Friday, December 31, 2010


'Trees’ (1990-1991) by Joan Mitchell

A friend on Facebook shared this article from the Financial Times. The more I think of what I'm doing, the more I feel that as I age, I have more to say, more things distilling in my brain.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Clay, no, make that ART, is good for everyone

There was an article in the New York Times website today about a Washington Redskins tight end who also does pottery. I love reading about things like this. I'm such a firm believer that each one of us has creative ability but far too often we box ourselves into thinking we're "not creative" simply because we can't replicate the work of Picasso or Leonardo, sing like Placido Domingo or Aretha Franklin or dance like Ginger Rogers. What utter bullshit. I love finding out about people who have talent that they're recognized for, in this case, his athletic talent, and yet, they do not limit themselves. What I love about the article is the sense that this guy really enjoys the process from start to finish and that we know what he'll be doing come retirement from the NFL. Too often, I think, people shortchange themselves, creatively, by putting pressure on themselves to be "the best" or "talented" at artistic endeavors. Art doesn't have to be about producing the final anything. Often, the art is about the process and yes, you can do it just to make yourself feel good.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Snowman egg gourd Christmas ornament, front and back;
hand-drawn with pyrometer, painted, varnished, satin cord, cast sterling silver and copper, cotton

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, Happy Kwanzaa, etc!
     Since my past posting I've had a birthday (now 48) and gone into the Christmas mode of cleaning, contacts, cooking, shopping and all the other things that seem to throw absolutely everything off schedule. But what are ya gonna do except pour another glass of wine and smile at the chaos. It wouldn't all be so bad except that the weather out here in SE Kentucky has been cold, cold, cold (for Kentucky) and snowier than usual which makes life on the farm that much more difficult. Thank god for heated water buckets.
     I'm looking forward to Christmas and New Years, not just because of the joy and reverie but also because I'm anxious to get past the holidays and get on my schedule for the rest of my career. I'm looking forward to this next adventure. Above is a sample of some of the seasonal work I do as a nice break from the clay and metal. This is an ornament, cut, drawn and painted on an egg gourd. (I love gourds. They're so... weird.) The inside has been painted black and set in the gourd is a cast sterling silver snowman with copper arms.
     So for now, warm wishes to all for the holidays and let's remember those less fortunate than us and those that can't be with us at this time of year. A toast to a better year ahead!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The license to be obsessed.

Albatross - 2009, Gourd, copper, enamel, found objects
A while back, I had an email exchange with a woman, a nurse, who remarked to me, rather critically, that she couldn't imagine being obsessed the way I was about a particularly unpleasant thing. Putting aside criticism of how she chose to deal with the world around her, I responded to her that I was an artist; I had license to be obsessed.

What do I mean by that? It means I think about the things that affect me. I think a whole lot about things that affect me. Repeatedly, intensely and often. Why? Because I am a thinking being; it's what I do. I've also been accused of "thinking too much," which I find to be an alien concept. If I have a brain, I have to think otherwise I'm wasting time while I'm aware in this life. But what's the difference between obsession, as in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and artistic obsession? For me, the root dynamic can be the same but the direction and results are very different. Artistic obsession contains the element of self-expression. We take in the information over and over again, we seek out more information, over and over again, but we don't stop there. We also seek to understand and synthesize the information and then present it in a new light, with new understanding.

Guilt Tether "If You Really Loved Me..."
- 2009, Enameled copper, mirror, gourd shell
Obsession of the OCD variety is debilitating as there is no step into synthesis, discovery and understanding.  In my opinion, it is circular, repetitious and damaging as it simply takes time and resources needed to feed growth and deteriorates the whole. OCD is the individual eating itself, a circular existence and denial of self-awareness. The artistic element, however, takes that same information, those same resources, the same time frame and feeds the machine of awareness and discovery, providing insight and growth. Of the individual, but hopefully, also, of those beyond the individual.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Frances Figart Interview

Me and Frances goofing around.
My dear friend, Frances Figart, writes and provides market support for sustainable travel professionals. She's very good at what she does. Besides having a deep, committed interest in sustainable travel, she also has a keen interest in musicians, artists and other creatives. She' s told me that she finds the psychology behind the work as interesting as the work itself. I agreed to help her begin a series of interviews with artists, authors and musicians to post on her blog. We sat down for coffee the other day where she peppered me with questions. She was relentless. I was exhausted. I'm kidding, we had a great time. This link will take you to the interview where you can get a better idea of where I'm coming from. Enjoy!

Tea time

Okay, where was I?
The year is wrapping up. Ideally, I'd be filling Christmas orders for internet and store sales. That's not happening. The reality is that this year was all about transition. Moving from student to studio tech to prepping for being a working artist. Moving from old life as graphic designer and working for other people to setting the stage for a new beginning, a new career, a new journey pursuing my inner dream. That major shift takes time, apparently. The studio took about 5 months to "finish" as opposed to the 2-5 weeks I was hoping for. And yet it's still not completely finished but I can work in it (even though it's been in the single digits in the morning outside) and get stuff done. And then there's the mental preparations, what to do next?

