Friday, September 12, 2014

Creative Paradise at Penland

The week of August 23 I had the great pleasure of going to Penland School of Crafts in Bakersville, North Carolina. Nestled into the side of a mountain, I approached the school with excitement, zig zagging up the steep road that would lead to my lodging.

I was expecting my digs to be something like camping but was pleasantly surpsied at how nice and clean and modern my double room was. I arrived just in time for dinner on Saturday and stood in line waiting to go through the buffet. My awkward feelings lasted about a nano second. A nice younf guy sporting dreads behind me started a conversation  and as we traded information about our chosen courses of study, I quickly felt at ease. The food at Penland all week was delicious. Every meal was buffet and homemade. They have their own gardens and served up lots and lots of fresh fruits and veggies along with some gourmet type dishes that left me dreading getting on the Weight Watchers scale when I got home since I had lost 37 lbs and just made lifetime membership. (Incredibly, I managed to LOSE.2 lbs when I was afraid that I had probably gained 5!)

The class that I signed up for was on throwing and altering forms on the pottery wheel, creating slump and drop molds and using slip and terra sigillata for surface decoration. I was unsure how I would feel about doing a lot of handbuilding since it hasn't generally been my favorite thing but I was eager to learn new techniques that were easily repeatable in my small studio. Well, I did not come away empty handed. In fact, I left Penland with a wealth of knowledgde and inspiration that I couldn't wait to get home and work on. My instructor Brian R. Jones was a heady and intellectual sort of guy from the west coast. Brian is a skillful professional with high standards for the work he creates, a virtue passed on to his students by way of his lengthy demonstrations.

Before signing up for the class, I googled his name to see his work and see if we were kindred spirits in any kind of way. His work is much, much headier than mine and he  is very intellectual in his approach to form. Where we did meet is in a love of  bright color and crisp white background.

Brian's work

My work

I loved the first excercise that we did with him and that was to drwa the shadow of an object (mine was a teapot) onto some roofing paper and cut it out. From there, we were to take the unknown form and trace it onto a piece of thick styrofoam and cut it out.

Before I knew it, I had created my first drop mold! Many students including myself were somewhat confused by Brians explanation of the process and due to the lack of a "thing" showing what the end product would be, several people were more than overwhelmed. I welcomed the excercise and I thought the lack of information was perhaps by design, orchestrated to get us out of the thinking "now I am going to make an xyz" enabling the process to unfold and letting the shadow and the clay dictate what the "thing" will be. For me it was exciting. I wanted to break out and get back to thinking like an artist and not just a maker of things. Taking it a step further, we laid an extra slab of clay into the drop mold and left a nice size margin around the shape and fired it. My first slump mold was born!

What resulted from the drop mold was a hideous chip and dip. Younger students in the class who could still think art school thoughts created some very interesting scultptural pieces resembling nothing but something born from coils of clay and imagination. In my slump mold, I saw a kitty cat. I decided that's ok, it's who I am…

Abrupt break......In reading over this post, I see that it is awfully long and this just covers my first couple of days at Penland, so in order not to tax your reading time, my dear friends, I think I shall ask you to stay tuned for Part 2 of Creative Paradise at Penland…keep making stuff!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Overcoming artistic isolation

Some of my friends and I were talking about how easy it is for us to isolate ourselves as stay-at-home moms and artists. Even though most of us are empty-nesters now it seems there's always a laundry list of things that need to get done and the day just wizzes by without having seen anyone. It gets lonely.

One day in June, we found a way to end our isolation and work at the same time which is absolutely wonderful. On a day that was kind of iffy in terms of the weather  (it was supposed to rain at about 1 o'clock and come down torrentially)  there was some apprehension about going outdoors to do some plain air painting. But being a daring women that we are we opted to head out anyway at about 10:30 in the morning and met at a local park where there is a beautiful spring house and pond which is great fodder for outdoor painting.
Mary at work
Not be much of a landscape artist myself, it was a challenge for me, and I have to admit not something  terribly interesting to me. But I did enjoy and appreciate the company and talent of my three friends. Jeanne hails from Wallingford, Pennsylvania and  is an art historian and the editor of my book, "Millicent and the Faraway Moon" She is a very talented artist in her own right. She was working on watercolors and chose a nice shady spot for herself where she managed to knock out two beautiful little paintings in the time we were there until about two at 2 PM.
My setup with Mary and Kathy
The springhouse and pond

Mary and Kathy and I seemed to cluster in the same spot across from the springhouse.  Mary and  I concentrated on painting the springhouse and the pond while Kathy was painting some trees and a clearing to the  right. Mary was working in acrylics. She is a fiber artist by training but also loves to paint and studied with Al Staszetsky in the past.

Lots of gear to haul
Kathy at work
Kathy is a tremendous oil painter. Her sense of color, painterly brushstrokes and traditional style really take my breath away. It was really because of her that we were out there yesterday both because of our isolation but because she had been told by a painting instructor that she needed to get out more and try landscape as she is primarily a trompe l'oeil and portrait painter.
Kathy's painting

Me, you know what I do. As I said landscape is something that doesn't tremendously interest me to paint.  I have done it on occasion because I've been inspired by a beautiful place and somehow I think miraculously I'm going to become one of those amazing landscape painters who can capture the beauty that God created.  However that's not the case. Whenever I start to paint the fact that I am a humble self-taught folk artist quickly emerges.

