Thursday, October 29, 2009

Guy Stuff

Sometimes it seems like a lot of mixed-media artists who blog do a lot of ... pink. Girly stuff. Pretty stuff. Feminine stuff. I think it's because a lot of them are women and pink stuff comes more naturally to women than men. I'm not being sexist here, I'm just making an observation. And it seems like a lot more women than men have blogs where they talk about the process of making art.

When I go to art workshops I'm usually the only guy in the class. Wait! I'm NOT complaining -- being one of only 10 men in a group of 400 people is a very nice situation to be in.

[Susan speaks: This is what I hear all day long, as women read my nametag:
"Oh, you're Don's wife."
"Your husband must be Don. He's in my class."
"Tell Don I said Hi."
"Oh. I didn't know Don had his wife with him."
"Where is Don?"

Trust me on this fact: No one ever says to Don, "Oh, you're Susan's husband."
Does this bother me? Not in the least. The man is so oblivious to predators that he had to ask me if a woman inviting him to her room for a drink after class was coming on to him.]

About a year ago Susan made a connection with a woman via this blog. They started out as strangers exchanging email about something they found in common only to find out that they had a lot in common and they now refer to themselves as Evil Twins Separated at Birth. When we were in New York City last spring we met up with her, and she and Susan and I all felt as though we'd known each other forever. The two of them are very much alike and yet very different and I had fun watching them interact with each other.

This time in New York City we met up with an artist we'd connected with via this blog. He was an artist who understood what I meant when I talked about the "pink" stuff. A guy! A guy who makes art! We talked about metal and rust and dirty, worn stuff and it was easy to talk to him, as though we'd known each other a long time. It was a very, very nice connection.

[Susan speaks: It was cool. He is very much like Don -- a gentle, grounded soul. The two of them are very much alike just as they are very different and I was delighted that Don found someone he could talk to. They are in the picture above.

As for the pink, feminine stuff.... I had to remind Don that although he may call his ceramic pieces "dudes", they could also be considered dolls. So now, once again, he is fully flummoxed.]

late edit: blogger is messing up paragraph breaks, resulting in awkward stuff. sorry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is This Upside Down?

I took a one-day class from Kathleen Murray called "The Basics in Chinese Calligraphy for the Mixed-Media Artist". The picture above is the cover of the book I made at the end of the class.

These are the pictures of the book, both sides of it. I took one set of pictures and was ready to post them when Susan thought maybe they looked wrong, like they were upside down. How should I know? An accordion book can go both ways, right? Anyway, I re-shot them and hope this is the way they are supposed to be. Somewhere in my notes I have the translation of what I wrote but all I know is that it does not say "Bite my boxer shorts", despite Susan's threats.

I learned a lot about different ways to hold the brush and how to grind my own sumi ink. It was an intense class, a long way out of my comfort zone, but also very relaxing because I didn't feel any pressure to "make something". I gave all the cool practice papers to Susan.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Works in Progress

Bisque-fired pieces to be glazed. The white clay is Longhorn White, the other is Longhorn Red. The plan is to put pods in some of the figures. Sometimes the plan changes once I get started on the glazing. The long skinny pieces were supposed to be snail-like nudibranchs but each one had a little feeler broken off in the kiln. Firing your work in a kiln at a community college is always an interesting challenge.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting A Leg Up

I can't help it -- they were on sale, 50% off. So I bought some more dolls and ripped them apart. Someday all these parts will become something really cool. When I came home with these Susan just said, "Please tell me that no one I know saw you."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Amy's Heads

Amy and I have been in several ceramics classes together and this semester she decided she just wanted to make heads, 100 of them. She is very creative. Once she has all 100 made I hope to be able to get her to gather them all up for a group picture.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Terra Cotta Warriors

While I was in Houston I saw the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at the Natural Science Museum. The $24 exhibit fee was pretty steep but I'm glad I spent the money.

The picture above is of a reconstructed set of limestone armor from the First Emperor's tomb mound. The Terra Cotta Warriors were made to accompany the Emperor in his afterlife. Obviously, stone armor would have shattered on impact, not to mention being way too heavy. In fact, the complete sets of armor weren't even on the terra cotta figures, they were on stands in the tomb mound. But some of the terra cotta figures did have partial armor sets shown as part of the detailing of their figure. In reality, the actual warriors had armor of lacquered leather.

The overlapping stone plates are joined with flat copper strips threaded through holes drilled in the stone. It was interesting to see that the upper parts of the armor had the plates overlapping in one direction, then at the waist, where a person would bend, the plates overlap in the other direction.

The picture above shows how the armor looked before it was reconstructed (great patina!) and the picture below shows a Warrior.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not Your Grandma's Quilt

Earlier this week I was at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Above is a section of Units 1 by Benedicte Caneill and below is a section of Leaves of Grass by Betty Amador. I enjoy looking at art quilts because it often triggers an idea of colors or patterns I want to use in my ceramic work.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not My Art (for a change)

Susan's art. She has learned how to cut her own stencils. She is the Blog Wrangler and won't bother talking about herself. Sorry about that.

P.S. It's not always about me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Big Cheese

The top picture is a mid-stage (unfired, unglazed) of The Big Cheese, which stands about 2 feet high. The second picture is The Big Cheese in all its final splendor and glory. I'm really happy with the glaze effects I got. Originally I called this The Big Pod but Susan had other ideas. There may be one or two more companion pieces made.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Other Worlds

Often I find someone else's blog photos inspire me to stop focusing (so to speak) on the technique of photography and just take the damned picture. The photos on Magpie's blog are one example of "Just do it."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Test Tiles

Lately my clay hasn't been talking to me. I've made a lot of pieces but just wasn't feeling very enthused about them. After a lot of mental struggles (and advice from my Muse) I've found a new direction to head in. Coincidentally, a pile of test tiles I planned to throw out suddenly seemed like they should be given a second chance. Once again, blog posts from Robyn have helped me find my way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Sunday Bike Ride

I head out early for my bike rides to the Turtle Pond. One of hidden secrets on the University campus is the old Greenhouse by the Pond. Today it looks the same as it did 45 years ago when I was a student and I hope no one ever tries to fix it up.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Paige Adkins Shelton

Paige Adkins Shelton has been making a living as a potter for her whole adult life. Susan and Paige met when they were both teenage Air Force "brats" in San Antonio and since then we often see Paige at local art fairs. Several of her bowls and a butter dish are in constant use in our kitchen.

I am lucky enought to have bought some oddly different pieces from her at an earlier time, when she was doing more ceramic sculpture than she does now. Unfortunately, she doesn't do pieces like these anymore. These little guys are each about 2" long and the amount of detail she has on each one is incredible.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No, I Didn't Make This Up

Appearing in my newspaper:

Pasadena, TX -- A Houston-area woman who was angry at her former husband fried their seven pet goldfish and ate some of them. The man reported Saturday that he and the woman had argued and that she later took the goldfish from his apratment. Police officers went to the woman's home and found four fried goldfish on a plate. She said she already had eaten the other three. No charges would be filed because the dispute is a civil matter.

This item has already made "News of the Weird" and their take on it was: Good thing they didn't have a dog.

Illustration from "My Goldfish" by Stephane Barroux.