Bowl of Browns

Bowl of Browns, 2015 Porcelain and Underlaze
Bowl of Browns, 2015
Porcelain and Underglaze

I’m thinking of the dry hills of California.

I’m also thinking about my friend and fellow teacher and artist, Chris Greenman. We have a funny ongoing stylistic and aesthetic conversation. He solidly represents the Japanese tradition with Shino and Tenmoku glazes. His ceramic surfaces are subtly kissed by the magic of the flame, often specially marked by Anagama (hill climbing kiln) wood ash blessings. I also “came up” through those core ceramic values, and they ground me in my work ethic and philosophy of creativity.

 

Landscape in Shino, 2014 Ceramic Mug by Christopher Greenman
Landscape in Shino, 2014
Ceramic Mug by Christopher Greenman

Chris’s work makes me feel at home. Even as I write, I am enjoying my dark brown coffee from one of his golden brown shino mugs.

Those earth tones in relation to other earth tones are heartful. They hold a similar appeal to me as rocks and stones. They bring geological references that are nearly primordial.

But color. Ah, color. It is 2015. Science has perfected some mighty fine options, and I choose to explore them. Let the adventure continue.

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Color on Porcelain

Underwater Plate, 2015 Porcelain and underglaze 10
Underwater Plate, 2015
Porcelain and underglaze
10″ x 10″
(in process, 8/30)

It was when I began making functional ware like this that someone long ago told me, “You are really a painter.” I dismissed it then, and I barely believe it now. I’m an old artist, but a young painter.

For some reason, it is a lot easier for me to paint on a warped surface – otherwise I am entranced by traditional methods of painting on rectangles.

Someone also recently told me that if it isn’t on canvas, it isn’t painting. Well, gee, I did use a brush to apply pigment to a substrate. Is it or is it not painting?

Summer’s Cat

Once upon a time, when my daughter was innocent (as in age 10) she made a series of cat ornaments. They had various themes with little attributes attached. She sold some for a song, and I kept a few, too. One customer commissioned her to make a ‘bookworm” cat, and paid in advance.

Summer dutifully created the cat and it was my job to deliver it. Despite my best efforts, I had a very difficult time contacting the customer. In good faith, I placed the ornament in the glove compartment of my car, somehow believing I would eventually find the rightful owner of the cat.

When my car was totaled in a flood four years ago, I transferred the ornament to the glove compartment of the new car. Now and then the cat would surface, and I would wonder how and wish I could find its cat lady.

Last night, possibly 10 years after “Bookworm Cat” was created, I encountered that customer. She promised to stay put while I went to retrieve the cat. Transaction complete!

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I look at that cat, and it brings to mind so many things. For one, it reminds me to keep my faith. For another, its “cattitude” reminds me of the sly wit of Summer’s beautiful soul.

No Fair!

This 30 paintings in 30 days concept is great, and it is motivating me to get in the studio. But I do have glass things I need to and want to make – soooo yesterday I guess I’ll have to chalk up my time to “painting” with glass. I’m working on a commission of Christmas tree ornaments in the form of crosses. So yesterday I “painted” with glass. Does that count?

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4/30 Crosses on the Church
Porcelain Tile 6″ x 6″, Crosses 4″ x 2.5″

Here are three of my favorites I just unloaded from the kiln this morning. They are on top of a tile (I made that, too) embossed with the image of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.

And…you may ask, why did I title this post, “No Fair!”? Because while I “painted” them on the 4th day of the challenge, I had to fire them before they were done. That took me into the next day, but here they are.

Painting (really painting) is so direct – what you do is what you see…not so much with glass. There are always surprises.

Art Bridges 2013

There’s nothing more hopeful than brand new art supplies. On July 18th and 19th, teachers in the Pike County and Troy City Schools were treated to unlimited use of fresh paint, courtesy of Sargent Art, during Art Bridges 2013. At the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy, Alabama, the concepts of earth science became hands-on explorations through paper marbling, creative writing, and clay tile-making. Guest artists, Larry Percy and Adam Vines (both 2013 Artist Fellowship recipients from the Alabama State Council on the Arts) helped teachers connect visual art with their special skills of ceramics and poetry. Every teacher left with their own paper marbling supplies to implement in the classroom. AB13Collage

What are Chips?

Well my favorites these days, as my Huntingdon students will attest, are plain pita chips with hummus. But I’m talking about a jewelry design I’ve been working on for about 6 months.

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For now, here are my latest little jewels in process. Each one is a fun tiny painting. They often refer to landscapes and weather, but some are just curious explorations in line and color. They have a long way to go … and I’ll need your opinion eventually.

A Little Sneak Peek: Before

AsparagusKiln

The kiln is about half-full but I had to fire it anyway. One of my small pleasures with ceramics is taking a photo right before I close the lid, then another right after opening it. At the moment these pieces are somewhere between 2114º F and the final temperature of around 2165ºF or “Cone 5” to those in the biz. That means the firing (which I started late last night) will be cooling pretty much all day. Sometimes it’s tough to be patient! There are new bowls, including this one asparagus bowl, and a few more Goldfinches, some sweet Chip pendants, and about 9 new Hearts. All porcelain. Ahhhhh, clay is oh so wonderful!