Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good and Bad

OK, we got those British folks married off without a hitch, the pomp and majesty of those guys on horseback really do project the power and force the British Empire had in its Power And Force days, and yes, her sister is .... yeah....!

So much for the good of the past few days. Now for the bad.

Take a second look at this photo, taken by Martha Steele, in Ringgold, Georgia. People, there is NO way to run and hide from a tornado -- if it wants you, it gets you. Here in Texas we will be contining to cope with wildfires and the threat of tornados all summer long. Sort of makes you wonder how the early settlers ever managed to survive without The Weather Channel.  As you ponder that, consider a donation to a charity to help those who have lost everything.

And now a brief interruption of art from our past trip to Washington DC. Usually in the spring we make a big three-week Road Trip to the East Coast and had considered this year, thinking to head east about April 23/24. As gas prices went up and my classes took up more time, we decided to do a quick flight instead.  Otherwise we would have been on the road last week, with our driving route taking us driving through Tuscaloosa, Brimingham, across Georgia....

I promised you more artists from the Smithsonian Craft show and they will show up eventually.  In the meantime:

This pot from the permanent collection at the Smithsonian African Art Museum continues to amaze me. It looks like wood but it is ceramic with vegetable dyes.

These are NOT blown glass, they are ceramic pieces from the Qing Chinese dynasty. Amazing. And they didn't even have electric kilns back then.

Senora Sabasa Garcia by Goya.  When Susan was much younger (7 - 10 years old) her family lived in Washington DC. Her mother would drag the three kids to the National Gallery of Art every chance she could get. To this day Susan can, without hesitation, walk into the appropriate gallery and find some of the paintings her mother would often linger by.  It still amazes her that after thinking she had ignored the "Art Lessons" of her mother (not many young kids do pay much attention in art museums), the images of many paintings had somehow stuck in her mind.   This painting was a favorite of her mother's because it reminded her of Susan's younger sister, Linda, who has very large beautiful brown eyes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Who Cares?

Someone is getting married in England soon. Who cares? Not me. But, for the record, we saw this beautiful little painting at The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC just recently. Edward VI, by Hans Holbein. 

If you don't get enough of England on your telly (See? I can speak English.), watch The King's Speech. The best way to tell if the movie is good is if you get so engrossed in it you forget to go make your popcorn at half-time. We gave it a Netflix 5-star rating.

Just to make sure you know this blog is all about me*, here's a picture of PodMan, who recently went to live with my friend Becky.

Susan speaks: So what else is new?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Elizabeth Kendall, Adero Willard, and Olen Hsu

More ceramics from the Smithsonian Craft Show (artists' link here). We almost walked past Olen Hsu's work but something about it caught Susan's eye and she backed up to give it a second, harder look. He uses the word "languidness" in describing his work -- what a great word! His wheel-thrown work often has what seems to be a slight "off" angle but once you look at it you realize the subtle grace and beauty of each piece.The pieces seem to slow your breathing down and give you calm you didn't know you could find. Perfection.

Adero Willard was enthusiastic about her work and shared her technique ideas and suggestions with me. The layering effect of the colors seems to be something that I can achieve -- with a lot of practice, effort and definitely luck. She makes it seem easy but I know better.

Elizabeth Kendall's work was all hand-built, not wheel-thrown, so I was immediately drawn to that aspect of it. She gave me good advice about using black and white clay and how to work on my shapes. She also works with porcelain paper clay, something I'm beginning to have interest in as it makes the pieces very light.

These three artists wrap up the ceramic artists I talked at length with on just the first day. More to come.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Andrew Van Assche, Nathan Falter and Betsy Williams

One of the distinct pleasures of the Smithsonian Craft Show is the ability to talk to the artists about their work, to ask questions, and to listen to their helpful advice and suggestions. I always tell them I'm still a ceramics student at my community college so they don't think I'm a total ignoramus, as opposed to Susan, who will ask questions like "How hot does a kiln get?" Of course, sometimes she gets answers that surprise me and I learn from listening to her questions as well as asking my own.

This year one of my favorites was Nathan Falter, a new exhibitor. His work had a turn-of-the-century industrial and rustic feel but at the same time looked contemporary and graceful. He gave me advice about the ways to apply slip and valuable information about underglazes and the kind of kiln I should use -- valuable information for the future (if I ever get my own kiln) but sort of useless now since I'm stuck with the school's kiln.

Another favorite was Andrew Van Assche. His work was crisp, graphic, and clean-lined -- a opposite to Nathan's but just as impressive. His slab building and glazing were meticulous and precise and I can only hope to achieve that type of perfection in 30 years, just like Andrew did. Unfortunately, I'm starting about 30 years too late.

Andrew gave me information about slips and incising marks and glazing and slab building and more than I can remember and hope to achieve. He also was patient with Susan's endless questions.

Betsy Williams made pieces with such beautiful shapes you just wanted to cradle them in your hands. Her little cups were all different and we talked about the ways to get different looks within a similar style.

