I  do know there have been many challenging times when I was very grateful for the " kindness of strangers.' So that is what this quote brings up for me.Your thoughts?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lady with the Red Shoes On

I was looking through my photos and came upon this one of  a sculpture I created  entitled "Lady with the Red Shoes On". It made me ponder  that I really am attracted  to the female form to draw or sculpt. I also do like a bit of humor in my artwork. Here is this naked figure reclining on a satin couch wearing nothing but her red high heels. Is she posing in front of  someone? Waiting for someone? That answer must be up to the viewer. Aren't our opinions merely made up of our own experiences we bring with us when  viewing something? We can each look at the same thing and have an entirely different viewpoint.That is why each piece of art seems to have its own admirer. 
Certainly the female form  was sculpted with great realism back in Greek and Roman times.Also, many forms of  reclining nudes have been  painted throughout history. One of my favorites is the canvas titled "Odalisque" by  Ingres  in 1814, with the female peering over her shoulder. I also love Henri Rousseau's painting "The Dream",1914, where the nude on the couch is surrounded by animals peering out from the lush jungle.Were these my inspirations? I could not say, but certainly the images are  in a little cubbyhole somewhere in my mind . Perhaps they came to the foreground as I was building up, hollowing out,or working the clay in my hands. Hmm..creation is a mystery, isn't it? 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Creature Pot

 I thought I would continue  the thread of my last blog, which related to family and my different take on that. Now truthfully, doesn't  this picture remind you of one of your relatives? Or maybe I was looking in the mirror when I woke up and that translated into one of my creations.
This lidded jar is part of my series of low fire ceramic, folk art vessels. The lid comes off as you hold onto her head. If it isn't a "critter" pot ,  then perhaps I could call it a "Creature" pot. I do like to sculpt the human form, usually the female. I prefer to leave in in a rather abstract form, so that is is every person we are looking at, no one specific. The colors of pink and turquoise seem to go so well with her blond hair.  
Families are made up of different individuals, yet we are all so similar in many of our aspects. This can apply even to our role in our family. We can be mother, or father, sister, or brother, cousin or Auntie. There is a universality in our roles, and yet we are each so very distinctive, especially to ourselves.
 So it is with each piece I make. Even if I am trying to recreate my previous form, there is always something quite unique that comes forth. Just like each one of us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Kitty Family

My thoughts are still on the family concept. This photo shows a recent handmade porcelain bowl. I made for a friend with three cats. In a sense, these are his four legged family. 
Usually, my bowl has one gato, which is Spanish for cat, or un chat,which is the french word, depending on what language I am feeling that day, or what has sold. Adding  the foreign words to my creation is a way for me to use my hard earned language skills. I like to appeal to  other peoples' native tongue and have fun with that. As a calligrapher, I love using  letters on any art form I can create. 
This series has  a different approach to the basic bowl shape, which I choose to make not the round. I hand draw each figure and letter on the bowl before it goes into the kiln for the first firing. Often I use a cobalt blue because it makes such a nice contrast when it is high fired with a clear glaze. The white color is the  actual porcelain clay body revealed. Now the bowl is strong enough to use in the oven or microwave.This part of my work I call my "Critter" pots. I enjoy using animals on my artwork because  we can all relate and share some connection.
 I enjoy making art that makes you smile.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


 I have been writing about my handmade books lately. Yet I just returned from a trip back east to a family wedding, and that really made me think about family. In this photo is a picture of me in the center of the newlyweds.The bride is my first cousin, and there was such happiness at this gathering of relatives from far and away. 
 As usual, I like to check out what the dictionary uses as a definition of family. One of them says " A group of persons connected by blood, name, etc.; a house; line; or clan." We are definitely all of the above. I even got to meet the 2nd generation of cousins in their thirties. That was really fun and they are all following interesting life paths.
 Since this blog is mainly focused on art, it got me thinking about how it relates. When you think of an artist's particular body of work, it is usually based on more than one piece in a recognizable style. In essence, this is their family of artwork. Often we get quite attached to these family members.There are always variables, some recessive genes, but overall you can often identify their style. So the next time you are in a gallery, remember you are looking at the other family of the artist!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blue Book in a Box

I noticed I got a lot of viewers  on my most recent blogs about the pop up books. Thus I will continue
 more about my handmade book series.This particular image is my blue book in the tarot decorated cigar box. I call it "Blue Book in a Box". But what a special box. I covered an old cigar box in paper decorated with images of tarot cards. Tarot was used as far back as the 14th century by fortunetellers and gypsies to predict the future. I liked the paper, and the concept that this book could be filled with thoughts and words to come. In truth, it is really more difficult to cover an existing box than to start from scratch.Getting the corners to close tightly is not easy. However, I like to recycle, and I like a challenge. 
The book is an open signature design. Signatures are sheets of paper sewn together, often in multiples of four, that form the pages of a book. Those decorated beads in front actually hold them all together. I used a handmade Italian paper, the last  sheet that I had been saving for just  the perfect project. I like to give each book I make its own  "home". Then I feel it is complete. Maybe I could have called this blog " Completion".

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pop Up Dimension and Perspective.

