Thursday, October 20, 2016

This Week is a Walk in the Park.

Last week was a whirlwind of activity getting ready for my open studio.  I made new work and got two demos ready for visitors.  I cleaned my studio from top to bottom, arranged the shelves neatly while my daughter staged some of my work around my home.  It was a wonderful weekend.  I met wonderful people full of curiosity and great questions about how I do what I do.  And I watched my work find new homes.  

It's hard for me to take it easy without feeling lazy and unproductive.  But after a weekend of meeting and greeting and show and tell, I need a little walk in nature.  

Nature nurtures my spirit.

I walk everyday.  Rain or shine.  And where I live, it rains more than it shines.  But I actually like walking in the rain.  The ripples in the lake.  The drips on the leaves.  The soft sound as the rain lands on the hood of my coat.  I drink it into my body but even more deeply into my soul.

One thing I've noticed again and again.  There aren't many people walking in the park in the rain.  I think that's a shame, because they're really missing so much.  Although, I like having this wonderland all to myself, I want and need to share the wonder.  

Wonders from my walk: Spider webs with bejeweled rain drops, a birch tree figure, the eyes of birch bark close up, a garland of spider webs on the bridge.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Welcome to My Sacred Place: My Studio.

I work alone.  And I like it.  As an artist, my studio is not a home office but a sacred, meditative space where I let an air of warm comfort surround and guide me. Usually, people see my finished work out of my studio at shows and galleries. But once a year, I let people come into my studio space and watch me work.

I love my solitude, but I love open studios.

Yes, I do a lot of prep work getting ready for the open studio weekend.  Floors get cleaned.  Shelves get dusted.  Work gets moved around into more of a display rather than shelves of disarray.  I bring my work out of the studio into my home space too, so visitors can see what art looks like 'at home'.  So often when art is seen in a show setting, it's hard to imagine how it would look or feel in your own home.  The interesting thing, is seeing my own pieces around my own home inspires me to create more in the studio.

And best of all is show and tell. 

I love talking to people about clay and art and color.  I love seeing their eyes light up when they pick up a ball of clay, roll it around and out.  As I show them how I build a vase from a clay slab, I tell them how I found my way to clay.  I listen as they tell me their stories, too.  

Creation is sacred right for all of us.  

I show and tell everyone, no matter where you are in life, you can create something you love.  There are as many forms of art as there are people in the world.  Everyone is creative.  No matter how you might have thought you failed, don't give up. Your creative spirit is there waiting for you.  All you have to do, is ask it to find you.  

I always hope that opening up my studio will help others find their own sacred space.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Changing Seasons.

Fall always creeps up on me.  Usually, I cringe away or dig into denial or force myself to embrace it.  But it's not really Fall's fault that I struggle so hard with this one season.  

It's change.

As an artist and writer and a person who spent my career in advertising, you'd think I'd love change.  I've changed and re-arranged my life many times over.  My work, my home, my media, my mind changes moment by moment and year to year. 

The really truth: change is scary.  It doesn't matter if it's a big or small change, either.  For example: I just bought a new couch.  Not a big deal, right?  It was for me and, it turns out, for my kids as well.  We've had the great room sectional for over 20 years and my 'kids' grew up on that sectional.  It's wasn't just a piece of furniture, it was a part of our lives. 

Now that my children are all grown up and have children of their own, it was time to make a change.  I ordered a new sofa and waited nervously for it to arrive.  Would it be the right size? Color? Would I like it in the room as much as the family sectional?  

I love it.  Many times, change is really a good thing.  It may be good right away or it may become a very good thing in time. This time, it was a good change for everyone, especially my son, who is now happily sitting and watching TV on his 'family' sectional.

It's new.  It's exciting.  It's challenging.

Changing with life in all its seasons is challenging.  Sometimes the new is exciting, but whether it is or not, like the Fall season, it comes anyway.  Morning into night. Planned or unplanned.  Everyday turns in its own rhythm.  Whether I create my own change in my art and life or not, I'm learning to settle in and breathe into it.  

One I make happen.  One happens and remakes me.

Just as the green leaves turn to gold and fall.  So must we.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Curiosity and Control.

This was 'opposite' week for me in the studio.  I spent my time immersed in the glazing process which calls for intense organization and control. Usually, my work is more about curiosity. I used to see curiosity and control as total opposites.  As an artist, I needed to be creative and control got in the way.

What if?

Discovery. Creativity. Innovation.  All of these processes need curiosity.  In order to create something new, you need to be open and wondering.  Discovery and innovation thrive on questions and problems.  What if?  Why not?  Where does that go?  How high?  What color can I make now?  How can I build this?  This is me in my studio on making, building and throwing days.

I love studio days spent trying new ideas.  Throwing a new form.  Rolling a slab and letting it tell me what it wants to be today.  Will it be a vase, jar, plate, platter or mask?  Testing new textures with things I find in the woods or around the house.  Mixing a new color combination or using the underglazes like watercolors and inks.  I can form, paint sculpt or carve, it's my choice and everyday, I'm led by my curiosity.

I love curiosity.  I hate control.

Or do I?  I think I hate control because it's run my life for so long.  Stop.  Go. Stand, kneel, sit, repeat.  But cleaning out my closets has opened up another way to see control.  I've lived quite a nice life so far.  I've worked in interesting places, doing interesting and creative work.  I've raised two healthy, smart and creative humans.  I am still doing work that I love to do because I'm choosing to do it. And I like being in control of my time and my work.

In the studio, glazing requires control.  I start preparing each and every piece by sanding any rough edges, wiping off the dust and waxing where I don't want the glaze. The actual glazing begins much like a day in chemistry class.  Exact measured amounts of water.  Correct combination of chemicals.  Proper dispersement to create a glaze with the correct viscosity.  If the glaze is too thick, my colors will be clouded.  Pits and bubbles can form.  If it's too thin and the piece will not be coated evenly and it won't be food safe. My control at this stage can make or break a piece. Literally.

The curiosity-control dance.

I love questions. I love wondering, what if? It gets me all fired up to head into the studio and dig out my clay, mix up my paints and make something new.  Curiosity leads the way as I throw and sculpt.  It's not just the clay that grounds me, it's the fresh air of wonder and possibilities, that essence of 'curious' floating in the atmosphere. 

After the creativity and curiosity, control steps in to keep track of the details like show contracts, labels, inventory sheets, and supplies. It helps me fill out my firing book where log in what worked and what didn't. This week, as I was glazing in the studio, I realized just how important control really is to my work.  With control in my corner, calculating and mixing my glaze the same each time are simple steps to follow.  Glazing requires slow, methodical, controlled flow.  

Curiosity and Control make a good pair.  

You need two people to do the tango.  The push and pull of the partners stepping back and forth and around echo the flow of curiosity and control. I  see curiosity like the music that feeds the creative process and gets my feet moving.  Yet, to complete a creation, I need control to keep my footing. Step by step.  Just like the tango, my creative life needs the push/pull, turns/twirls of curiosity and control to dance together in balance.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Creative Amnesia. Or things I did that I forgot. Or did I?

I wrote a whole blog about Fall and change and creativity, but it just doesn't feel right, right now.  Because if I'm really honest (and I try very hard to be really honest), I'm avoiding writing about something that I never thought I'd be writing about: creative amnesia.  

Creative what?

I first saw the term in a blog by Jen Louden.  She was talking about it as a process that happens right after creation.  You make, write or create something and when it's done, you forget you did it because you're so busy moving onto creating your next painting, book, or song.  I could definitely see what she was talking about and it struck a chord with me, but I also felt a few notes were missing.  

What I found in my closet.

All that closet cleaning and the article about creative amnesia seemed to come together with a flash of revelation.  I hadn't just forgotten what I'd created over the last 30 years, I'd buried it.  Inside boxes, up on dusty shelves, and under the stairs, I found my life's creative work.  And, although I thought I remembered all of my creations, I did forget some of my creations existed.  I didn't remember the Clio I'd won.  I forgot the pastels I did of my children, a delicate beaded piece and an unfinished painted fiber piece.  It was so overwhelming, I'm just starting to write about it. And like my unfinished pieced imagery project, I can see this will take some time for me figure out and put together.  What I don't want to do is push it all back into the closet, forget it and disown it and myself again.

How Facebook and a friend helped.

It was one of those Facebook things: one artist posts their work for five days and asks another artist to do so for five days.  I see them all the time and usually never do them.  But this time, it felt right.  It seemed like a perfect way to face my creative amnesia, to get my art out of the closet and own my work.  

