Cocoon without the WEB

I know that it has been some time since my last posting and a lot of things have been happening since my summer residency at the Torpedo Factory Art Center (http://torpedofactory.org). The most important fact was that after the residency program ended, I needed to cocoon a bit and take the time to work in my new space organizing my studio and home life which I sort of put off on the back burner during my residency. I am cocooning in a new space which is close to the place where I teach classes and trying to get the feel of the new space. The most challenging aspect of the new space is that it is completely with internet and I have had to make many adjustments to learning how to work within a space where the web is not as accessible, besides the smartphone to receive emails or write blogs until now. Finally, after some time I have found a way to utilize the web and wifi when at work or in the cafes of the area . Being in seclusion of living and working at home (cocooning) withOUT the web is sort of refreshing and takes me back to the days when technology didn’t have such a hold on the artist’s mind and we could focus on the creativity from within without regards to what happened on the world wide web. Now there are many new ways to visualize your artistic endeavors through social media. I guess you could consider me “old school” where i like to keep a delicate balance between the artistic side of my work and the use of modern technology to promote it. I have been doing a couple of shows and working on some new project both online and off. welcome me back to the web world of bloggers and artists at heart. Sometime, we need to step back and cocoon a bit to understand what is really important to us, before continuing on the road or direction which we have chosen. I am getting back into the groove of posting more often…..

From ceramics to sewing…

Every now and then, when I feel a lack of inspiration with for the things that i do with my ceramics, I shift mediums and concentrate on a different medium ,in this case : sewing , which has a whole different set of restrictions and rules to follow and  to continue on a project that is a never ending, ongoing adventure that I started on a whim.  An Italian friend and skipper asked me to come up with an idea for the sails of his sailboat when they were changed and in state of dis-use. the” second sail project” was born . A little over 3 years ago and has been continuing ever since. (above) is a picture of a new sail acquired from a fellow artist that i unwrapped and slowly started to cut up and make a new series of useful up-cycled materials,sails and other nylons and straps used on boats and in shipping. the concept was a series of guy-inspired accessories that were durable and hand made. I have started a series of tote bags and shoppers and some new smaller accessories with a maritime style with the use of these nautical materials.  this project is very close to my heart trying to reduce my carbon footprint and up-cycle as much as possible to make new products that can sustain the wind ,rain and wear and tear of my lugging around everything from artist materials to my weekly groceries.  Art does not always have to be ONLY creative but sometimes can be  functional. Products used everyday making me feel good about myself by sharing a concept of up-cycling products that are no longer used for their primary purposes. By re-inventing new ways to use all the materials and make them into new still-useful things for our common day to day existence. (below) Is a picture of the 35ft sail that I cut apart on the floor which had the biggest amount of space to lay out and decide the piece of choice material.

Helping others, helping ourselves

On some occasions, there are times when some of my artist friends call on me for help on installations and set ups in diverse spaces and galleries such as the one above at the o on h gallery in dc where I helped install a painter friend of mine, Marsha Staiger’s work for an upcoming show (marshastaiger.com), in this recently renovated space in a new and upcoming part of the district of columbia . It is important to be able to collaborate and hang shows with other artists to assist them with another set of eyes to make sure artwork is properly represented in different environments and spaces it increases a stronger sense of an artist community. Hoping that it will inspire each creative person to open themselves up to the opportunities to do set up and help other artists hang shows even if your experience is limited. in this way ,you can discover the diverse venues and  spaces where art is shown and meet other artists normally outside of your network.  artistic expression is diverse as the artists that create them. Meeting other artists helps broaden the artistic network from gallery and business owners to artists and art lovers. we sometime do not know  if all locations and spaces that we look at are the right fit for our work,  through the networking system between artists and primarily through word of mouth. You can open the horizons to places and contacts  to show your work or at least come in contact with another part of the creative art market and the individuals that run them. New venues sometimes have technical restrictions set into them  like the work which we hung (above) , the restriction was that nothing could be nailed to the walls and the use of the hanging system had to be used for all pieces in the show. how we see our in different spaces sometimes has to be modified to fit in the technical requirements  of a show. while at the gallery I was able to meet a couple of the other artists as well as the show organizer of the upcoming show .  the space is fantastic. Just another place and space to put in my address book for future reference. Be open to giving yourself new opportunities to meet and discover places where your work can be shown. Increasing the eye traffic on your art.

