Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tales of a Cycling Addict

Yes, it's true. I've been bitten by the cycling bug and there is no cure except for more riding. I have been sick for the last week and was going through withdrawals because I couldn't ride. There is such an overwhelming sense of freedom when riding my bike. It is a drug I can't live without.

I love the air whooshing past me and feeling closer to nature as I cycle away from civilization. Early morning rides are my favorite, the bunnies and quails are out and about as well as the air smells sweeter. This morning was no different! Today I'm reveling in the sense of accomplishment from tackling the big hills behind my house. There is a dirt path I decided to test out today and am very proud to say I didn't eat it! It is meant for mountain bikes and my hybrid was powering through as best it could. The rocky slopes go straight up and down and I managed to live through them. So exhilarating!!!! Making it to the top and relishing the burning sensation in my muscles as I survey the waking valley below is such an amazing high.




The start of my ride!

I love watching the sun come up, especially with such beautiful clouds!

The clouds made the best shapes this morning and the shadows they created were even better.





I'm likin' the lichen! 

View of the strip as seen from the McCullough Hills trail.



I just liked the color of the rocks.

The rust against the contrast of the sky caught my eye.



So much fun!

love!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cycling Adventures

I haven't really had anything exciting to share in awhile, as well as little time to do so. Work and all my classes take up so much time that I am never home anymore to blog about it.

My newest passion is for cycling. After going to Switzerland last summer and seeing how great it was to ride your bike everywhere, I decided I wanted to try it out. The bike I had at the time turned out to be a death trap and so I set out to get a new one. Santa blessed me with an amazing bike and as soon as the rain stopped and the weather warmed up I was off and riding!

I have lived in Vegas for 14 years and it has only been since August that I have started exploring the area. Lack of time, money, and ambition has been mostly to blame for this fact. Recently though I had been feeling quite trapped and with the new friends I've acquired over the past few months I have been able to go exploring.

I have had the best time going for morning rides before work watching the sunrise and the Vegas valley slowly wake up. I love listening to the variety of song birds serenade me as I ride. Cycling allows me to explore at a more leisurely pace then I could do in a car and it allows me to cover more ground than if I walked. It has been amazing fun to find new paths and different places I never knew existed. Riding my bike is so freeing. I love the wind on my face, the sense of adventure, and feeling connected to nature. It is all very euphoric and highly addictive! I go through withdrawals if I don't ride my bike for a few days. Cycling also gives me a sense of accomplishment with every ride my legs get stronger and my endurance grows.

I just got my bike back from a tune up and decided to explore the bike paths around the Wetlands Park. (I can't even tell you how exciting it is to have a wider area to explore now that I got my bike rack for the car!!) As I rode around the perimeter of the park I was able to enjoy seeing a big white stork, a variety of ducks, and some seriously fat fish when I reached the big bridge.

My sweet ride!
View from Wetlands Park bridge where the fat fish are on one side and the plecostomus are on the other.

Plecostomus a plenty!

I always like to inventory the animals I run into and yesterday broke records! I saw 2 vultures, 2 road runners, a few bunnies, 1 huge jack rabbit and a variety of lizard species that were a little too kamikaze for my liking. The ride was amazing and I even stumbled upon the Flamingo bike path that I wasn't even looking for! I rode that until I reached a covered bridge and too much urbanizes for the day. 

Trail marker to Flamingo Arroya 

View of the strip from the bridge.

View from bridge facing north towards Sunrise mountain.

I circled back towards the park and found the path I was looking for that would lead me to Lake Las Vegas. The trail has these amazing hills that are like riding a roller coaster because they have repeated steep slopes and curves. I literally squealed when I rode on them! By far one of my favorite things about the trail! Everything was more than I could have asked for until tragedy struck. As I was climbing a hill that seemed to go straight up, my chain popped off and got itself good and wedged up under the gears. A very nice gentleman stopped to help me and made it ten times worse. I was up in the mountains above Lake Las Vegas and had to walk the 7-8 miles back to my car. By then it was the height of the blazing sun and I was already feeling like I had pushed it too far with being out too long. I was determined to make it to the lake and back though. Thankfully I packed sun tan lotion (which I reapplied twice to prevent too much burning), water, and snacks to keep from getting sick. 



You can barely see the strip in the distance!

I think this is where the Lorax relocated!
 In the end my trip began at 10am and I was able to do 15 miles before my bike died. Walking the 8 miles back to my car only took until 2pm. On my way home I dropped off my bike for its resurrection. I feel a bit beat up today, but can't wait to try it out again soon!

This was after I washed my hands. I love working with my hands and find manicures and those nail sticker things hilarious and a waste. 





Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pottery Progress

Sorry I rarely post anymore. I am never home anymore to have access to my computer. I am practically living at the ceramic studio these days. I finished painting the rabbit this weekend! Wahoo!!! I'll post more about that when I get better photos. For now I will share my wheel throwing adventures. Since I started back up with Clay Arts Vegas back in August I have been experimenting with both sculpting and practicing my pottery making. After finishing the rabbit I needed a break from sculpture. I learned how to make handles last week and have been having a lot of fun with mug making.
First attempt at handle building.
Round two of handle making and mugs.
Experiments with under glazing and decoration.
Tuesday I was introduced to a new clay body and am infatuated! It is smooth and creamy to work with and resembles chocolate. How can a girl resist!? I am able to throw really thin pots the way I like. I have been fighting the various clays I've been working with so far. Up until this point, I might have been able to produce 4 bowls in one sitting, because the rest flopped. Last night I was able to crank out all the pots in the photo below. I think all the practicing I've been doing contributed to it, but I also think I found the right clay for me. The only down fall I've found so far with this clay is that it stains my hands really bad and is a pain to clean up. Trust me though, it SO worth it!!! The next step is glaze experiments. I have a knack for turning my beautiful creations ugly when I  glaze them. Fingers crossed! No uglies!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Creative Blog Hop

I was recently invited to participate in a Creative Blog Hop by the lovely and talented Ness from Bunnies and Betas. It gives insight into my thought process and current projects as well as introduce you to others. This has been a really fun experience and I have learned a lot about my fellow bloggers. Please make sure to check out their work too.

Over the River and through the Woods


What am I working on?

I am always working on a plethora of projects, but the most substantial is the rabbit zodiac sculpture for City Hall. It came out of the first bisque firing in one piece (whew!) and is ready for assembly and painting. I'm close to completing the sculpture of a woman dreaming of a fairytale landscape. I ran into a bit of an issue and she sits in "time out" until the idea of how to fix her comes to mind. I like to rotate projects so I don't get burned out. This is a new concept for me. I usually beat the dead horse until the project is done. I have found that when I hit a wall, putting the project into "time out" gives my brain time to come to the conclusion naturally and it is a better solution than when I force the issue. The construction of rabbit was so intense that I have given myself some play time in between huge sculptures. Trying to crank out Christmas presents and simply play with my clay has kept me sane the last two weeks. When I'm not at Clay Arts Vegas, I am also working on concept sketches for the Hint Mint company for their social media advertising. Wednesdays are for my knitting and I am slowly making the Nostalgia shawl. I say slowly since I have redone the shawl more than I have actually knitted it. Last week was my break through and I have been enjoying forward progress since then. I knit to relax and not think.

Working on the rabbit...


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have a hard time answering this question as it pertains to my ceramics since it has only been recent that I have returned to my clay. Since I feel like I am still getting my footing and finding my voice, I don't know that I have an answer. I have been trying to turn my sketches into sculptures and continue my exploration of myself through the unwritten fairytale I've been working on for the last few years. I think my work draws on kid in me and the want to run and frolic free, but also the adult in me fighting all those instincts. I am a romantic with a clinical sense of humor and I think my work plays with these dichotomies.

The color pencil drawings that I turn into 3-d dioramas are my most popular work. They differ from others because of their three dimensionality. They aren't just a pencil drawing, they are brought to life by cutting them from the page.



Why do I create what I do?

I don't know what to do with myself if my hands aren't making something. I take my knitting and a sketchbook with me everywhere so I can always be productive. I create in an effort to explore my world as well as to incorporate who I am into the world around me. Creation is not only about expression, but it about exploration, and searching for answers.

Rabbit with the base coat getting applied.


How does my creative process work?

My brain likes to create collages with various pictures, textures, and concepts. I write notes to myself, collect quotes, and doodles in my sketchbooks for future referencing. Some days I go through my sketchbooks and put different ideas together, because individually they might not be strong but together they are. Sometimes I have to rework concepts because they are not appealing aesthetically. I mentioned the unwritten fairytale. I seem to revisit basic ideas and imagery, but have been unable to bring them into focus. I feel the lady sculpture with the landscape hair is progress with this concept and I can't wait to explore more. I also get inspiration from teaching my students. Concepts and themes I teach them filter into my work and vice versa.

Stay tuned for my three nominees....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rabbit Update

I'm officially done with the building of the rabbit sculpture. It has to dry now before it can be put into the kiln to be fired. Once it has been fired, I can begin the painting process. I'm going to use oil paints to paint the clouds and add cherry blossoms and branches across the rabbit. For now, I'm going to play with throwing again and then back to some smaller sculptures I started prior to the rabbit.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rabbit Zodiac Sign for Chinese New Year Project

A month and a half ago I was selected to be one a over a dozen artists in a collaboration piece to create a totem of the Chinese zodiac symbols for City Hall here in Las Vegas. The work will be on display from November to February. The twelve zodiac signs will be displayed as three totems.

I was chosen to create the symbol of the rabbit. I drew my inspiration for this project from Chinese calligraphy work and fabrics as well as Beth Cavener Stichter's sculptural work. I began by acquainting myself with the anatomy of rabbits by drawing them from every angle. I found myself drawn more towards hares for their strength and musculature.

One of the many phases of the face.

