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".