Here are two views of the same page in my recently created kinetic pop up book. When I look at this intriguing cut out, I am aware of both its dimension and perspective. The dictionary gives one meaning to the former as "Any measurable extent, as length, breadth, or thickness." I know I used my ruler to measure the page; to decide where to make the cuts,and how long they must be to create my desired form. It has an architectural look to me, and that brings into play a matter of perspective. This can refer to "the art or theory of convey the impression of depth and distance." Think about how we examine three dimensional art? It appeals to us just because we can view it from more than one side.It has depth. It intrigues us. 
Viewed in these two photos, there appears to be more than one angle to the pop up feature. Interpretation can  depend on whether it is examined from the side or the front view. 
 Reminds me of life. From one interpretation of an event or person, we might think we are  really getting  the true point of view, or perspective. Yet looking at something head on, or from another side could reveal an entirely different dimension. What are your thoughts on this ? 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kinetic Pop up Books

I am still very intrigued by this book in the photograph I just created. I want to share with you a bit of what I have learned about the history of kinetic  pop up books.
 By their nature, we think of books as being two dimensional. But way back in the thirteenth century, Catalan  poet Ramon Illul used a revolving disc, also known as a volvelle, to illustrate his theories. I have one inside of this creation  of mine. Most early books were dedicated to the scholarly pursuits.It was not until the 1860's that publisher Dean & Sons of London, claimed to be the originator of mechanical books for children. I know I have bought pop up  books to give to a child, but somehow they are still in my personal library. Such fun to turn the pages and see what unfolds!
McLaughlin Brothers of New York brought the " Little Showman's Series " to America in the 1880's with three dimensional scenes. In 1929, Louis Giraud of London was influential with  some of his books described as " living models". In the 1930's, Blue Ribbon Publishers of New York first used the term "pop up" when they published animated Walt Disney characters. Now, there are pop ups with  music or lights. Whatever your fancy, it seems to be out there. 
I got into book arts because I am a calligrapher.I like making everything by hand. One of a kind, that is the challenge. To create an original.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Facing a Challenge

I had a wonderful day yesterday. I learned how  to make a  kinetic pop up book in a workshop taught by, and filled with, other  book artists. Everyone takes turns teaching, and it is always an adventure! Here is a picture of what I invented  by the end of the day. 
I love the fact that I created a finished book.That  gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. The pages open and reveal a dimension behind. They can also be a kinetic object, as is  the circle on the right sided page. Up and down it goes...magic! 
I guess what I felt the most was the challenge of learning new things, which were intimidating to me with their complexity. I persevered and was finally able  to understand these new ways  of thinking. I guess everyday we are all faced with how to solve a new dilemma.There seem always to be new problems that come up at the most inopportune times. How do we face these challenges? First remember to Breathe. Working  more slowly until the right solution presents itself can be a helpful path. For me, it always comes down to just staying with it, until here is an evolution  into the new creation I envision. Of course, often I have to totally change that vision and follow the path that seems to unfold by the materials and the inspiration. Life and art are not so different. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Congratulations Lucky Thirteen

Here it is the 13th of November. I know two great people with birthdays today, and I was born on the 13th of another month. So I say to us all, Congratulations! A lucky number, in my opinion. A prime number, I was told, which is a mathematical term , but also a compliment in our local vernacular. Yet there are so many superstitions about this particular number.Hotels often leave off this floor.Observe  next time you are in an elevator. Here's a fact I just read while perusing the dictionary.  It was the thirteenth amendment to the US Constitution that  outlawed slavery, ratified in 1865.  So lots of reason to celebrate the number thirteen, and I bet my readers know even more facts to share. 
 Being a calligrapher, I had to make a card to celebrate this occasion, and here it is. I like to give a little information about the  image you see. I wrote out this word in the Italic style of calligraphy, adding a flourish, of course.This was then printed twice  onto an 8 1/2 by 11" inch parchment paper. When cut in half, voila, there are two cards per sheet. With greeting cards, we often have to work backwards from the size of  envelopes available.
I like to  play with  watercolor on each image. Here I used  purple with gold  paint. It is truly a one of a kind card, because even  I am not entirely sure what it will  look like until it drys! Enjoy your 13th!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tango and the Artist

Well, I haven't been at my desk writing my blog this last week because I just got back from the Albuquerque Tango Festival. Here I am with one of the nice dancers I met there.We are in our casual practice clothes because we are going to classes and are on our feet all day. However,  when it is time to go to the evening milonga, or formal dance,  then everyone gets dressed up and the high heels start moving. I wrote about tango back on my March blog, and I am still practicing and working at improving my techniques.
In many ways, dancing the tango resembles the life of the artist.We are always working on trying to improve what we do. How can we take the basic steps and give them more style and refinement? What can we add in way of embellishment to take our expression to a new height? In Argentine tango, it helps to be a good dancer, or at least a graceful one, if you wish to be spend time on the dance floor rather than on the sidelines. As an artist, one wants to be respected for all the time, skill, and especially , the results we are trying to achieve. If the audience gets it, then they will buy what we offer.That is the final dance. To take what is difficult, and make seem effortless. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

White Sands white

Here is a picture taken at  White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. What this made me think about are the many shades of this  color. The dictionary defines white  as " having the color produced by  reflection of all the  rays of the solar spectrum".  That is an awesome thought to me.  
I make a series of handmade porcelain bowls that are white in appearance. In actuality, I use a clear  glaze over the clay.Because  the clay is white, this is the color the viewer sees when looking at my bowl. It is a warm color of white. This picture of the dunes appears to me  to be a cooler shade of white, but perhaps it is the blue sky above it that makes it appear so.
 Color can also take on a slightly different hue depending on what it is next to. Beige and tan  will have a different effect on this color than a bight, intense color. Kind of like life. It is not only what we think we see, or perceive.   It can be  influenced by  circumstance,a person,or an  event to which it is adjacent. What colors your life?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Connecting with Dorothea Dunn

