Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tango in the Art of Ceramics

Here is another form of Tango.This ceramic box is in my current show entitled " Spirits", at the Jerome Artists' Cooperative,  about forty miles from where I live in Sedona, AZ.
It stands about seven inches tall and four and a half across. Large enough to store a treasure or more.
I've always loved to dance and started studying Argentine Tango some years ago. Tango colors are red and black.Here the couple on the top are very well matched.They dancing in what is called a " close embrace."
Tango is really a very disciplined dance. When you get good enough you can play more with your style. 
I knew I wanted to do something to celebrate my dance for the show. I guess it is part of my " folk art" style , which are often containers.
This container is made of porcelain clay, which is  fired to a  lower temperature in order to use these bright     colors. Afterwards, it goes into a primitive firing to get that nice crackle and patina. One always must hope that the delicate dancers stay standing, which these two did.
The art of ceramics always involves the unknown, just as the tango has that element of surprise.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Impressionism in the Garden at Giverny

Here I am in Claude Monet's gardens outside of his house in Giverny. Finally after so many years of visiting France, I  was here, in person.
As you wander through the gardens, seeing all the colors of  flowers ,plants,water in the ponds, it is easy to see how he could paint his " impressions"  of what lay before him.
Giverny is a Very small town. In fact you have to take a train to Vernon from Paris,  and then a bus or the " little train" eight kilometers to arrive there. What a clean little town.Flowers everywhere. 
It was a popular summer retreat for many painters,including Americans,  but Monsieur Monet was the best known in town. His visitors included Mary Cassatt, Cezanne and others. Now there are other French artists who have galleries along the one main street. It was fun talking about their art, in French, with them.
Monet  bought his rather large house in 1890, after he started selling in America, then bought more land nearby for the Jardin d'eau, the water garden.The house is pink with green shutters.In 1916, he built a large studio, which I think is now the gift shop. Here he worked on his  large canvases of the ponds and water lilies.They are now in L'Orangerie museum in Paris. Each canvas covers a wall.
 It was fascinating to watch the wind play with the lilies on the water, while I sat on a bench and just observed. The green leaves would stand up like little butterfly wings, and then lay down again. I think maybe that is one of my fondest impressions of the Garden in Giverny.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Newest of an Ancient Art

Did you know the oldest mask found was dated 7000 BC.?  I didn't . This       " Small Spirit" is dated 2018,  a  recent addition to my portfolio. It measures about eight inches, including all its decorative additions. I am having a show starting this October at the Jerome Artists' Cooperative .
 I enjoy creating  new surprises to display. I am now entranced with adding stones and beads to the copper wire I use to hang this ceramic image.They seem to float. If you look closely, you can see the  two blue beads I created. Easier to match colors, although clay is always risky. 
It also got me wondering about all the masks every where, which are so much a part of our world culture.
In 13th century Venice, Italy, masks were worn at  Carnival, perhaps to get around the rigid society of its time. Dia de las Muertes in Mexico invites the Calveras, or skull, honoring the dead and acknowledging that it will visit us all at one point. Africa has long been a source of these images. In China they show up at the celebration to bring in the new Year.Masks are used for protection;disguise; ritual, and entertainment, and come in all sizes and  materials.
 My passion is clay, and certainly in my travels I have seen others who use this medium. I started making the miniature size because they seemed so detailed and yet so ...small. Something you can even hold in your hand. Surely there is a space in everyone's life for something so petit and yet intriguing?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Studio Art

Here I am in my clay studio, in Sedona, AZ.  Behind me are the shelves with my ceramics at various stages of completion. In my hands is one of my miniature masks in its       " green ware form." What that means is I am dealing with just dried clay in a shape that can break if I hold it wrong, or use a tool incorrectly. It is in its most fragile state now. Here's  where the touch of experience comes in, or tries not to. 
Next job: put it into the kiln and low fire to the bisque stage. This actually comes from the term used hundreds of years ago by the British potteries, back when everything was totally carried out  by hand. Once fired, the clay would have the consistency of a biscuit.
  It is now more difficult to break, hence easier to handle, and able to take glaze.That's an important step toward completion. To my right is the mask that has had its purple glaze and awaits the final firing. As you can see, it is white. After firing, it turns dark, and the color stand out . Native American in the southwest  make their pottery in a similar style.
Then it gets complicated. I need Lots of Time for the assemblage: copper wire wrapped , then gently covered with yarn ; bent finger ; leather backing, ;  burnt fingers on hot glue ; find handmade bead to decorate, Or I have to make it! and finally, Give a hair cut. 
The Art of the studio, and ...in the studio.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Beach Creativity

 Beach Creativity is a good theme for all artists. For me this  is going to the beach for a week in the hot summer days of Sedona, AZ. Here I am in California,   mesmerized by the hypnotic quality of the endless waves. They start way out under the sea, then crash in by the shore, engaging all my senses. 
You see it. You can smell it, and certainly you can watch it endlessly. 
 It is also finding the perfect wave, and riding into shore on my trusty boogie board. Hopefully I don't wipe out too badly, step on a sting ray, or swallow the ocean. Then it is a good run. 
Why do I call it Beach creativity? For one thing, you focus on the "now" right in front of you, as you must when starting into your creative work. Also, I think we all need a break, a vacation  from living  in our minds. These sights and sounds often help forget all the " shoulds " we tell ourselves to be doing. We  are only present in the nature before us.
And finally there seems to be clearing of the mind , a readiness to go on, when this beach is only a memory. Is there inspiration drifting in my mind as I return to my ceramics or calligraphy ? I hope so. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Mug That is Really a Cup

