You Go Back In The Studio and Apologize to That Clay!

Handle ceramic drum
Ceramic Drum with One Piece Handle


First off, a hearty welcome to new readers of the Studio Journal who joined us last weekend at my Open Studio. That annual crush of enthusiasts always gives me a chance to tell old stories related to how I came to make the stuff I do. Here’s one I’d forgotten and I thought to repeat it here because it contains one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received.

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Book Review and Double Giveaway Drawing: A First Time for Everything


This post – my first official book review and giveaway –  is both an indirect and direct result of the book pictured above: Inner Hero Creative Art Journal: Mixed Media Messages to Silence Your Inner Critic, the second book by certified creativity coach Quinn McDonald.

I’ll break it down:Read More >

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Versatility Plus Meaning: Fifteen Blogs

Sometimes I think that blogging is over-rated, or even should be dead. It’s had its Fifteen Minutes of Fame and should know when to leave the stage to allow us to enjoy some fresher and more engaging interchange. I feel this about writing mine because at times I just don’t want to talk and I especially don’t want to write about what I don’t want to talk about, so I don’t.  What is all this thrashing around with words? What did I enjoy before blog-keeping?

I often strongly feel this ache for the metamorphosis of bloggery  when skimming the relentless bleats of others out there yammering into the blogosphere. They drown each other out with thin opinions, baldfaced marketing (OK, SELLING IT) and yawnable or precious writing. They don’t need to exit the stage, they need to take a flying leap into the mosh pit.

Pretty jaded of me, right? And yes, I know to click away and mostly do. Except…..Except……

Except, there are naturellement blogs I find enthralling, unreal, hilarious, titillating, challenging, informative, irresistible. And, regardless of topic and writing style,  it’s always because it’s the person coming through the screen to evoke my response and connection.

So when one of the first bloggers that I felt that idiosyncratic electricity of recognition with, Quinn McDonald of Quinn Creative, nominated me recently for The Versatile Blogger Award, all blog-related misgivings were washed away. This bloody bloggy biz is bigger in better ways than I thought because Quinn just whisked off my blindfold. (She’s a versatile and skilled blindfold-remover, so I feel safe.)

Here’s how The Versatile Blogger Award works: If you’re nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award. (My first blogging nod and thanks, Quinn!)

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  • Finally, list  7 things about yourself.

Here’s my list of 15 nominees/winners. Go visit each one and see if the writer/person comes through to your heart too. Some of them I know personally, most I don’t and they generally don’t know I follow them. Some post quite often (even daily)  and others leave me aching for another entry for months and months. They range from fellow ceramic artists, to experts/coaches,  to food and lifestyle advocates. I appreciate their being here, just for me.

  1. Archevore by Kurt Harris MD. I’ve just found this one and I’m magnetized by the thoughtful articulate intelligence.
  2. Cleavage: sex, money and meaning by Kelly Diels. Dark humor and dangerously sharp wisdom. Yow.
  3. Discardia: Make Room for Awesomeness by Dinah Sanders. Creator of a new holiday of awesomeness connecting up several of my favorite life arenas.
  4. Gringado by Susan Dorf and Mark Taylor. Two friends who travel to Mexico for months every winter. They are keen observers of lush and not-so life.
  5. Kelly Thiel Studio by Kelly Thiel. Deepest respect for this woman’s artwork and life balancing. She’s charming, too.
  6. Nom Nom Paleo by Big O’s and Little O’s Mom. One b-u-s-y person with time to tell us what she cooks and eats.
  7. Patricia Scarborough Art by Patricia Scarborough. This is full of wry light and air along with gorgeous painting.
  8. Penelope Trunk by Penelope Trunk. Oh, Penelope… I can’t NOT watch you live your life and tell us about it.
  9. Polka Dot Clay Studio by Karen Hansen. So here’s the newer voice of a clay friend and I’ll never be able to guess what she’ll say next. Never. And I love that.
  10. Sequoia Miller’s Blog: ever wonder ’bout pottery? by Sequoia Miller.  I could use more of his quiet deep discussions. Love his pottery
  11. A Spinner Weaver by Annie MacHale.  Here’s an unusual kind of weaving with a prolific,  passionate advocate.
  12. Terry Parker: Pottery Shards by Terry Parker. Another potter friend who’s been busy in her new studio.
  13. This Artist’s Life: Day to Day in the Clay Studio by Whitney Smith. She’s boldly honest with her successes, challenges and musings. And she can write strongly enough to bring us all along.
  14. The Work of Art: Musings on What it Takes to Make Art Happen by Michelle Williams. A new one by the Executive Director of the local Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County. Big ideas.
  15. The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. A blog which challenges me to re-think everything I touch and make.


Seven Things About Me…and I’ll stick to the art.

  1. I remember the Class Artist in 2nd grade showing me how to draw a finger and its nail from a side view. Mind blowing stuff.
  2. Almost took Art in high school, but the Speech and Debate coach persuaded me to drop it and take his class, for all four years. (Detour #1)
  3. My first drawing class was Spring Quarter of my Sophomore year in college. I took every Art elective I could after that, but was too scared to change my major. (Detour #2)
  4. I was an artist’s model for about four years right after college (one way to get free instruction, really.)
  5. Had emergency appendectomy. Got corporate job. Years passed. (Detour #3)  Then: Broke my back. Quit corporate job. Began art-making fulltime. Got into first gallery.  All within the same six months.
  6. Moved to the Sierra Foothills for a decade. Explored poetry and community theatre. Oh, and had my sweet babies. (Detour #4)
  7. Rounded up 30 years of art classes into an AA, finding clay along the way. Ah.


~Liz Crain is totally copying her creativity buddy, Quinn, by finding something personal to say at the end of her posts that she intends to be an insightful, touching and witty coda. Love you, Quinn!



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Quinn’s Traveling Journals Project

Those two (formerly) blank journal pages up there were mine to do anything with: write, draw, apply thin collages… whatever called me. I had a deadline I wanted to honor before mailing it back to Quinn McDonald in the padded envelope provided, but that was it. I took my sweet time and for once was blessedly serene. No Blank Page Problem here! I was in the tree-stand waiting to trap some lovely creative prey. I was drowsing at the Old Fishing Hole, knowing I would lightly spring into action when I felt the niggling idea on the line. I’d say it was deliciously downright recreational and a grand way to allow art in.

Since this was the Unthemed Journal #3568 from the Traveling Journals Project, the only thing I felt vital to the effort was my well-considered and deep authenticity. Oh, and don’t fuss. Yeah, yeah: go deep in the most spontaneous way possible! The more this thought grew, the more it seemed the pages needed to be about a moment, and not much more. I wanted an enso, a Japanese brush circle. That much was settled.

Here came the technical, logistical, physical, spatial, practical, formal, artful problems shuffling in their predictable queue right behind that enso-shaped wish. I kept on waiting. I invited them to my campfire, my drum circle, my tea room. We got along great. They left, tipsy and sated, their ears ringing a bit and I received turquoise and amber, opals and jade!

They (by now very old friends) suggested that to make an enso in an unthemed traveling journal I use: high contrast, blankish simplicity, pen stippling, my own handwriting, label machine printing, red, humor, and a tiny surprise, but not to plan it in the slightest, just begin. The real-time making was over in, say, 27 minutes. Sweet.

May I recommend you give yourself a similar creative gift? Sign up for one of the Traveling Journals: Unthemed, Travel, Dreams, and/or, if you’re near Quinn, Summer in Phoenix. You’ll see how by clicking on that link in the second paragraph up there. You also can see all the other pages completed so far. Quinn is definitely in my emerging online family, and I told her I loved doing this so much, to please put me on the lists for Travel and Dreams. Maybe I will see you there.

And, thanks, Quinn, for letting me use the photo you took, since I forgot to!

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