Saturday, October 10, 2015

Doing PR for my Art Group & A Peek into my Process.

My Demo at Beaverton Art Mix for Washington County Open Studios

I got my degree in communications.  My first job was at two local radio stations doing copywriting for station advertisers and my career extended into advertising agencies doing campaign concepts and writing for a variety of big local business including energy, transportation, hi-tech companies to name a few.  I worked my butt off and I loved it.  Until my first child was born, when I left to devote my time and heart to being a SAHM, which was a term that didn't exist, then.

Since then, I've done a lot of writing and art and in addition, I've worked to promote several artist groups.  Right now, I do the public relations, media and social media for Washington County Open Studios, a free tour of over 40 artists' studios in my own neck of the woods.

As a writer, I know the power of words and stories.  As an artist, I know the power of creation.
Here, I re-publish one of many blogs I've written and edited on the Artist Studio Tours of Washington County blog.

Here goes:

How do artists make art?  The answer is as unique as the art and artist.  And on the Washington County Open Studios tour October 17th and 18th, you get a peek behind the scenes into the art making process.  Every artist is opening up their studio to you, showing you their materials, inspirations and demonstrating what they do and how they create art.
Doing slab work in my studio.

Here’s a quick peek into one of our 41 artists on this year’s tour.

Wheel throwing in my garage.(Thing 1)

Susan, when you begin your work, what inspires you and/or gets you going?

“I love the feel of porcelain clay in my hands.  When I put my hands around a ball on the wheel, I close my eyes and relax.  The more I center myself, the easier it is to center the clay.  I don’t always plan what I’m going to make and, actually, the less I plan whether it’s a bowl, cup or vase, the better the piece turns out.
I walk everyday around a lake and through the woods.  This always inspiring and my work reflects my love of buds, blossoms and fallen leaves in the handles on my mugs, stamps on my vases and vines on my masks.”

Horsehair Raku Porcelain Mask

How did you find your way to art, Susan, in spite of any obstacles in your path?

“I’ve taken many art classes along the way from college level to artist’s studios, to community education, so I’ve had lots of teachers who have inspired me.  I think everyone needs encouragement along their path in life, especially in the arts.
After failing many times at throwing clay, one special teacher noticed that I was trying to throw right handed and I was really left handed.  Once she turned the wheel the right way, it all just felt right.  I use both hands when I throw now and, thanks to this teacher, it works really well for me. 

But some of the obstacles just made me stronger and more determined to find my own artistic voice. 

One teacher refused to let me make masks in a ‘fine art’ class, it just made me more determined to do the mask making I now love to do. 
I gave up on clay many years ago because I didn’t have a kiln or kiln access to fire my pieces.  But one generous man came to my studio, saw my old clay sculptures and gave me his kiln. He included his wheel against my louds protests. And thanks to him, I now have the pleasure of throwing with porcelain!”

'Bird Dreams' Porcelain mask with Screening Mask.

Susan, do you use any weird, different material or technique?

“I love mixing media.  Over the years, I’ve worked in watercolor, acrylic, oils, pastel, copper sheeting, window screening, beads, fabric and now, porcelain.  I always think I’m done with a media and have moved on only to have it creep back into my work. 
Right now, I use leaves in my clay and add wire and window screening to my masks.”

When people come to your studio, Susan, what part of your process will you share?

“This year, I’ll be doing sgraffito on porcelain.  It’s a wonderful technique that lets me play with color and lines and texture all in one piece!”

Working in my inside studio.(Thing 2)

Susan can you describe what is unique and inspiring about your studio set up? 

“I loving call my current studios, “Thing 1 and Thing 2”. I’ve worked in many spaces in and around my home over the last 20 years.  My first studio was in a corner of the master bedroom on a tall drafting table where I could paint out of reach of my toddler and preschooler. 

Since then, my art and art space has changed with my life and my media. My current work, in porcelain clay, requires several different kinds of spaces depending on whether I’m throwing, hand-building or sculpting. 

Throwing (Thing 1)

Thing 1 is my garage where I throw.  Throwing is messy and out there, I don’t worry about clay drips and splashes.  I get the water, my clay, turn up the music and throw away while my sweet, yellow lab, Jilly snores on her doggy bed. 

Thing 2 is inside my home where I hand-build and sculpt.  Working on masks, figures or jars inside helps keep the clay evenly moist and temperature controlled, so there’s less cracking.  I do glazing and under glazing inside, too. 

My kilns are outside in the garage.  I have an electric kiln for bisque and glaze firing and a propane kiln for horsehair raku. 

Jilly watching me patiently in Thing 1.
But no matter whether I’m working in Thing 1 or Thing 2, Jilly is there curled up on her bed keeping me company.”

See Susan making art and get inspired during the 2015 Washington County Open Studios tour October 17 and 18 from 11am to 5pm.  Get a FREE tour map and information online at

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