Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thoughts of the Week.


While I don't usually know what I'm going to write about until I sit down to write, I usually have a concept, an idea, a theme. But this week, it's just not there, so I've decided to just jot down a few free flowing thoughts.

On Home. 

Home is a place, a state of mind, and a soul destination where, hopefully, your breath rises and falls and sighs. I know my physical home is my comfort zone. My studio is my sacred space. But I'm learning that my body is my home, too. While I take care of my house, work in my studio and feed and exercise my body, I have for years, taken my body for granted. 

I've had a few wake up calls along the way to remind me to take better care of the body in which I reside. But I admit to seeing my body as a vehicle I use to get where I want to go instead of a place where I can truly live. 

I wonder what it would feel like to stop driving my body and sit inside it instead. 

On Creating. 

As one of my children's very young friends said, "You're always making something over here. Why is that?"  Very good question for which I had no answer. I don't even remember what I was making then that caused her to ask the question. 

I do know, I like to make things. My earliest memories are of making an entire town out of mud and sticks in my backyard. Grabbing my brother's pencils and writing before I knew how to write a word. And using my mother's red lipstick to draw on the dining room wall.

I still like to make things and write things. Does that make me an artist? A writer? I don't know.  And I wonder, does it really matter? Do I need the title as some form of validation? Or does society need to classify what I do and why. 

All I know is in the end, the little girl's words are true: I am always making something over here.

On Freedom.

Creative freedom is on my mind this week. As an artist many would think that I have all the creative freedom in the world but I've learned that freedom has a price. Making art and selling it means smacking up against juries, art galleries and consumers who want specific colors, shapes, and types of work. 

I didn't realize that working in clay would put me in a creative box: potter vs artist. I saw them as the same, but they're not. Potters specialize in producing large bodies of identical, functional pieces. Ceramic artists usually produce work that is sculptural, figurative, which may or may not be functional. 

I like to make both. I love making and using my vases and mugs as much as I love making masks. But over the last few years, I've been told by other artists, "Oh, I gave up producing functional work because I just couldn't compete with the potters." By a gallery, "We only want your functional work, in certain colors." 

It's a bit mind boggling to open myself up to creating both functional and sculptural work in an effort to offer more to the world only to have people putting labels on my creative freedom. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Surprise Moments.


I walk to the park everyday and I love it. Moving at a brisk pace, breathing in the fresh air around me, I feel energized and powerful. I want to say that I mindfully pace myself taking in the life teaming in and around me but I'd be lying to you and myself. 

The truth is: I really want to be calm and centered. I want peace and quiet in my mind and soul. I do yoga. I try to meditate. But most of the time, my mind just won't shut the F.... Up.  

Here I go but where am I?

While my feet and legs propel me around the beautiful lake, my mind races backwards, forwards and, sometimes, sideways. I shrug against the rain and while I see the leaves at my feet, my attention is in my head. I'm listing my to do's, planning dinner(while it's only hours after breakfast), worrying about my kids, grandkid, husband, dog and home. Will my art sell at the show I just signed up for and will I like what I'm now creating when it gets done? And then, there is the ever creeping holidays just around the corner.  

I almost missed it. 

This week, Mother Nature decided to shock me into the moment whether my mind liked it or not. 

As I walked up to one of the bridges over our neighborhood, man-made lake, something white caught my eye. On the shore of the creek was a bright, white egret. I was taken aback, for sure, but Mother Nature wasn't done with me. 

Right there, 4 feet away in a tree, was a huge, blue heron. I've seen many herons at the lake over the years, but this one was so close and so big and so still.

Hello.  

I got busy clicking pics on my phone, of course. Trying different angles. Moving slightly to get a better shot. Zooming in and out and in and out. Just as I pocketed my phone, turned to cross the bridge and get up to walking speed, something else caught the corner of my eye. Mother Nature had another surprise, knowing that an egret and a heron might not be enough to really make her point. 

An eagle swooped above my head and flew across the bridge.

I stopped. My eyes moved and my mind, finally, was surprised into silence. 

I'm grateful to the egret and the heron for showing me stillness. But the eagle soaring above helped me see that surprising moments fly by swiftly all the time and if I don't stop and look, I'll miss the wonder of truly living my life. 


Friday, November 3, 2017

Creating Inspiration.


There are many ways and many places to find inspiration. In and around our beautiful earth: sunsets at the beach, fall leaves in colorful piles by the sidewalk, snow covered mountains, are just a few ideas. Then there are museums, books, music, dance, performances where art and artists create and inspire. Even a well planned and executed dinner entree can give me color and texture and shape ideas.  

The very act of creating can be a way to find inspiration. I get creative ideas from all of these places and more, but this week, I got my inspiration from a tissue box. 

"Never Stop Learning."

I was just gathering laundry and refilling the tissue box, when I saw it. I stopped all my busy work and just stared at the wise words coming from the most mundane place: an empty tissue box. 

I have studied and learned and worked at many things over my lifetime so far. And, I'll admit to my own failings for sure, along with some successes. But I'm reaching a certain time of life when society expects me to know all I need to know, to stop learning, working and creating. 

I know it's ageist thinking. And I know in my heart, it's not only wrong thinking, it's a ticket to an uninspiring life. What do I do? 

Learn from a tissue box? Yes.

Because somewhere out there is a designer or art director who needed help. They'd been given a problem: to think outside the usual tissue box, to create something different. And maybe, just maybe, they were a little lost and lacking in inspiration. Maybe they told themselves that designing something as mundane as a tissue box, could be a learning experience. 

Even though you and I have lived quite a few decades of life on this planet, life is still one big learning experience because I've never lived in this exact time before. Neither have you. I've never been this age before and neither have you. 

So therefore: I, you, we are all still learning. 

Now some people out there will sigh and pull back and deny any need to learn anything new. They'll say that there are no new ideas. Yes, I actually had an art director tell me that decades ago.

But since then, there have been many new ideas in my life. Computers, email, laptops, iPads and smart phones, just to name a few. So I'd say he was wrong, but maybe, he just lacked inspiration and he didn't know or care to find out how to get it back. Maybe he thought he'd learned all he needed to know. 
I know one thing for certain, I  don't know all I need to know. And I can't see a life worth living without creating. So I need inspiration.

This week, I got it from a tissue box designed by a fellow creative traveler. So thanks, whoever you are, for creating the inspiration I very much needed. 

"Never Stop Learning."

Friday, October 27, 2017

Creating and Changing.


Our world is constantly changing and so am I.  Even so, I don't always like change even when it winds up to be a very good thing. Whether change happens in a day, like wham, or over many years, it's still scary. 

I rarely see change coming or if I do, I hide under the covers of what I know to be normal. I act as if everything, and especially that thing I fear, is business as usual. When my first baby was born, I kept telling myself for nine months that this was easy, nothing would really change and I'd just pop that baby out and go right back to work. Right? Wrong. 

Like the monster under the bed, change is a giant, scary unknown.

All our life we change: babyhood to childhood to teenager to adulthood to parenthood and beyond. Some changes seem easier than others, or are they? Maybe I've just decided to remember it that way. 
When I look back on most changes, whether I wanted the change or not, it seems like a natural progression. Moving through grades in school looks easy to me now but at the time, I'm sure it wasn't. Getting my first job in radio had a few bumps looking back, but I know it was terrifying then. Breaking my wrist was a change nobody wants, but again, looking back I see how it made me more aware and focused and, yes, stronger. 

Growing stronger. 

At this time of my life, when everyone all around me is talking about aging and wrinkles and aching bones, I cringe. I want to run and hide from the fact that I am older. It's scary to even consider the possibility of my time running out.

But the fact is, death and birth are givens on this planet at this time. Sometimes death happens near birth and sometimes, with any luck, death happens many decades later. The fact is, I don't know and you don't know when it will happen. That's the real monster under everyone's bed, all the time.

