Monday, April 4, 2016

Video Kiln Opening-New pieces fresh from the kiln!



What the kiln gods brought me this week....






Look for these new pieces to be available on my website and in my etsy shop soon!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

On being Irish and an artist.

Think of a famous Irish painter or sculptor. Is it hard? That's because when we think of famous Irish people and their talents, the names that come up are people whose talents tend to lean more to the gift of word or song. Writers and poets like, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, Frank McCourt, Oscar Wild, Maeve Binchy. Musicians like Sinead O'Connor, Van Morrison,  Bono and Enya to name a few.


The Irish also tend to make their mark in acting. It's not to hard to think of any number of Irish actors- Michael Fassbender, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Farrell,  and Peter O'Toole. The list goes on. Unlike the Italians or French or Spanish, it's rather difficult to conjure up the names of famous Irish visual artists like painters or sculptors. Certainly there are a few in history like John Butler Yates (I'd never heard of him, I  looked it up)



Not to say that there are no great Irish artists. I'm sure there are many working today.  But those names are not on the tips of our tongues like Picasso and Michelangelo and Monet etc. It kind of makes you wonder why the history of visual arts tends to center in the European continent while in Ireland, the concentration of artistic expression is in writing and poetry and play writing and acting and song.



Perhaps it is in part because of the poverty that the Irish suffered. I suppose that if you have no money for food, you definitely have no money available for art supplies. But you do have your words and you do have good stories to tell and you have thoughts to be expressed and those don't cost anything.

The Irish possess a certain melancholy and tendency towards drinking inherent in the bloodline (in case you didn't know) perhaps due to that history of poverty. But they also possess a wild sense of humor and witticism that shows up in all forms of their artistic expression.

I grew up in an Irish Catholic household. (My fathers side) No one in my family made art except for what you could call a creative streak in my mother, which she discovered later in life when she learned to crochet and macrame and then proceeded to macrame everything in sight in the 1970s.

Not my mother but you get the idea 

My early creative life in painting began with personal paintings that expressed some of the more sinister undertones of my upbringing in an alcoholic Irish family and my own melancholy.



Somewhere along the line, I stopped looking back, and began to express that wild humor and witticism that is also inherent in my genes, thanks to my Irish ancestors. Like many children of alcoholics, you don't get to have a childhood, and I think that my current work- the bright, colorful, whimsical stuff that should be the fabric of every child's world, has been called forth in me to express and share so that other's inner child will be called forth too.





I don't know where I got the talent for painting and pottery. Perhaps it is because I grew up in America and had more available to me. I'm also French and German and Czech. So maybe it came from there. I don't know. All I know is that I'm lucky to be an artist.  (yes, Irish lucky).





Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Etsy 101

I am a potter, a painter, a children's book author and illustrator and also a teacher. While I am primarily self taught as a painter, I have my degree in Art Education from Buffalo State College. I spent a few years teaching art to children in public and private schools and might still be teaching part time if the last private school that I worked at didn't close for lack of enrollment.

 I quickly lost my enthusiasm for teaching in public school due to the endless politics and ridiculous demands put on an art teacher, for example, being responsible for 400 or more students in a semester. (not kidding).

So I never pursued another teaching job after the private school closed and rather turned my attention to working in my own studio making art to sell.

 I began selling my art on Etsy in 2008. Not knowing much about it, I just put my stuff up there and basically expected it to sell itself while I explored other avenues.


Well, if you're an Etsy seller, you know that didn't happen. Since then, my concentration with Etsy has been on selling my pottery (shop name -risingstarpottery1) rather than my art. I have found that overall, selling functional art is way easier than selling wall art, especially online.

 I sell both my art and pottery through other channels, particularly my website, which is where I prefer to make my work available, thus cutting out the middle man. Subscribing to my newsletter and purchasing through my website is the only way to take advantage of sales or discounts on my work, (so if you like my stuff, there it is :0). But I digress.

Etsy has changed in many ways over the years and like other platforms they  continually will in an effort to keep both sellers, buyers and stockholders happy. Well, you can't please all the  people all the time, myself included, and some of the Etsy changes have affected the sales in my retail shop in not so positive ways. I have just started selling wholesale through Etsy's new wholesale platform, so we'll see how that goes.


Anyhoo, in the years since 2008, I have learned a great deal and been asked to pass my knowledge on to a classroom of women at the library in Bear, Delaware. I have done it twice now and can't say enough how much I enjoyed it. The library offers the class for free so I have a packed house (and a waiting list) of women  eager to learn how they might be able to start a small business on Etsy or generate some extra income.


 I don't offer any delusions of it being easy, but feel like I am really helping them to understand the possibilities and encourage them to go on and give it a whirl. The feedback has been so positive that we have added an Etsy 102 class where I will be able to get into more details about setting up a shop, like writing descriptions, taking photographs etc. Amazingly, the first class, though 2 hrs long, was only enough to skim the surface!