Thanks to my friend, Jo Grishman, I did the Facebook posts.  Every day for 5 days, I posted pictures of my work, some of which had never been seen or photographed before.  It was a little scary, I'll admit.  Not just to face my own student work, but to post it on a public site like  Facebook.  I got some nice comments and a few likes to help bolster my nerves.  Best of all, I sold a mask that is a favorite of mine to a friend in another state who had never seen my work before!  
When no cure is a good thing.

I'd like to say I won't ever forget my creations again.  That my creative amnesia is gone without a trace, but I know that can't happen. Why? Because, as an artist, writer and creator, I have to 'forget' my work. I have to let go of my pieces when they've sold.  I have to get my old work out of sight in order to envision new work.
I'm glad I had creative amnesia.  I'm glad I forgot my past work. I'm happy to have found it again, shared it and sold it.  Cleaning out my creative closet was hard but it's the best thing I've done for myself and my creativity in a long, long time.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Day Tripping.

Sun.  Surf.  Waves.

A day trip to the beach today was just perfect.  Hot coffee for the drive up across the mountains and nibbles along the way.  Views of Douglas Fir gave way to craggy, wind swept trees and the sound of the surf.  And the smell of the ocean, ahh, it's the recipe for relaxation.

Walking and walking and walking.

That's one of the things I love most about going to the beach.  Long stretches of sand.  Waves rolling in.  Crisp breezes.  The feeling of endless space and time.  I love to walk and I walk everyday, but walking on the beach with the ocean as my sound track isn't a work out, it's a vacation. 

I guess, sometimes, you just need to get out of town!  Go for a really, really, really long walk on the beach.  And breathe in some new inspirations.

Friday, September 9, 2016


It's seems to be a theme in my life, lately.  The process of nesting signals change on the most basic level throughout the world for animals and humans alike.  It's such a diverse and, yet, shared activity happening constantly that it's become almost invisible to me, and maybe to you, too.  Until recently, I knew there were nests all around me, but I just didn't really notice.

Robins everywhere.  
Late this spring into early summer, nests just seemed to keep appearing. First there was one under my patio cover on the right side.  Mama Robin fixed it all up, sat in it and then, left without laying any eggs.  Next another nest was built under the patio cover on the left side.  This time, Mama Robin stayed and laid eggs and fed chicks and when the chicks flew away, she left.  Yet another time, in a space under the roof near my laundry room window, another Mama Robin made a nest and nurtured her brood until they flew away on their own.  

More nesting.

I didn't see the significance of these nesting events at the time.  It just seemed a happy coincidence to have 3 mamas and 3 nests with babies surrounding my home.  I loved watching the process of mothering and feeding and growth of the little families. I saw the babies fly and leave the nest, never seeing the pattern in my own life or art.  My children left the nest years ago. Or did they?

My daughter graduated college and got married and then, moved to get a master's degree.  In June, she and her husband graduated and moved to California where he's getting a doctorate.  I drove with her from here to California, helped her haul boxes and unpack feelings.  My son graduated college and is working on a master's degree as well as holding down a stressful job and parenting his new baby daughter.  Just last week, he moved as well to his first place as a homeowner.  I drove my car filled with boxes, babysat, bought groceries, made sandwiches and listened while he unloaded as well.  I see, I'm like the Mama Robin, flying back and forth helping my children grow into bigger and better lives.


As the robins built their nests and my children moved theirs, I was doing my own version of nesting without realizing it.  For these last 5 months, I've been cleaning out closets all around my house.  I've unpacked and re-packed and cleaned out everything from baby clothes, books and movies to old paintings, fiber art, sculptures and advertising portfolios.  

I've also re-arranged or re-nested my studio, hallway, patio, front entry adding new equipment, wall art, flowers and cushions.  I've added 'baby' shelves to the kitchen and bathroom for my little granddaughter's needs plus portable toy boxes filled with much loved books and toys.  

Just last weekend, I bought a new rug for the great room.  I'm planning to add new chairs, ottomans and a couch soon, replacing the family sectional couch that has been our family nest for 20 years.  My 'babies' have their own nests now.  

And, I guess, it's time for me to move on, too, and find things that fit my life now.  Re-nest!