I could refuse to see change, ah, denial is a wonderful tool. I could cling to my soft, comfy beliefs or bitch away in fear. But what if I see change as a chance to grow stronger. I can take what I've learned from the changes I've already gone through and use it to live better, smarter, stronger, kinder and, yes, happier. 

Breaking free to wonder.

When I took art classes in college, it was just an elective, I didn't allow myself to see it as something I really wanted to do. After my first child was born, I bought myself a sketch pad and pencils just to 'doodle'. My first studio was a drafting table in the corner of my bedroom with watercolors and now I have a studio all my own, a pottery wheel and kiln. Sometimes, change happens so slowly over time, I don't see all the creating I've done in my life. 

I've seen and done and liked and disliked many things in my life so far. I've worked for good even in groups of people who were bad. I've soldiered on in spite of the greed, hate and dishonesty around me, doing a good job, hoping I could change the situations and people around me. I've struggled to accept there are things I can't change. 

But what if I allow my knowledge of the world around me to change my choices? What if I change my views on change? What if I choose to change? What if I make choices based on love and fun and wonder and freedom?  

I wonder, at embracing living a longer life as a chance to create more life in my own life.  
I wonder what kinds of change I'd create. 


 

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Good Firing.


Firing is not my favorite part of my art-making process. I know it's because I have to give up and give in to the kiln. It's scary because even if I've done everything right: wedging, throwing, rolling, underglazing, bisque and final glazing, everything can go wrong. 

Maybe there's another reason I don't like firing. I'm officially done. It's over. The piece is out the studio, out of my hands and on its own. My studio shelves look a little empty.

When the kiln lid closes and firing starts, I'm finished whether I like it or not.

I like to finish projects. I love the feeling of accomplishment. But I struggle with that part of myself that doesn't like to let go. I always see possibilities: more color or texture or lines to add. But even though my pieces go through 2 or more kiln firings before the final glaze firing, I still put it off just in case. Oh, I know I'm procrastinating and finally, I can't stand it anymore. 
I turn on the kiln, set my timer and wait. I have an old manual kiln that was gifted to me by a very generous man. I thank him every time I load, fire and unload it. But it is getting older and will soon need new coils and some bricks fixed, which is very costly, and that adds another layer to my kiln-sitting stress. Will this be the time the kiln decides to quit on me?

I don't peek for four days. Honest. 

Why? Because I use porcelain and I've learned that opening the kiln up before my pieces have totally cooled to the surrounding temperature both in my garage and in my studio causes cracks. There is nothing sadder than putting all my heart and soul into my work only to hear the awful sounds of popping and cracking because I lacked patience. And I do lack patience most of the time, but not when it comes to kiln cooling. I keep my cool. 

This time, lifting the lid was joyful. 

I tried some new ideas in this group of bowls. I wanted a landscape feel that reminded me of the watercolors and oils I used to paint. I added more texture inside and out. The spirals and trees in the middle of the bowl feel like the drawing I used to do. I used the under glazes like watercolors creating a sky surrounding the tree landscape. 

As I opened the lid, I saw the colors were even better than I'd hoped. As I took each piece out, I examined it inside and out for cracks, glaze slips or bubbles. It looked good. Whew. 

Now, there's always a piece or two that I know have some kind of issue going in. It might be a weird bump or a slight crack, so I don't expect those pieces to be perfect. I hope for the best and sometimes, I'm happily surprised. Sometimes, not. This time, one bowl made it out better than I thought it would but it's not up to my standards, so it will go on my 'seconds' shelf.  

I'm still happy, though. Because 22 out of 23 pieces came out whole. 

It was a good firing and that's a very good thing. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thoughts of the Week.


I don't know what to write about this week. Is it that after 10 plus years of writing blogs, I've run out of things to write about? Is it that everything I think of to write about sounds too boring? Is it that somethings are either too close to home or too far out of my field. Since I can't come up with a theme or idea, here's a few thoughts.

Home. 