I am on the road, visiting  Ruidoso , New Mexico. Finally I have  a good computer connection, and so  I get to write about what I have seen and learned. I guess this blog is really about the theme of connection.
 I had the most interesting discovery about a relative of mine. Her name is Dorothea Dunn, and she is my father's first cousin, so I guess she is my second cousin. I visited a  beautiful and informational museum, the Hubbard  Museum of the American West, in Ruidoso Downs.  It has an  emphasis on the Native American peoples of the west, plus other examples of western memorabilia. 
As I rounded a corner,there was this photo and information about my cousin, Dorothea, at a young age. I had heard  about her from my aunt, but  did not  know much about her. She came from Kansas, where my Dad's people are from, to teach art at the  Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930's. I learned know she herself was an artist. I had always wondered where my artistic passion came from in my family. She helped such well known artists as Allen Hauser, and others, reach a wider audience. Dorothea  wrote a definitive book on Native art, a big thick book that I have on my shelf , but have never read. When I look at the picture on the back cover, it is like looking at my father in female form. Travel brings us unexpected rewards, like connecting with ourselves, through those who came before us.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hair Do

I seem to be on a wave  with my folk art ceramic pictures. Here is yet another in the  series, entitled "Hair Do". I have always liked to work with the human aspect in clay. Sometimes I really want to be representational.With this piece, I prefer giving  a  somewhat abstract interpretation. I want  to have fun creating it, and I hope  you  smile when you see it. Why not be happy looking at  a piece of art we put on display?
 It can also be  a functional piece of ceramics The lady's head opens the container. Voila, you can fill her up with your treasures. Once again, it is all hand made with porcelain slabs, then glazed in its turquoise and pink polka dots.Then comes a primitive firing to make her glaze crackle and her inside dark and mysterious.  Finish her off with a "do" made of horsehair, and here is a unique creation.  People often  ask me where I get these ideas . Hmm. Some dark recess of my creative mind I guess. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Horse Box

Writing about my kitty box made me realize that I really do like to put animals on my artwork. This piece is entitled the " Horse Box", and is a handmade porcelain container, with lid. It  measures about seven by ten inches, with tail and mane. For this vessel I chose a red and celadon green color scheme. Who says my critters can't be any color I choose to make them? Naturally, being a horse, it has to have a tail and mane, and what better material to use than the real thing? I do like to make art that can make the viewer smile. 
When I recently redid my website, at
I put in a section entitled Masks and Folk Art. I consider folk art to be about things in everyday life, often created in a somewhat primitive style. I went to look up a better definition in my art history books, and I could not find one. So this is my definition and my Horse Box  is an example of  my folk art. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Turquoise Kitty Box

I have been hanging around kitty cats lately. I started putting them on my ceramics before I ever really knew any personally. This one has a nice turquoise color. That may not your usual color for a cat, but I  get to go into my imagination with my cat ceramics.Plus I like to make you smile when you look at my " critter" art. 
 Of  course it has to have whiskers, so I make mine using snippets of  horsehair. It is a hand made vessel, rather than wheel thrown. I like the irregularity of using  hand rolled slabs of porcelain clay  for this particular series. I've made a red cat box too. Different colors will resonate with different viewers.
Kind of like cats, I guess. Some are all one color. Others  have stripes, and there is even one called a tuxedo cat that looks like it is dressed in evening clothes. Not only is it color we notice, but personality. Some cats like human touch a lot. Others, I have noticed, will receive  the human hand,but only  on their own terms. Size is not uniform either. Seeing a lion in the wild is to notice some of the same amusing kitty mannerisms we enjoy in the tabby cat.We  don't  forget the element of raw  power based on their sheer size and strength.
 The more I write about cats, the more I think I am writing about different people I have encountered in life. We are all so connected, aren't we? 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The blue green

The blue green of the ocean; of nature; of my ceramics. Color is something that  reaches out to people, I have noticed. First there is a recognition of the form, but a visceral reaction comes from the color we are seeing. I guess it can bring up a mood; a memory; reflection, or something that hopefully makes us feel better from that visual. If a person sees my bowl  and smiles, well then we have that first connection.The second connection is when they buy it, the ultimate compliment for an artist.  
 I hope they are also admiring the shape and all the little decorative touches I have added to my porcelain configuration.The rough exterior with the brownish stain adds another color, but also works to contrast that turquoise hue. 
In the art world, one must have a signature to their work, a recognizable  style. This is one of the things a gallery wants in order to carry your work.That way, people have an idea of what that artist is known for, and how to find them.  I think this shape, and especially this color, is one of  my signature pieces. It does not displease me. I like the color and feeling of my blue green  ceramics. You can even call it turquoise! Enjoy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Art and the Ocean

Here is a recent view of the Pacific ocean at sunset. I really enjoyed the ebb and the flow of the tides. I did some body surfing, and I noticed that coming into shore is  relatively easy. It is the current that then pulls you out to sea that is the forceful one .
So it seems with the creative process. There is an ebb and a flow to most art work. I tried  to go against the current last night, and I got my hand slapped. The ceramics broke. All my hard work must  be thrown away.   I know before I do my primitive firing that the clay must be at least  warm. Then the difference between the temperature going into the fire is not such a shock to the clay body. But I wanted to do it right then, so I tried could going  against the current. Crack. The clay did Not like that sudden shock. So it seems like not staying with the knowledge that I have, be it ocean tides or heat variables, gets me into the undertow of life , or art. Lesson learned. 
 I got up this morning and preheated all my remaining pieces before they went into the flames. I was rewarded by no breakage, and some lovely pieces. Masks; plaques; and platters. Next I will decorate these unfinished creations,  and show you some finished pieces in the future. All in the right timing, or current of my creativity.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Set of Denim Blue

Sorry I have been away from my writing  this week. I  can't even say I was working too hard. No, I was  at the beach, looking at the  blue sky, and blue and white frothy ocean.Sometimes, I even was inside those blue green waves, although my goal was to ride them as smoothly as those surfers out there on the horizon. 
Of course this sets me thinking about my blue artwork.I'm still into the jewelry I talking about in the last blog. I resonate with the color blue, in all its hues and variations. Here is the full set of my "Denim Blue" beads, with the necklace, bracelet, and earrings.Personally, I like my baubles to match.  Every item  I make is  individual, with each porcelain bead being rolled out  by hand,  and assembled one at a time with its crystal and blue stones for accent.I think  this gives  a feeling  of variety to each creation, yet an overall harmony within each piece, or as a set. That's my belief, and I'm standin' by it. 
 Putting on your denim jeans any one?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Beaded Jewelry

