Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why Museums?

Gris.
Why look at art? What's the point? Well, here are a few reasons...

-We live in a highly visual world. We are bombarded with imagery. In many instances, the imagery isn't positive. Art forces us to understand how images communicate, and how they affect us in a positive or negative way. Observing the visual communication in art, makes us have better discernment in the greater arena of imagery.

-Art, like literature, causes us to make connections from a work to our own lives. It allows us to feel empathy for others. It is why looking at Starry Night can make us weep for Van Gogh. 

-Taking time out in our busy, crazy, driven world, to stop and concentrate on art, makes us present. It encourages mindfulness and awareness. If we sit and study a work, it causes us to notice detail.

-Art often tells stories. If we take the time to observe a piece of art, it can reveal another world. It can also take us back in time through history. Picasso's Guernica is an example of witnessing the heartache and horror of the Spanish Civil War.

-Art is the currency of culture, along with music. It is our reason for being. It is the first thing that we save when under attack, because it tells who we are. A case in point is the French people hiding their art work during the invasion of Paris by Germany during World War II. Conversely, it is the reason that Hitler destroyed so much "degenerate art". He was systematically destroying culture.

-Studying visually, gives us heightened awareness and better concentration. Our world is full of distractions. Taking a minute to set down the phone, and to look at art for a prolonged period allows us to focus.

-Looking at art in a museum, forces us to notice the art that is actually all around us. We are surrounded by typography, architecture, murals, public sculpture, and many other forms of art, that we sometimes don't observe.

-Art is effort. As an artist, I understand the tremendous effort that goes into making work. It is a lifelong profession. It requires devotion and practice to perfect a craft or skill.

-Art makes us human. It links people across cultures. When I travel, I understand a culture better, by seeing their art and by hearing their music.

So, why should kids be exposed to viewing art? Well, the reasons for kids, are exactly the same as the reasons that I previously mentioned. But, I will add one more. Many kids love to draw and to make art. It is a natural thing for them. As they get older, many give up on creating art. Those who don't, are often made to feel different, because they haven't given up on it. So, attending a museum is validation for them. They realize that the world is full of people like them, people who like to create. 

These photos are pieces that I have seen in museums, that have floored me. What I mean is, that I was not expecting them, not expecting their power and presence. The Manet painting, in the National Gallery, practically screamed from the wall. It took over the entire room. No other paintings could compete with the drama of the composition. At one point in my life, I was very sad. I would visit the Rodin sculpture garden at night. The photo shows a figure that is carrying a huge burden, but carries it with grace and beauty. Seeing it lit up at night was an inspiration. I saw the Brancusi sculpture when I visited my sister in New York City, when I was in high school. I still remember turning the corner of a hallway, and walking into a room with this sculpture. Again, it dominated the room. The texture was heavenly. And, I loved the contrast between the polished "fish" and the cement base. Genius. Gris is a master of cubist form. But, beyond that, his ideas about color were revolutionary. He understood composition so well.

So, take joy in art. In viewing it, in trying to understand it, and in making it.



Brancusi.
Manet.
Rodin.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Slump Busting

Let them eat cake...

It's very easy after a successful Open Studios, to let your brain twist you into a tired slump. In November, I had the feeling that I was heading towards no man's land in my clay studio. I didn't feel like working. I felt awkward about what I had been making to sell.

Luckily, I was able to make some work for a show that happens around the end of December. It helped me to keep my hands in the wet clay, and to keep on making. Another show, this time sculptural, had a fast approaching deadline. I told myself that I was going to enter. So, I started working on pieces during Christmas vacation in December. And, now I'm just going to squeak in with my application at the deadline. 

Cake wedges were an object that I practiced making several years ago. I made about seven or eight of them, repeatedly trying out the complicated hollow form. Now, with that experience under my belt, it seemed like a good time to revisit the form. But, to apply a narrative structure. So, I started making some cakes that tell stories. So far, I've made a Marie Antoinette cake and a Miss Havisham cake. I am definitely interested in making others.

Miss Havisham lived in a decaying world of her own...

I was also able to make some wall pieces to enter into the sculpture show. These required a great deal of work and some careful firing. I'm so grateful that they turned out.

Faith wall hearts...

I've been reading this book, in order to tap into my creativity. It has some delightful projects inside. Hoping to make some connections between the ideas that percolate when reading this, and clay.


Genius...

Yes...

Illustrated Clay

Watched a demonstration by Kevin Snipes...
He builds in porcelain and uses a variety of illustration methods...
His strength is in translating his drawing to porcelain vessels...
This is the lid of his jar...
Love the complex flange on this square box...
Putting on some feet...
Demonstrating how to build models of work with poster board...
Loved this paper model in his slideshow...
Made a three sided vase to illustrate...
Used mishima and sgraffito to illustrate...
Scraping the nearly bone dry porcelain, to reveal the inlay...
Loved watching him carve her hair...
The other side of the vase...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Je suis très fatiguée."

Finished the coats on these wall hearts...
Finished glazing with ivory underglaze...
Finished glazing these sculpture toppers...
Touched up and wiped these beads the kids glazed...
Now it just needs sanding...
Finally, I can eat in the kitchen...
Started a basket last night to relieve some stress...
The studio manager is pleased with the progress...
Warming up with a full load...
Still more to do and to glaze and fire...
Now it's time to cast some bases...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Calamity Becomes Closure

The kids glazed these flat "cracker" beads today...

My class is making three large sculpture poles composed of assorted beads. This afternoon, I brought everything home, and started to clean and prep for firing a kiln load tonight. This morning, several fifth graders came into my classroom, before school, and started complaining that they didn't get to do a project like this last year. One student said, "Yeah, you didn't do anything with us." I almost choked on my tea. We worked on so many ceramic projects last year, that it felt like my kiln hardly had a chance to cool down. Anyway, all fifth grader bitterness aside, I hope we make our deadline to enter "Sculpture Is", which is a show hosted by Sierra Azul Nursery and the Pajaro Valley Arts Council. The deadline is looming large! Can't wait to have my kitchen back for actual dining.


I'm finishing the base beads...
Touching up and sponging the kid glazed "onion rings"...
So much to do...
The kiln has a full load for the first glaze firing...
Now, more room for my entries...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter White Out

Firing three sculpture pieces at once...
Making sculpture tops and forcing them to dry...
Working on adding color to a wall piece...
Applying and sanding "snowdrift" to a cake stand...
Linen colored underglaze on a cake plate...
Sanded, and then will have a final brown wash...
And now, some real color...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bedlam

Willing these spacer beads to dry faster...

My garage floods every time it rains. It doesn't need to rain much. And, my kiln is located in the garage. Don't worry, it's up on blocks, along with practically everything else in my garage, including the lawnmower. I really feel uncomfortable running the kiln, when it's raining, for that reason. Tight deadlines are bearing down on us, but so is inclement weather. I know that we're in a drought, but it would be nice for a little let-up from El Nino. Just until mid February...


These pieces will make it into tomorrow night's firing...

These need more time, and the damp weather isn't helping...

Hoping to load these, and to keep the rain at bay until Friday night...