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. 


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Switzerland Day 3: Old Town Bern revisited and the Kunstmuseum

Kunstmuseum doors
On our third day of exploring Switzerland we started with the Kunstmuseum of Fine Art. I was introduced to two artists that have become new favorites, Albert Anker and Ferdinand Hodler. I appreciated the figurative work and techniques of both artists. Anker was more traditional and softer with his lighting and subject matter of everyday life. As a knitter, you can see why I also fell in love with the painting pictured below. Hodler's pieces dealt with religious themes and was much more contemporary in style. I appreciated his style, color pallet, and stylized human figures. My jaw hit the floor when we came upon their old masters collection in the basement. They had pieces from three of my favorite Italian Renaissance artists: Fra Filippo Lippi, Fra Angelico, and Sandro Botecelli.  I studied these masters in college and to have the honor of seeing them in person was truly awe inspiring.

Albert Anker (Swiss artist, 1831-1910) Christine Knitting 1887
Ferdinand Hodler: The Chosen One 1893-94

Following the museum, we walked the streets of Bern until we came to the open market held in the Barenplatz where we had the most amazing lunch. We chose a restaurant that served traditional Swiss food. My sister and I shared a dish of rusti (potatoes) with macaroni and chess with bacon all mixed into one delightful dish. YUM! After lunch we continued our tour of the town. We explored more of the streets and ended back at the river Aare. There we cooled off my sticking our feet in the refreshing cold water. Our sore feet appreciated the relief! We ended our day with returning to the market to buy fresh strawberries and ingredients for dinner.

The beauty of the water still astounds me with its perfect color.

The Munster in the distance. I really liked the buildings in the foreground next to the bridge.

Cooling our feet in the river watching struggling baby shrimp wash up on the steps we sat upon.

Bundehause, Federal Assembly building as seen from across the river Aare.

Across the river looking back at the top of the construction on the Bern Munster gothic cathedral.

I love the wood raving and architectural details!

More details and ornate carvings on the buildings.





Monday, August 4, 2014

Coming Back to Center

Finally over the shadow box marathon I've been stuck in for over a year now, I have had the time to get back to making art for me. This summer I've been practicing the basics of drawing and painting since I have been feeling out of touch with it all. Making art has become so forced that I have lost inspiration, creativity, and the freedom to express myself through my own art.

I went home to Monterey last week and was able to separate myself from technology and get back into simply sketching and doodling again. It was so freeing to start with random paint blobs and turn them into something fun. Some of my favorite sketches were of the trees and foliage I drew for use as references in other work. Although there was still a part of me I could tell I was still fighting.

On Friday, I went to the art openings of First Friday here in Las Vegas and was blown away by the caliber of work I saw. I needed to pull my head out, roll up my sleeves and get to work. I needed to focus and stop trying to be someone I'm not. Nothing like a good ol' fashioned reality check to make you come to your senses!

Saturday I researched black and white photos of women's faces to use as references for shading and perspective. Yesterday as I scrolled through the photos one jumped out at me and I immediately knew what she wanted to become. Inspired by both the photograph and the Lone Cypress of Monterey, I created the following piece. Although feeling a little flat, I think it came out much better than I had hoped.

Lone Cypress: watercolor 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Elinya Shawl Completed

Two weeks ago I started a new knitting project and today I am happy to report I completed it! It was an absolute joy to knit. As I keep saying, the yarn was like butter running through my fingers as I knit. I'm allergic to wool and this shawl doesn't make me itchy like so many of my other projects do. The combination of cotton and cashmere is a dream to wear and to knit with. Rumor has it the combination is known to pill, but I'm okay with that.

The first time I tried this pattern I really didn't understand the directions of how to do the picot bind off and it came out rather flat. The end result still looked alright to me and nobody would know unless I told them. This time around I decided to do some research and watch a YouTube video on the process to see where I went wrong. It took me a quarter of the way into the bind off to totally understand what I was supposed to do and understand the mechanics of the stitch. After fighting and fumbling my way through that first section it was a breeze after that. So glad I was able to pick up speed too, it was taking an eternity to bind off! 

Elinya Shawl pattern

I blocked it all out this morning and will weave in the ends tomorrow during my weekly knitting group. If you are a member of Ravelry.com here is the link to the pattern.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vintage Fountain Pens



This summer I was asked to help my friends go through their mother's craft room. She past away and had two rooms filled with years of art supplies. I was able to fill my small hatchback with all the goodies I helped sort through. Most of the supplies are going to be used in my classroom for future generations to learn from. There were a few choice things I kept for myself such as easels, palettes, and acrylic paints.

Among the those choice things, I found a cigar box filled and with an  assortment of calligraphy pen holders and nibs. Mixed in with these were the fountain pens and ink shown in the photo above. I love fountain pens and have bought myself very inexpensive ones from JetsPens.com over the last few years. I have fallen in love with the smooth lines they create and you can only imagine how excited and giddy I was to find such treasures hidden amongst the supplies. I went to work researching the pens to find that they are lever pull fountain pens from the 1930's. The last of the three lever pulls is a radiograph style fountain pen that has a small wire at the tip that releases the ink as you write. With love and care I spent hours cleaning them and turning my hands black and blue in the process. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

Other treasures I found were the vintage mechanical pencil, on the bottom of the photo, with a tiny cardboard tube of replacement lead. I immediately added these to my father's old drafting tools he passed onto me. At the top of the photo you can see replacement graphite and a red lead holder. I have always wanted one of these and was pleasantly surprised with how nice this one is weighted. It has become one of my favorite writing utensils to draw with and I carry it with me always.

After helping my friends sort through their mother's art supplies I decided I needed to clean and purge my studio too. This was one of the inspirations for the new and improved studio as discussed in the previous post regarding the new light and plants. My hope is when I die that my art and supplies will go to loving homes and to people that will cherish them. So back to work I go, creating as much art as I can, while I can.