Just Showing Up . . .

4 03 2011

It’s been so easy to be distracted from art-making lately – it was too cold in January to work in the studio, even with 2 heaters. Then it was an attack of the clumsies – nothing seemed to work out or else it just looked ‘wrong’ in some way. Then it was sick dogs and trips to the vet and extra work at the gallery and on and on . . . but it struck me that this was a pattern of avoidance and I’d found time to do all those other things, just not my art work.

What is it about not having what I want that makes it so difficult to work with what I have to do what I can? Feeling so unsettled and wanting to go a different direction but the path just isn’t there yet. Two photos:

This is what I am able to produce now,  with the equipment I have. It gets a good  response (all three of these found very  good homes!) and I know how to do it  almost with eyes closed.

It’s also more affordable – and since I  don’t want to do the craft show circuit it  makes it easier to sell in local venues. I’m  wondering now if this is just laziness on  my part?

This is the work I’d like to make on a regular  basis. It will be more time-consuming, less  predictable and consequently more expensive.

This is the work that people really respond to, though – every piece but one sold at the gallery around the holidays . . . it took me a while to even let it go since I knew I couldn’t produce more of it. I did get some images, though, so I can keep the carrot dangling out there. Soda firing seems to be the technique that my work responds to best – it warms up and actually looks more ‘alive’ somehow. I don’t know what other people see but I love the way the surface seems so much more active. For me there’s a sense of response that isn’t there in the other work.

So what to do? For the time being it’s going to have to be more of the “same old same old” but I’m not sure for what purpose, except for just the routine of showing up and doing the work.


Recent Work

26 09 2010

It’s a long time between pictures – I always seem to think the perfect piece will be in the next kiln load. Or it gets sold before I get a chance to get the piece to the photographer . . . or, as happened recently, it breaks – sadness.

But finally I’ve gotten the work done, gotten over the perfectionist bit (this time) and actually taken had images made. The tray was purchased, but the buyer was a good sport and waited until I had my images made before taking possession. I like it when that happens!

It’s that time of year . . . .

5 11 2009

With almost too many projects to think about (at least for my addled brain) I decided to do total work avoidance and get back to posting here.

Clay work is going well – just took a new set of work to In-Town Gallery for our open house that’s taking place this Friday. Although sales have been dismal for the past couple of months, I’m hoping that people will be blown away by the work of the artists in the gallery and decide there is something there that they just can’t live without!

The terra sigillata work is still interesting to me, although I would LOVE to get that soda kiln built and try more of it in that process. People seem to respond more to color, and while the b&w white terra sig floats my boat, I get the sense that it’s not what most people gravitate toward, at least in this market.

And speaking of markets, how do people find theirs? I have a good response to my work, but it’s generally from people who are from someplace else . . . and this is so frustrating to me. It’s not the price range that seems to put people off – the comments are generally that my prices are very reasonable. I think that this is what is so discouraging to me . . . it triggers a downward spiral of what’s wrong with my work/with me/with everything in general that takes so much energy to counteract that sometimes I’m just paralyzed by it. Selfishly, I make the work for me – it has to make me happy before I’ll put it out into the world, but then I’m never quite sure where in the world it should go!

I did order new business cards – that doesn’t seem like a big deal except that last night I lay awake contemplating the non-artmaking life. It would be so much easier, wouldn’t it? Not having to make things not many people seem to want or need, not having to deal with selling, marketing, putting myself out there, twisting in the wind. I think what frightens me is not having an identity of some sort . . . answering that dreaded question “and what do you do?” and not having a very substantial answer. I don’t feel I have an identity without a job, even if it’s a job where there’s not much income (interesting word, that – right now it’s more like outgo). People really don’t seem to respect someone who isn’t working outside the home and who doesn’t have children . . . dogs don’t really count much in that respect. And I guess that it what bothers me so much – what other people think of what I do (or don’t do).

I wish I could contribute to the world in some constructive way, but tempermentally I don’t seem suited for much. Anyone else out there who has difficulty working an playing with others, sharing space or introverted to the point curmudgeoness and has any expererience of living with all that and somehow making peace with it, I’d love to hear from you!

To blog or not to blog . . . .

20 07 2009

I just read a great blog by an artist who wrote how guilty she felt when she didn’t blog daily, or at least more frequently than she had the time to write. Read her blog at: http://www.tartx.com/blog/?page_id=233

Obviously this has been pretty low on my priority list as well – but when there is so much to do with the house (major remodeling!), the dogs, artmaking, the co-op gallery responsibilites, etc., etc. (and not in that order), the  spare time to write just isn’t there.

However, there was time to go to a workshop at Shakerag in June, a much needed break and a big shot of inspiration! I took a class in wet felting – working with color and wool, 2-D design instead of 3-D, trying something new – all appealed to me. I still have a lot to learn with all the different wools and their properties but it seems pretty easy compared to clay – it will just take some experience and practice, I think (hope!). It’s a very forgiving medium so I’m looking forward to getting lots of practice, anyway.