I like making beaded jewelry. I especially like it with my handmade porcelain beads. Here is a sample of the three different colors I use in creating my long necklaces. I call the colors, moss green; earth brown; and denim blue.I like to intersperse the beads with chunks of crystal, and a colored stone, such as tiger eye with the browns, or some complimentary native stone. The necklaces measure about thirteen inches in length. That means you can just slip them over your head without worrying about some tiny little troublesome fastener. I really like a necklace to be a either longer version, or a short choker. That in between length doesn't show off very well. In between has never been my style. 
Each bead is rolled out by hand, cleaned, and then fired in the bisque firing. I like to have the small beads about one half an inch in length, and the larger ones at least an inch.  Since I make each one individually, there is always the human variability in size and length. That is part of its one of a kind ambiance. I like porcelain clay, because  of its white color, smooth surface, and how well it takes a stain. I use an oxide for the color, and fire it with my larger vessels in a high temperature. As I often tell people in the gallery
 " This jewelry will last longer than we will". Think of what we glean from ancient civilizations. Usually, it is some  form of clay vessel or adornment. I wonder where my jewelry will end up in the distant future?  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another View of Small

I am not quite ready to leave the wonderful world of miniatures yet. I found this picture which shows the size of the small vase  in relation to my hand, which isn't really very large.  Someone once commented I have the hands of workman. Well, I guess I do. I can't have long nails or I rip the clay, or  tickle the hand that holds the pen. I am always playing with mud, water, ink or watercolors. Lily white hands I do not have. It isn't all bad to be able to do all the fun things I liked as a kid and have people pay me for them. I digress.
When you look at this vase you can really see the details I added: small clay coils; tiny balls of porcelain: feathers; a turquoise stone. This was not a wheel thrown piece, but rather a hand built construction. After forming the two sides, I joined them together, then added height to the  neck for style and symmetry. Since it is a one of a kind piece, I wanted to add those special touches that make it an individual V.Norton ceramic artwork, however diminutive. 
 As we get older;as we move; as we cannot afford a large space, perhaps having a tiny piece of art fills a lot of needs in today's crowded world.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Miniature Vase

My last blog was on my flower bowl and how much I like flowers. This picture is of a carved, miniature vase with a few blossoms within.Still a flower vessel.
 It is a wheel thrown piece, and doesn't even measure four inches tall.The bottom is all hand carved, and then an oxide  is applied. This seems to make a nice contrast with my turquoise glaze, and it is a  trademark style of mine. Actually, this is pretty big for a technical "miniature". I think the scale is one inch would be one foot. So instead of a four foot vessel, you get something you can hold in your hand and put on a tiny shelf.
 I enjoy making smaller pieces. They fit my need for precious, help fill the odd spaces in the kiln,and are easy for the travelling customer. In high fire ceramics,  everything you create in going to shrink, from fifteen to twenty percent. Usually the problem is that  I haven't made it big enough to start with, and the end result is not the anticipated. With my small creations, I do not have to stress the end result because it comes out  as it is meant to be. Good feeling, when what we do comes out just fine because we aren't worried about a precise ending. This is a nice thought to carry into life. 

Monday, September 10, 2012


I love flowers.This is a handmade porcelain "Flower Bowl" that just came out of the kiln. The shape is more  triangular, which I like because it is individual.Who says all bowls must be round? It measures approximately six inches across by two and a half inches high.Perfect size to hold anything! I make each little petal out of rolled porcelain, then attach them to the rim in a small blossom. I then hand roll each tiny stamen so it has a true floral dimensional feeling. First I fire it in the bisque, so it is solid enough to take a glaze. Next comes a second, high temperature firing with my magic turquoise glaze.This is totally lead free, food safe, and strong enough to use in the oven . Delicate but durable. These are qualities I try to bring to all my ceramics. 
I think flowers appeal to all of our senses. I like the colors, textures, and sweet smells that some emit. They make me smile.I just went to the hardware store and found myself in the garden section.I was compelled to buy some flowers for my garden. I hope I get blossoms all fall. When I go to the grocery store, I have to check out the bouquets of flowers, as much  as the fruits and vegetables. Sometimes I just  must take some  home with me. I know they will not last too long, but oh what a joy for the time they are with me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Friend

This  piece of calligraphy I printed and then added the original water color background. It is titled " A Friend", and the words speak   to me. What a wonderful feeling to have  someone with  whom we can share our feelings and ideas and feel heard. As the poem by this  unknown author writes,"knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away." 
I so like that image. How nice not have to be so careful about our words because we feel we are accepted.That is such a basic need. We all like to hang out with those who like us, don't we?  In the art world there is an expression " a friend of the arts",i. e. a supporter or patron. I certainly like those who enjoy and buy my work. It is a positive affirmation of myself and what I create.My observation is that someone who gets to meet or know an artist does feel a closer connection to what they buy. Often they choose to take that feeling, as well as the creation, home with them.So the term friend has a lot of meanings. These are my thoughts for today. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Poetry in Motion

Well, I am  sad that I have not been able to post my blog for a week, due to technical difficulties. This machine age is great, as long as it works! Here is my calligraphy card that seems to apply to how time sneaks every day, entitled "Ten Years Ago." The first lines reads,  "Where did it go, that ten years ago?" 
A decade earlier the world did not seem to be so totally run by the computer and  all the machinery that seems to get a glitch in it at the most inconvenient times. Perhaps the foundation was set up, but I know I did not have to have an entire space in my house for these critical toys. 
How much of each day do I now spend reading  email ? How many minutes waiting on hold for the tech support in a country where their English is really hard to understand , even if they are very nice people? It feels like much of my time is spent just trying to get these time saving devices working. OK I am venting, thank you for listening.
 I know we can't go back to the days where everyone wrote a nice copperplate hand to communicate. Still,  the calligrapher in me would love it. The last stanza in my poem reads, "Amazement at life's passage, No regrets, well maybe some,  But that ultimate question, How much yet to come?" I cannot  foresee that one, but I think I would not like to spend it on hold. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Ceramic Cross

