Tuesday, April 6, 2021

CuPu Series

 I'm jumping all over the place, as is my way, and I jumped into a new technique a couple months ago and went crazy making...

CuPu vases and cups


The Cut and Push Series, aka CuPu, involves me handbuilding (by way of pinching and smoothing), cutting a design through the wall, and pushing it out to form a relief.  I wanted to explore glazes and how they perform on deep surface changes.  Some designs are free-form, some I measure out and try really hard to make even, and some start one way and end up being made another.  I get too excited to stop and take action shots, but below is a bit of an inside to stages of one particular piece.

First I make the vessel, let it set up a bit, and decide on a design--usually I go from one element of the design to the next and fill in along the way.  With this one I made a stencil and played around with spacing and layout for some time before committing. 

Planning stage.

I use an Xacto knife to cut through the wall and push from the inside out to create a relief.
Boy, that escalated quickly.

Smoothed out but still in the green stage.
After the bisque fire, I sanded the surface and glazed the hell out of it.  Due to the conditions in the kiln, glaze ran down and puddled around the bottom, but the kiln loader was able to salvage the piece in whole so at least all my hours of work weren't destroyed, just a little ragged along the bottom.


Glazed.
Planter with Reitz Blue and Yellow Salt

I will not have this particular piece available at the KC Clay Guild Spring Sale, but everything in the first photo will be there, and many are already available online in my ceramics shop.  I have a lot more of these in me, but I am making an effort to cool it for a minute until I can clear some work out from under me.

See my process on Instagram!  I love to share.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Learning to Draw III + some ramblings

 As Spring sprang, I kept drawing and felt pretty good about my progress.  Especially as new flowers and trees started blooming, I'd be inspired to run home and get right to my brush and ink.  It was fun to see how my hand would render the flowers or if I could even be happy with the outcome.  Here are two early but large studies...

Crabapple blossoms details

Serviceberry sketch details

both sketches in full
46 x 9" each

I like being able to see the rough, curled edges of the paper, but this creates the problem of how to exhibit the work (these were meant to just be sketches but sometimes sketches turn into full blown pieces).  Also, taking pictures of the rumpled, wavy paper isn't easy.  This is why seeing art in real life is so much better than looking at or buying a reproduction (not always possible, yes I know).

Several years ago I was able to see Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" (after missing it twice before due to it being loaned out--MoMA!  Always sharing!).  This is said about many famous art works, but it was much smaller than I expected, and you know what?  I could see the raw canvas at the edge of the frame.  Same with Dali and many more.  This is not something you can appreciate learning from a text book, and it made it so much more real to me.  "A person made this and this is where he chose to stop painting."
You can see a bit of edge in this image, but that was all cropped out in the textbooks of yore.

That tangent was brought to you by my current struggles on presenting my work for exhibition.  It's one reason I love working with aluminum and panel wood--no need to frame, just set it and forget it.  In addition to my pieces being in very non-standard sizes, it's expensive to frame a piece right and who knows if that's even the best frame for the collector?  These are roadblocks I give myself. 

I'll end with a little about serviceberry.  Two years ago I learned of this delicious tree from a landscaper working on Main Street in my hometown.  It was the end of May or early June and the berries were ripe and ready and he encouraged us to take as many as we wanted.  They are quite tasty and have a bit of an apple flavor, but small like cherries.  Turns out there are serviceberry trees all over and I'd just never known.  They bloom in April.  Keep an eye out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Shop Update

Saturday, March 20, at noon, I'm going to have a shop update--my first this year.  


I've been making a ton of new work.  Here's preview!


Hand drawn flower pieces...
Dogwood mug

Queen Anne's Lace vace
Some mug experiments...
Cinched-waist mugs
Always have to include cat heads!
Small and medium cat planters
Nubby planters for the upcoming plant season...
Nubby planters

And a new series, titled Cut and Push (CuPu for short) includes versatile vessels that can be used as vases, cups, or simply art pieces...I'll have a post about this process soon.
Turquoise CuPu vase

Large mouth CuPu vase

I will be sending out reminders all over social media, especially my Facebook and Instagram pages.  Let me know if you have questions about anything.  As always, thanks for your support.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Missouri Art Now

 This year, 2021, is Missouri's bicentennial.  As a native of Kansas, I learned next to nothing about the Show Me State growing up, and I continued that ignorance for the fourteen years I've lived here. (Sorry!) However, I do know that we have a plethora of talented artists and the Missouri Art Now exhibit is showcasing a few of us.  My work from 2019, "How Soft the Hazy Summer Night" was selected as one of sixty pieces to celebrate the bicentenary in a traveling exhibition from March to November.  

