December 2010

First of new series completed

First completed piece of my newly evolving series, working title for the series: “If You’re Not Laughing, You’re Not Paying Attention.” Approx. 12 x 12 x 6, wall mount, hand-built one of a kind fired ceramic w/underglaze, SOLD (thanks C&L of Portland).

More about this piece in previous post.

I say ‘evolving’ series because I still feel like more of an observer of my current work than an originator of it — the meaning is still in the process of settling in. The most obvious common denominator is laughter. Some pieces look like “hearty laughter.” Others look more tweaked, perhaps drifting closer to maniacal laughter…which is fine by me, I can easily identify with that…maniacal laughter seems a perfectly rational response to much going on around me in these strange times economically and politically.

I’m in the midst of being a guinea pig in my own experiment: experiencing the positive endorphins released in the process of sculpting big laughs. It’s hard to be all hang dog when face to face with huge laughter.

New piece underway, similar to previous so far

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12/12 finessed ears and teeth. Think I’m about done with sculpting phase. Was going to do some other things with this, but kind of like it the way it is so may leave it. I was going to do the same things to the previous similar one, but decided to keep it as it was…I can just keep making more until I’m ready to try the modifications on one…

13w x 14h x 8d in wet clay stage — pretty big.

12/11 revision with oversized ears roughed in…think I’ll leave them this big for comic effect; will refine them tomorrow after the clay has had a chance to firm up a bit.

Soooo time consuming! but fun.

My inner critic is heckling me for spending so much time on these faces without knowing if they will sell for enough to make even minimum wage for my time. So far it’s not getting to me…I’m too busy enjoying the process, which for now is worth more than money to me.

2010 is still here, and I’m savoring it

A year ago I was optimistic and excited about living the futuristic sounding year 2010, and it has not disappointed! It’s been tumultuous for us, but momentous as well. I’m sorry it’s nearing its end, but it’s not over yet. There’s still 1/14th of the year left.

Many good things going on artistically:

–A local couple made a very encouraging purchase from me today, they bought one of the brand new pieces I’m working on before I’ve even finished it! It still needs one more trip through the kiln to fire on the underglaze. I’ll post a photo of it later with its final finish, but you can see it in wet clay form here: If You’re Not Laughing, You’re Not Paying Attention. Thanks C & L from Portland! This was a wonderful affirmation for me as I continue to experiment with this new series. Visitors to our just-completed Open Studios event saw me working on another in this series, not named yet, shown in the slideshow a couple entries below (female face, ram’s horns), which I finished sculpting today.

–I like my new studio. I know I’ve said that before, but if I can’t repeat it to my blog, where can I say it?!? Today I had fun showing dozens of Open Studio visitors my new space and new sculptures in process or fresh out of the kiln.

–The positive response to our Open Studio event (five days over two weekends) was energizing and motivating! I want to populate my tall white walls with a crowd of sculpted faces!

–I’m looking forward to my next piece, based on a photo of a boy letting out a roar of a laugh! I contacted the photographer who immediately gave me his blessing to use it as reference. It may well end up looking like an old man simultaneously with looking like a youngster, which would be fine by me…that’s kind of how I feel! Anyway, I’m anxious to be “surprised” by how it turns out over the next several days. I’ll add new photos to the slideshow below as it progresses (12/10 update: sculpting phase complete as shown in final slide):

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Wood Sculpture…kind of

Quick sketch on an envelope…

…in short order turned into a sturdy, adjustable angle sculpture stand.

It’s so nice to have a DRY indoor area to build things like this in our new location! I can do woodworking any hour of of the day or night in the large hallway right outside the studio door.

I began my current face/head sculpture on a vertical board. The clay stayed put just fine until I added a lot more weight with the curling horns…I’m lucky the whole thing didn’t plop facefirst onto the floor, but fortunately it gave me some warning by suddenly but uneventfully coming unstuck and gapping about half an inch from the supporting board. So I leaned it at an angle temporarily while I built the above adjustable tilt stand to use in just such situations. I’ve been wanting such a stand for a long time, now I have it!

Sculpting the Sculptor

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By ‘sculpting the sculptor’ I don’t mean a self portrait, but rather working on my real flesh and blood self moment by moment day by day month by month year by year decade by decade until death do me part. It’s not rocket science, but more like gardening…hacking away at what I don’t want, planting and cultivating attributes I do want. Nor is it usually very interesting or exciting; more often it’s boring and tedious, like weeding. And, like weeding, once isn’t enough. The weeds keep coming back.

So every day I’m alive, entropy happens, and it’s up to me to take proactive steps to counter it.

I’m encouraged to persevere in my biological sculpting efforts by research in the field of neuroplasticity, defined on Wikipedia as follows:

Neuroplasticity (also known as cortical re-mapping) refers to the ability of the human brain to change as a result of one’s experience, that the brain is ‘plastic’ and ‘malleable’. The discovery of this feature of the brain is rather modern; the previous belief amongst scientists was that the brain does not change after the critical period of infancy.

If I’m diligent in my efforts to supplant negative traits with better ones, I’m actually changing the structure of my brain. Sculpting neurons.

I’m bringing up this topic because this past weekend we had a lot of folks come to our first ever event in our new space (thank you one and all, it was a big success!), and I noticed how much it took out of me to talk about my work and/or show people my in-process work in my new studio space. Part of me would rather keep all that to myself until the work is completed. But I know I appreciate it when other artists open up about their process, their insecurities, their energy swings, so it’s not fair for me not to. I’d like to get past the reticence though, grow thicker skin…get to the point where such experiences energize me rather than drain me. I can use the vague sense of inadequacy stirred up by such interactions to spur me to dig even deeper, work even harder to develop my creative skills and work habits. To develop a lattice of neurons robust enough to shake off occasional scrutiny, whether from my own inner critic or studio visitors.

I think part of the issue is that I create work for myself, not for “the public.” I’m just not much of a social animal, I guess…I’d rather let my sculpture do the talking.

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