Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Look Back, and then Forward....

Here it is the last day of 2017  here in Sedona, Arizona. Like many, I get kind of nostalgic about how fast this last year " slipped by". This is a poem I wrote and penned in calligraphy  that seems to sum it up, especially these last  verses:    "Who could have imagined?   There was always more space                                          Out there in the future, No, it's gone with no trace."
           "Where did it go, that ten years ago? "
"Amazement at life's passage, No regrets, well maybe some
But that ultimate question, How much yet to come?...

So many pieces to create, and who ever knows our time frame? I have been very active in my head these last two months. Ideas are taking shape and yet I have not gotten into actually going through the final task of Doing them. Sound familiar?
My friend calls this " Artistic tension" , when your stomach churns and you don't know how you will possibly follow through and create the reality of what is in your head. 
But it will happen, next year, I'm thinking.
Not only a resolution, but I say this With resolution.
And you: what dreams do you plan to carry out as a whole new year commences?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Art of Origami in a Handmade Book

This is my latest handmade creation in the wonderful world of handmade books I make as an extension of my art of calligraphy. After all, the writing was always put in handmade books back in the very early days.
Known as the  Bookboard  style, with a slip knot binding, there are  12 pages, made out of a sturdy cardboard.
Since each side is covered with a decorative page, there are really are 24 images to view. Finding all the decorative paper was a challenge. I ended up buying a notebook of these designs, which I decided to mix and match, using  with a crystal  theme. Purples, and greens and pinks! The edges are sprayed with a gold paint, and the binding a consecutive slip knot  made from green embroidery thread. 
 What makes this one so intriguing, is that the inside is filled with origami foldouts on many of the pages. While this appears facile, making the exact folds is really tricky. I  used the thin, shiny origami paper, which takes the folds so well. The instructor has a notebook full of these patterns she shared with us.
This is a new learning process for me , and will take some practice. I did manage to  put  different designs throughout the pages. Not quite complete, I am still thinking of what  surprises to add for the finishing touches.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Flourishes in Calligraphy

Here is my hand on the page doing calligraphic flourishes. You know, all those elegant designs done with your pen that make a word or page stand out. 
I was lucky enough  to recently take a day's workshop with Paul Antonio, a six foot tall Englishman who creates calligraphy for the Queen of England. Their country has a long tradition, and appreciation, of handwritten work. Plus there is all that nobility and honors they give out. 
He really starts with the basics: how you are sitting; what is the position of your hand, and the pen you are holding. We used the pointed nib, commonly used in Copperplate styles going back to  the 16th century. The rules  apply to using a  broad nib also. Then there is  breathing: Upstroke -inhale; down stroke- exhale.  Ever notice we often hold our breath when we are working on fine art details? I know I do. That's a lesson I want to hold onto. 
Paul pays lots of attention to the mathematical shapes and angles involved. We began drawing ellipses with a pencil, that later become those same patterns  in ink. Teach the hand through repetition.
I like to refresh my calligraphy  by taking a course when I can. Living in Sedona always means travel to the teacher.  We all get into habits, often not very good ones. An English accent makes that critique a bit easier. 
He recommends 20 minutes every other day of practice. I'm on it. Ideas are dancing in my head about how to apply these lessons. Ah hah. The holidays Are coming up... 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Calligraphy to Honor the Civil Rights Movement

This is the poem I just completed in Calligraphy. It concerns the life and struggles of Mississippi civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer.
It is written in the Italic style and fitting in all the words meant an extra long piece of paper, plus lots of effort to make No Mistakes in the words of the author, Dan Richard. He was so moved by the story of her personal struggles that he wrote this poem, which was read to Dr. Martin Luther King. He commissioned me to make this handwritten tribute to her which will hang in the Civil Rights Museum in Belzoni, MS.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"Outrageous "Calligraphy

Here is a framed print of my calligraphic piece entitled     " Outrageous". It is part of my "ripped torn series", where I use my hands, never scissors, to tear the papers and create that loose effect I am after. 
I prefer using  handmade paper whenever possible.   It's the texture, and the way it rips that can even leave intriguing bits of thread  to create my  desired image. I use a heavy white stock to write my message in the Italic alphabet, in black ink. I like to add a metallic water color as an accent. Since I chose gold paint , my frame color was to pick up this hue. This is one of the smaller prints, but I also show this as a card.
Finally, I think the message is why I chose this for today's blog. It reads as follows:" I want to be an outrageous old woman who never gets called old lady. I want to get leaner and meaner, sharp edged and earth colored 'til I fade away from pure Joy!". Author Unknown. 
As my years on this earth mount up, I want to engage and rejoice in my individuality. Pure joy seems a nice way to go. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Le Chat in a Bowl

Here I am again in my white bowl series. Made out of high fired porcelain, this one has a specific name." Le Chat" is French for  the cat. French is a language I like to speak and carry it into my work, when possible.
I started doing my "critter" series a while ago. The cat is the perfect creature to abstract, because they all have a certain silhouette. Now with a dog, you are going to want to see the small breed, or the larger; the long haired or sleeker profile. A cat is a cat. I have recently begun to appreciate this animal as I am getting to know a couple as personal friends here in Sedona, where I live.
 You notice its unusual shape? Who says all bowls must be round? I make this by hand.The design is drawn in cobalt blue oxide, then covered with a clear, transparent, lead free glaze that makes it easy to clean. The color white you see is the actual clay. itself.
People often want to buy it for their pet to eat out of. Perfectly understandable. I also enjoy  that as I get to the bottom of the bowl, my cereal is peeking out between the ears or tail. Art that  makes  you smile. I like that.


