Travel Influences & Favorites, Pt. I

March – August 2010: PA, MA, NC, TN, & NYC

 
  

The images above are the very few I took during my minimal outings at NCECA in Philadelphia, and include some favorite pieces from a quick jaunt through the PMA (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and one great building somewhere in the city with curved leaded windows. (You can see more of my favs from the PMA here.)

         

The next group of pictures is from jaunts near my home. The first two are from a building in Amherst, MA. I love the tall, slender windows and contrast of brick and stone. The second is a detail of the stone and how they used brick dust in the mortar leaving the stones looking like they are outlined in hot pink.  The rest of the images are from two visits to Historic Deerfield in central Massachusetts not far from our home.  Since I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the historic homes, most of the pics (except the barn detail and canopy bed detail) are from pieces in the visible storage cases of their museum.  I see different things in each image, from ideas for form and detail to appreciation for handmade and craft like the last two images of the mended bowl and plate.

 
 

These last images are a favorite each of something I saw while teaching at the Penland School of Arts & Crafts (the garden bottle tree in Bakersville) and the Appalachian Center for Crafts (one of the many hand-painted signs on campus) this summer. And last but not at all least are two images of the Statue of Liberty I took when I did a lecture for the Brooklyn Potters Guild.

I’m getting better not only at remembering to take my camera with me, but actually remembering to take pictures as well, and hope to share more of what I see and figuratively bring home to my studio with you here.

Ceramics I Love (Contemporary, Pt. II)

 Gertraud_Mohwald Magdalene_Odundo
 Viola_Frey  Gary_DiPasquale
  
 Alan_Caiger_Smith

From top left, First row: Bobby Silverman, Gertraud Möhwald, and Magdelene Odundo;  Second row: Hans Coper, Viola Frey, Sam Chung and Gary DiPasquale;  Third row: Andrea Gill, Jeanne Quinn, and Mary Barringer;  Last row: Jason Green and Alan Caiger-Smith.

Visit Part I here to see not only the first grouping but also what I mean by “love” (vs. influence).  I enjoy putting these love montages together and hope to do one every so often.  I welcome you to leave a list of your all-time favorite contemporary clay artists in the comment section.

C O L O R

  
  
   
  
  
 

First row, left to right: Mark Rothko painting No. 22, 1949, 1920s Chicago Transit Authority poster, and Bev Hisey Reflective Folk CushionSecond row: autumn leaves, Andrew Zuckerman bird photograph and my warm-toned glazes;  Third row: Berlin Festival of Lights, Dave Jordano Storefront Church photograph and a Sevres potpourri vase;  Fourth row: Andrew Zuckerman Masked Lovebird photograph and my cool-toned glazes;  Fifth row: Hindu (Holi) Festival of Colours, JollyBe Chrysanthemums wedding cake, and peacock;  Sixth row: Cole & Son Dorset wallpaper, botanical print and Felissimo’s Colored Pencil SetLast row: KiBiSi chairs and a Viola Frey figure.

Oh, how I love color.

I suppose most everyone enjoys color, but if there were a 1 to 10 rating for color love, I would be at a 9 or 10 on the scale. I envy synesthetes and think about color throughout my day, in and out of the studio. I have a similar response to color that others do when they eat a piece of chocolate—that little butterfly feeling of yum.

Darks.

These tumbler images (above and below) represent the myriad of ways the nine colors in my palette can be placed together to give a completely different color feel.

Lights.

One of my grad school (MFA, Ohio U. 2001) professors, Joe Bova, recently commented to me that he believes “color is the most personal element in art”.  I certainly took a lot of time considering my color palette when I switched from high-fire soda (a more limited inherently glossy palette) to mid-range electric where the options are delightfully and overwhelmingly limitless.

Fruity.

I spent several months testing glazes to find both the color and quality (“breaking” satin vs. glossy) that best suits my work and me.  There were several determining factors.  The first and most important is that since I spend more time around my work than anyone else, I wanted colors I enjoy.  I also wanted colors that work well together, that compliment each other.  Finally, I wanted a palette that gives my collectors options: some people prefer neutrals, some prefer brights, and I have both as well as what’s in between.

Autumnal.

Because my work is predominantly monochrome*, I don’t think it’s as recognized for its color because an individual piece isn’t particularly colorful (i.e. having multiple colors).  Though I am currently running some new tests to add stripes and dots of patterned color, “colorful” in my pots comes from their proximity to each other.  I love seeing which colors my customers pair, mix and match when they buy 2, 4 or 12 pieces.

Neutrals.

All of my glaze colors are warm-toned, meaning that even the cool colors (blue, purple and green) have yellow undertones.  The names I have given the nine colors are Ivory (an off-white that looks almost like leatherhard porcelain), Frost (the super pale turquoise that looks a bit like a celadon), Honeycomb (a pale, warm yellow), Lime (a fruity yellow-green), Rosa (a salmon-y, mahogany pink), Cornflower blue (a rich lighter blue), Grape (a warm, plum-y purple), Caramel (a very yummy gold brown) and Blackberry (a deep wine, purple-y red).
Naturals.