CAST Tour Success

13 12 2008

The CAST Tour of Fine Craft (that’s Craft Artists of Southern Tennessee) went well, at least at our end of the tour. We had a good turnout and everyone in our studio location did well. I’ve heard mixed reports from other participants but in light of the economic situation I’m generally pleased with our results. We can always try to do better, though – especially with marketing. This year we had our web site up and did more radio advertising, but I think we need to find a way to better target our audience. 

I’m hoping to make more progress now on getting prepared to build the soda kiln. Having major tree work done and repairing the fences damaged by those trees was an unexpected bite out of the budget, but hopefully the new year will bode well for new starts! I’m still scared of the propane tank that I’ll need to fuel the kiln . . . no good reason except that I have zilch experience with that fuel source (and I think the tanks are not that attractive, either). But the motivation is that with that kiln I could produce more work like this:

Hand built pitcher, soda fired

Ready for the hop

13 09 2008


After a great night at the arts and craft sale at the Hunter for the NASAA group I am psyched for the Gallery Hop on Saturday. I dropped off more work at the gallery today and ended up staying to help out because there was a little rush and some nice sales.
Tom Church and a customer at the Hunter Museum show

(above) Tom Church and a customer at the Hunter Museum show and sale on Thursday night

It was great to hear the feedback from the customers on Thursday – so many nice compliments on the work that the artists were showing . . . they seemed genuinely impressed by the quality and variety from the area’s artists. And even better, they bought work – now that’s a compliment!


Carolyn Insler and Linda White before the sale at the Hunter Museum begins

Carolyn Insler and Linda White before the sale at the Hunter Museum begins

I wish there had been more time to catch up with some of the other artists there; I knew almost everyone there but hardly ever get to see some of them. And it was nice to meet some new people, too, including a potter, Shadow May, who’s work was just stunning. He was hoping to eventually build a wood kiln and I’m hoping he does – his work will just pop in with that kind of firing.
On to the Hop – it’s been happening for 3 years now, I think, and just seems to be getting better each time. More artists, more galleries – who ever thought that Chattanooga would have enough going on to have something like this? That sounds a bit negative but anyone here in Chattanooga 15 years ago would be hard to convince that we would be where we are today. 
For example, we ate out tonight at Easy Seafood, a restaurant in downtown Chattanooga. Our dinners were exquisite – not a description I would apply to many restaurant meals here even 10 years ago. I had a fresh fig salad with arugula – oh my! And then cured salmon ravioli in a brown butter sauce . . . mmmmmmmmm! And for dessert, blueberry panna cotta . . . creamy and smooth with those lovely little berries providing tart bursts of flavor. Notice I start writing about art and end up on food? Oh well, life is short. Eat dessert – any time!






Veggie tales

28 08 2008

I just tried a new way to cook green beans and it turned out to be a winner. It’s another recipe from Molly Katzen: toss 1 lb. of cleaned, snapped beans with olive oil, add 3-6 cloves of peeled, whole garlic cloves and 1 thinly sliced onion. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, mix it all up and put in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees about 20-30 minutes, tasting until your preferred degree of doneness is achieved. When the beans are done you can sprinkle them with a little balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper and serve them warm or at room temperature . . . very delicious and easy to make!

Growing up in the south I only had green beans prepared the traditional way – simmered for hours in a big pot with an onion and some pork (or ham) and lots of black pepper and salt. This is a great if you have the time (and can afford the calories) but I’m usually on the lookout now for recipes that take less time and lean a bit toward the healthier side. This one is a winner!

Hot fun in the Summertime

24 07 2008

I want to share my latest veggie success story . . . with all the great produce coming in I decided to try to make a southern version of ratatouille, one of my favorite ways to eat my veggies. I have also been converted to the wonders of grilling veggies, which is not only delicious, it helps to take a lot of the heat out of the kitchen!

I began by cutting eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash into 1/4 inch slices (longways), then brushing them with olive oil and adding a sprinkle of salt (kosher) and freshly ground pepper. Next I skewered okra (use 2 skewers spaced an inch or so apart, like a ladder, to keep the okra from swinging around on the grill) and repeat with olive oil, salt and pepper. I had some smallish tomatoes and left them whole to grill – repeat the olive oil, salt and pepper. I speared several cloves of peeled garlic and oiled them up, too, as well as a large onion.

Let the grilling begin! Obviously it takes working in batches with this many veggies, but as they are grilled (4-6 minutes on each side over low heat on a gas grill – times can vary with heat and the size of the veggies you are cooking), I put them in a pan and cut them into bite-sized pieces. The tomatoes peel easily after grilling, but watch them since they will fall apart quickly once they are hot. I didn’t skewer them, just used tongs to turn them and to remove from the grill. After everything is grilled and cut up I added a bay leave, a 1/4-to-1/2 tsp. of dried thyme and a hot chili pepper or two to the mix, and stirred it up well. Then it goes into a preheated oven (about 300-325 degrees) for 30 minutes or so.