Friday, July 28, 2017

White bowl with Pear

It is summertime in the high desert, here in Sedona. My white, porcelain  bowl, holding its ripe fruit, just seems to fit into the season and the mood of this late afternoon. The monsoon has just come. The air is heavy with moisture and it is getting darker outside.The light color of this bowl shows off not only its form, but what it holds inside.
This is part of my series of handmade bowls with a clear, shiny glaze over it.You are actually looking at the color of the clay itself! Fired to a very high temperature, this bowl can go in the oven, is food safe, and may last longer than us, if taken care of. 
The outside surface is intentionally textured to better show off the iron oxide stain I have added. As I tell people, "This is what makes the red rocks of Sedona , red."  I like the juxtaposition of the smooth interior and the rough of the exterior.The yin and the yang of my creation.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Visiting Victor Hugo

Here I am in front of Victor Hugo's  house. It is located  in the Place Vosges, a very nice little park area  on the right bank of Paris. It was late at night, after a very nice meal,  and the museum was closed. It was a thrill to me to be where this  writer, artist,  and poet of the nineteenth century  created some of  those works we know.
Remember  the movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"? This man wrote the book. I read Les Miserables as a young girl and it moved me then. Born in 1802, and living until 1885, he saw many changes in his country and world . His work touches upon the political, social, and artistic issues of his time. He served in the National Assembly and campaigned against the death penalty. A rather outspoken critic of what he deemed unjust politics, this man was not afraid to speak his mind.
Hugo is an artist I have always  respected. I found out he is buried in the Pantheon, on the left bank, near the Sorbonne.That was the area I stayed when I first visited Paris almost 50 years ago.  Life does go in circles.
 Now I am back in Sedona, Arizona, remembering my visit and thinking about what I will be creating next.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

How do Artists Sell their work in Paris?

Here I am last week at an art "exposition", over in Paris, France. I was staying in the Marais area, which is full of quite sophisticated art galleries. But this was something different. 
In a large room named Halle des Blancs Manteaux, 
 (Hall of the White Coats) there were some 60 artists exhibiting their work for the weekend. To do this, they had to pay the promoter about $1,000 euros each.  A euro is about $1.15 each. So we artists always seem to pay to show, it's just quite pricey there.
I had a fun time going around and talking with various exhibitors. Speaking French is a big help. We had literally stumbled onto this opening on a Saturday evening. It closed at 8pm in the evening. Maybe to  go to eat dinner.   They
do that later over there. Have you ever tried to find a restaurant serving food in Sedona after nine pm?  Believe me, it doesn't happen here in rural Arizona.
The artist with me is named Hortense Varillon and she had the most cunning images on glass, almost in a shadow box. I had not seen anything like it and we got to talking. Funny how some things are universal. "Are you selling", I asked and got a spiel about how difficult it is to sell art today . I found this the common complaint from other exhibitors in the Halle, and the level of work was quite high. I bought her a beer, since I was not the optimum art customer this trip.
So how do artist try to sell their work in Paris? They do  whatever they can do, just like us.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Native Sculptures

Here are my latest "Native Sculptures". They stand about a foot tall each, and even though they are two separate creations, they like to hang out together. Such new pieces, they are still here in my studio display shelves.
As you can see , they are well dressed and bejeweled. Real Arizona turquoise on their neck and ears. From my study of southwestern and other tribes, plus  historical evidence, adornment is definitely observed by both sexes. I like using real stones, making them more authentic.
Their robes are likely blankets, which has long been a custom for outer wear. I have taken artistic license and my turquoise glaze seemed  appropriate for my desired results. 
These were constructed as large clay slabs, built around a loose form. High fire porcelain shrinks quite a bit, so you can imagine how tall these forms seemed when first they entered my kiln. I constructed their heads separately, and then attached them. Faces are always a challenge. How to create charater starting with a piece of the earth?
I feel my Native Sculpture  show their personalities.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Ceramic Tree

Some people grow trees in the forest, but me, I like to create them in my art studio here in Sedona, AZ. 
 This is a vase I made a while ago. There were two of them originally, similar, but each unique. Then, because I make my living this way, I sold one to a nice client who wanted a tree for her living space. 
You see, it is actually a vase, with a hollow inside that is glazed an elegant blue. Maybe it is the  sky reflected inward. You can use it to hold flowers, or just as a sculpture to enjoy.
This is a hand rolled piece, created from a slab of dark clay, which I inscribed with this bark pattern. It stands about nine inches tall. It is not  smooth, but has  texture, to which  I added an  iron stain for emphasis. As with all high fire clay, there is always the element of surprise, a variation in hues depending on where it was in the kiln, or how the kiln gods felt on that particular day . I have created a one of a kind ceramic tree.
But then, what in nature is exactly the same?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