The wooden frames the cups sat in were as beautifully made as the cups (the pieces were sold as a unit, some were 25 cups in a frame, some were 40, and so on).

These three artists were just a few of the artists we talked to over two days. More to come.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Susan Finsen

How does this happen?

We get up up in Dark Dawn of Never-Again, point ourselves at the airport, park our car about 10 miles from the terminal, wait for a shuttle bus, trudge through a terminal, take off our shoes, shuffle in a line, wait patiently while a TV blares overhead, and shuffle in another line onto a plane. 
After a while we shuffle off the plane in a slooooow line. We trudge again. We shuffle in another line to another plane. We sit for a while as we hurtle through space and finish going over 1500 miles to Washington, DC.
We shuffle off in another sloooooow line, wait for a Metro car, drag our stuff over to our hotel, get back on the Metro, walk 2 blocks, and enter the Building Museum to the the annual Smithsonian Craft Show. It has now been 12 hours since getting up at the Dark Dawn of Never-Again.

No sooner do we walk away from the ticket desk than we hear:
"Well, hello there, Texans."

What?!?!?? How can this be? We haven't told anyone we'll be here.

It was Susan Finsen, a talented, smart and funny artist we had met at the Torpedo Factory last year.  We love her color sense and the playful attitude in her paintings; all the images here are of her work.  Check out her website to see more. It was a delight to see her again and we were also delighted she remembered us.  I'd like to tell you it's because I'm unforgetable but my Blog Wrangler (who loves the black/white series) is already rolling her eyes.

So, how did she manage to spot us at that exact moment?  Magic. Wait, maybe it was my animal magnetism! (Blog Wrangler has stopped rolling her eyes and has now progressed to muttering "I'm done here. I'm done....") 

Stay tuned for future blog posts about some of the great art work we saw in DC and the conversations we had with the artists.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hatch Chiles

I'm lucky enough to live in a town where we have both Central Market and the Mother Ship of Whole Foods. It's a miracle I don't weight about 400 pounds. 

Central Market has an annual Hatch Chile Roasting Week (lots of special foods and festivities) in the late summer but other times during the year they will get a bunch in and set up roasters in the front of the store.  The smell of the roasting chiles will magically make Bacon-Cheddar-HatchChile Scones jump into your grocery cart.

Sorry I can't offer you a Scratch-n-Sniff option on my blog. These videos will have to do.  I took them with my iPhone because I have now learned how to make a movie versus a photo.  (I'm still pretty pathetic on Angry Birds but beginning to really like Osmos.) I also know not to be talking on my iPhone while I'm in the bathroom.  I learned that from my sister-in-law who tattled on her husband -- he had to buy himself a new cellphone because he dropped it in the ...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Little Guy Gone

 This little guy, about 7" tall, was sold at the Student Art Sale ($20) and I really liked him. I think I need to make more like him.

These small cups, about 2" high each, sold for $3 each. I was experimenting with getting a crackle glaze and was pretty successful. I wasn't as pleased with the black accents but I'm going to work on that in the future.  I still like making small cups as my "test tiles."

Our friend, Maria, can grow anything. Not only are these roses beautiful, they had an incredible strong rose aroma that you never find in the ones in the store.This summer we will be the lucky recipients of okra, beans, tomatoes and loads of different kinds of herbs.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Take My Pitcher

These guys didn't sell. They are about 6" and 5" tall and were priced at $15 each. I almost didn't want to give them up. Also, the brown ones below didn't sell. These little guys are only about 3-4" high and were priced at $10 each.

But this pitcher did sell, about 6" tall, priced at $15. 

Here's what Donna (of Layers) said in her comment:
" ... used to do art fairs years ago and I remember the same phenom-- my least favorite paintings selling first and my favorite ones coming home- can be goofy I know."

Yep, goofy is the best way to describe it. But at least I made some sales.

Monday, April 11, 2011

ACC Student Art Sale 2011

The ACC (Austin Community College) Student Art Sale is Tuesday, April 12, from 9 -5 at the Rio Grande Campus (12th and Rio Grande). If you live in Austin, please come by because I have a table and will be selling lots of stuff. We do this every year and it benefits our Scholarship fund.  These pictures show some of the pieces I'll have for sale.

The question I keep getting asked is this:

If your Blog Wrangler has set you up with an Etsy* shop why are you selling at this Student Art Show instead of through your Etsy* shop?
The answers are these:
1) By "purchasing" a table at the ACC Student Art Sale I will be helping out the school's scholarship fund.
2) Some of the pieces I'm selling are too big or too fragile to sell to anyone who has to have them shipped to them. Some are "seconds" - pieces of unsatisfactory quality but someone might want them anyway.
3) Because I have low traffic to my blog I don't think I'd have much traffic to an Etsy* shop and thus the pieces wouldn't sell and that would screw up my self-confidence.
4) Because I'm lazy and techno-phobic and techno-ignorant and would make my Blog Wrangler handle all the details and she does enough for me by just keeping up this blog.

