What Dreams May Come

Dove at the Cabrillo College “Grave Changes” Exhibit, Davis, CA 2012


The Summer Studio Journal ReRun Posts continue, and I have a longer Preamble to this one:

It’s five years on from this post, originally published June 14, 2012. I have re-posted the true story at the end of it a couple of other times and places, since it is so delicious.

What’s not so delicious is that my mentor Kathryn’s still gone. For lots of reasons I can no longer find creative refuge in the Cabrillo Ceramics Lab. But the undeniably solid one is: she’s not there. There are some of her lovely small works and her photo in a glass case with her name writ large on the entrance doors. I am proud of her legacy, but I still hear her laughter ringing and think I glimpse her moving away similar to the first dream recounted in this post.

 As it should be by now, an artist and teacher who I admire and wholeheartedly support just earned a tenure-track position and will occupy her long-empty former office.

Here at my studio, I have a collection of her fabulous smaller works and lovely handwritten notes, which I keep nearby, occasionally shuffling them about in an afternoon’s agitation. She’s rarely in my dreams now. So it goes. What sings to me currently were her creative dry spells, her doubts. She continues to mentor me in retrospect. I get frustrated with my artistic direction at times, yet know I am compelled to continue, just as, well, just as I saw her do. She, too, wrestled with making meaning. Felt impatient with the selling, the galleries, the shows. Worried about the same stuff. And additionally carried the onus of being a teaching legend, receiving the projections of hundreds and hundreds, most of whom largely misread her humanity, mistaking her most unfairly for a demi-goddess. I hold her utter humanity as a person and a sensitive artist to heart and cry.

And for all that lovably warped humanity, here am I as well, shambling along, telling my tales. Forthwith, here is another worth repeating:

Read More >

Share this:

The Apron


My first clay studio apron is done for. Look at that threadbare hole with the wood floor peeking through right in the Solar Plexus Chakra!

For that matter, look at the stained and faded rest of it. It used to be as blue as the bottom hem. Looks aren’t all that crucial to me – it’s an apron, after all, and I am more into how it functions – but it cannot do its job now either, and that’s the truth brought home after its last washing. So, I am retiring it to Ragsville, which is actually Fine and Fitting.

In the beginning of my clay work, I did not wear an apron. Too busy. Too cool. When my All-in enthusiasm wrecked a few favorite shirts (Iron oxide wash, I’m lookin’ at YOU!) I found something to strap on in defense: this denim delight. I wore it constantly in the Cabrillo College clay lab for nearly a decade and, like my high school gym clothes, I took it home every weekend to wash.

The demise of this apron got me to examining the other aprons hanging on the back of my studio door. Looks like I will be wearing them more often. And all of them have a story nearly as rich as the one I am letting go of. Here are just a few:Read More >

Share this:

Crouching Teacher, Hidden Student: Crafting an Excellent Clay Handbuilding Class

Step right up and lookee here: I said YES when the enthusiastic folks at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center asked me if I would  be so kind –  and organized! –  as to offer a structured series of Beginning Handbuilding classes. That was a few months ago and now, here they come in just a few weeks. I better get this figured out.

I got thrown into the briarpatch at the outset, because in order to write not one course description but three of them  – Short, Long and For the Press – I needed to have my raw concepts of what these classes would be about aligned with my personal take on the ginormous field of ceramics. Nothing like starting right in.

Just what do Adult Beginners or Re-Newers want? Or need? What do I have to offer them? Could I parse this out and still keep it meaningful, soulful and artistic, for us both?

How much does my editing, formatting and delivery of this wide-ranging subject affect outcomes? I concluded it was puh-lenty and I would do well to start back at my own beginning, boil it down to the bare-boned basics and embellish prettily from there.

So what you see to the left is my long-time method of distilling knowledge: get a side table, dedicate it to the topic at hand, and proceed over the ensuing unfocused weeks to pile it high with everything which might be valuable to that cause. (It’s also how I wrote my college term papers, so I guess there’s a workable precedent in force.)

Supposedly Right-Brained Creatives respond better to horizontal, visual, tactile piled-up available information – as opposed to vertical files behind cabinet drawer-fronts –  and I agree: when I have a thought, a pertinent quote, a book, an article, a snippet of anything I suspect might be useful, I just throw it here, feeling rich and capable.

In good time, I will comb through the cornucopia and discover the inherent order there. Yes, I have a goal in mind, but the only way I realize it is to plow through and let it grab me. Inevitably the outcome is so much richer and denser than what I thought I was creating.

These stacks are certain to contain my decade-plus collection of notes and handouts from my stable of teachers too. Some of them have had genius ways of simplifying and Explaining It All….or genius techniques, genius timetables, and genius projects which I can freely channel, if not outright copy. I bow to those who gave this kind of effort before me, and I reap the harvest of their cultivation. Nobody comes out of nowhere.

And that’s really all there is to it. I’m no expert. I’m just someone who’s studied how to share and how to be a guide and to deliver substance. I’ve got some ideas on what sorts of things are good to know in the beginning and what sorts of things might logically follow.  I have theories on how to engage learners and how to aid them in discovering their own realizations and about how to foster the creative process as it relates to clay. Beyond that, what happens is what happens and I mean to stay awake to it. I’m a Hidden Student inside a Crouching Teacher.

Class Nuts and Bolts: It meets 6 Thursdays, 2-5pm, Session I: Feb 23 to March 29, Session II: April 12 – May 17 held at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center, 9341 Mill Street, Ben Lomond, CA,  831-3364ART.

If you’re so inclined, you can call or register online at www.MountainArtCenter.org. Class is $180 for Members/$200 Non-Members.

Next Time: A discussion of the super slo mo similarities between an illustrated ceramic process and cooking shows.

Share this: