Thursday, November 26, 2015

Grateful and Thankful.

Breath and birth. 

Savors and sighs.

Health and humor.

Clay and creativity.

Kindness and my kiln and a gentleman's generosity.

Fun and friendliness from my pottery wheel and potter friends.

Love and laughter and the life I get to live here and now.

I am so grateful for so many things in my life and my world. Everyday is a day for thanks giving.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fall and Faith.

Fall is not my favorite season.  At first, I deny the end of summer, the loss of blooms and ripe red tomatoes and roses. I leave out my porch furniture and flower-filled patio pots as long as possible. I'm not sure why but it always takes me a while to embrace it.  

It's not the falling leaves, because I love to collect my favorites on my morning walks. I take them back to my studio, roll out some clay, press the leaves into it and form some plates.

It's not the rain, because I love the puddle reflections the changing autumn light creates.

It's not the fog either, because I love the shadows and softness created around the trees and sun and the whispers of mystery flowing across the lake in the park.

It's not the colors, because I love all those bright yellow and crimson leaves against the bare black branches and the gray siding of my house.

It's the fear of change. It's the loss of blooms and growing fruits and sunshine and warmth. I know I'm not alone, it's a deep-seated animalistic survival instinct we all share whether or not we want to admit it. I didn't. I hid my 'silly' fears from myself for years. But not this year.

I'm going to see not just the beauty and inspiration and celebration in the season.  I'm going to trust it. Let the loss of leaves help me see the beauty of the structure beneath.  Feel the cold outside as I wrap myself up in layers of soft sweaters.

I'm going to embrace Fall with faith.  

Ah, there it is again, that word of the year: Faith.  Who knew?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Social Media: Losing Interest in Pinterest.

According to social media site rankings, Pinterest is right up there with Facebook and Linked In. One of the top five social media sites, it's got huge demographic numbers and, the most surprising to me, was the large upper income female demographic that supposedly 'shops' Pinterest for goods to purchase.  

I'd never heard of Pinterest until 3 years ago.  I wasn't sure I was interested but my daughter loved it and so did many of my artist friends.  I didn't know about the demographics or social media site ranking. Once I checked it out, I have to say I was hooked.  

It was like a wonderland of pretty, cute, fun and funny.

I used to save old magazines.  Piles and piles of magazines.  Because I loved to cut out the pictures and words and glue them together making my own collage for fun and inspiration. It was quick and easy and fun.  I could keep it for as long as it inspired me, then throw it away and create a new one.  

That's how Pinterest first felt to one big, inspiration collage.

Until I started getting those 'push' notifications.  The new 'Pins For You' emails.  Try these quotes like the ones you's more cute puppies, adorable kitties, salsa recipes, exotic location photos, kitchen designs, clothes, furniture, beads galore!  Or many other emails telling me that one of the millions of people out there 'Pinned' the same cup, quote and/or painting?  

I don't care who 'Pinned' what.  I don't want 'Pins for me' suggestions.  And it's especially dispiriting to me that I'm told my most 'popular' Pin is someone else's recipe for bacon wrapped whatever.  Really.

I was having fun picking out fun things without paper and scissors. I was inspired by the quotes I dragged and dropped. Occasionally, I've gone there to look at my boards, and add a picture or two.  I added boards of my own art, hoping to interest some of those supposedly upper income women to purchase art.  It hasn't led to purchases for anyone I know.  But, even without that, I just feel I'm seeing and reading the same old stuff.  Do I take my Pinterest site down?  Do I leave it up? I don't know and frankly, I don't care.

Sorry, Pinterest, I've just lost interest. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

As The Wheel Turns: Turning it back on.

I sat down at the wheel yesterday and threw. It's the first time I've sat there in almost two months. It seems crazy that I haven't thrown in that long, because I love to throw. So why would I stay away from the wheel for so long?

Because other wheels were turning in my life.

One wheel was the promotional wheel. As the pr and media person for my open studio tour group, I've spent many, many long hours on my computer spinning out blogs, pitching stories and posting on social media.  The reward was seeing so many artists on the tour get covered in a variety of local media and social media.  They had a busy tour weekend with lots of visitors.  I'm so glad for everyone on the tour!

Another wheel was the exhibition wheel. In addition to my own open studios, I had three gallery shows in the last two months. Two shows go through December, and I'm very glad to be a part of it.  A new goal I've had for my work was to add a holiday/gallery show.  And this year, it seems the universe has delivered!

Yet another wheel was the family wheel. In September, a new child entered the world and became part of my family.  This sweet, little baby girl is my first grandchild. I can't believe how wonderful it is to hold her in my arms. Watch her yawn and smile and, yes, frown.

Even with all these wonderful things spinning through my life, I knew it was time to throw some clay on the bat and get my hands dirty. And I loved it. What's even better, I think, is I'd been away long enough that I'd forgotten some of my old throwing blocks and re-discovered just how much I love it. 

I threw a few mugs. Then I took out the last chunk of a new clay I've been trying out and threw it on the wheel.  It had bubbles and wobbles and bumps but I threw it anyway. Instead of getting frustrated with it, I found myself laughing.

If the mugs and bowl turn out well. Great. If they don't, I still had a great time.  

And that's really the point, and one, I tend to forget time and time again. It's the process of throwing and rolling and painting and forming and seeing and feeling that really gets my creative wheels turning.  On and on and on.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Closet Crafter Comes Out.

Hi, my name is Susan and I'm a closet crafter.

