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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The Art of Play

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce

easels-372847_1920When I was a child I would sit down with a set of crayons and draw without much intention other than just being in the moment with my colors and paper.  Painting was even better.  There was nothing like afternoons in school where the math and reading were put aside for time standing at the easel with giant paper and pots of tempera paint.  I remember painting with big fat brushes with long handles pictures of skies, big suns, houses, horses- the usual subjects for a little girl.  The paintings I made were often brought home and gifted. There was not a lot of attachment to the pieces as there were always more paintings and drawings to come.

At some grade in school, the easels were put away and we were subtlety given the message that art was not important and academics were.  Art was play, nothing to be taken too seriously.  Good grades, college, and a career were.

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The Art of Taking Risks

trail marker (1)Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

Don’t refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase; that’s what wild geese are for. –Henry S. Haskins

I became a risk taker in late in my late teens.  A depression had settled over me and thoughts of suicide sometimes crossed my mind.  Then it occurred to me that rather than do something so unimaginative like throwing myself off a bridge, I might as well live my life with abandon if I was that disposable.

My inner compass did not consider this as a license to make stupid choices like getting addicted to drugs or criminal behavior.  Rather I decided to take risks and see what life could offer me in the realm of adventure.  My first step was to extract myself from my miserable high school experience. I graduated from high school early and started attending my local community college- a total liberating experience.

Continue reading “The Art of Taking Risks”

Someday and the Power of Now

vintage-1135015_1920I was taking an evening beach walk last week when my two friends, a couple, each pulled out a pair of Zeiss binoculars to look at a bird.  “Wow,” I remarked, “Someday I am going to get myself a decent pair of binoculars” as I inspected one of the pairs.  Then I stopped and said to myself, “What the hell am I waiting for?”

About 30 years ago on a hike, I had difficulty identifying a bird that my companion easily did.  She said “take a look through these” and she handed me an expensive pair of Leica binoculars.  There was the bird with its colors and features crisp and crystal clear.  I was astounded at the difference between her glasses and my inexpensive pair at the same resolution.  “Someday,” I said to myself.

Those excuses…too expensive, too extravagant, too precious, not practical.  What bunk. I’m in my mid-sixties. Practicality can only work so long as an excuse. Really, sometimes it’s good to reexamine your longings, take them seriously, then take action.downy-woodpecker-68673_1280

I got home, did some research and ordered a fabulous pair of high-quality binoculars with all the features I could ever want.  They came yesterday.  I love them.  This morning in bed I watched a Downy Woodpecker at the feeder with my new binoculars. The colors and features of the bird were crisp and crystal clear.

Someday

The somedays roll past

Like tumbleweeds on a desert highway

Piling up on fences

The calendar pages turn

“Someday I will…”

I declare longingly to myself

Until I realize there are a limited amount of pages left to turn

I stop and grab a tumbleweed

Before it rolls by me

And declare that someday

Is indeed today

Now

Right now.

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Photo courtesy Jez Arnold