Thursday, May 25, 2017

How to make a mini clay figure from one coil

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mother's Day- Artist as Mom

(In a nod to Mother's Day, this is a repost of a previous writing. To bring you up to date, my daughter is now going to be 23 in a couple of weeks and preparing to go off to Thailand with her boyfriend for a summer of teaching English and adventure. I'm so proud of her and her fearless spirit and miss her terribly at the same time....)

My life is never seperated from my work and I have created a plethora of paintings around mothering as I journey along in one of the greatest adventures of my life.  I thought I would continue with this subject in this month when mothers are celebrated. 

Most of my paintings come from a very personal place. Even some of my cow paintings tell stories about what's going on in my life, such as in "Eat Your Broccoli" which depicts a momma cow and her  calf in a surreal field of raining broccoli. (A nod to Magritte) This painting was inspired by my Kayla who wouldn't eat broccoli as a little girl.

Before I even knew I was pregnant, I painted "My neighborhood", which depicts myself, my husband (in between the two houses) and our neighbors on their respective porches. There I am talking on the porch, very preggers, while my husband looks on.

 When I was actually pregnant, I painted this one, "Pregnant Artist." I have to laugh when I recall my pre-teen girl begging me to take it off the wall so her friends wouldn't see it. So much for being sophistcated about a little artistic nudity even though I tried to not actually show much :0) Note the Van Gogh calendar in the background and the rooster in the window. Van Gogh is my favorite and the rooster is symbolic of my husband whose last name in German means "rooster".

Sometimes I run into women who tell me that they were artists until their kids were born and then they stopped. I would just as much have stopped breathing. I don't know how they could do that, maybe they were less driven than me, but I never stopped. It helped that she was such a good, easy baby. I used to get up around 4:30 in the morning before she woke so I could paint a little, or sometimes she would sit and watch me in her little bouncy chair. At 19 months, she had her own plastic easel, paint and tam. She too created very colorful works, though she was an abstract expressionist at that time :0)..

As wonderful a baby as she was, just the shock of becoming parents can be overwhelming. The shift that takes place in your life from self centered to other-centered, and the responsibility of it all is all encompassing. I have depicted these feelings in the painting "New Baby", where the beautiful little diapered one is a giant in the space, overtaking the picture and the lives of the Mommy whom she holds in the palm of her hand and her Daddy by a string.

Having a child also was bringing up a lot of stuff for me as she grew. It was like she was holding up a mirror that reflected my life, causing me to worry and wonder about if I could make her life bettter than my upbringing had been. In this painting "Toddler" she is a hybrid of herself and me. She stands, again overwhelming the picture, but she is standing off the curb in a street between two houses, representative of the New Jersey street where I grew up. (Boy, did I have fun painting that bunny)

I painted her many more times as she has grown up, less as she approached her pre- teen and teen years when I could barely get her to be near me or smile, until this one (Flying through Life) which I painted last year, when she was leaving to go to college. It was so hard to let her go and I couldn't believe that that she was leaving already.
She and I are depicted flying through the air in our matching Mommy-Daughter dresses that I had made, through a world of things that I had taught her about or that we had discovered together.

 As I write this I am tearing up again......I know there are plenty more paintings to paint and the journey with her is not over. I just miss my baby.

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.