On most forms, the satin glaze is the most visible, but the interiors are lined with a glossy version of the outside color, so I really work with 18 glazes.  Some forms, like my bowls and serving pieces, reveal more of the glossy color.  I like the contrast of satin to shine, so in addition to keeping the food surfaces functional with a glossy glaze, it is an aesthetic choice too.

Romantic.

Choosing glaze colors is not like picking out paint (potters will sardonically laugh and nod at that statement) because there is chemistry, elemental change and heat involved.  Red and blue does not necessarily make purple in the clay world.  My color palette came from having a sense of colors I wanted ( a green, a purple, a red—one of the hardest colors to “get” in ceramics, etc.) and then testing to match that expectation with the possibilities paired with my clay, cost of materials, firing temperature and application, not to mention aesthetic goals.  As my husband would say, it’s tricky business.

Cools.

I gather inspiration for color from everywhere.  There are my “usual” sources (period clothing, Art Nouveau prints, Islamic architecture, etc.), but there are also more obscure suggestions for color, like the images at the beginning of this post.  Right now I’m liking the blue in the shadows of the snow, the transitional green from light to dark inside an avocado and I keep thinking of that orange that was in a room my husband and I stayed at in Iceland six years ago.

Festive.

I believe the color in my work is one of several elements which makes my pots unique.  I agree with my professor that color is personal, a way to relay an emotion or spark a memory.  It’s a fascinating subject.

*I tend to use one color or two similar colors on a piece because I feel this best shows off the form, where multiple colors tend to divide the form. Imagine a woman wearing a purple shirt, blue belt and yellow pants next to one wearing a purple dress.

My House is Filled with Birds

Owls_on_bike Fridge_bird
Hummingbird Candlestick

Clockwise from top right: Bird magnet (Kathryn Finnerty pot in background); Robin candlestick (John Glick pot in background); Hummingbird from a French deco/vintage bird illustration calendar; and Owls on tandem bicycle tea towel.

I made my first bird stamp during a workshop I taught in spring of 2006 at the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville, NC.  The idea of incorporating animals into my patterning had been brewing for a while, and a little chubby bird was the first to make his way around one of my pots.  Since then I have made over 20 animal stamps, but birds are definitely the dominate animal in my stamp bin.

Brick_birds Chicken
To-do_bird Bead_bird

Clockwise from top right: Glass chicken from my Great Grandma; Beaded Hornbill by an African artist; Bird ornament;and a Kiwi (?) on a reclaimed brick from the Non Fiction Design Collective with a blue, glass bird from my Grandma.

The birds pictured in this post came from almost every room in our house. I don’t consider us collectors of bird items and imagery, but noticed one day how many keep us company. I did a post recently about pattern in our home and how those things we see every day happily creep into our creative minds. I imagine this bird menagerie has certainly influenced my work.

Coo-koo_clock Benjie
Birdcage Duck

Clockwise from top right: Earthenware Rubber duck from Benjie Heu’s Trophy sculpture series; Female Mallard Duck painting by Andrew Woodward; Cockatiels in cage image; and Cuckcoo clock image.

There are three primary reasons I began to incorporate bird (and animal) imagery into my pots.  One, by adding a bird into the layers on a piece, the surface is more than just a pattern: it becomes an environment.  The second is my continuing interest in Art Nouveau pattern and decoration.  There are many gorgeously rendered animals with flowing lines and curlicues I admire depicted in illustrations, textiles and objects from that era.  A Nouveau bird as a repeated motif blurs into a lacey pattern and then re-emerges as a stately flock as our eyes choose on which lines to focus.  The third reason is because they make me happy.

Glass_Bird Kiwi
Joe Bluebird

Clockwise from top right:  Porcelain and fabric Kiwi by Roberta Massuch; Angry Bluebird fridge magnet;Soda-fired porcelain Bird by Joe Bova; and Glass Dove by Beth Lipman.

I developed the fascination for animals and plants from my family of ardent nature-lovers.  From my fifth-grade science teacher Mr. Morton, the love for birds, their names and calls grew even more.  (He could imitate any bird, and I thought that was super cool.)  I have binoculars sitting on my desk by my computer to see “who” is flying through the trees in our backyard.  I plant perennials to attract different species, and was ecstatic this summer to see gold finches treating our garden like their own private, gourmet hangout.

Birdcage_tweet Gingko
Glass-candle Oven_bird

Clockwise from top right: Nuthatch in Gingko ink and color painting by Liang Wei; Blackbird toy; Hummingbird glass candleholder; and Wind-up caged bird.

I imagine artists are drawn to animal imagery for a variety of reasons.  Aside from the long, long history of birds depicted in ceramics by every culture imaginable, the use of animals in contemporary ceramics imagery—and birds in particular—has become popular in the last couple of years. (I’ve indeed heard that “birds are the new fish” for pottery.)  We see birds every day (fish, not so much).  Their image represents everything from hope and history to peace and protection.  In this era of technology and fast-pace, I wonder if makers now are drawn to nature and its animals for the same reason we hope the general public will continue to be drawn to handmade objects.