Once I decided to jump into the sculpting of the rabbit it has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. For every thing I have been successful building, I have rebuilt it dozens of times. I have had the whole back end fall off, the legs fall off repeatedly, and have redone the face at least three times for every time I have worked on the sculpture. Whew! Yes, it has been and fight and a struggle. This piece is the largest sculptural work I have ever made. I have learned SO much by building this rabbit! I have definitely been learning how paper clay works. I've also been improving my building and sculpting techniques and processes.  You're constantly having to reevaluate the steps in which to build something of this scale. It has become a wonderful puzzle that has to go together in a specific order to make all the pieces fit.

Adding the cloud to the belly.

I'm currently in the home stretch of the building process and will hopefully be finishing it this week. After that it has to dry for a week or so to be ready for firing. Once it is fired, I'm going to paint it with oil paints.



I fixed the ear after I took this photo, but this pic shows off the upper cloud.

I love the line this ear creates! Finally starting to resemble a rabbit!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sculptural Progress

As I was putting the final touches on my sculpture yesterday I was approached by a fantastic couple who were admiring her. We spoke of the inspiration and thought process of her creation. They had a lot of great questions and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them. I don't know that I have ever had such an amazing conversation about my work with someone before. I'm still basking in the afterglow. Throughout the evening they came to check on my progress and to speak more about my art and of her. Both husband and wife spoke of a spiritual connection to the piece, which is more than any artist can ask for. Needless to say, they were completely enamored and offered to purchase her as soon as she is complete. She has about three weeks to dry before I will be able to fire her in the kiln and then she will be painted. My mind is still reeling that someone would want to buy my piece before it's even completed!

Here are some more progress shots. She is dreaming and has a landscape of a forest, cabin, and river running across the top of her hair and fading off into the distance. These are photos of the addition of the trees. The river and cabin came after these photos were taken.





Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back in the Clay Studio Again

Bisque ware getting ready to be glazed.
A few weeks before school started I returned to my happiness: my clay! I started taking a wheel throwing class at Clay Arts Vegas and have been practically living there ever since. Nothing makes me happier than working with clay and being surrounded by amazing people to share in the experience. I've been making new friends and finally feel I belong some place. I look forward to seeing the people there as much as I do working on the art. For an artist, it is so important to have a nurturing community to inspire and encourage. I have been deprived of this for so many years and can't express how much it means to me to be back in such an environment. I found my way back home!

I started getting back into wheel throwing with its highly addictive nature, but have recently been side tracked with sculptural projects. I have been asked to create a totem bead of the Chinese zodiac sign of the rabbit for exhibit at City Hall. I have been doing so much rabbit research that I have started seeing them every where! I was driving the other day and saw a series of clouds and thought it looked  as if it were four rabbits running across the sky. As soon as I finish the sculpture I am currently working on, I will begin work on the rabbit. It is going to require me to push myself out of my comfort zone and try a whole new technique to building. I am so excited and can't wait! I know how obsessive I get and am forcing myself to complete my current project so that I can dedicate all my time to the rabbit. My current piece is a continuation of the ambiguous fairytale theme I've been playing around with for the last year or  so. I am surprised with how well the piece is coming together.

I haven't done sculptural work since I graduated college in 1998. A return to the studio has also become a return to myself. I have also been losing the weight I've collected since becoming an art teacher and feel this also adds to the feeling of returning to myself. I have felt so lost and trapped in a place and body that doesn't feel like me for so long. It has been so freeing to begin the process of coming out of my chrysalis. I can't wait to share with you my new voice, new self, and new work.  All this has been made possible because of the amazingly supportive people of Clay Arts Vegas. Thank you for taking me in, nurturing my soul, and accepting me for all that I am.

Here are a few preview pics of experiments or works in progress that I have been playing with.

First project practicing faces. Learned a lot and still needing more practice!


Lots of work to do! 

(She's dreaming.) I had just finished the first eye and was about to start the second when I took this progress shot.





Monday, September 1, 2014

Switzerland Day 4: The Swiss Alps

On day four of our Switzerland trip, we headed to the Alps! Our cousin Willy drove us up there through winding roads and past a beautiful lake. We parked in Grindelwald and took a ski lift to the top. There we had lunch with the three peaks of the Monch, Eiger, and the Jungfrau as our backdrop.
The road to the Alps was wondrous.

On our way to Grindelwald for lunch!


Although breathtaking, the photos just can't capture how awe inspiring the view was. Your mind can't quite wrap around how high you are compared to the miniature houses and farms below. The weather could not have been more perfect if it tried. I'm not sure what to tell you about. We just soaked up the view and admired the beauty of the immense landscape. As the day progressed the clouds slowly came down like a curtain over the mountains eventually covering the peaks. 




After lunch we drove down through Grindelwald. I love the architectural style of the Swiss chalets. The wood carvings on the exteriors just seem like home to me. I love the craftsmanship that is involved with the ornate wood carving. 




A thunderstorm ended our time in Grindelwald and we drove back to Bern for a nice afternoon nap. I think later that evening we went for a walk around the neighborhood to stretch our legs.