LizCrainSelfPortrait

Biography: Always A Work in Progress

I have always made stuff, and some of it is art. Since my first drawing class in my late teens, I have seriously explored pencil, charcoal, pastels, art markers, pen&ink, painting, watercolor, printmaking, colored pencil, collage, mixed media, and found object sculpture. What have I missed? I kept exploring until I found clay, the primal medium, where I stayed for decades. It’s the reason I entered the marketplace and started this Blog-Which-Has-Become-A-Whole Website.

A life-long learner, I have alternated classes with teaching,  mentors with self-direction. I am proud of my assortment of degrees and certificates, especially those in Studio Art and Art History.  I taught art from Kindergarten to adults. The art community wherever I have lived is lively and inclusive, especially here in Santa Cruz County, my home studio for the past 30 years.

Currently, I have gone back to my 2D roots, delighted to find that my touch and perception intensified because of my literal hands-on years in ceramics. There is always plenty to know and apply, I am relieved to say. And lots of new tools and methods! As a student of aesthetics,  art history, the creative process, and plenty of utterly nerdy technical info, I can say quite cheerfully that I am, myself, the work in progress.

 

Artist Statements

Artist Statement Mind Map
Artist Statement Mind Map

 

ARTIST STATEMENT: A MAKER’S MANIFESTO

One of my most treasured creative resources is the book “The Power of Limits” by György Dóczi. Nominally about how ancient proportional patterns and beauty are related, I use it as a portal to playing with the “limits” of the 2D surface. The Elements and Principles of Art provide guidance, as well. And so does practiced skill in using one’s materials and tools. But all of that goes only part way into the matter at hand: how do I make my own art? What are my personal Bases, Rationales, Methods and Takeaways?

Decades ago, after looking at a motley grouping of my work, a kindly advisor once commented, “So you can paint. Whaddya got to say?” She nailed it. While noting my careful  and orthodox ordering of Limits, Elements, Principles, and Application, she, more insightfully, also noted the lack of idiosyncratic interpretation, which truncated its spirit, cohesion and meaning.

I have always wrassled with the double-edged sword of excellent “student-ship.” It’s a useful practice towards success, until it isn’t. The goal of seeking blessings from the instructor, the cohort, the jurist, the art-buying public ultimately only takes one so far. It certainly impedes authentic agency. “Originality does not consist of saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself.” (James Stephens)

After a lifetime of peeling back the layers of the art-making enigma here’s my Maker’s Manifesto, always subject to change.

No matter the medium, I wait for a clear visual curiosity and an itch to bring it into materiality before going to the trouble of actually making something. While I am still a goal-oriented doer, I notice that employing only that skill can propel me quickly past the making part with impatience and unhelpful judgments. It is good to know that I must practice a slow intentionality and radical acceptance of the making process to recognizing doneness, which may or may not even be a goal anyhow!

That said, I prefer my completed works to seem somehow unpracticed, inevitable – sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus, even. If I can see a contrived outcome appearing, I am mostly bored and disappointed and often take a break, amend greatly or begin again. As Brian Eno has said, “You cannot control your way out of contol.”

And lastly, whatever  ineffable “it” factor I seek in the making of my art , it always becomes its own entity and my last job is to recognize that and step away. If I have at all addressed the impulses and rationales that I had when I started, the work will contain my heart, hands and humors, because THAT is what I’ve got to say, no more no less.

 

ARTIST STATEMENT FOR PAINTING and 2D WORKS: Coming Soon!

 

ARTIST STATEMENT FOR CERAMICS

 I am a dedicated ceramic handbuilder, preferring its slower construction pace. Over the decades, there is probably no building/firing technique I haven’t given at least a cursory round of experimenting to, except perhaps soda firing. When I was a teaching assistant in over 30 beginning handbuilding classes, I still did all the assignments along with the students. When I taught, I needed to understand the projects and techniques from inside out and made many stages of my samples.  Maybe I’m a slow learner, but I can tell you assuredly that clay work is deceptively complicated with many perilous variables in the process, even when simplified and repeated.

I generally prefer creating some sort of vessel, slowly and by hand. Whether face jugs, humble pinch pots, fool the eye faux tins, or lacy vases, vessels are the metaphoric containers of potentially everything: from the obvious and earthy to the ineffable and spiritual. 

In my latest body of ceramic work, I fervently assert my love of knitting and vessels. I have crocheted and knit my entire adult life, but it was a brilliant day when I realized how the knitting could be incorporated into the clay. It goes like this: knit something in plain cotton twine and dip it in liquid porcelain, shape and clean it as it dries, and then kiln-fire to leave just the porcelain version of the knitting. Amorphous clay can be the ultimate trompe l’oeil medium and I have the most creative juice when I can fully exploit that quality.