 At some point, if I can find enough time from my other projects, perhaps I will put together a small book on how to get started. If you are someone who is interested in selling on etsy and might be interested in such a publication, please leave me a comment. I am also available to consult by telephone if you are a new seller and want an evaluation and some guidance now. Just shoot me an email through my website for info.

Friday, February 5, 2016

How I Create Dimensional Painting with Underglazes on Clay

First I sart with a sketch on the greenware that compliments the body of the vessel

Working from the outer edges in, I  lay 3 washes of color glaze, lightest to darkest, leaving white in the center and shortening the length of the overlay from the outer edges toward to center


Next, I surround  the image with a complimentary or lighter color that will cause the main color to pop!
Next I add in the flat black spots

Then the really fun part. Using a very thin liner brush, I outline all edges and use crosshatching strokes beginning tightly at the outer edges and spreading as they go out.  Lastly, I did a little sgraffito around the edges of the black spots but I forgot to take an "in process" photo of that . You can see the effect on the finished piece below.       

                                            Available on my website. Just click on the image.
http://www.karenolonehahn.com/product/whimsical-white-ceramic-pitcher-hand-painted-cow-ceramic-stoneware-handmade-ceramic-pitcher-


Here's another one, Sadly, it didn't survive the kiln. It had a big "S" crack in the bottom.






Here is how potters feel when they find a piece comes out of the kiln with an "S" crack in it! :


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The action packed first few weeks of a New Year

 My family and I went to New Orleans for a family vacation Jan 2-9. It was fun. Not a place on my "go back to" list, but a great family adventure which was the whole point.


For my artistic curiosities in New Orleans, I looked up and visited a few pottery joints and the Ogden Museum of Southern Artists and the Scuplture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I went into quite a few galleries and an artists co-op in the French Quarter and perused a lot of art on the street. I found  a very talented young man and bought a print of his charcoal drawing of a parade on Royal Street.

We walked 30 miles around the city that week so we were pretty tuckered out when we got back to Pa. so we came home, layed on the couch and watched almost every previous episode of Downton Abbey with my daughter each night, drank a lot of wine and lamented that she would be going back to school within days.


My awesome niece Suzi came to visit and she and I and my daughter visited Isaiah's Magic Garden in Philadelphia. (ok, they call it Philadelphia's Magic Garden now because it became a non profit to save it from the bulldozer, but the city didn't build it, Isaiah did, so I'm still going to call it that!)



I bought clay while I was in Philly and a new glaze at The Ceramic Shop that I have never used  called "Magic Glaze" (how fitting) and that allegedly produces different results with almost every firing. Hmmm, can't wait to use it. I bought a gallon. $49 bucks! Hope I like it!


We spent the rest of the weekend binge watching more Downton Abbey with my daughter and niece drinking a lot of wine (did I say that already?) in our pajamas and  only surfaced into the world to take my neice to the movies for her first Dine-in Theatre experience, where we ate food and drank martini's and wine.

You may be wondering, since this is a blog about my artistic life, where does the art part come into this post?  Well, sadly for me, my daughter went back to school, my niece went back home to North Carolina, my husband went back to work after his long vacation and I have been at home again alone just  starting to rekindle the momentum of producing art and letting ya all know what I'm up to through the cyber world.

Now that all is quiet and I have returned into the studio, I have:

 *begun work on a new painting for that show in March which  I mentioned in my previous post.
Cat at Cafe du Monde in progress


 *spent a couple of afternoons making some cute little miniature houses which I intend to add to my wholesale catalog
These are not fired yet. I will post next week with the WIP

*Designed and printed postcards for upcoming March show

*Designed and printed new business cards.

* I've also begun a new relationship with Mala Galleria in Kennett Square where my pottery will be available for sale.

 
We got snowed in for a day during the great northeast Snowmageddon, so I did some baking and cleaning and purging of some closets and rooms.

My studio after round one still looking like springtime
My burnt pumpkin cheesecake. It still tasted good.

So there. See. It was action packed and I did do a lot despite the languishing around in pajamas watching television. (Sometimes a body just has to take time to rejuvenate) !

Today, as I work around the studio on my current painting , I am going to start another one as soon as I figure out what it will be.

Next week, I will post some works in progress in painting or clay or both. Gotta keep it going!






Friday, January 1, 2016

Resolutions and all that jazz

Resolution:
  1. the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc. 
  2. resolve; a decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something. Her resolution to clear her parents' name allowed her no other focus in life.
 I have no New Year's resolutions to announce.. Sorry if that disappoints you. I don't know why people bother, as it seems most often the resolutions to lose weight, travel the world, make $1 million or whatever seem to set us all up for inevitable failure.

I do have Plans and Hopes and Goals for 2016.

 Plans: (and Celebrations!)

