Thursday, July 16, 2015

What's It All About?

Sometimes I wonder about how I spend my summers. For the past four or five years, I've used my summers to prepare work for Open Studios, which happens during each October. It seems like my daily summer schedule involves waking at about 8 a.m., working in the clay shed until the summer heat becomes unbearable (and the fan ceases to help), taking a shower, having some quiet reading time, a short nap, and then back to work until late evening. Why?! Summers are supposed to be for lounging or loafing.

But, before Open Studios, before getting my kiln, I was still making stuff relentlessly all during each summer. Or, I would take classes at a local community college, so that I could kiln mooch. Before that, I worked at a year round school, where teachers and students had six weeks of school, followed by three weeks off. During those three weeks, I spent every available moment making things. One time, after looking at a book filled with mobiles, I decided to make mobiles for three weeks. On another break, I tiled a table. And, there were many paintings created, too numerous to count.

So, what does all that effort gain? Today, while driving in traffic on the great Pacific Coast Highway, I kept thinking, "What does all the effort gain?"

Here's what I think happens. The more you make, the more you understand what you're making. And, the more you develop your problem solving skills. It becomes addictive, that feeling of fear. Followed by the struggle. And, if you're lucky, there is a feeling of accomplishment or success. You've said what you wanted to say. The interior is now the exterior. It's almost a relief.

The desire to make is closely connected to the desire to express. One of my favorite ceramic artists continually makes different work. Her style is still the same, but the shapes and forms are different. When I look at her work, I can tell that she is also addicted to problem solving. She doesn't just make the same pieces over and over again. There are new colors, and patterns. Each successive piece builds on the last one. That's the kind of ceramic artist that I want to be. One that walks a daring tightrope, trying new things, and maybe failing a lot, but maybe succeeding a bit, too.

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