I sold a ceramic cross similar to this one today. It also  had a piece of turquoise on it, and measured about eight inches in height. The cross  was a sacred symbol in many ancient religions, consisting basically of two intersecting lines.I think this history inspired me with  the shape of the curves that I like to use at the end of this piece and others. This  well known  Christian representation is a part of our culture and others all around the world.  
I  got into making the cross as an art form after my last trip to Mexico. There it is taken to higher dimensions of making the common uncommon.I saw them made of wood; ceramics; bottle tops hammered onto two crossed sticks. There was a total variety of how to take a known form and give it a whole new incantation.
I work in clay so that is where my imagination went. How to make something that has beauty in its form and color, and yet is a bit different?  I like to use the low fired colors because they seem more modern than some of my high fire glazes. Like my masks, the cross is fired in the kiln, glazed in the brighter low fires colors, and then given a primitive final firing to get that antique crackle look. I  like to add some decoration, or an adornment, to what I create.  This  is my style, according to some who know me. It's true. I do like to add an embellishment to make the clay sing out to the viewer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Creating the Mug

It occurred to me that my readers might be interested in seeing what form  that basic cylinder I threw became. So here is a picture of the mug I created from that straight up and down cylinder. 
Until last year, I hadn't made mugs in a long while. Economic necessity is a great creative force. When you look closely you can see how many  details  are involved in this basic shape. You have to trim it, always clean and re-clean,and  then add the handle.That is a separate pulled piece of clay with a certain curve to it. I like a handle that can fit any hand, with a substantial curve. I enjoy adding  a little decorative coil on the upper rim. It serves a function and  adds my  personal style. Then it gets fired the first time until it vitrifies in the bisque firing. Only then can I put on the glaze. I like a clear color inside so the liquid shows up.The final touch is my temperamental turquoise glaze. Always is a bit of variation in this color. There is also shrinkage, up to fifteen or more percent, to take into the equation.I like to use porcelain as my clay because it takes the color so beautifully. Since it is high fired, it can take the heat or the teapot or the microwave. Function in beauty. 
Writing this really gives me an appreciation for all the work I put into this most basic of forms. I applaud all makers of mugs out there! 
Your thoughts?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Throwing a Pot

I have been  throwing pots on my wheel for the past few days. I guess it is called that because you throw your ball of clay onto  the  center of the wheel and start from there.  A bit of ceramic terminology for you. Here is a picture of my hand in the cylinder I just made.The object is to take the round ball of clay and push it upward with your fingers to achieve the height you want.One finger is on the inside for support, the other fingers are under the clay and pushing upward so that the clay seems to carry itself taller. Usually it is the thumb or forefinger, or a configuration of both, that I use to lift the clay.  The cylinder form is where every pot starts, no matter where it ends up.  I like to make light weight pieces, so I am always playing a game with myself on the wheel. How little clay can I use to make as tall a figure as I want?  This is going to be a mug, so I will usually take a tool called a "Rib" to push out the inside and make a pleasing shape. It also will make the pot lighter, which I like.  
 I thought about how relevant it is to be on center while throwing and also in life. When I am focused on the present, the clay, or what is happening just then in life, it all seems to go smoothly. When I think about the future it creates an unevenness within. The clay can read this, and it resists. I think my mind, and then body, react when I go away from the now and into the future. Because of course, the future isn't even here, it is just a story I am telling myself. Stay centered in all things.  My art and life lesson. Your thoughts?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Mask

Masks.Here are some  masks from my most recent show at the Andrea Smith gallery here in Sedona.For me there is something  intriguing, mysterious, and  thought provoking in creating these fantasy representations, 
 I am a traveler. In every country  visited, I observe indigenous people creating their interpretive  masks to represent their spirits.Thus  I call one of my mask series " Spirit Seekers".
 I start with the clay, and have a rough idea of what I want to create.But I do let the spirit of the clay direct where I am going.Often it has an element of surprise. Then I must glaze and fire the piece.Finally, I take it out of the kiln and do another primitive firing to get that dark and smokey look that I like.Only then do I decorate with yarn, feathers, and whatever else it dictates. I guess there is a bit of my spirit in each of my creations.     . 
Masks are a way to be secretive about identity. It does not even have to be a real one. Haven't here been times when we all hide behind a smile, a polite phrase even as simple  as "how are you?". What would we do if people actually answered with their truth, especially if it is a painful one?  Gives me something to think about when I go forth into this world.
Any thoughts from my readers?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learning a Lesson

I don't think  this blog is going to have a picture. I was thinking about my conversation with a very smart friend this evening. We were talking about when things happen to you, you hopefully can learn from them. Then again, if the same thing happens over and over, why do we make the same decisions? I said my fault was loyalty. If I am your friend, I am for life. But things do not always turn out the way we wish they would, so I guess it has to be a choice about what path to take. Usually, we pull out of something when the pain becomes much greater than the pleasure. Can I learn to not wait until the end is so apparent? I think it is something to work towards for my higher good. 
I guess this happens in art, also. We keep making the same choices in color, or technique, or creative style. And it does not bring us the ending we want. Or it does not sell no matter. Then it is time to reevaluate and also figure out why we want to keep doing it. If it is pure pleasure in the creative process, then I think we get a pass. If it doesn't bring joy, then why  bother?
 Just some thoughts on a rainy evening . 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Lake that Disappears