"Cloudy with Lightening in Today's Windchimes"

Today is a cloudy day here in Sedona. It reminds me of this recent wind chime I created  for a client. He wanted lightening and clouds and all in blue. Here is the result. 
It was an adventure creating a whole new pattern for my porcelain  chimes. There is  the aesthetics of the creation; the shapes to create; the  cobalt blue color I paint onto into the bisqued clay pieces before their second and final firing. Because I fire these pieces to a very high temperature, it makes them stronger and the resulting sounds are sweeter.
Chimes have been around for a very long time. Since I work in clay, this is my choice for this creation. Every set I make has a unique design. Custom orders always add an incentive to expand one's abilities as a artist. They can also drive you crazy. This was fun.
I roll out my porcelain clay body into rather thin slabs of clay; create a pattern on the surface, then cut out the designs. While cutting out the clouds and lightening pieces, I was planning how to string the finished pieces on the fishing line. I love the tinkling sound created by  the different pieces lightly bumping  into each other as the wind moves them. Actually,  chimes are a form of a percussion instrument, just using nature as the artist to create the sounds.
So the final weather report for today: Cloudy with lightening inn today's wind chimes. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Calligraphy: the Art that Lasts

I am in the library of the country club here in  the Sedona area, standing in front of my own calligraphy. This commission came from the interior decorator redoing this room. Her idea was to have framed quotes about books on the walls. 
On the top are the words of Cicero:" A room without books is like a body without a soul". This Roman, who died in 43 BC, was obviously  a reader. Below is a quote from John Ruskin, (1819 -1900.) " No Book is worth anything until it has been read".  There are a few other framed selections around the room.
My work is dated 2004, which  kind of caught me by surprise. Where did all those years go ? The good thing is I am still pleased with how it looks, which as an artist is always what we want.
 I chose to write in  the Uncial style of alphabet, historically one of the oldest, used in  the earliest manuscripts. I like this hand and it seemed the correct choice since I could add decorative embellishments. It's fun to do that.
Calligraphy is such an ancient art form. It has stood the test of time and reminds us how important a tool is the the human hand. I am pleased to see my own calligraphy is still an art form that lasts. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Art of the Maze

Here  I am on the road to  completing the "Maze book with Rod -edged Bindings", yet another of my hand made books.
 That's a a complicated title, isn't it? Simply stated, this is what is known as an accordion style book which uses metal rods along the edges  as a means of attaching each page another. Yes, these are pages, blank as of this moment .Later, perhaps it may contain my calligraphy about some theme that inspires me. 
I cut out each of my ten pages  from mat board, cut into four inch squares.Then comes the hunt to find tiny little metal rods , no thicker than the diameter of that board. The cover is slightly bigger, decorated with  that fancy paper  you see peeking out. Each rod is covered in book cloth, which is then meticulously glued to each side of my standing page. Holes are pushed out with a Japanese  hole punch, a nifty little device that I had to borrow to make this project.Finally, each page must be sewn to another, both top and bottom to make that binding frirm. Very elegant to look at, I think.
 I'm part of a group of extremely talented book makers, who are generous with time and materials as we all take turns teaching a new book to the others.We artists work so much alone, it can be very inspiring, as well as informative to observe how we all interpret the same book in our own style.This is a work in progress. I will see what turn the maze next follows!.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Art of Letting Go

I sold "The Red, the White and the Blue"  platter  this week. I was so happy when the customer said " I'll take it." Aren't we are in business to sell? The justification of all our hard work; the recognition of our talent? Yes, of course.
So why do I feel a sense of loss ? Well, I genuinely liked this piece, feeling I achieved what I set out to create, and then some. We don't necessarily have success from an idea to its reality .
 People say, " Well,  you can just make it again." Not always. Ceramics is a tricky business. You follow all the rules and the piece cracks, or the glaze isn't clear. As I tell my clients, there Is always the element of magic involved.
Perhaps  my lesson is that I must remember there is an art to letting go of one's special creations. To know that it makes someone smile when they look at it, this has got to be the real payment. How do you other artists feel about this subject?

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Art of the Atlantic

Here I am walking along the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach, Florida, on my recent birthday.  What a grand piece of art is this body of water. The sound of the waves, and the smell of the surf is nice for someone who lives in the high desert of Sedona, Arizona.The vista is wide and flat, unlike our mountainous western states. Usually I go the closer Pacific, so it was a different feel to arrive on the eastern shore.
 Did you know that the Atlantic is the second largest ocean in the world?  At 41,100,000 square miles, it covers approximately 20 % of the earth's surface. On average, it is the saltiest of the major oceans. It occupies an elongated S shaped basin extending between Eurasia, Africa and the Americas. The old world and the new. Can you imagine those sailors and settlers going off into the unknown in their small vessel, on a  notoriously changeable body of water?      
I find this vast body of water a real inspiration of the endless rhythms of nature, the ebb and flow of life. How will this find a form in my ceramics or calligraphy I am not certain. But it will. There is great art to the Atlantic.