1. To spend a weekend in Massachusetts and watch my beautiful daughter graduate from Hampshire College!

2. To go on a major trip with my husband to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in November. We haven't decided where yet. We're thinking Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, maybe Europe, as I'm not sure my nerves can make the plane trip to the other side of the world.

Goals:

1. A new Millicent and the Faraway Moon Coloring Book that I'm working on right now

2.  A new Millicent book that deals with losing someone to illness

3. To create three or four new paintings for a show that I'm having in March at the Cecil County Arts Council

4. To develop limited edition lines of pottery for wholesale and retail
5. To revamp my website
 
6. To create paintings and launch a show featuring cats in locations which I have visited or want to visit

7. To be nore helpful to others less fortunate than myself

Wow, I am planning to busy and productive! Yay me!

OK,to that end,  I guess maybe I do have one resolution I might like to try on, even though I haven't been very successful with it in the past.

(True Confession : I am extremely consistent at being inconsistent!) 

 I can organize events and other people down to every detail and minutia.  I can and have scheduled large events down to every minor detail, but for myself, organization and sticking to a schedule is the biggest caveat that I struggle with for my home life and my work in the studio.

So, OK!  I'll make a resolution again and we'll see if it sticks.

My resolution will be......(drum roll please)!  To show up to work in my studio from 9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday. 

Oh, my gosh I'm laughing as I even dictate that into my phone....

Mostly because the nature of clay is such that you have to give it a lot of love and attention. It doesn't always dry or get to the trim state during the time that you ascribe to it and I have the luxury of not working during the day if the evening happens to suit me or the clay more.  But  I am going to try it  because I am better during the day. And besides, I might want to have a glass of wine or martini at night while I'm working and that just makes me get sleepy and want to go to bed- LOL

So, OK there it is. My resolution: show up for work every day!  There, I succumbed.

Now for the Hope.

1.  To  do a three-week to month-long residency at an art center. (Don't worry after  24 years of marriage my husband's only concern might be who will take care of the cats while I'm gone :0)

2. If  I can't swing the residency, a two week workshop at least.

3. Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.  Really- I pray for our nation as we go about the business of electing a new President in a few short months and I pray that the world will see an end to the evil growing in it.

 4. I hope and pray for continued good health and prosperity for myself, my family and all of those that  I care about.

Here's to a Happy New Year and I wish many blessings to you and yours in 2016!~

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Grateful... even for the bad stuff?

 I can't begin to express how blessed I am. In fact the subtitle of this blog is "the very blessed life of a creative artist".


First, I'm really thankful just to be an artist because it saved me.  It can be really frustrating at times and I have come home more than once from a show feeling dejected and sad because I had few sales or because someone made a derogatory comment about my work.

Being rejected from inclusion in a show at a gallery can feel particularly stinging because for some reason, artists tend to have this idea that their value as a person and an artist rises and falls on what a gallery or particular juror thinks of you. I've overcome that particular idea a lot, however sometimes you still just kind of feel like, "Why do I do this at all?"


I'm so grateful for my husband, this wonderful man who has always supported me, and put up with my tears and self doubt and coached me into carrying on. He has always supported me literally and figuratively, because I never make much money as an artist, but he's always been my biggest cheering section and puts up with me time after time with the inevitable "I'm going to quit" phone call that would often come in the middle of the day when I was out at an art festival with poor attendance or poor sales. Of course, he's a very talented bass player, so he gets the artist thing.



 I'm so grateful for my home and for being able to get up and go out to my adorable little studio that is my own space where I can escape to create whatever comes into my mind.



I'm so grateful for my artist friends. Not only the ones that I see a lot who live near me and I spend time with, but also my online friends whom I've never met in person, but who so freely share their work with me and their ideas and techniques and give support and accolades to myself and to one another.



  I'm so grateful for my beautiful daughter, this amazing human being that I was lucky enough to give birth to. I'm grateful to her for the challenges and inspiration that she's given me, for her encouragement for what I've already done and for the way she challenges me to be a better artist, a better human being and to appreciate myself as an artist.



 I am also so grateful for the people who support my work through purchases and appreciation, without whom I couldn't continue.

Now this is going to sound weird, but I'm kind of grateful for the hideous childhood that I had, because without it, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. Everyone has obstacles in their life, some more than others. Some people might allow these things to overcome them and prevent them from living their fullest potential or blame negative experiences for their failures. Not saying, that I've never had a pity party of my own from time to time and I have used my work to explore some of the issues surrounding my childhood.



But, I look at my work as a great blessing which has helped me to move forward in my life and also create the childlike, happy, whimsical paintings and art  that I do. I think that this work flows from the childhood that I didn't get to have, but it's a good thing, because it causes me to make art that makes others feel happy and uplifted.



Mostly I'm grateful to God  for my life- the good things and the bad. I'm grateful for what Christ did for me and I'm grateful for my health and everything that I have today.

I hope you are counting you're blessing today too, and I would love it if you would share what you are grateful for in your life.

I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings on your life.