How Soft the Hazy Summer Night
36" diameter
aluminum, vinyl, acrylic
From the call for art:
On the occasion of its bicentennial, it is important to recognize that Missouri has and remains a significant site for visual artistic production. The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau, Hannibal Arts Council, Post Art Library and Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin, and the Albrecht-Kemper Museum in Saint Joseph are collaborating to create Missouri Art Now, an exhibition featuring sixty works from artists throughout the State of Missouri, together demonstrating the vibrant visual arts culture in the state.

You can see it hanging at the opening March 5th in Cape Girardeau.
photo credit: @Missouri2021 on Instagram

And now some detail shots...

I slathered on the paint really thick and scraped an old mop brush through it before drying, adding texture.  Then I sanded and did it again with a different color.

   

After all that was done I went to town with the vinyl orzos.

 


The title comes from the fourth stanza in a poem by Ellen P. Allerton called "On The Farm,"

How soft the hazy summer night!
On dewy grass the moon's pale light
Rests dreamily. It falls in town
On smoky roofs and pavements brown.
How tenderly when night is gone,
Breaks o'er the fields the summer dawn!
How sweet and pure the scented morn.
(Get up! Old Molly's in the corn!)


And, as it is a traveling show, here's where it can be found throughout the year:

March 5-27, 2021

Arts Council of Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau

April 9-May 15, 2021

The State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia 

May 29-July 17, 2021

Post Art Library and Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin

July 23-September 6, 2021

Hannibal Arts Council in Hannibal 

September 17-November 7, 2021

Albrecht-Kemper Museum in Saint Joseph

More info at www.missouri2021.org 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Drawing on Ceramics I

 Around the time I started to relearn to draw (500 years ago?  no...a year ago but still In The Beforetimes), I made a few test pieces with underglaze and sgraffito techniques based on saved dried flowers and seeds from summer 2019. They didn't trip my trigger at the time, but I kept running across them, so I'm going to share.  That also means I can throw them out!


Aliens?

That one is based on my first round of abstract Queen Anne's Lace drawings and paintings.
Pretty sex-organ-y.

Based on river oats


These were only about three or four inches tall, so the nuance I could get from larger drawings, as well as from ink flow, just weren't there.  They're called sketches for a reason.  I let these ideas marinate for my time away from the Clay Guild and during my summer of collecting flower images and drawing on traditional surfaces...

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Bathroom Flowers

As I'm writing this, Kansas City is coming out of some of the coldest weather in years.  About half the people I know had frozen pipes or experienced rolling blackouts planned by the power company to keep the whole grid from collapsing.  I feel lucky that we were able to avoid both.

If the forecast holds, the day I plan to publish this will be in the 50s...seems crazy, because that's less than a week from now.  MIDWEST, AMIRITE!? 

So, anyway, I've been dreaming of spring and flowers and bike rides; therefore, I am collecting some of my prettiest Bathroom Flowers TM from 2020 to share in this pre-springtime.


Wood hyacinth, dandelions, chickweed, dead nettle, henbit, grape hyacinth, violets, bachelor's purse, and strawberry leaves. Little sweet things that are early bloomers and seen as weeds by many. 

First Bathroom Flowers TM of the year!
April 1st

Penny cress, yellow rocket, garlic mustard, grape hyacinth, buttercup greens, and branches left over from my Xmas wreath. That garlic mustard is pretty strong when you cut it and I plan to try to cook with it this year.
This honker lasted a long time and this vase is not for sale.
April 14th

Crab apple, allysum, forsythia, dock, chickweed, and wheaty grass.
Going tall
April 7th

Oxalis, catmint, Golden Alexander, scabiosa, yellow sweet clover, and some crazy bachelor buttons. This was particularly fragrant with the catmint and sweet clover (one of my favorites of all time!).
(Love eyes emoji)
May 9th

