Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tchaikovski and pancakes

...and reading emails.
The Venice radio stream on iTunes was playing some Nutcracker Suite music as I enjoyed my reheated-formerly-frozen pancakes and fresh coffee this morning.  I am so glad a few days ago I took the time to stand at the stove and make a whole batch of pancakes, then froze more than half of them just for days like today.

Lazy days.  When I don't want to clean up after making pancakes. 

I've lived long enough I recognize a lot of music just by a few bars of listening.  And I mainly listen to classical music, so it's not like remembering a pop song that was playing when I fell in love or anything like that.  Of course if I'd fallen in love while listening to Mozart or Beethoven, it would probably be the same reaction.  But as it is, I am amazed that I know what I'm listening to, without any study, training, or effort to know.  Whow, I have just let classical music seep into my pores and become part of me.

Poetry is also on my mind.  I don't write it, but do appreciate it sometimes.  So this week I'm purchasing some small books from a friend who does write beautiful poems.

Brigit is to be celebrated this week.  I'm facilitating a women's spirituality group with lots of fun Imbolc things to be done.  Candles, clouties, poems, stories, healing the world, guided meditation, songs, and maybe Brigid-crosses.  Too much to do in our short period of time.  But we will enjoy whatever happens.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Process not product

When I was in counseling school, immediately after getting that great and seeminly useless BFA in ceramics, trying to figure a way to make a living and share the glorious therapeutic benefits of creative art...I learned that the process was often more important than the product.

Art therapy was what it was called.

So I geared my Masters and Specialist in Counselor Education toward a University which didn't have anything dealing with Art Therapy...a field which actually was beginning to be recognized in therapeutic which licensing criteria were just being defined..  So I designed the degree that didn't exist, a kind of independent study, interdepartmental thing.  I had Art Education classes that fit perfectly, as well as the Counselor Ed. classes that were required.  So a 2 year graduate degree (full time) became a 3 year degree for me.

And was it marketable?  Nope, not at all.

I did counseling.  I seldom did a thing that had to do with the process of creating art.  And many of my counseling jobs were not that at all.  For almost 2 years I helped organize and deliver substance abuse prevention training to public school faculty and staff in a North Carolina county.

I am not complaining, really.  Well, not much. 

There wasn't any one else deciding what I was doing with my life.

The Art School dean told me that I wouldn't be getting a job with that BFA.  The counseling advisor said I'd have to work my way up the ladder. 

I sure didn't intend to talk about this when I started writing today...
but it's about process, so let's see where it next goes.

Yes I did have steady work for the last 15 years of my career.  But I switched from counseling to doing Activities Director work with senior citizens.  It was certainly more enjoyable.  Did I do much with that dream vocation "art therapy" finally?  Nope.

I taught a few people how to do watercolors.  Did they wish to examine their painting and discuss their feelings about it?  Nope.  These were senior citizens.  They had feelings, but they shared them just with their best friends, or nobody at all.  They didn't come to a class in order to do "group work."

I led a couple of one-day workshops on making Mandalas, where people did share what their drawings represented to them...but they were the "sharing caring" type people already.

So I've really never felt that art therapy happened for me, career wise.

However, I've nudged it along in more casual ways in the community pottery studio. (The other teachers and assistants in the local studio do most of this process).   Much as working in ceramics offered me a sense of personal centering, calming, and perhaps a meditation, I've seen others arrive at these same places.  I've seen how encouragement and praise move a discouraged individual into a deep sense of worth, a self-pride that means as much as any counselor working to aid in self-esteem development.

A product in clay may be the medium for this self-development, but the end result isn't what the pot looks like.  Actually there's a big jump that must occur when the pot is fired and comes out looking like something the cat dragged in, instead of the imagined beautiful art.  This jump from fantasy to reality can usually be smoothed with lots of reasoned and rational soothing support.  Some people never make it...and return to more certain media like acrylic painting.

So the end result when you look at the art therapy viewpoint, is how a person adjusts to disappointment with a fired object that doesn't meet well as the hours of creativity which gave personal satisfaction to the individual (a process).  Going home each day with this feeling is a healing of sorts...from whatever wound that person may have had in the outside world.