I cannot seem to get these Canadian Rockies out of my mind. I guess that means  I have to write about them some more . This is the Lake that Disappears. During summer it is  filled up with water. But in time it will be completely dry. Turns out there are cracks in  bottom of the lake so it drains out and voila ,it will become no lake at all.The First Nations used to fear this disappearing body of water . It must have been powerful magic to make something so large just go away, and yet reappear the following year.
 I guess that happens a lot in life and art. We humans often fear what we do not understand. There is often a strong  need for logical answers and when they are not available, we make up the reasons. Sometimes it is  simply given the broad stroke of disapproval. This is different and intimidating, therefore it is bad.  This art is too weird and doesn't seem to fit what I am used to , therefore it not "true art". Even, or especially in the creative process, where there is often Not a logical reason that something we do, some stroke to the pen or brush works, and the others  do not.  As we get experience, we hope that we can reproduce those same applications. but there are always those special moments , when it all just seems to go right.That's okay, I believe in magic. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Canola Oil

I seem to still be in Canada in my consciousness,  so I invite you along with me. This is a field of Canola plants, in full yellow blossom, close to harvest.  As I traveled along the open highway, I saw these flowers  stretching  for miles, or kilometers as the Canadians say.  
 Every day many of us  go to our kitchen and  use canola oil to prepare our  food. This is where it all starts, in  these beautiful fields of yellow blossoms. The ordinary becomes a totally different entity. That which we look at one way, suddenly becomes transformed.
Art contains all those elements of changing forms into other forms. Clay starts out as a piece  of wet earth. I take my hands and I shape it into what I hope it will agree to. Yes, it is really a living thing to me and so, will sometimes  follow, yet sometimes resist. As with all transformation, there is perhaps the element of luck, or my prayers to the kiln gods which may influence the outcome. Looking inside the mind of a ceramicist.
 I guess it is really about change. Just going far away and seeing those fields of brilliant color will change my views.About the Canola oil in my kitchen; how vast Alberta fields stretches as far as my eye can see; what I am going to create  out of the images swirling in my brain.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lake Lousie

Well I have returned from my journey to the Rocky mountains of Canada. Yes, they are different than those in our country, with  lots of glacial  lakes that took my breath away when I viewed them. I was however, almost never alone at the water's edge, until I walked quite a way from this vista, at the the famous Lake Louise. There I was inspired to write a narrative poem that I will share with you . 
Vast aquamarine oasis in the hunter green folds of 
Evergreens and spruce and lodge pole pines.
Ancient blue white glacier, receding in the distant V of
Two mountains meeting.Victoria is the name of the mountain on the right, memories of a distant Queen, 
Thoughts turning inward to this one who shares her name.
People teeming like colorful flags, waving to and fro.
Images and sounds from every country present, 
Japanese, a constant intonation, with  German, French, English and more, superseding sounds of nature, 
Until I walk towards the outer edges of this ancient Lake.
Canada, vast wilderness that takes me on a caravan of modern day inquiry. 
" Lake Louise",written on July 14, 2012, Alberta, Canada

Friday, July 13, 2012

On the Road Again

 Again,  this artist is travelling to remote place without internet. However, you know me, and it will all be inspiration for the blogs to follow... 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


This is a ceramic wall piece that I have currently hanging  in a show  at the Sedona Arts Center. The show theme is "Freedom", and my abstract rendering of the red, white and blue,  interpretation seemed to fit that theme nicely. 
 It is a large platter,@ 14" across, hand built rather than wheel thrown.While it hangs nicely on the wall, it has a foot, so it could sit on a surface as well. I like creating  those options.  When it gets that big across, there can be a possibility of cracking, so it is a victory not only in style, but survival.The freedom to push the clay to its outer limits and see how far I can take it. 
We just finished celebrating the 4th of July.I watched great fireworks! I thought of the  immigrants coming into the United States. In all those accents , arriving at Ellis Island,a new life in a new land of freedom, which they might call "A-mer-i-ka."
 I travel a lot. I like to see first hand what I read or hear  or have a fantasy about.What is that place is really like, compared to where I live?  Reality turns out to  be more interesting to me than all  my speculations. I am grateful that I can do this. I know there are countries where woman cannot. I have visited there. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Where Do our Designs Come From?

Where do our designs come from? Well there is one school of thought that says nothing is really totally new. We are merely recycling things we have already seen and tucked away in some corner of our minds . There may be some truth to that . Above is a picture I took at Ghost Ranch of the mountains  off in the distance. When it came time to work on the cover to my book, I really did not have a defined picture to draw from , and so I just started to paint.  I think I just went into that part of my mind I will call my design center. I do not even know why I put in that turquoise door. A focal point of color perhaps. It is such a southwest color, and one I use a lot in my work.
 Later, as I was walking back to my room, I saw a door just that color.Was I copying what I had seen unconsciously ? Did all the images I had seen there, or elsewhere, just go deep into that design corner of my brain, waiting until I needed them to create my artwork ?  Well, that's the nice thing about a blog, it is food for thought for all of us. Please, tell your experiences.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pages in My Book

I titled this picture " Pages in my Book" when I was down loading my  photographs. These are two of  the pages I painted using paste paint, which is acrylic paint added to a paste medium. These I painted using small cut sponges as my paintbrushes.
Our canvas was a  long sheet of Arches text wove paper,that were sewn together in the middle.What a sweet paper to use and abuse and it doesn't seem to fall apart. I am a fan. I learned these techniques at Ghost Ranch , New Mexico, while studying with Nancy Culmone.
 It is interesting because the paintings are each twice as long as you see, @ 10" by 16." When folded in the middle, they end up facing the  image of another half page. So, one page becomes two images.  Two totally different , and yet one hopes, harmonious images that play together.
 New beginnings; sunrises; sunsets; pale glimpses of color; bold explosions  of different hues .Pages in the  book of what? Art; life perhaps? Isn't that the way it is? Starting out on one path, then I find myself on an entirely  new page. I proceed forward, but often I find myself on a continuation of a page from before. Yet facing a new page it has a new look. Amazing.
 Ramblings of a tired artist.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Expanding our Minds