I just completed these porcelain  mugs that have no handles. So would they be called cups?
I think so. Japanese tea cups traditionally have no handles. This is the shape and design of my high fired   mountain mugs that have handles. My turquoise glaze and hand carved design of the  red rocks I see outside of my studio are my trademark.  The stain is the same iron oxide that makes our hills reddish in color. A true Sedona experience. 
The  client  request was to have no handles. This is someone who likes to feel the warmth of  the liquid within; who  wants to be a part of the enjoyment of the drink they are having at that time. 
I like to make a round, organic shape when I am throwing this style vessel . I do want the hands to fit around the cup . Feel, as well as shape has always been a factor in my clay work. I do a lot of hand building but this is really my wheel thrown style for the mug/ cup. So it was a fun adventure to make a mug that is really a cup.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Birds in the Air, and on the Wall

The birds are in the air now, but this one is hanging on a gallery wall here in Sedona, AZ., where I live and have my studio.
It is part of my "Birdman " series of miniature ceramic masks. It measures around 5 inches tall- fits in the palm of your hand, if you so desire. Much less likely to fly away than the real one.
I started  making my smaller masks some time ago. I love working big, yet  everyone seems to have too many larger items on their wall.  I enjoy creating an item that can fit in the palm of your hand, or find a tiny wall where they could "perch". People seem to be drawn to birds, as I am. So this seemed a good art piece  for springtime.
I create these creatures from porcelain clay, my preference for all things ceramics. However, I want the bright colors and contrast with the dark background. Hence, this little guy is fired at a lower temperature, and then goes into the primitive firing with combustibles.
After that, I make the hanger,  and decorate with feathers. Since birds naturally molt, I get the colorful ones from my friend with an aviary.
Now my customer can look at birds in the sky, or maybe on their own walls. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Here is another side of my creative brain, and hands, and thoughts...
It is my latest  ceramic sculpture entitled "What's on Your Mind". It was recently in a show held at the Sedona Arts Center, here in Sedona, Arizona.
Standing  almost a foot tall, you see a pleasant looking, glazed woman's head,  with a wee person sitting there.
This little celadon green figure, a female by anatomy, has her tiny feet dangling into a lovely, purple colored pool. Artistic license on my part. Who knows what colors are inside our head? 
What inspired me was that little voice that talks to me.  It can  give me  good advice, or not.
In Sanskrit it is called the Citta Vritti, which translates to mind chatter. I think this is a universal condition, so I decided to interpret this in my medium of clay. I chose to use low fire glazes for the mood they set.
  As I  create, the more I enjoy art that makes me, and others,  smile. Then perhaps it makes us interpret things in a new way. So I would say to you as you look at my art  "What is on Your mind ? "

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Newest Handmade Book

Here is my newest hand made book that I just finished making this week. I actually started with finding and decorating the box in which it rests. Then I figured out the content. The design of the book is an accordion fold, with a turned up " pocket" on the bottom of each page. You can that in the photo.That way, you can slip in and out the different papers as you wish.There are sixteen pages in all.                       
I chose lots of color for this project. All sides of the box; the red book cloth; even the dyed porcupine  quills on the front. My paper was brown wrapping paper because that was all I had long enough for the folded pages I chose to complete in one sequence.                                            Necessity is a good teacher.                                     
The topic I chose was American Indian sign language, based on a book published in the 1920s  by William Tompkins. Growing up in the Dakota Territories, he learned to sign with his neighbors, the Sioux Indians. I took pages from the Dover edition and printed them on colorful paper, choosing words and expressions to give an introduction to another new language. I did learn the sign for book. Both hands opened flat, next to each other. So really this a book of communication. If you are interested in seeing more, you can contact me  on my blog, here in Sedona, Arizona. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Art of Gems

Here I am at the Tucson Gem Show, a far way from Sedona. Here is a world of temptation, with people from all over the world selling beads, gems, and all manner of jewels. 
I have always made jewelry, primarily using the handmade porcelain beads I make and fire in my kiln. 
My horizons are expanding.
I am also now creating my "Jewels" using glass beads, like this gold set to the left. I like the idea that with  an earring and necklace set, you can feel " put together" as you walk out the door. 
It is really not as simple as putting some beads on a wire. There is the color scheme to choose. The choice of spacing  beads can also make an impact. What is the desired end result, simple or dramatic?
It has been an interesting path for me. I think part of the appeal  is that it doesn't take  months from start to finish.  Often that is the time frame with my ceramics. I can actually see end results sooner than later. That is very fulfilling to me to get some gratification before the sun sets.
As I continue to sort and choose my beads , like all art, the medium tells me which direction to go. It is a fun learning process, the art of the gems,