Pirouetting Off

Diebenkorn Notes to Myself
Richard Diebenkorn’s “Notes to myself on beginning a painting,” found after he died. (More readable version in the post)


While I aim to write something here once a month, the calendar commitment has never been the reason I write. Having something to say is. Ideally I want a wry and esoteric “situation” to pick apart from many angles and then sew back up, satisfied. And then, by giving my best phrases to my thoughts, to offer enough value to that exploration that it’s worthy of sharing. And that’s exactly why I’m stepping away from my Studio Journal for an unknown period. Do read on…


I still have plenty of words in me about fascinating “situations” and such, but I sense a metaphorical end of a decade-long Act I and an enjoyable Intermission in the works – one in which the play continues on behind the scenes – and I’m going with it. It’s good timing, too, for all the right reasons.

In 2008, when I hesitantly and rather badly began writing about my art experiences, the art gurus were chorusing the praises of regular blogging with the not-so-hidden agenda of gaining scads of online followers, which, they said, would then magically turn into scads of collectors and other opportunities. Monetizing, Analytics and Conversions, Baby! I rejected that as a motivation, held my nose and posted anyway, more because I kinda liked to write and having an audience made me want to write better.  I soon found other gurus who described artists writing for the writing itself and I came home to a rationale that felt genuine and unencumbered by a need for further results.

Even so, I found it awkward to natter on about myself, especially when my “voice” wavered all over the place. I have hidden the worst posts here from public view, but rest assured they were plain awful. They say if your early works don’t make you cringe just a little, you haven’t improved, so I’ll go with that. And I also identify with the Ira Glass quote about The Taste Gap which is only closed by making lots of work. I wrote studio observations and how-to posts. I described my ceramic idols, my influences, my fears, my successes, my colleagues and mentors, my classes, my shows, my pivots.  And, woven through it all, was my tango with the Muses and the Creative Process, always a juicy go-to fount.

I’ve talked about Brass Tacks and also about Big Ideas. About money and dreams, aesthetics and ritual, the sad and the ridiculous. And just when I think I’ve delved into all the places chewy advice might be found, up turns this quirky list of Richard Diebenkorn’s which can apply to all of us creatives.

 “Notes to Myself on Beginning a Painting”

1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.

2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.

3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.

4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. Don’t “discover” a subject – of any kind.

6. Somehow don’t be bored – but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.

7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.

8. Keep thinking about Polyanna (sic)

9. Tolerate chaos.

10. Be careful only in a perverse way.

It is in the audacious spirit of this list that I pirouette myself into the wings to wait for my cue for Act II. I cheerfully thank each and every one of you who have ever opened and read one of my posts: you’re a rare cohort – MY cohort and I love you dearly. If you choose to stick around through Intermission, even better! And please remember that you can always find me directly here on the website through my Connect or Shop pages. Don’t be shy!

Until then, here’s one more list.

Things I am Happily Curious About Which May Appear in Act II

  • What happens when I leave all my galleries? When I don’t do in-person shows? When I don’t enter competitions?
  • What happens when I become more active in supporting The Arts in my community: helping artists and arts organizations?
  • What happens when I create giving/donating/fundraising channels – along with the selling channels – for my artworks and others?
  • What happens when I explore weaving my artfulness into all I do and am, day by day, moment by moment?
  • What happens when I drop the obsessions?
  • What happens when this agenda melts?

~Liz Crain, who thinks she might have hit some crystalline high notes with her writing over the years, and here, in no particular preferential order, are eleven favorites from the 245 extant posts. If you poke around, just know that a lot of the older external links will probably not work as intended, but the main discussions are just as ducky as ever.



Figuring Out What An Electric Firing Costs: Update!

Spouting Off


The Classroom 

Echoes of Generosity: Lagniappe and Psychitude

Nakie Time!…Or Being Vulnerable Enough to Learn


The Marketplace

The Iceberg Concept of Pricing Your Art

Zero-Sum Confidential


The Mentor

What Dreams May Come

The Apron


Studio Lyfe

“Hey, This Handle’s Stuck!” or a Pictorial Diary of a Ceramic Repair

You Go Back In The Studio and Apologize To That Clay

Thursday’s Tile: Cupid’s Bow Lips


If you have a favorite post from the past 11 years that isn’t listed here, feel free to add the title/subject of it in the comments – and a link if you can. Thank you.




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5 thoughts on “Pirouetting Off

  1. Liz, thank you so much for all your writing, the one blog I read, because of your uniqueness. You make me wonder how I could better express myself. It’s been getting even better lately. Though I do remember distinctly this one: https://www.lizcrainceramics.com/2014/01/the-yearly-studio-clearing-ritual-making-way-for-awesomeness/. I felt a kinship because I was doing the same thing. And that is so often the case, like you’ve been reading my mind, or being in the same orbit, even though we are separated by the breadth of the country. It’s been reassuring, and I have not doubt you’ll be building up scads of words to regale us of your situations. Keep me “posted”! hugs, Kathleen
    PS: I also have been bowing out, but just not stating such. Your list is mostly my list too.

    1. Dearest Art Sister Kathleen,
      Well, this is all magic to hear. It seconds the notion I have of just writing about what’s happening around me and what it reminds me of and what I’m trying to understand – with the hope that there is some resonance with at least a few people. You are definitely one of them and I treasure our connection. I love thinking there is always more – whether we express it or not – and that, whether we lean in or bow out, it’s pretty much all the same too. Here’s to what’s next! Much love, Liz

      1. right, and don’t forget how long the path is, we have plenty of time…love, Kathleen

  2. Liz Crain… I’m going to miss you girl. You’re the only Poster I read. You bring gaiety and humor into my life just reading your wonderful babble. Thanks for your honesty all these years, you will be missed. And if there is a small chance of an Act II, please keep me posted.
    Love to you.

    1. Well Syd, thanks for noticing and reading along and telling me it matters to you. Got a little misty-eyed hearing that. For now, I’m doing nothing but taking a break – just leaving this space and the list of folks who have signed up to receive new posts exactly as they are. I thought it might be nice to be intentional about this instead of just not posting for so long of a time as to look like every other flakey blogger on the planet. Some of the pause is related to a couple of family “situations” which should resolve by year’s end and not take so much of my bandwidth. Some of the pause is to let a vacuum build and a new round of “things to say” appear. I hope you will be there when that happens! M’wah!!!

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