My home isn't just a place, it's my sacred space. It's where I imagine, dream and create. It's where I've watched and guided my son and daughter from mastering Legos to master's degrees. It's where my 5 four-footed companions have lived and died. It's full of memories and dusty stuffed animals and stacks of paintings, masks, mugs and, now, toddler toys for my granddaughter. It's scuffed and worn around the edges in places, but that's because it's well loved. 

Health. 

I sometimes take this for granted. I know I shouldn't. And it seems when I do, the universe gives me a reason to be very grateful for my health and those I love. I am so grateful my yellow lab, Jilly, is healthier now. She's gained weight and strength and is walking all the way to the park!  I am so grateful my daughter, sons, and granddaughter are strong in spite of the stress and strains that life has thrown their way this year. I am also so grateful, that my dear husband and best friend got an unanticipated full physical this week and was told, that we should all be that healthy.  

Country. 

I have rarely written about politics. Not because I don't have opinions and beliefs about what's right and wrong in our country but because I didn't want to bring more controversy into people's lives. Instead, I want to bring more creativity and hope into the world. But, the ongoing embarrassment from Washington is so awful, I can't ignore it. All this ugliness and greed and hate spewing from not just our embarrassing President but all who surround him, is disgusting. Our founding fathers crafted our freedoms carefully to allow us to live better lives. It seems all our leaders want to do is make not just our lives worse but threaten to kill life on our planet as well. It's got to stop. 


Love. 

As I sit on my window seat looking out at the autumn colors changing with the sunset, I wonder and wish. I wonder at the blue sky that arrived minutes after hail, rain and wind. I wonder at the marvel of gravity, allowing us to walk this gorgeous globe as it spins. I wonder at time ticking by second by second, air breathing in and out, days beginning and ending on opposite ends of the world, it's still wonderful. 

I wish for an awakening for all of us. I wish for rising from the political and social muck to a fertile new day. I wish for true sight so we can all see the connections that bring us closer together. I wish for my thoughts and yours to go beyond  home, health and country to enfold the universe.  
 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mondays with Meyer: "I no like that."


This is my granddaughter's favorite phrase right now and I can't think of anything that typifies the two-year old better. It's a time for challenge and discovery and daring-do's. It's watching a human being emerge from it's chrysalis baby stage into a beautiful, caring, bold, adventurous little person. 

You can call me crazy, but I find two-year olds amazing. 

Yes, even when Meyer says no. Even when she climbs my furniture. Throws my throw pillows. Pokes my paintings. Picks my flowers and digs in the dirt. Ok, maybe I get a little scared when she grabs for the lamps or other breakable objects. So I 'toddler proof' my home when she is over to keep her safe. I plug outlets, gate stairs, lock cabinets and drawers. 

But I say yes to as much as possible, even when it makes a mess. Why? Because the job of a toddler is to learn about her world with her own bare hands. Whether it's smooshing play dough or stirring a pot of cold cereal, picking tomatoes, examining a leaf or making bubble pie with abandon. That goes for grown-up things, too. When she wants to touch something, as long as it's not dangerous, I say yes. She's touched bushes we pass on our walks, roses and orchids, sculptures, ceramics, paintings and masks. She loves to smell the different soaps and herbs, too.  

Everything is done with energy and zest for living.

Eating, walking, talking, running and, yes, even napping is done by diving in. That does make life a challenge for both of us. She wants to take risks and I want her to stretch her wings but she needs my protection. I am always there for her.

But sometimes, I have to let her go. I, quite literally, have to put her down, give her a kiss and say, go play. And sometimes, she looks at me and says, "I no like that."

She waits for me then, to get mad, to push, to prod, to bargain with her. I don't. Because I know she is not being bad or trying to make me mad, she's learning about the power of attention, intention and limits. So sometimes, she will try something wild. Or she will scream or cry or throw a tantrum. 

And many times, I have to keep myself from laughing. 

I have to remember, she wants limits to feel safe but she has to push limits to grow. I have to let her know I love her even when she's mad or sad or tired or dirty or makes a mistake. I have to let her try out her world and be ready to catch her before she falls. 

Or when she does fall down, I kiss it and make it better knowing that is when, "I no like that."