Roses, scabiosa, Queen Anne's Lace, yarrow, yellow sweet clover, aster, coreopsis, spiderwort, and oxalis. You want flowers to come back year after year and last a long time?  Get thee some spiderwort! And Queen Anne's Lace!  And yarrow! And basically everything in this bouquet.  All perennials, mostly natives.
Love this Queen's Vessel. Holds some girthy blooms.
May 25th

Allium, Golden Alexander, hydrangea, coreopsis, and mullein.  That blue hydrangea didn't bloom much in 2020, but when she did, she blew my mind, as always.
Take all the scraps and stick them together!
June 16th

Through many channels I've been able to identify most flowers I come across while walking or biking around.  I was a flower-shop worker for a number of years, and, honestly, I'm better at arranging now...just like with drawing, sometimes things just have to marinate for a while in your brain juices for them to fully sink in.

Hope you enjoyed this little detour, I have many more...it's a good reason to keep my bathroom counter cleared off.

I post my Bathroom Flowers TM over on my Instagram in real time!  You can see where I get my blooms and how they fit in my bike basket.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Learning to Draw II

 By April I was already feeling better about my abilities and coming to terms with my handwriting.  Age and not comparing myself to others drawing the same thing goes a long way!  I was getting used to the tools and materials and finding what I liked best.  Turns out, it was ink and detail brush.  Thank you, Rapidograph Black India and the leftovers from my Design I class at KU.

Since everything shut down in mid March, I had a lot of time to draw and listen to books while trying to keep my existential dread at bay...

pencil on painted newsprint

daffodil with ink on painted newsprint
36 x 22 inches
I think this daf looks like it just sneezed...I was playing around making my own colored ink out of acrylic paint and spray gun medium, and spending more time on each drawing. On a walk after a rain, I took pictures of a daffodil patch, and immediately came home and drew it.
field clover head; ink on painted newsprint
A little too stylized but this one got me excited regardless as I was playing with washes and layering of ink.
Rattlesnake Master
ink and paint on painted newsprint
22 x 18"
If I have a color around, I will throw it on something in lieu of washing it down the drain.  The messy background and simple drawing make me happy here.
detail

striped squill found on a hike
36 x 22"
Really going after blown up small stuff and adding color here.
surprise lily greens that look like fries
22 x 18"


I think this is birch???
ink on painted newsprint

I began making more complicated drawings, letting my maximalism show through, and thinking of these are collages of drawn pictures...this is the first step.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Learning to Draw I

 I've never considered myself very skilled at rendering images or drawing in any meaningful way.  I can sketch out a plan to put wood pieces together or something like that, but, especially compared to my peers in college drawing classes, I basically was very bad.  So I didn't draw for real for about sixteen years, give or take.

Then I got an idea to make big paintings of flowers and decided I needed to be able to draw to be able to paint.  Initially what I wanted to do is just really pile weird stuff onto canvas, using up some of my infinite stash of paper ephemera, and then paint something sweet and simple on top.

Anyway, drawing is hard.

I found my old newsprint pad and charcoal from school.  To save paper, I painted over the sketches with old house paint I had laying around and sketched again and again.  

Started out very rough using images from a 1970's houseplant book to work from.

oof...charcoal on newsprint

charcoal on newsprint
These were closer to the first idea flash I had when I decided to go down this road.  One thought I had was to make ceramic planters and use those in my paintings, then sell them beside the canvases.  I like tie-ins.
charcoal and pencil on painted newsprint
dried Yucca pods

first use of ink and brush on newsprint

Rattlesnake Master
 I kept working, trying to build up the very atrophied muscle in my brain that pushes my hand to make a line.  I liked the idea of being expressive, probably because then it wouldn't look as much like I didn't know what I was doing.



I had a large collection of dried pods and stuff I focused on first.
I made this one up.


Plantain and sweet clover
Started looking at pictures I took over the years for reference.
Antelope-horn Milkweed
Maybe going super zoomed-in would be a thing I wanted to do?  Worked for Georgia O'Keefe. 

This was the jumping off point of the rest of my year's art endeavors and a new series that will continue indefinitely. 

All this started in February 2020...

If you want to see more process shots of drawings, check out the archived stories under the Drawing collection on my Instagram.