Some of the talking in the studio may bring out these events from a person's life.  Sometimes the topics are never heard.  But there is a camaraderie which begins slowly, gently, and eventually becomes intimate between the regular studio attendees.  It's like a "group."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Waterfalls and keys

After lying/sitting around for it-seems-like days, a chance to go to see a waterfall was supremely inspiring.  It also included spending some time in the car, but I had great friends who I knew would be entertaining, and I would willingly drive, (they also pitched in for the $3.05/gal. gas, thank-you-very-much).

Photo by Ramya

After a little over an hour drive, we arrived at Hooker Falls parking lot, which was mainly mud.  The sun peaked from clouds scudding across the sky.  Trees were mostly grey, with occasional green, and a blanket of about grey-green10 foot high Rhododendron were interspersed throughout the woods, which were thick.  There was an icy looking entrance to the wide and gentle trail that goes to the waterfall.

We actually considered whether or not to wear our heavy coats, and all decided yes, though we'd probably leave them open in the 40 degree air as we walked.  Later we were really glad to have them on.  I took my walking stick out of the trunk, and offered everyone a place to leave their valuables there.  I put my camera in my pocket, put on my coat, and locked my purse in the trunk.

Then I looked in my pockets for the keys.  Oh oh.

Photo by Ramya

They weren't there, either in pockets or my hands.  Where had they gone?  I must have put them in my purse inadvertently.

Golly, everyone started looking at the car, which we'd locked up so nice and tight.  Other hikers glanced at us, who were either coming or going.  One nice family on their way home offered to have their neighbors call us, who were locksmiths.  I called several friends leaving SOS type messages, and one said he'd look up all the locksmiths in the area and call me back with their phone numbers.

Photo by Ramya

Then Linda remembered she was a AAA member, and could use her account for roadside service when riding in someone else's car.  So we used my cell phone and called them, and eventually the AAA man came.  He spent a half hour wrestling with the tools that come in a big red briefcase (he was a wrecker, not a locksmith) and he was finally able to get the trunk popped, though the car doors were still locked.  No problem, cause now we'd have access to the keys.

No keys were in the purse, or on the floor of trunk.  Where were they after all?

Photo by Ramya

In my back pocket, way down at the bottom, which I'd not put my fingers down far enough to find in my several other attempts.  This time I did the fanny-feel thing, and there they were.

My friends will never let me live this down, and I have various appellations added to my name now.  We did have some hearty laughs at my expense, and I am so sorry to have messed up the trip and walk to the falls.  Linda said she enjoyed the fresh air and sitting on a rock in the sunshine in the muddy parking lot waiting for AAA the whole time.

Photo by Ramya

Ramya walked down to the top of the falls, and took pictures which I've posted here.  I walked as far as the bridal path crossing the trail and the river, then returned to be with Linda, waiting for a phone call perhaps if the AAA guy couldn't find us.  After all we were in DuPont State Forest, which is out in the woods.  He found us without problem.  He got paid through AAA, and we all had a laugh or two at my back pockets.

Photo by Ramya

I have learned a lot about humility, being able to laugh at myself rather than beat myself up, when I make mistakes.  Everyone can and does this kind of thing.  This time it was my turn.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

sick ugh

Not the flu, at least.  Just can't go doing.  Staying around the bed.  Keeping warm.

first figure sculpture...2010-2011

This has now been bisqued, and is waiting for me to glaze it at Odyssey.
I've got a few bowls that I've thrown at BMCA clay studio waiting to glaze too.

Guess it's time to get the glazing gloves on.  I don't usually wear them, but I think I will next time, just to keep the fingers out of chemicals.  My fingers have been suffering from clay absorbing all the moisture from my skin.  I POUR on lotion for hours after I work, either throwing or sculpting.  I've seen some really expensive salves at Highwater which I might just have to invest in soon.

I've also started a new Excel spread sheet to track my maternal geneologies...looking for whatever I can find about the women in my parenting.  So far, nothing has googled.  But that's just using their names, and they still have parents, spouses and places for checking...hope to find some geneological sites.