Bonnie Seeman workshop,  EKU.
My plans for the end of this year include mapping out applications for shows for the upcoming year and scouting out potential fairs and venues for sales of functional work. I'm also outlining my work for functional and sculptural directions. Thanks to the Tea Party wins in the recent elections, I have been inspired to use that as inspiration to develop and improve my functional skills but dedicating myself to creating tea sets over the next two years so we have something to sip our tea as we watch the Tea Party "fix" things in Washington D.C. and "get rid of big government." Good luck with that! I feel a need to create pieces with my aesthetics as I sit back and watch this "miracle" take place. Then again, with the coming of the Ark Theme Park in Northern KY, maybe it will be the Second Coming I'll witness. Either way, I'll need something to drink from and a nice pot to brew tea in. I recently attended a Bonnie Seeman workshop at EKU and was inspired by her voluptuous, organic work in teapots and other functional vessels. Time to explore that which I've been intimidated by for too long.

I will also be working on a new body of work derived from my seed, plant, animal pieces from before. I'm still very much in the throes of "The Change of Life" as my friend calls it so that will, no doubt, factor into the work but I'm also very intrigued these days about transitioning and evolving structures and states of being. I sense appendages and moving parts. Certainly more complex structures. We shall see. All in all, I view 2010 as Year Zero for me and 2011 as Year One. Crack open a bottle of champagne and let's toast the New Year!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Before and After

This was the wall in the open garage where I had been working about 6-8 months out of the year when it wasn't too hot or too cold.

This is the enclosed space now. It's insulated on top and the side and is heated with a kerosene heater which does a pretty good job. Plus the concrete wall gets full winter sunlight and is a passive solar heat source. Bonus!
The wall that was my original space. There's still some things to make and hang and adjust but I'm working in it already. First project was throwing bowls for the Richmond Empty Bowls Project 2010.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pretty Much Done

There's some insulating and shelves and fiddly bits to deal with but the bottom line is that I'm mostly all in and already working on several projects, including gearing up for a new body of work next year, both sculptural and functional. Also getting ready for the holidays on a personal level. I had hoped to have more items for sale this year but with the renovations going on, that didn't pan out. However, it does leave me with no impediments and/or obstacles for next year so I have lots of work ahead of me.

I look at this and love it and think, already, I need more space!

I would show you pix but Blogger isn't letting me right now. I don't know why. I'll edit in the near future.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Time drags on and so do the details of finishing up the move into the studio. We've completed the main electric and hanging shelves, boxes and blinds. I've moved most of my art materials into the studio and already, I need more space. Not surprising. I am a bit overwhelmed as I've moved and started to rearrange items like foam, string, rubber, stamps, gourds, beads, findings, stencils, bats, banding wheels, reclaimed clay, metal wire, sheet metal, glaze containers, glues, hooks, sketchbooks, colored pencils, acrylic paints, glass ornaments, fabric dyes, reference books, old issues of Ceramics Monthly and Metalsmith, American Style and Art Calendar and boxes of miscellaneous items. Years of collecting things for future use and now the time is here. Now. Or soon to be now. Finally. I almost started crying as we were hanging the last of the storage shelves and I started to arrange the drawers. I know I'll beat myself up for not producing enough initially and I'm sure I'll feel like the pace is glacially slow but I'm in the midst of a huge transition for me. I'm barely aware of it except for those small moments when I can look back and see what's changed.

I've been watching some David Attenborough on satellite recently. Focusing on evolution and staring with simple organisms. Single cell and the next step, sponges. I'm fascinated with the changes of evolution, the organisms that started us and yet continue to thrive. The branches that form to allow change to happen, new organisms to rise, new possibilities, some successful, some not. Fractals, patterns, randomness and adaptation. Fluidity, diversion, natural selection, new branches, and dead ends. The time it has taken to get us to the present moment has been long. We think we're a thriving branch. What if, evolutionarily speaking, we're actually a dead end? We'll never be able to tell until the change is upon us.

At one point, I think I convinced myself that I had given up on my fine art voice and it had been replaced by graphic design, a commercial art voice. And yet I kept the boxes of pastels, the paper samples, the block stamps and beads. Just in case. If you have a nagging feeling about yourself, listen carefully. Play the hunch. Analyze your surroundings, your environment. It's shaping who you are and one never knows where you're headed next.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Big Move... delayed

Well, I was hoping to start off this new blog with news that I was finally moved into my new studio and working away like a little elf, chipmunk, you name it. Alas, things move sloooooowly and we still have to put up shelves to get stuff off the floor and off the porch. And unfortunately for me, I'm one of those people that gets cold hands and feet when the temps drop below 75°F. Currently, today in Estill County, it's in the 40's. I am not a happy camper. When my hands get cold, I cease to work and spend most of my time leaning on a heater. In fact, I used to do work in my kitchen with a roaring fire going in the wood stove until it was hot enough that I was in a t-shirt!

In this new space, the area will be insulated and caulked and I will have a large kerosene heater which should warm up the space nicely. In theory. Eventually. Once I get going. In the mean time, I have tried doing more sketches but I'm about sketched out and more anxious to work.

Good news is that there is a wood firing at a potter friend of mine next week so even if I don't have any pieces to put in there (not as big a fan of the wood fire effect on my work right now), I will be participating and that's always a fun thing!

So, inaugural post. I will try and get some scans of sketches up and an updated image of the studio at some point. Mazel Tov and Namaste, y'all.