Heade_birds Owl
Shaw_bowl Toucans

Clockwise from top right: Barn Owl photograph by Sharon Montrose; Toucans in a Guinness beer sign;Porcelain Bird Flock Man Bowl by Sandy Shaw; and postcard of Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds painting by Martin Johnson Heade.

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” –Victor Hugo

KK_bird_Corset_detail KK_Bird_cups_detail

Details from my work: Two Sparrows Flower Vessel (Corset series)
and a grouping of stamped bird cups.

Ceramics in Design

Vautrin_Delvigne_Gauffre J_Adler_Brasilia_Stripes_Cone Delvigne_Vautrin_Panier_perce
J_Adler_Helix_vase Giapato_Hula_Hoop Lucchi_Burano blooming_over_cup_DroogR_McBride_Anamorphic_cups M_Wanders_Delft_vase_II R_McBride_Grooveware Eva_Zeisel_gravyandspoonairborne-snotty-vases-mwanders M_Wanders_Delft_vase_I M_Wanders_Delft_vase_IIIBoontje_Table_Stories Boontje_tile Boontje_Other_Side KleinReidStillLifeBlackBisque

First row, from left: Vase Gauffré by Ionna Vautrin & Guillaume Delvigne for Industreal; Brasilia stripes cone vase by Jonathan Adler; Panier percé by Guillaume Delvigne & Ionna Vautrin for Industreal; Second row: Helix tall vase by Jonathan Adler; Hula Hoop by Cristiana Giopato for Industreal; Burano by Michele de Lucchi for Industreal; Blooming over cup by Mina Wu & Jan B. for Droog; Third row: Anamorphic cups by Ross McBride; Royal Delft vase by Marcel Wanders for Moooi; Grooveware by Ross McBride; Gravy boat and spoon by Eva Zeisel; Fourth row: Airborne Snotty Vase by Marcel Wanders; Fifth row: two more Royal Delft vases by M. Wanders for Moooi; Table Stories by Tord Boontje; Last row: Primavera tile by Tord Boontje for Bardelli; The Other Side Ceramics by Tord Boontje for Moroso; and Still Lfe: Black Bisque by KleinReid.

I’ve done a couple of past posts with wallpaper, furniture and home furnishings by designers I enjoy, so thought I should point out some ceramics too.  (See past posts under Favorites and Influences.)   I find these objects and the concepts behind them intriguing (most from the last eight years), and this group of designers are some of my favorites: Boontje, KleinReid, McBride, Vautrin & Delvigne, Wanders and Zeisel.  There is a strong and curious connection between studio artists/potters and industrial designers: kind of a chicken-and-the-egg history with overlap and sharing (or co-opting).   (Objects that weren’t simply white and black (and royal blue apparently) were scarce.  There must be practical as well as design reasons for the lack of color.)   I feel it’s important to be aware of what other artists in my field are up to, and awareness of form and concept for mass and high-end design markets feels equally important, especially as the lines between art and design have blurred.  Ultimately though I agree with a friend and find these objects smart, appealing and inspiring.

Artist Favorites

Shepard_Fairey_Mujer_Fatal_mural Martin_Puryear_Bower_80
Alphonse_Mucha_Summer_1896 Wayne_Thiebaud_Boston_Cremes_69 Claes_Oldenburg_Dropped_Cone_2001
Charley_Harper_Shadow_Dancers_1969 Chuck_Close_Lorna_Simpson_2006 Shepard_Fairey_flowervine_red_2009 
Charley_Harper_upside_downy_1988 Kehinde_Wiley_Encourage_2007 Anish_Kapoor_sky_mirror_2006 Piet_Mondrian_Composition_1936

From top left: Shepard Fairey, Mujer Fatal mural; Martin Puryear, Bower, 1980; Second row: Alphonse Mucha, Summer, 1896;  Wayne Thiebaud, Boston Cremes, 1969; Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen, Dropped Cone, 2001; Third row: Charley Harper, Shadow Dancers, 1969;  Chuck Close, Lorna Simpson, 2006;  Shepard Fairey, Flowervine Red, 2009; Fourth row: Martin Johnson Heade, Brazilian Orchid, 1875;  Charley Harper, Upside Downy, 1988;  Kehinde Wiley, Encourage good manners and politeness; brighten up your surroundings with plants, 2007; Last row: Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror, 2006; and Piet Mondrian, Composition, 1936.

These are some of my favorite artists: disparate and similar, spanning over 100 years.  The culminating traits I see here are: formal investigations of line, space and contrast; decoration; beauty; minimalism; poignancy; humor; attention to detail; and a desire for viewer attention and/or participation.  There is overlap of two or more of these elements I enjoy, and hope to have in my own work, in the work by each of these artists.  Good stuff.