Texas women, Tennessee women, South Carolina women, Virginia women, maybe even North Carolina well as Georgia, Missouri, and a few other places too.  I haven't tried to find my great grandfather's family in Germany yet, but I bet my neice did who lived there for a while and now lives in Italy.  Unfortunately she thinks I'm medussa or something.  Thanks to my sister, who is medussa or something.  Ah families are so much more maneagable when you don't have to relate to them directly!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow about to go

Snow has been cuddling around us for a week I do tend to get forgetful when everything is just survival oriented.  Solitaire anyone?  What did you cook for the cold weather when just going outside was a shock to the system?  Soups, breads?  Not so many sweets, at least for me.  I preferred chips, and was so glad that there was 33 degrees a couple of days ago (also when I took this walk) so I could go stock up again.

Who am I to complain. It's not like I live in Alaska, anyway.

This is the bridge across the creek in Montreat, right at the first parking lot inside the gate.   There are lots of parking areas with trails leading up into the mountains, which I haven't explored yet.

Looking down at the beloved stream of consciousness (B-SOC for short).  It has another name on the map, which is so ridiculous, I've started copying my friend who came up with B-SOC...well, I made it into the anagram.  It certainly fits...since it is a breath-taking beautiful walk, which also has beauty-full sitting and meditating places as well.

I had fun last night at the Center for the Arts Studi-, since my bowl wasn't dry enough to trim...the rim was all a wobble, though I threw it about 2 days ago, maybe more.  When snow closes the studio, or they're doing remodelling, it's hard for me to keep track.  Also remember I'm a crone, so my memory is bad before snow events anyway.

So I cut it up.  I stabbed my pin-tool into the side and made slices.  Then stabbed and made gouges.  These were all precisely placed, and would have been some neat negative spaces after it got dry enough to clean the crumbs along the piercings.  But no, I couldn't just be satisfied, after all, I came to the studio and wanted to accomplish something in the time I was there.  So I then pushed on one side, and the other, sending the slashes into a juxtoposition of surfaces as well.  Then I noticed how thick the walls were.  No wonder it hasn't set up yet.  Well, I had to just leave it at that.  I was going to throw a bigger bowl, but didn't think I could stand the coldness of the clay.  I may bring the blow dryer next time I go in, just to warm up the clay a bit.  It also speeds drying time!

I'm excited to see that Karen Karnes will be exhibited at the Asvheville Museum of Art in a few weeks.  I may even attend the opening, just to see who else comes.  I've never been to the Museum here, so will probably go early so I can see the other exhibits.  Let's see, I'm thinking an hour should cover it.

I also need to visit all the galleries in the center of A'ville.  I've got a lot of walking ahead of me...but the snow is starting to melt today, finally.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Back in Black Mountain

OK, for me, working close to home in a community studio is good.  I went in the BMCA studio yesterday, and wanted to make a fruit bowl.  I did it.

For the past 2 weeks I've had small sculptures on the table in my work area (living room cause my studio space is too cold) but have not finished anything I've started.

I wake up in the middle of the night, and think how I want to finish something.  Then when I get up in the morning, there's no incentive to actually sit down at the table and do it.

Throw a fruit bowl?  Easy breezy.

So I've found that a community is important for me.  Isolation is more of a place to rest.  I don't work easily and creatively here.  Work is better when I have the time limit, by knowing the studio is only available during these hours.  Isn't that weird?  I have a residue of the lifetime of punching in and out at work, where the rest of the day was mine to do the necessary life support activities and have fun.  At least that's how I find myself today.

But the table is still here in the living room, and there are no studio hours today.  So perhaps...I'll let you know when I do.

Clay Club is an interesting mix.  I may go to their meeting up in Burnsville next Wed...if there's not bad weather.  I'm interested, because it's made of "professionals and serious potters".  But I'm also skeptical that all these serious potters will not think of me as one...after all, I don't have the self-discipline to work daily in my own living room, nor do I do production work like most of them do.

My life as a ceramic artist is to create sculptures and functional wares that speak to the heart of another being.  Between the experiencing of shape, color, pattern, texture and tactile feeling there is perhaps a smile of recognition.  When a piece is functional, it should take the smile a step further, to satisfaction that the purpose for which it was intended is well fullfilled.  Clay is my chosen medium because it has that alchemy, the almost miraculous shifting from mud to rock and glass.  Ceramics offer three dimensions that meet us in the fourth dimension, the time we spend with them.  I most enjoy seeing people picking up my wares to have a deeper knowledge of what is actually there, what I am saying to them.

Whow, I just wrote an artist statement.  Funny how it came out when I wasn't thinking about it!