working on it; paint on wipe off, paint on wipe off.  repeat.

Guess what? Stuck and unstuck go hand in hand

Pulled this out of the kiln still nice and warm and WHAM!   Instantly unstuck.  The other piece I was suffering through finishing - well, it's drying.  I'm still ambivalent about it, though.
Then this got my attention and I couldn't be more unstuck, more engaged.

Interesting that this is mirroring some personal life events too, but I digress.  How did I not get that the two things often happen simultaneously or semi-simultaneously.  Am I oversimplifying the complexities of the creative process?  I am just thinking if you have a lot of tools in the tool box - stuck is a way less existential crisis-y, little downward spiral and therefore less impactful to the creative psyche.  This isn't coming out right...I think it's just that sometimes you're ahead and sometimes you're behind.

Shakespeare said; "Everything and Nothing"

I still feel the same way about the windy/water piece - wishy washy, but I don't about this one.

For this piece: I thought I'd capture the glaze process as I go along on this one  (please, my super talented friends; chime in at any time if you think I need saving!)

Depth Perception

Olaf Hajek 

I've been sitting on these for months and months.  This work is a big factor in what spawned my interest in doing my recent pieces.  I have gone back to these Olaf Hajek over and over in my mind - for me they instantly got under my skin, instantly became unforgettable.   I don't even know how to begin to describe the connection I felt to this work.  Every time I look at them, my heart almost jumps out of my body.  This is connection/inspiration on a spirit journey level.  I had already been going down the road of doing "big hair" - I have seen Susan Beiner's work which inspires me, and Cristina Cordova's work - the large head pieces.  BUT, when I saw these it was like finding a suitcase full of $1000 bills!  a big suitcase, people.

this is where you crack it open and the sweetest juice comes pouring out!


here's an interview  

head references

Thinking about heads, shape, features, contour, form and how to make one...been slowing down while in class with Sharon Virtue - who's teaching a sculpture intensive at Clay Creations.   Dealing with the "logistics" of building sound - proportions first!  It's good.  I resist the ruler "rule" but secretly like it.

krista Grecco
scott fife
sergei isopov
gundi deitz
scott fife
cristina cordova
akio takamori
Scott Eaton

uh, get a load of scott fife, jesus!  and after recently attending a workshop with sergei isopov and getting a chance to meet and talk with him - incredible insight is added for me as I look at his work.  He is the narrative.

Thaddeus Erdahl

Thaddeus Erdahl

I'm studying this.  The eyes, the surface depth and detail.  The eyes!  Such amazing work.  I am loving the little skateboard ramp as a substructure!

visit his blog and I urge you to click on these pictures and look at them full frame.  They are incredible.

becoming unstuck

work in progress.  The idea of the 10,000 hours to mastery came up in Julia Galloway's workshop and now it's popping up everywhere - I don't know the history of the theory; I believe Malcolm Gladwell may have brought it mainstream.  I'm somewhere at around the 4000 hours mark in ceramics -   that makes me somewhere in the neighborhood of half an expert?  Uh, half ass, maybe.

don't know.

I do know that I have a lot to learn and a long way to go.  When I start a piece I usually have an idea fairly well formed in my mind.  I don't do drawings or plans on paper and I'm starting to wonder if I should.  I look at inspiration, do research and think a lot about it, picture it in my mind.  I'm a HUGE believer in focused visualization.  It may be why I have a migraine right now.  I like the freedom to let the piece create itself - ironically, it then feels more like drawing or painting.  I'm so averse to being hemmed in somewhere in my pea brain I'm thinking drawing out and forming an idea on paper is somehow hemming me in.  Yes. It's kind of dumb.  I get it.

And the reason I'm having this discussion with myself is; I'm stuck.  I am blank.  Guess what, the thing isn't making itself, it isn't creating any direction in me when I'm working on it.  I'm stuck.  It's stuck.  Another week she sits under the plastic bag while I try to move forward - in my head.  Do I add flowers, do I put a boat on her head - with flowers?  Hands?  What decoration, what glaze....I'm reaching for anything that gets me out of this stuck place.... it's wind, it's water, it's the perfect storm....

I also keep re-referencing  Ira Glass and his genius about just making a lot of work.   Funny thing, he's talking about the 10,000 hours program.

"The way to learn to do things is to do things. The way to learn a trade is to work at it. Success teaches how to succeed. Begin with the determination to succeed, and the work is half done already." - Mark Twain, writer and humorist.

Workshop trifecta





Friday's Workshop: Jason Walker and Sergei Isopov were hosted at College of Marin for a workshop.  Hue Yang told me about it so I was being opportunistic.

College of Marin is now sporting an incredible and awe inspiring new ceramic arts facility!  Words can't explain.  I had recently seen Jason Walker at California Clay Conference in Davis and watched his demo there - it was interesting to watch Sergei work on a piece.  I was surprised at how he uses almost all slab construction - he pushes and pokes at the clay to get it to go where he wants.  Jason is very precise in his movements.  Sergei is hilarious and entertaining; he is in all respects a showman.

Saturday's Workshop:  Julia Galloway Workshop in Walnut Creek.  Remember I told you guys about this one a while ago...I was really looking forward to it.  It was a packed house! Julia is one of the most knowledgeable and gracious people I've think I've ever met.  A wonderfully informative workshop - she is a pistol!  Most of the wisdom and guru-esque-ness was delivered so quietly in between techniques - if you blinked you'd miss something very important.  She has a dearth of information and historical context that it makes for a very interesting discussion on process, workshops, current and up and coming artists, reference to the past.  I highly recommend signing up for a workshop with her.  No matter your skill or style, she'll inspire and she'll definitely teach you something.

Shellac was my literal takeaway; the philosophical takeaways were numerous and probably different depending on where you are in your career.  Jesse Lu from Jesse Lu's Mudbucket was there and will probably have some additional details and photos.

Sunday: We hosted Jane McDonald at Clay Creations for a Raku sculpture and firing day.  Jane is a super cool woman; I really like her and look forward to taking a trip up to her studio in Petaluma to spend some time with her.  She teaches at SF State and in her own studio.  She has a long history of supporting clay in her community and teaching kids and seniors!  A wonderful woman.  It was a great workshop too!

Honestly, I"m tired.  Actually, I'm tired of workshops.  Time to take a break from workshops....and just immerse in my own work; up to my neck!

I'll leave you with this:
Leza McVey - another amazing and mostly forgotten sculptor and potter.

Just out of the fire

This was the second piece I made in the current obsession with busts; she's been sitting in the firing shed to wait for the last scheduled raku firing for well over a month.  I knew she wasn't going to go to CCACA in Davis and so was willing to sacrifice her to the raku kiln and hey.  She made it!

Made with IMCO sculpture 412, underglaze black and red , low fire western red glaze a white crackle raku glaze.  You can see there is a bit of blistering - we fired it long enough, I think it's a glaze incompatibility?   I was worried her head piece wouldn't make it - I thinned it out so much compared to the relative thickness of her head and neck - but it worked!  412 RULES!

Funny how when you make something  and put it aside for a while you have to reacquaint yourself with it; I find it's easier to do some critical thinking about what worked, what didn't, how to take that forward.

This one was also a face transplant; I had made a sculpture where I learned the hard way about the neck thickness.  I built some ridiculous cantilevered head gear and clunk,,,,,head fell off!  I really liked her face so I "surgically" removed, hacked, more like, it with a handy xacto and gave it another go.