It’s good hot, warm or at room temperature and served over pasta, couscous or rice a well as being a great side dish with grilled chicken, lamb or fish. The veggies could be different depending on what was available. Bell peppers are a traditional ingredient for ratatouille but I didn’t happen to have any this time and we didn’t miss them at all. I could see corn fitting in nicely, too. We’ve been eating grilled corn a lot this year (with garlic butter spread over it before it goes on the grill – heavenly!). The seasonings could be varied, as well, lots of possibilities there.

OK, time for something to eat!

It’s been a busy summer . . .

14 07 2008

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been here to write . . . with so much to do I’ve found it to be difficult to fit the blog writing into my day. I wonder how other people manage to fit it all in; how do they manage their priorities? Other things seem to intrude on a pretty regular basis, things that just can’t wait! The three dogs need attention, there are errands that need doing, cooking, cleaning, all the day-to-day things. The yard needs work, I’m supposed to be picking out paint colors and flooring and the windows need something hanging over them . . . there are commitments to the gallery and to the craft group and I’m supposed to be producing clay work, too. And then there’s the exercise I’m supposed to be getting – where does that fit in?

I feel guilty just sitting here writing – I should be doing something! Don’t get me wrong – I like having the dogs, the house, the yard, and I have hard time imagining life without clay or some other artmaking work, but I just don’t know how to do it all. I feel incredibly lucky and appreciative of everything, I wake up thinking of how fortunate I am (most of the time, anyway) . . . I’m just not a very good manager, it seems. Living out where we do does complicate the situation, and with gas going up almost daily I do think twice before getting out and driving anywhere. What do you let go? What do you put first? I haven’t even mentioned time with family or friends, which also gets squeezed with everything else pressing in . . .

One thing I did manage to do was get some images made. A friend recommended a photographer so I had him shoot some recent work . . .

example of terra sigillata work

example of terra sigillata work (top) and soda/salt fired pitcher


So these are a couple of shots; these are low-rez images and I think they will work; the photographer made RAW images, too, so that I could do some editing and what not. There are so many things to learn about digital photography and managing/editing images but it’s a start, so I’m going down that road now, too.

Then there’s the kiln I’d like to build . . . I know absolutely nothing about kiln building (or building much of anything else, for that matter) but it’s another DIY project that needs my attention if I want to do more soda fired work. It’s a process that produces the most amazing results, and while it’s unpredictable it’s totally captivating and the results can be just stunning!

I’m going to yet another workshop, this time about soda fired surfaces, so I’m hoping this will lead to more info about the kiln, etc. One piece of information that wasn’t so great was a recent article about the price of propane vs. natural gas. Propane now costs twice as much as natural gas, and out where we live there’s no gas line yet. And with everything else costing more, too, I’m wondering how much of a market there will even be for art . . . it’s not exactly a necessity for most people, unfortunately.

But still, I’m a stubborn person, persistent and even downright unrealistic sometimes. I don’t think I’m getting very many positive messages from the universe to pursue this path but when did I ever listen to common sense?

Another step along the blogging road

18 05 2008

My memory (or lack of it) never ceases to amaze me . . . I totally forgot that I had already signed up for a Flickr account and posted pictures from it on my blog page. On the plus side I had an extra hour now to learn something new about posting pictures, so I played around with the tiff/jpeg format. Since I couldn’t upload the smallest tiff image that I had to Flickr’s free account I needed to find another way to create a jpeg from it. I started reading the “help” section on iPhoto (when all else fails . . . ) and there it was – I had the capability all along and didn’t know it! I could open the tiff image in ‘Preview’ and save it in another format – it was that easy. D’oh!!!!!!

I’m writing this down because I want to remember all this, dang it. I bet everyone and their pet fish already knows this, but that’s ok, it made my weekend to finally figure it out. 

I’m finally getting some more work done in the studio, although it’s never as much as I hope for. Handbuilding is such a slow process, at least compared to throwing, that I never feel caught up, especially if I try anything experimental. I’m pretty happy with the process I’ve developed now, though, so I’ll be sticking with that for the time being.

I want to create a section that just deals with that – my work process and how it changes (or doesn’t). I’ve been very bad about documenting techniques and inspirations, as well as forms, and I need to do a better job. It would help me tremendously to understand my own work better and to verbalize my interests and objectives. It could also help me do a better job of marketing . . . I really, really dislike talking about my own work. I’ve come to the realization lately how much that is to my own detriment, since I sound kind of stupid when asked about anything more than my work process or some other technical question. So there’s my next project, and hopefully with the new camera I should be getting (as soon as Uncle Sam sends our refund check) I’ll be able to have some visuals as well as written descriptions of the work.