OCD: obsessive compulsive drawing

Sometimes when decorating a piece and not really in the mood , or the hand just isn’t right I sit back and imagine if the piece i am making is something that I would keep and not sell and this gets me into my o.c.d. mode of obsessive compulsive drawing and decorating on pieces which I would otherwise put aside. I imagine that  it is better to over work and decorate a pieces with details that I can only see that maybe others might not really pay attention to. Details sometime, so minute and meticulous , that my eyes get tired and I have to take a walk away from the piece to re-focus and rest for a few minutes.  Case in point, is the photo of the teapot which I am working on (above). My main intent was for it to be a show stopper and make patrons and potters alike, look at it and be in awe of the amount of detail work going into this piece. my creative O.C.D. helps me bring out the best of efforts for my creative endeavors and make my following realize that yes, I actually paint these piece one by one and no, I do not make many of them,  in the standards of other potters, but my aim is to give a higher quality of works of illustration and handmade ceramics  fusion of creative energy that sets my work apart from the rest. I often find myself in asking a price per minute for these endeavors and know that this is a continual and constant thought in the minds of creative souls. What is all this work worth? Does the price point of a piece constitute the mores of working and maintaining ourselves from our art…… Profound thought on ideals and where we see ourselves in the niche of creatives  at home, online, in galleries, here and abroad…..Questions that I still ponder and cannot answer….. I know that there is a magnitude of mediocre everywhere and that the local artisans strive to make an imprint on the market by differentiating from many brands produced abroad mostly (PRC) which now seem all the same and undistinguished or ordinary from the mass market. My creative o.c.d.-ing will set apart from the pack of mediocre and strive the main point of my ceramics and illustrations: work that is well made by my hands and o.c.d.-ed by my decorating skills to leave a strong  reminder that yes , there are some of us out there can stand by the quality of our work and command the prices we want in order to continue to recreate….. What’s you view on this topic? Where do you see yourself fitting in?

Variation on a technique

Every now and then the need to diversify your product and step out of the box of my comfort zone to use a ceramic technique of firing to make new products that help attract new customers to my following.  Pictured (above) is a client’s necklace which I just finished hand knotting and posted on my blog to give her the heads up that the item in question is ready for pick-up.  Potters and artisans alike some times get comfortable into to a certain way of producing wares and sometimes the “focus” can be a bit narrow. After years of making wares for home accessories, I decided to branch out and try my hand at hand made jewelry.  Same clay and materials but a new set of rules to follow and respect when making wearable art. My focus was more minute in detail , though some of the motifs are the same. I found that working on small pieces like beads was the same amount of work as decorating a small bowl or square dish.  Happily after endless times of trails and errors I have gotten it down to a science where I can produce small amounts of beads to supply myself with a decent amount to mount 3-4 necklaces at a time. In the end we must challenge our capacity and creative endeavor to try and fail in order to master the various techniques of ceramics and explore new markets for wearable art.  Sometimes our efforts do not come to the ideal that we have set in our minds, as to what we would like to accomplish. Trying and getting closer to” that “ideal will help each one of us master our craft whatever the medium. Too many times artists like to stick with what they know best and I feel that there is no growth in exploration of materials and technique. We as artists need to step it up and learn the craft from classes and workshops and books and the web, then tweak and turn the techniques on their heads so we can see all the possibilities that are out there for  personal satisfaction in what we create. It depends on the personality of an artist… Many  prefer to remain  safe in the things that they produce and have no foresight into how to keep repeat customers and art advocates involved and interested with new products that are not only mugs, cups bowls and vases. I prefer to keep my customers and followers guessing…. It is a way to keep you audience engaged  in your creative process.and always has them coming back for more……..