As I see my friends around me painting with reds and blues and yellows and oranges and a landscape that I mostly see as sheets of green I really end up feeling quite inept. But that's ok. As artists, we all have our moments of challenge and doubt. if we don;t allow ourselves to get too caught up in it, it will just propel us on to the next thing.
Jeanne at work on her watercolors
Jeanne's lovely pantings
The beginnings of my painting

The other thing for me is that I've really fallen in love with pottery. I still love to paint, but I'm not sure that I am a painter anymore. We have decided to do these painting sessions on a regular basis. Our next one is going to take place at a winery that has beautiful historic buildings and well, yeah, wine. (teehee)
Me and a sweet furry visitor

Kathy with our strolling friends

A big wind on Mary
Our potluck lunch

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to paint sunflowers with underglazes

I love painting on my pottery. I am beginning to marry my painting skills with creating my handmade pottery more and more these days. I have a particular kind of clay which is made by Laguna (MC65) stoneware that I like to use, because it is very white, almost like porcelain, but not as difficult to work with. Stoneware also has more practical applications. The white clay becomes like a canvas for me. In my latest video, I am demonstrating how I use Amaco velvet under glazes to paint on my bisque ware. Once I have completed the painting, the entire object gets dunked into a clear glaze which gives it a nice shininess and crackly finish on some pieces.

This latest piece dons a couple of happy sunflowers. Enjoy….

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Academy Award Please

Here it is, the footage you've been waiting for! My last post was all about my experience as a guest juror for the Newark Arts Alliance exhibit entitled "Mad About Red". I mentioned that the local PBS station WHYY was doing a blurb on their magazine show about it and interviewed…ME :0)

They did a very fine job of producing and editing the piece and I hope you will enjoy it. The segment is at the end of the show so if you don't want to watch the rest of the show (though it is interesting) just scroll through.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jurying my first art show

This week I had my first experience as a juror for an art show being held at the Newark Arts Alliance the month of February. I was thrilled to be asked to do it even though I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.

I went on Sunday to jury the more than 50 pieces entered. The show is called "Mad About Red" and the interpretation of the color red was left up to the artists. It is an all media show, so I was choosing among fabric pieces, knitting, collage, photography, painting, drawing and mosaic among others. 

I found it was very difficult to weed out what to include and what to "reject." I hate that word because as artists, we are so intertwined with our work it is sometimes hard if not accepted into a show not to take it personally. 

Be that as it may, I had the job of curating the show and I had a wonderful time of it. There is a great variety of works and many very interesting interpretations of the theme. 

WHYY Channel 12 is doing a piece on the show and interviewed me as a part of it. I think the show is "Delaware Tonight" though I may be wrong on the title. I do know that it will be aired on Friday, February 14, at 5:30 and 11:00 PM and again on Sunday at noon. It will also be on the website on Monday. I should be a big star after all those airings :0)

The NAA show is open to the public now and hosts a free  February 14 second  Friday reception from 6-8 PM.

Jurors Statement

I was quite honored to be asked to jury for Mad About Red and very excited coming in to see what interpretations of the theme awaited me. I found that jurying is a difficult job when faced with a room full of beautiful works created by talented artists from many media.

It was wonderful to have an audience with each piece instead of viewing them from slides. My methodology for choosing work was based on quality, presentation, color, interpretation of the theme and harmony with other works.

I approached the curation by moving pieces around and choosing anchor pieces for each wall-larger pieces which by sheer size and impact would serve as gravitational pull for the works surrounding them. 

From there I looked for relationships of that would create a flow from one piece to the other, evoking a mood of color or texture from one wall to the next.

As a self taught folk artist, I am humbled by the range of technical skill in the execution of many of the pieces. I was bowled over by the impact and emotion of some and savored the sense of “story” in others.

I loved the fact that this was an all media show and enjoyed including the variety of 
fabric pieces and jewelry in it.

I found it interesting that the color red is associated with love and with Valentine’s Day,  and one might expect at least one submission of perhaps the word love, or hearts or lovebirds. But there were none.

So, RED. What is it? Just a color? 

No, look around the room.

It is mystery in a doorway.
It is flowers in bloom. 
It is frightening.
It is angry.
It is warm.
It is tactile.
It bleeds.
It punches.
It shouts

Thank you to all the artists who entered even if your work wasn’t chosen for this show. Keep putting your work out there and keep blessing the world with who you are and sharing your unique voice. We all need to hear it. ~Karen O’Lone-Hahn

Thursday, January 16, 2014

If you can draw a circle, then I can teach you to paint!

Many people have said to me that they would like to learn how to paint, but that they can't even draw a straight line without a ruler. Well, guess what? Neither can I- and I have been an artist since I could hold a pencil!

Making drawings and paintings is not about making straight lines unless you are going for a certain type of realism and in those cases, often a ruler IS used.

Drawing and painting is about SEEING. It's about observing objects and shapes and seeing through them. It's about dissection and observation. It's about coordinating hand to eye.

Sound intimidating? It's not. If you can draw a circle, square, rectangle etc., then I can teach you to paint. I have a method of teaching which will help you break down what you are seeing into simple shapes and connect them to become the objects before your eyes.

I can also teach you simple ways of mixing and dealing with color that will have you creating and finishing at least one masterpiece (or more) during my 9 week painting class which I teach at The Art Studio 310 Kiamensi Road
Wilmington, DE 19804.

This is a photo of one of my previous students at work on a painting.  She walked into my class with zero experience in drawing or painting and completed 2 1/2 beautiful still life paintings during last semester.

If you would like something fun, laid back and rewarding to do with your long winter nights, then consider joining my Acrylic Painting class.

The class meets on Weds. evenings starting on Jan. 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. The cost is $155.00 for residents and $165.00 for non-residents. Materials can either be bought from me at $35 or on your own from the supply list provided when registering. 

You may register online at The Art Studio of New Castle County or by calling : (302) 995-7661

Feel free to give me a holler with any questions. Hope to see you there!