None of this excuses the fact that I do have loyal Readers who voiced interest in some of my work and I've not followed through. If that's you once again, Blog Reader, mea culpa.

*Late Edit: The Etsy shop doesn't have stuff in it. I signed him up for it to save the name (Flummoxed) because his name was already taken. Someday we'll put things in there (both mine and his) and you Blog readers will be the first to know.   ----- Susan

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Raku Angry Bird

I have an iPhone. Better than that, Susan put Angry Birds on it for me. I still am not sure how you make a phone call to anyone other than Speed Dial 1 or 2 (our house or Susan), thanks to the special app she put on it. I'm sure there are numbered buttons for dialing somewhere but for now I can call home and I know how to answer it. That's all I need.

We play Angry Birds but Susan has been convinced (Thanks a lot, Magpie!) that you can't move forward until you have 3 stars on a level. Forget that! One is good enough for me. As soon as Susan saw this piece she insisted it was an Angry Bird. His head looks different because it comes off (he's really a pot) and it reacted to the glazing a little more.

This piece has been glazed and fired as raku, which means "Play With Lots Of Fire". You get the piece glowing hot in a kiln and then use tongs to take it out and stuff it in barrel filled with newspapers. They start to blaze and you immediately cover it up to snuff out the fire and some sort of chemical magic happens and the carbon gets into the glaze crackles. You can't exactly plan anything because whatever the Raku Gods and the Fire Gods want to do, they can and they will. So at the same time that's a drawback, it also makes your pieces come out with some fascinating effects.

Other good things happening in my life are:
1) Our landline is dead so no phone calls will wake me up from my nap today.  Yea!
We put through the repair request this morning (Friday) and the reply was "Your repair should be attempted by 7:00 p.m on Wednesday." Thank you, AT&T, for such responsive customer service -- is this your way of telling us to drop our landline now that we have iPhones?
2) Susan put Osmos on my iphone.
This could turn out to be more time-wasting than Angry Birds.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Play It Again, Sam, For Carnival ah!

It's that time of year again. On Tuesday, April 12, from 9-5, I will be at Austin Community College's Rio Grande campus to participate in the Annual Student Art Sale (Carnival ah!).

The small vase (about 5" tall) above will be on my For Sale table.  Some of what I'm selling will be what I consider not-so-good pieces and some will be really-great pieces, but obviously the final decision is always up to the viewer.  Every year I'm surprised by the number of not-so-good pieces that sell right away and by the unsold really-great pieces I bring home (and will take back the next year).

In a side note, take a look at two of the public pianos we have available for your playing pleasure.  Susan tried to explain to me how to find Middle-C so that I could play the one song I know ("My Dog Has Fleas") but I just couldn't figure it out. My career as a musician is definitely not getting off the ground.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adorn Me: Resin Paper and Carol and The End

You might be tired of seeing my Adorn Me stuff but I keep having people tell me "Why don't you show what you did?". So I am. And this is the end of it. For another year, anyway.

The picture above is of me, Carol Wingfield Myers and Richard Salley, our instructor. Carol is the pretty one, I'm the amazingly handsome one and Richard is just in there trying to suck up our glory.  Below is another picture of Carol and below that a picture of her repoussé piece (she's a fast worker!). Carol sent me these pictures for my blog, which I appreciate immensely. She also gave me a beautiful card that shows her Facebook address (her full name).

My final class was a short workshop with Jane Salley, Resin Papers.  Go back here and scroll to the last photo and you'll see how Rene used pieces of the resined paper. The resin makes them stiff and shiny, almost like thin pieces of mica. Susan has already appropriated most of the ones I made.

P.S. I'm not in Facebook and therefore don't have a Facebook account so I am not able to see 99% of the Facebook pages people tell me about as they require a Login to Facebook. I appreciate the need to keep Facebook viewing limited to "Friends" and I'd like to think I'm your Friend but I can't be your Facebook Friend and see what you do since I don't have a Facebook account and I don't really want one, thank you. How about if I'm just your Friend in the real world?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Adorn Me - Repoussé Without Pitch

These pictures are from Richard Salley's Repoussé Without Pitch class. We didn't use pitch and I have no idea what pitch is and why you would use it anyway -- I guess Ignorance is Bliss for me. Repoussé means you shape the metal from the backside to make raised areas on the front side. We then could assemble the shaped pieces into pendants but most of us just kept working on our small pieces to get the technique down. The bright colors came from the torching of the copper and most of us were using the tools we had made in his previous toolmaking class.

The picture above is one of my pieces and so is this one right below, which Susan calls "Man with Creative Atomic Fart". 

The following pictures are from just a few of my classmates and I took the pictures early in the day so they don't really show the finished product. But at least you can get an idea of how good we all were!
 Julia Morrison, using silver mesh on her piece

 Brenda McCoy

 Kelly Schroeder

 Martina Stein

 Laura Henry

 Rob McDonald

Sally Turlington
This last photo shows one of Richard's pieces so you can get an idea of how the finishing of the piece could go.