Expanding our Minds is what we do when we are trying something new. For me , it is the way to grow as an artist, to push the envelope so to speak.
There are other benefits as well .This  is a method that science tells us will help to keep our  mind functioning. Try doing things in a different way. Follow a different path from where you always go. Use your other hand. Art gives us lots of new choices every time we are on our creative path. So does life, doesn't it?
 This is a page from my book I created at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. There I took a class from Nancy Culmone and believe me, it was a lot of new experiences for me. This particular exercise was in contour drawing. What is that, you might ask? Well I didn't know either when I started. 
Contour drawing is when you look at the object only and not at what your hand holding the instrument is doing.
 In other words I am observing  the tiny branches on the dried flower I chose to draw in my left hand. My right  hand holds the drawing pen on the paper and I never take it off, and I never look at what I am doing. My lines are  all connected and I do not have a clue what it will look like. I must  leave the  rules of representation behind . The nice thing about drawing contours is there is no right or wrong, there is only what is. So that is a mind expansion right there for me. Comments?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A New Medium

I have returned. A most glorious week at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, made all the sweeter by the sharing with my sister, who came in from  far away .This was my first visit. I have wanted to attend for 20 years. Finally, I achieved my dream.
    Here I am with my teacher, Nancy Culmone.The course was titled Observation and Memory: Conveying Depth with Calligraphy, Marks, and Images.  She is demonstrating her technique of  using paste paper and acrylic paints. This is a new one for me. Well, I did it once before on end papers to make a book, but this was different.
 We covered the entire page, sometimes with marks; sometimes with contour writing; sometimes with actual writing, usually my own scribble, hardly calligraphy as I was formally trained.  I do see myself adding the formal writing later. Besides, there wasn't time.There is  always the time crunch the last day to complete your project in most workshops, I find. 
Really   I consider this was a painting course and what  a new medium and glorious adventure  that was for me.. We used Arches text wove, a lovely handmade paper I wrote on years ago when I lived in a city and such things were easy to buy. We mixed our colors, Golden brand acrylic,   with a handmade paste, Then came the adventure of spreading it on the page. Speaking of which, I  think I have completed enough for today on this page. More to follow..

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On the road

I am on the road, as you read this . Off in the mysterious desert landscape of New Mexico, where I will be immersing myself in the creative process. So, that means that  you, my faithful readers, will have to wait until I return to continue our ongoing literary path. I am sure I WILL HAVE MUCH TO TELL when I return 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yin , Yang

 "Yin Yang"is the name of this ceramic wall hanging . It is a symbol I think we have all seen, and maybe wondered about.
 In Chinese philosophy and art, the yin is the female element, which stands for darkness. The yang is the male element , the source of life and heat. The two sides are curved and the circle cannot be complete without the other half. Also, you can see a smaller circle of the the opposite color inside each half. Very harmonious, isn't it?
 There is the obvious  interpretation of male and female fitting nicely together. There is an element  of  each of us inside the other, those x and y chromosomes I guess.
Artistically is seems to me to be a really lovely form. Curved lines bring the eye in and out, always going around to where we started.There is that little element of the dark in the light to jar us a bit and make us take notice .
 This piece measured about 10" across.I chose to use a low fire technique so that I could get the white to have that lovely crackle effect. It is achieved by taking a very hot piece out of the kiln, and  quickly into a container with paper or wood to sort of shock it. If it doesn't break, then voila, you have the glaze forming tiny cracks which fill up with the black smokey color. This creates a more exciting look than just a flat white glaze, I think.  Looking at my creation I am reminded about how everything is interconnected, and how very intriguing that is in both life and art.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Art is Like Love

This is an original  calligraphy piece entitled "Art is Like Love". Then you read the next line. You have to be willing  to make a fool  of yourself. Therein is the challenge. It is all about taking a risk, facing the possibility that you will fall flat on your face, either with the person you care for  or the creation you are working on. 
Some of the risks  you can  calculate. On the art side it would be  what colors  I choose to use; what is my background going to look like;  my  letter and linear spacing. Going off the edge of the paper onto the mat with watercolor was a bit of a risk.This  is not the way one "usually" presents a finished piece.The  norm is to have the picture neatly inside the mat and frame. I wanted to get out of the box here to make my point, to push past the boundaries and take my viewer with me, even though it did not have  to be obvious to them why I took that approach. By taking the  risk of looking foolish, we often can create  our heart, or art's desire.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This card is entitled "Grandfather" and comes from an original calligraphy piece I did as an 11"by 14" framed exhibit entry. I used sepia ink and a real feather to emphasize its native connection.The words seems to connect to  a lot of people. It talks about  how a Native American Grandfather  has two wolves fighting in his heart. One is vengeful and angry, the other is compassionate and loving. When his grandson ask which wolf will win this fight in his heart, the Grandfather replies, " The one I feed".
Like everyone, I have those two sides of me, the loving and the not so loving  side. I guess it is a choice I face every day, how am I going to react to the challenges in front of me . Ever notice how it isn't the monumental problems that make us lose it, but the small everyday frustrations? The bad drivers in front of us; the painfully slow check out when we are in a hurry; the being on hold with an important call for what seems to be forever? 
 Which wolf will win the fight in my heart? The attitude I choose to take. I can choose to smile and go on, or not. Putting it in black and white is a nice reminder that, yes, my response Is  my choice, not the others' behavior .  What a creative process we live just by our reactions to everyday life. It is  the ultimate creation.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


