“Rilke wrote: 'These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.”
~ Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
My time in the studio has me creating some new works considering the language between form and image, as well as the space within my figures exist. Seeing these pieces as more paintings than pots, I am pushing the limits of the utilitarian object and observing the depth I can create through form and the image of the figure. The surface these characters are placed within is important. How do all of these interact and then how do they encourage the viewer or user to interact? Am I encouraging the user to handle the work with delicacy due the fragile rim that outlines the body of portrait? I plan to push this idea with the addition of gold luster and soft edges. A thought to the fragility that resides within our bodies, our relationships, and our existence.
"I don't know where to begin because I have nothing to say, yet I know that before long I will sound as if I am on a crusade."
~ Mary Ruefle
My first semester of graduate school has ended. It's been a journey in balance...While it has been an experience to return to school full time, it's been challenging and refreshing all the while. I'm learning not just a strong studio practice, but as well as a life practice. I'm learning to talk about my work in a deeper sense and to ask more questions about it or embrace those questions not yet answered. There is nothing glamorous about this, and while I struggle on those days or weeks of absolutely no sleep...I still feel very fortunate to be here and very excited to see what comes of my work. How will it develop? How will it improve? How will I change? And what answers will I find along the way?
I've changed clay bodies recently and begun to work with a mid range porcelain...and I love it! Through the studio practices I had, the sgrafitto I was doing, and the results I was getting; I began to discover that the porcelain was giving me the exact surface I was interested from beginning until the end. A white canvas, subtle colors, and a soft surface to match the soft forms of my figures.
I have also begun doing a lot of mono-printing with my sketches. Slip trailing and painting the images on news print to then transfer on to the clay surface. Thinking also about a sense of "interior life" and the interior of my vessels, as well as altering the forms I make to fit the fluid and organic motion of the body and image. Space, movement, line, and touch seem to be prominant in my work...I'm curious to see how this develops while in school.
Here are some images documenting the processes I have been exploring...food coloring has also played a role in how I work out design.
The last grouping of work to be fired for my final crit had some glaze mishaps....I lost detail in the images due to thickness and had crawling or dry surfaces. Just like ceramics to constantly be keeping me on my toes. Next semester will hopefully be filled with time developing glazes and experimenting-- I've already got the test tiles ready to go!
"What you carried inside you when you walked through the door was this ability. It is your ability to apprehend beauty, or lack of it. It is your ability to listen. And change, or be changed..."
~ Mary Ruefle
'Madness, Rack, and Honey'
July has kept me on my toes as I prepare for my big move to graduate school at University of Florida! Even in the midst of the long list of "things to do" I have still made an effort to create work...and how can I not? All these ideas and the questions I ask myself about the work I am making and the changes I have made and that I will make. The year of 2015 has already been one of big transitions!
I have been feeling more consistency in the figures I am drawing and the series of techniques to create the work, so I have begun exploring different forms and different design styles. I hope to take this work to a very large scale once in school...but in the mean time things will remain small. Here are some images of work in process while in the studio.
I also got my hands on some large scale paper!!! It was a wonderful feeling to continue drawing the figure and take it large while I wait to get settled in at school. I tend to work well in the larger scale...creating looser and more fluid drawings.
As I become more efficient with the drawings and materials, I plan to expand beyond independent forms and create images that interact with another. Each image is entirely dependent on the spontaneity of the brush strokes and colors, but I do believe as I work more in this style that I have subconsciously begun to see figures as early as the first application of color.
I continue to have conversations regarding the new work I am making. Many questions as to "why nude?" and "why female?" I have always had a passion for figure drawing, especially working with the nude figure. It was a focus of mine while in undergrad and before my passion for clay really began. As a female, I of course feel connected to the female body and know it best.
Though I also feel a fascination towards what, in my eyes, the nude figure represents...vulnerability, strength, and sensuality. Three qualities I hope to portray in my work.
"She kept swimming out into life because she hadn't yet found a rock to stand on."
~ Barbara Kingsolver
This months latest figurative works....
"You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life."
~ Mary Oliver
A lot has happened in the past few months...unfortunately, less in the studio. But, I have been attempting to maintain making since leaving my residency and working full time. The good news is that I have been accepted to Graduate School at the University of Florida! I will begin in the fall...and as August nears I find myself wondering how my work will evolve and change during those three years of intense studying and making. I still try to find the time to work in my studio, some moments it can feel discouraging...but most of the time I try to remind myself that I am discovering maybe more of what I don't want in my work, so that by the time I arrive at UF I have an idea of where I would like to go.