I crochet. I bead earrings. I have embroidered. I made those quilted sweatshirts that were so popular in the 80's (Ok, I'm ashamed to admit that, but my daughter loved them). And I've sewn valances and pillows and, yes, even a reversible doggy raincoats(for my son's dog).
Yes, I am an artist. Yes, I am a writer. But when art becomes work and I get overwhelmed, overloaded and burned out, crafting is like a vacation.  It's relaxing and silly and fun.

When my children were little, holidays were another excuse to get crafty.

Through the years, I've made many a Halloween costume for my children.  Pirate hats and Princess crowns.  Angel wings and Devil forks.  Somewhere along the line, we started a ghost making tradition.  One year we made our own ghost cookie cutter by bending a crumpet form.  Rolling out a spicy molasses cookie dough, the kids cut out the ghost shapes and after baking, iced them with white icing, added chocolate chip eyes.  Voila' ghosts!

One year, I discovered polymer clay.  That year, we had a crafty Halloween featuring polymer black cats and glow-in-the-dark ghosts.  I even made this pin that I have worn every Halloween since.  

My children are adults now.  But this year, my son wanted to know when we were going to bake ghost cookies.  Then, a local writer said she was looking for easy, fun, quick Halloween projects that a family could make on Halloween day. 

Before I knew it, I was at the craft store looking for the fixings of a Halloween project.  I got black spray paint, grapevine wreath, orange glow lights and, of course, glow-in-the-dark polymer clay.  At another store, I lucked out and found a chalkboard ghost on sale!

Putting it all together was easy. Hang the glow-in-the-dark ghostly wreath on your door with or without the orange lights.  Here's the link to the article in The Oregonian Homes & Gardens with all the details.

It just shows, that it doesn't take much to get a closet crafter out of the closet once more.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Blog About Blogging.

Blogging started out as people creating online journals.  And as such, it was seen as the ultimate in vanity publishing where you get to write about you and publish it yourself.  Because of that fact, blogs were looked down upon by those in publishing including authors and journalists who were, many times, writing about their own personal experiences or following stories that they, personally, found compelling.  

I'm all for it.  Get personal.  Tell your story or tell the story from your personal perspective.  It's important for us all to hear and read about the world around us from inside someone else's mind and viewpoint.  That's why interviews and memoirs are so compelling.  We're curious about what goes on in someone else's life, relationships and head because it makes us feel less alone.

It creates connection.  And we all need to connect especially now when we never gather around campfires, rarely see our neighbors or even chat around the water-coolers to listen and tell our stories.

I am a writer.  And I am an artist.  So I started my first blog almost 10 years ago to try to bring these two areas of my life together, to put myself out there in the newer online world hoping to connect with other like-minded people by telling my own stories of life along my creative road. 

I don't know if I've succeeded.  I know I have readers out there but blog comments have been blown to the side of the internet highway by the continuing growth of social media outlets.  It's so much easier to 'like' or 'heart' or 'favorite' on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  And, as I've written about here before, I'm just as distracted by that as anyone else. 

But I still blog.  And I think I'd still blog even if there were no readers out there.  Why?

Because I love to write.  I've written since I could hold a pencil, even if it was scribbles all over my brother's notebook.  And maybe, I'm still doing the same thing.  Scribbling.  Just for the joy of moving my hands over a keyboard and seeing words appear on a page.  

It's like magic.   And like magic, it creates a spell around us all.  The spell of stories.

I love stories.  I read and listen and watch stories everyday.  And I especially love to read and listen and write stories about other artists.  I love to find out how they got started, what inspires them, where they create and who helped them along the way to becoming creators.

I've been interviewing artists and creative people for awhile now.  Artists who live and create in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, authors from around the country and business people who have created their own unique products.  

I learn so much about courage and determination and inspiration, and mostly, about love.  Because, I think creating, art or stories or cakes or a garden, is really a story about love.   

Here are links to my older blogs:
Susan's Art & Words
Voices of Living Creatively

I've also written on these blogs:  
Eric Maisel's Creativity Central
Portland Open Studios Blog
Artist Studio Tours of Washington County

Friday, October 16, 2015

Opening Up More Than My Studio.

I work alone in my studio and I'm fine with that.  Truth be told, working alone, writing alone and creating alone is really my comfort zone.  But this week, it's been a totally different.

Out and about.

I had an artist reception in a gallery across town.  It was a nice event filled with people I'd never met in a place I'd never been to before.  There were many people interested in my horsehair raku pieces and mask.  They asked lots of questions and appreciated all the work that went into the creation and production of the pieces.  

Along with two other artists, I did a demo of my clay work in sgraffito at local art event.  It was a rainy Saturday but for 3 hours, crowds of people stopped by to see what I was doing.  They asked questions, got answers and took catalogs for the open studio tour we were promoting.  

Today, I got up at 4 am and drove to another artist's studio.  Three artists from the open studio tour, Linda Gerrard, Peg Silloway and myself were going to be on live tv during morning drive demonstrating what we do alone in our studios all day.  I've never been on TV before.  And I've never been on TV LIVE before.  And, although I've done many demos of various techniques in a variety of media and taught classes, I've never taught a local TV reporter how to do sgraffito on live TV.  

It was scary.  Enriching.  And exciting.  All of it.

But wait, there's more.  Tomorrow and Sunday, I'll be opening my studio doors to the public to come on in.  They'll see where I work, what I work with and how I make art.  And I'm glad to be able to show them around.  

It's amazing to me how the universe works.  The cycles of up and down, in and out that move through my life.  I could never have dreamed all the things that have happened to me...good and bad.  But I know in my heart, even when I'm nervous or scared, that opening up my studio and myself to the world is a very good thing.