Thursday, January 22, 2015

Punching Above Your Weight

Here goes nothing...

Sometimes we get in above our heads. There is an idea of how a piece should look. We have mental plans, or we have sketches in our sketchbooks. We have expectations. And, things go wrong. Terribly wrong.

I have a little girl in my class who is a genuinely talented artist. In fact, I would say that she is a gifted artist. She has amazing craftsmanship, and is excellent at drawing. Recently, we made two ceramic cups. I could tell that she was really frustrated. Instead of just sticking with a simple cylinder for the first cup, she tried to make it into a swan cup. The body of the swan would hold the liquid. It didn't work. She ended up modifying it to make a simple mug, with raised decorations on the side. Her second cup was a complete cock up! She tried to make a horse mug. It was a mug, with the head of a horse and the body was the vessel. I watched her in agony, trying to make it work. I could tell that she had an idea in her head, and the clay was not behaving. Her hands couldn't make sense of the material.

On two different occasions, she refused to glaze either cup. So, today, I started glazing the horse cup, in order to goad her into taking over from me. It brought her over to the table, to glaze her other cup. Then, I walked away and had her glaze outside, with a parent supervisor, along with a handful of other students. When I saw her finished cup, it was perfectly lovely. She had blended the colors, and made a swirled design on the interior. She also finished the horse mug.

I, too, suffer from my preconceived notions of what my artwork should be. I recently spent hours making a piece to enter in a clay and glass show. It survived the bisque firing beautifully. Then, I spent an entire day, glazing and finishing the piece. After which, I lovingly sanded it, in order to give it an antique finish. Of course, it cracked during the second firing. So, I was unable to apply a wash and fire it a third time, as is my custom. I usually try not to set myself up for failure, by often imagining the worst possible case scenario. But, in this instance, I believed that the piece would turn out on time to apply for the show. I didn't plan for the fickle nature of the clay.

So, it's back to the drawing board. This time, I'm hedging my bet with two pieces that I built during Christmas vacation. I think that I can finish them on time. They're not the pieces that I wanted to enter (in my mind), but, I need to make them into those pieces. Flexible thinking, that's the key… at least that's the concept that I shared with my student.

Cracked and ruined...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.