Here's some of my latest work....exploration in design, color, material, form, and technique.
"...And what we see is our life moving like that
along the dark edges of everything,
headlights sweeping the blackness,
believing in a thousand fragile and unprovable things.
Looking out for sorrow,
slowing down for happiness,
making all the right turns
right down to the thumping barriers to the sea,
the swirling waves,
the narrow streets, the houses,
the past, the future,
the doorway that belongs
to you and me."
~ Coming Home by Mary Oliver
I have completed my residency in PA and returned back to MD to work hard and prepare for my next step. I was reunited with a long lost sketchbook from years ago and within the pages stumbled upon this poem...having written it down displays the connection I felt to it then. Now, 3 years later, that bond continues-- if not stronger. Relative to my return home and high hopes of "making all the right turns," Mary Oliver has depicted my deepest thoughts.
I now live with, and share a great studio space, with a best friend and fellow clay artist. Yesterday was spent making work for the first time in a month! I feel fortunate to start my mornings with a sunrise run, continue to explore this new body of work, and attempt to maintain the creative momentum I had while working as a resident artist.
"Still, I believe the planet on the table, even when wounded and imperfect, fragmented and deprived, is worthy of being called whole."
~ Mary Ruefle
'Madness, Rack, and Honey'
Translating my techniques between paper and clay....
I began this series at the end of my residency....photographing bisque has me thinking about the finished work -- surface? liner? clay bodies? firing? So much more to explore, while so little time left as a resident artist.
Last minute work before my residency concludes....curious about high fire slips in the image above.
Exploring the idea of low fire red ware in the image above....
I'd like to have more of a natural watercolor look to the paint, but I think I can achieve that by mixing the colors more and exploring different tones rather than working directly out of the bottle.
I also tried various surfaces and liners...some with slip all the way to the rim, others with slip a little lower. Some outer surfaces covered completely in white slip, while others I left some of the red clay showing through between the images,
"Simply be present with your own shifting energies and with the unpredictability of life as it unfolds."
September was my last writing....a lot has happened in that small span of time. My residency is quickly coming to an end and the new year is coming sooner than I had anticipated. In the midst of research towards my next step I had put myself in detention. Basically, I told myself no making until all the paperwork and research was done! That lasted maybe a week...and now, I'm full speed ahead with a new line of work.
I'm not exactly sure how it happened...but I do know that I have reconnected with my love of drawing and painting the figure. I set a goal for myself to try and do a painting a day...and wow, has it influenced my work and my days immensely! It has been hard to find models in this small town, so I turned to painting myself and some of the people around me.
The Work: It's like looking at clouds....so much seeing, imagination, intuition, and spontaneity.
Creating the fluid watercolor designs of my sketchbook on my pots, then just going with it! At moments I feel like I'm experiencing an identity crisis as I recognize the strong contrast of this latest work with my past work...but my friend Carolanne reassured me with great words, "You are just exploring! You are backpacking through the pottery forest. That's what an artist does! Take this opportunity to try everything - go everywhere!"
I look back and I remember about 3 years ago working with Linda Arbuckle during a workshop and asking her and myself a lot of questions...."why so much color, so much design, so many lines and figures in my sketchbook and none of that on my pots?" (Actually, I wrote about it at the time on my site.)
Maybe, I wasn't ready...that's where I was at the time, this is where I am at the moment, and we will see where I go.
I carry these ideas as I make. The view that I have of perfection. The love that I have for that incomplete spiral print and that mark expressing change.
I'm back in the studio.....I can't say it's been a natural transition to be making again. It always takes me time to regain that momentum I had during the preparation of an exhibition. Though now that it's been a few days, I feel content with the work at this point. I have been focusing on smaller items...whiskey cups and mugs have been my pottery of choice, until I am ready to continue my series of "Torn Vases." I'm exploring mark making as I was initially, and the pinching of the rims to thin them and give a loser and more hand-built quality. The idea of mark making reminds me of my favorite quality in a piece of pottery....the quality of process. It's one reason why wood firing has always appealed to me. A mark is an illustration of process.
While preparing for a class demo I made a slip print of a slab onto paper...and it had me thinking about marks, about completion, and about perfection. I have this conversation with students all the time as they test the limits of clay, learn the process of making, and eventually let go of the ideal image of "perfect." Why perfect? What is perfect? Does something have to be entirely complete to be perfect? That print I made isn't a complete spiral...but in my eyes it's far more interesting than if it was. It's beautiful...it's subtle...it's incomplete... It could not be any more perfect.
“Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story..."
~ Barbara Kingsolver
'The Poisonwood Bible'