This is a calligraphy card I created  entitled "Patience". It is another of my "ripped torn" collage series, with handmade papers,gold  watercolor, and ink on a white background. 
These aren't my words, but they could be. It makes me smile becasue of the inherent irony in the choice of the words. Patience is a hard one for me.The dictionary defines patient as meaning "capable of tranquilly awaiting results or outcomes". I think it is the tranquil part that often eludes me. I suspect  I go into my head, or into my story, if I do not get a response, engage with the other person, or get my outcome soon. Maybe that is why the wonderful world of texting has become  so popular. We get our answer Now.   
 Art can be  an excellent teacher of patience. It does no good to try and rush the time it takes the ink to dry. If I don't wait, it will smudge, and so I have to put it aside until it is the correct time to continue. I think artists become very good muti taskers, because we learn to do different things while we are waiting for the glue or the paint to dry. Sometimes we can even work on more than one piece at its various stages, really because the materials dictate proceeding to our next step. 
So am  I able to take these lessons and put them into my every day life? I am trying.
 Any helpful hints from my readers?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Peace Before Us

The peace before us.The peace before us. This is a 5" by 7" card I designed as part of my "ripped  torn" collage series. I decided to use my own words instead of another's  on this design and hopefully, those yet to follow on my creative journey.
 I remember looking out on the red rocks and noticing how peaceful the image looked to me.Shades of reddish browns, glimmering in the sun; ragged edges of rock formations that tucked into each other; a sense of harmony that nature always seems to offer to me.
This of course becomes the artist's  first challenge. How to convey these impressions in the creation?  I chose a Canson paper with a pattern for the darker shade. The lighter shades was something I had in my paper file.  There is always the element of surprise when one is tearing paper. So there is always the element of going with the flow, a way I like to work.I think the words I chose here came to me this way.
The materials actually help give direction, and then I adapt..Less is more. Empty space actually brings attention to the image before us. The vast, western blue sky sets off the smaller silhouettes of the mountains.Our attention then focuses on what is in that space. 
  I notice when I am out in nature I find it easier to look inward. So, if there is peace in front of my eyes, can I take it inside of me? This is a journey I am still on. 
Your thoughts?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Time To Every Purpose

" To every thing there is a season, and  a time to every purpose...", so says this quote from Ecclesiastes in the Bible. I found it such an inspiration I used it for this calligraphy piece with the same name. I had these small pieces of paper  I wanted to use, and each of these thoughts seemed to fit nicely in a linear pattern. Start with function, then go to form. Art has many paths. 
We probably know it better as a song we all listened to. But what a great concept,  for thoughts, ideas, meanings. Isn't it true  that every thing does seem have a natural be a time period? It can year in our life; a moment of waiting for that anticipated phone call; word about a job or an acceptance to  a show. Sometimes it can seem to take forever to get out of our grief or pain. Yet that day of pure joy can go away in just a flash. 
There seems to be a natural rhythm to all things. I am looking at a quote from Winston Churchill which says " If you are going through hell, keep going..". In other words,  something will be waiting for you if you just keep going on". I guess we have to trust.
In an artistic sense , we could say our work progresses at a natural rhythm.We can try to rush it along, but the ink will dry when it is ready; the watercolors will bleed into each other when they are too wet;the clay will dry when it is ready; the piece will be finished when it is time.  My, I feel reflective today. 
Any thoughts to share on this?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A long day

I was told by someone that the word size of my blog was a bit  too small, so let's make it easier to read.Now all I have to do is figure out what to write about today.
I just got back from a very long day of work at the gallery, followed by a  non optional meeting.  
Naturally, I had to top it off with a bit of tango. So the hours I was gone from home were long, but the balance of my day was acceptable.. We do what we must. We try to get some pleasure from it.For me it was making a sale of a beautiful turquoise vase similar to the one at the left. I did not even have to try to sell it,  the customer just showed up at the front desk with her trophy clutched in her hands, smiling. 
That's the really fun part about being in the gallery, and seeing  when the art work just speaks to someone and it is " theirs".You can tell how much they like it when they cannot let it go. This is a good thing. Really, it is so much more than just our salary, it is a validation that what we do is  appreciated by another person. Is it our ego? I think that is too simple. It is a meeting of  hearts and minds in regards to our vision.
 Any thoughts you'd care to share about this?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Fantasy, according to the dictionary, means
 " imagination unrestrained by reality; wild fancy". This is one of my masks in the "Spirit Seeker" series. As you can see it is not too much bigger than my hand. I can almost hold my fantasy in my hand. That's an interesting thought, isn't it? Usually it seems  most fantasies are up there in our heads.
 Come on now, don't we all have them? Often they are connected with someone of the opposite sex, being in the straight world as I am. Or they may be about that perfect life we want to be living; the job we desire; the trip not yet taken.It is almost as if we are in dream state with our eyes wide open.
We as artists have a free ticket to get on the fantasy ride. How else can we create except to conjure our concept, our fantasy up in our head? Then comes the real work, how to translate it into a tangible form that we can feel good about. First we create for ourselves. We hope our art is something that connects with a viewer, and they like it so much, they will give us money for it. The ultimate compliment and so we can pay our  electric bill.Utilities will not take art in lieu of money.Can you imagine...?
I like clay, it is so of the earth, so primal.I like the feel of it under my fingers. But then I want to add more to my image, usually it is feathers,even leather, hair or yarn.
 This wool I picked up off the fields in Iceland. The sheep had shed it, and while others were busy taking pictures, I was gathering up fluffy white stuff I knew would adorn one of my masks. The fantasy was not clear at that moment, but I knew it would be when I was back in my studio.. So let us take our dreams, or fantasies, and make them happen, or simply enjoy having them. 
 Thoughts to share?