Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Give Until It Hurts

Aaaah, charity work!  Last week was the Oak Ridge Art Center's annual Hot Pots, Cool Art event.  It's a fantastic event that exposes the community to a wide variety of arts and crafts with plenty of hands-on opportunities.  Overall a great fundraiser for the Art Center, and a great time was had by all.
     As an artist and craftsman I feel a responsibility to expose the public to the arts whenever possible.   Kids get little to no exposure in schools, and adults see it as a guilty pleasure or an excuse to gather for a glass or two of wine.....  O.K., pretty hard to argue with the last couple statements.... but you get my point!  I think it is very important for people to see a craftsman in action.  It is rare in our modern society that we get to see something transform from raw material to finished product.  Even stranger to grasp is the idea that the finished object came from a human hand!   What I strive for is when the observer wants to become that human hand.  It may take some encouragement and a little prodding, but to see some one's face light up the first time they remove a 2000 degree pot from the kiln is fantastic.  And by " face lighting up" I don't mean  like what's happening in the photo!
     Saturday was cold, windy, and hours of standing on concrete with my head engulfed in flames,  yet I wouldn't have it any other way!  Get out there, volunteer, show someone your craft or talent.   They will either be so impressed with your skills that they find themselves inexplicably reaching for the checkbook to buy one of your pieces, or they will enquire as to where they sign up to learn how to do it themselves!  The more people involved in the arts, the stronger the Art community becomes.
     Any funny, strange, or just plain terrible experiences for you while doing a show or demonstration?  Feel free to share them under the comments banner! 

Warming the cans... and the kilns!!!
A perfect Fall morning.

Helping the rookie out while she's not looking!

Katie came to help, but quickly discovered the HUGE grill
loaded with racks of ribs!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creative Influences

I dropped into the Oak Ridge Art Center today to say hello to Jane Cartwright.  She has been teaching a hand building clay class for a little over a year now.  There were a half-dozen students breathing life into the studio with an amazing variety of projects being built.  A giant squid (and I do mean LARGE!), square folded bowls, a canister with a fish for the lid, wine stoppers, tri-pod coffee mugs, and free flowing sculpture.  Despite the incredible diversity, you could see a hint of Jane in every piece.   This is not to say they were copying her, just that her style had influenced some aspect of each one of those pieces.  I thought this was a huge compliment for Jane's work and her teaching abilities.
     Creative types face an interesting tug-o-war between sharing our ideas and techniques with those interested enough to ask, yet wanting to also protect some of those hard earned discoveries that come from hours of hard work and experimentation.  I remember the first time someone asked me how to get a taller, straighter vessel.  The next one she threw was twice the size of anything she had done previously and I felt a ton of pride for both her and myself for giving her that "boost" to the next level.  I also remember the first time I saw a shelf of pots that looked incredibly similar to some work I had been doing; down to the glaze and firing technique.  This becomes even more irritating when a portion of your household income relies on you having something to offer that others don't!  All this would seem trivial if EVERYONE contributed SOMETHING to the mix.  But life shows us this is the norm.
     Enter Bill Capshaw.  He is the person responsible for getting me started in ceramics.  Not just me, but hundreds of people!  His classes are legendary and have produced many of the "who's who"  in pottery for this region.  His teaching skills are intuitive, entertaining, and most importantly, designed to help you find your own "style" and methods, not just copy his.  Because of this, his students tend to develop quickly and in a wide variety of styles. For that we are all grateful!
    So what do you do when you see your ideas being implemented by others who seem to not posses a single creative bone in their body?   Go on a rampage and smash all the offending work like Carrie Nation in a distillery?  Tempting, very tempting.....  I've found that I can use the incident as incentive to keep experimenting and coming up with something new.  Competition spurs innovation.  But it can also create animosity;  I think it depends entirely on your personality.

    So for the positive note of the day, try to remember that  "Imitation is the highest form of flattery".  

    And if that doesn't make you feel any better......

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Waiting For Inspiration To Strike

Aaaah... procrastination.  The simple act of putting something off.  Usually we spend more effort NOT doing a particular activity than we would have spent actually doing what we are supposed to be doing.  I have kilns to fill, pots to throw, some new designs just begging to be tried, and oh, let's not leave out the daily activities of a working husband and home owner.  So the obvious solution is to sit down and write about all the stuff I'm not doing!
   I went to the park for my evening walk with the full intention of using the time to clear my head and focus on what project to finish first.  Instead of narrowing the list, I actually added a new idea for a chess set, a wall sculpture, and some really cool bowl ideas.  It wasn't a complete loss.  I did get to witness a two foot toddler make his mother run nearly the length of the park.  It was quite amazing!  He was looking backwards and taking four steps for every one of his mom's, yet she was hardly gaining!  I'm not sure if her seeing me laugh was partially responsible for her anger when she finally caught him, but obviously she needed to see it from my perspective.  I mean damn, that little dude could move! 
   Did my trip to the park inspire me?  Nope.  But it sure made me glad we never had children!  And I bet that woman was inspired to look into re-purposing Fido's shock collar for use on Jr.  But there's always tomorrow; one day closer to the deadline.
     "Glass Half Full" analogy for the day-  He who procrastinates all the time never runs out of anything to do, thus warding off boredom!  See, there's good in everything!