Beyond the Studio Door

“Failure is success in process”- Albert Einstein

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”  ― Salvador Dali

img_2951So you walk into an art gallery or an art festival and there is the fruit of the artist in all of its magical glory, looking like it was created effortlessly.  What you don’t see is the plethora of mistakes and sometimes heartaches that go into making art.  It’s a part of the process.  If you aren’t willing to fail, you are not going to learn.  This is especially true in the medium of ceramics.  There’s no way you can work with mud and transform it into permanent objects without running into some challenges.  There are so many variables to contend with in the making- construction, drying, firing, glazing, and firing again at a temperature around 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.

img_2950This week before my open studio on the Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County I img_2960opened my kiln to find my share of disappointments.  The beautiful grape leaf plate on the upper left (traced from one of my grapevines leaves) has a crack down from the notch of the leaf shape.  It’s still lovely but not saleable.  I’ll use it though.  No one will notice under a pile of carrot sticks.  Those three lovely bowls with incised grape leaves rubbed with iron oxide all cracked.  This was a img_2961puzzle.  Maybe they got jostled when I removed them from the press mold?  These will become part of a mosaic on my future walkway. Then there was the barn owl sculpture with hairline cracks in two places – maybe from cooling too quickly in the pit fire?  I love this piece though and I am not sad to keep it.

The failed prints I have cut up and am using in other img_2962incarnations such as “quote blocks,” little sculptural pieces with collages.

Thankfully, there will be plenty of other lovely things to look at my studio sale-  but the invisible mistakes will be just as much a part of it for me.

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Beautiful Failures

They are the cracked

The not quite right

Products of my hands

And soul

Victims of experimentation

Poor judgment

Or forces beyond my understanding

 

Sometimes their enduring beauty breaks my heart

Their fatal flaw rendering them undesirable to others

Then sometimes their glaring shortcomings

Are so embarrassing

They are destroyed or reincarnated

Taking on a new form that will touch my soul

Or someone elses

 

The buyer will never know

That my work is built on beautiful failures

Marveling at my wonderful talent

Wishing they could have it too

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Out of the Ashes

IMG_1992When any of my pets have passed on I make a piece of artwork to remember them by.  Though I love photographs, my personal interpretation of their spirit provides more meaning and facilitates closure.  Sometimes it’s a clay sculpture, a tile, a ceramic mask.  This time in remembrance of Dougie, my sweet 14-year-old Golden Retriever we had to put down last week, I made this collage.

This piece pretty much summarizes his personality- colorful, happy-go-lucky, playful and a little goofy.  The painted paper I used for his face, tail, and the spirals are from a failed print that came from a printmaking workshop.  These so-called mistakes are torn up and placed in my collage box for a future reincarnation- a lemonade out of lemons kind of thing.  To be able to repurpose these disappointments into other forms that are pleasing to me is very gratifying and highly symbolic.

Out of the ashes we can find beauty.  We passed the Spring Equinox. Winter is behind us. The daffodils are blooming in the yard.

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Studio Notes 11/5/2018

writing-828911_1920From my writing desk….

My second piece of prose “Bull’s Eye” was published recently by “Montana Mouthful” a literary magazine out of Missoula Montana.  This was in their latest“Haunted” issue on page 15.  They also were the publisher of my first prose piece “Looking for Abraham” back in their August Secrets issue on page 29.  Both were blind submissions so I guess got lucky!  In both cases, having a submission deadline got me focused and finished– even though my inner critic was whispering “not good enough.”  I’m so glad I followed Natalie Goldberg’s advice “Let others be the judge of your work”.

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Of Black Lines and Colored Water

Although I consider myself primarily a printmaker, I like to do whimsical illustrations from my imagination with black India ink lines and brightly colored watercolor. It’s like creating my own coloring book without the concern of color splashing outside the lines. These little paintings are usually based on something out of my life. The piece below is a composite of fond bath time memories. Emmy Lou, my beloved long hair tabby (RIP), would often come sit on the edge of the tub and watch me as I languished in the water. Then we would be joined by a dog, or perhaps two who would take a nap on the rug beside me.

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Another example of ink line and watercolor is the piece below I recently published in my post, “Daily Visitor”. It is of the stray cat, Lizzie that comes to the door every night to be fed.  I like to exaggerate the features of animals and people to add to their personality

Simple pleasures recorded with ink lines and colored water.

Lines

Daily Visitor

 

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The once elusive stray cat we had named “Phantom” that lives under our house has warmed to us.  Her nightly visits for food has turned to a several-times-a-day occurrence.  Yesterday she was following us around the yard.  As she has outlived her name we now call her “Lizzie.”  I find her a delight and a great subject for art pieces.  Someday I hope to pet her on my lap.  For more on our stray cats, see my Stray Cat post.

Purr

The stray cat cries pitifully at the door

waiting to be fed

a feast of canned food atop dry

with a tiny bowl of fresh cream.

As she eats hungrily

I feel bones protruding

from the soft fur of her small body.

She purrs

WP (un) Photo Challenge- Rise & Set, The First Sunrise…..

I’m fascinated by creation myths.  This is my artistic interpretation (with a little creative license) of the first sunrise..or maybe sunset??  Colored pencil, graphite,  and embossing.

Creation Myth 3 edited

(Plenty of gorgeous photos posted and I have my share- but I enjoy a different spin now and again.)

Rise/Set

Stray Cats

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Emmy in a boxAfter my dear cat Emmy Lou passed away about 12 years ago, I’ve had a huge kitty void in my life.  Unfortunately, my dog combination including an Australian Cattle Dog hasOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA not been ideal for another cat.  Cattle Dogs are known cat chasers/ killers.  Other than that, he’s a peach.  So imagine my surprise when the Siamese mix cat that appeared in the barn about a year ago showed up on the porch begging for food.  We plied her with food; dry food with wet food and a little cream in a bowl.  We knew she was the one who killed the destruct-o mole in the vegetable garden & was keeping the mice in check around the chicken pen.  We named her “Luna” as she only showed up at night.

IMG_0167About 2 months later, a little brown tabby moved in under the house and could be seen along the perimeter of the yard.  She was so elusive, I named her “Phantom.”  Then one day after eating the leavings from Luna she too showed up on the porch begging.  Now we make sure both cats get a meal.  These animals were probably dumped by their owners an all too common occurrence in this rural area.  We enjoy their nightly visits from our kitchen window and are considered part of the family.  They have inspired both a poem and some artwork.

Continue reading “Stray Cats”