Saturday, November 30, 2013

Giving Thanks in Calligraphy, and Life

I have been busy in my studio creating calligraphy cards.This message seems appropriate, since we just completed celebrating  Thanksgiving here in my town of Sedona, Arizona. 
This is a holiday that is celebrated in the US and Canada. A poorly documented history credits its start to a celebration  by the pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1621. However a celebration of the harvest is an old custom in the old world, thus a natural way to give thanks in our country. Remember, we were an agricultural nation for a very long time. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a joint resolution with Congress, setting aside the fourth Thursday of November as the holiday of Thanksgiving.
I was raised to write a note of thanks after receiving a gift, or a kindness from someone. Looking back I want to thank my mother for creating this habit.Now I am lucky enough to make my card from start to finish. 
When I have completed my original artwork, I print them onto card stock. I add the watercolors to enhance my message. There is always a very serendipitous quality to my designs. I have learned that less is more.Watercolor is tricky. Once you make the mark, it is there to stay. As I paint each card, I do think of how grateful I am for all the good things  and people in my life. We live in a complicated world. It is nice to stop and give thanks occasionally.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hawaii as the Artist's Inspiration

I just returned from an inspiring trip to our 50th state of  Hawaii. Here I am on the beach in Oahu, with Diamond Head in the background.
 I was celebrating someone's birthday, but just being there is a celebration of life. I live in a beautiful part of America, but I used to be a California beach girl, and sometimes I miss my ocean. Hawaii is sweet because the water is fairly warm, and there are pretty fishes to look at with my goggles. I do like my animals. They are often part of  my ceramics, as are handmade flowers.
I remember as a young girl when Hawaii became a state in 1959. It seemed so far away and exotic. It was first populated by the Polynesians some 1,550 years ago. Since 1778, when voyager Captain Cook named them the Sandwich Islands, Hawaii has long been a center of trade. The rich volcanic soil and warm climates made it profitable for growing sugar cane and pineapple.
The last reigning  Queen Lili'uokalni, lost her kingdom in 1998, to the United States. The new Territory of Hawaii had  Sanford Dole as the first governor. Pineapple anyone?
Today, agriculture has given way to houses. Honolulu is 
 a big city, with great public transportation as well as numerous homeless people in those lovely parks. Many Japanese and Australian tourists who love the shopping come to Hawaii.There are a few wandering artist types from Sedona as well.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Artist in Her Studio

Here I am in my ceramics studio in Sedona, Arizona. This is a lovely raku jar I have just completed.  Really, I am no longer working on it,it is ready to sell.This is both the artist and her studio  cleaned up for the photo.
However, I am in my place of creation, in the chair I always sit on, and the table I have worked at for the past 25 years, using my well worn tools. In the background are my supplies, and  the shelves containing  porcelain green ware that is waiting to be put in the kiln.Green ware refers to clay that is simply dried , and would crumble in a minute if not handled carefully. Once it is bisque fired, there is some strength to it. Then it can receive a glaze, and after the second, higher temperature firing, it is complete. The raku process has only a primitive second firing, so it is more decorative in nature.
This is one of my smallest studios in my creative career, but it is very efficient. I knew I had to fit in my work table, which is about four feet square. I rescued it from the Sedona dump many years ago. I call it my lucky table.In fact that wall in the studio was designed to fit that surface. I guess there are some superstitions in my mind. But remember, I do know the mysterious kiln gods do have power to make a good  firing. 
Hope you enjoyed the  mini tour of my studio!  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Calligraphy in Sedona

It is fall in Sedona. The leaves are falling. The red rocks stand out against the blue sky in all  their hues and shadows. To me these mountains look like a painting with all their variations of light and dark, shadow and brilliance.I like to bring this into my art. 
This is an original watercolor of mine, approximately eight by ten inches. I printed out the calligraphy first, then applied the paint. I like  using  a lot of water with these pigments. The two elements seem to have a mind of their own as they meander over the paper. I turn the paper first in one direction, then another, achieving  a blending of  colors. Watercolor has that element of chance and surprise to it.Rejoice in that quality! Don't go back over your strokes, or try to blend  a lot.Then you get muddy colors  and torn paper.Once the mark is made, leave it alone!
I chose a quote by one of my favorite authors and noted philosophers, Henry David Thoreau. He  passed away a hundred and fifty years ago, yet to me, his writngs ring clear and true.  I find such a relevance to his words. Nature was his inspiration, and always, it is mine.