Rather than fretting over attempts at perfection,
I have become increasingly aware that missteps
can also uncover the unexpected masterpiece.
My little brother got married this year and I met his intended for the first time over her work space in the back room of their house, cluttered with paint, pots and brushes. I didn't want to interrupt her; we had a nice chat and then she got back to work.
LB: I've always had some sort of art going – drawing, jewelry, sewing, quilting…loved all of it, but when I started throwing… (walking by Cal student center art studio so intimidated—one day I just said 'fuck it' I signed up for a bunch of classes using a form of grant from UC for employees, and loved the pottery classes.) I knew instantly (ok, well, maybe in a couple of weeks) that it was what I was supposed to be doing. So many variables, so many possibilities with each piece. The only art I have experienced is where the piece dictates its own future – I sometimes feel more like a code-breaker than an artist.
My partner and I were over there not long after, for some family thing, and he, who is more at home in a cinema than an art museum, was a total goner when he saw the work. "I love the matte finish; I love the feel of it as opposed to thick glaze; I love the delicate and refined shapes and the careful figures painted on them." I got him one for his birthday.
Throwing combines the physical/tactile aspects of working with something in my hands – shaping it and watching the form develop – with the more cerebral aspects of design and balance. Those two things work simultaneously as I'm throwing a piece. I use a mirror to throw, so instead of looking down at my hands, I'm looking straight ahead at the piece in the mirror in front of me. That serves to make the connection between head and hands that I've never experienced with any other art medium. I can forget that they are my hands, and let instinct take over. Then on top of all that are the emotional overtones that inform any artist's work.
I don't know how to hold art in my hands: the closest thing I think was doing Angel Street, going through the piece line by line for the hundredth time and almost free. I could fall backwards into it and it would catch me.
Referring to art in the broader sense, I don't think my work in other mediums were false starts – just preparing the way for what came next. Even before I became proficient at throwing I was interested in the surface decoration – but always as an integral part of the piece. I did some traditional glazing, but was always looking for a way to have more control – to have more say in determining the outcome. I've had a handful of 'ah ha' moments over the past 4 years, but primarily it's just been that solidity of knowing I'm doing – artistically anyway – what I'm supposed to be doing.
In the more direct sense – using the mirror to watch the forms develop – I can see what I'm getting as I do it, and can make adjustments earlier in the process when they will have an actual effect on the piece .
How is it connected to my music? I find myself completely absorbed when I'm throwing or painting – almost inside the piece – similar feeling to something I have experienced while working on a piece of music at the piano. And while I can listen to music while I paint, I find I frequently don't. Silence seems to fit better with the pieces.
I will throw a number of pots, trim them and do all the surface work in preparation of the design and painting. Then the piece will sit on my desk or shelf for a while. Sometimes a week or so, sometimes 6 months. I'll have false starts, but the pieces pretty much dictate what I will paint. I always try to make the pieces look as though they were born with their designs – that it is an integral part of the clay body, and not just something that is resting on the surface.
Art and marketing…How do I reconcile those? I don't, really. It's a constant struggle to be comfortable getting my work out where folks will see it, and putting a value on it that others will pay and that I can be comfortable with. I am acutely aware that my work is not ubiquitous, and it's not functional in the true sense (it's not a bowl that I can microwave peas in.) These are art pieces, and finding the folks that want to invest in art is not the easiest thing in the world to do…
I have no plans to drastically change what I'm doing, but having said that – I'm always trying things, and moving ahead with ideas. I'm working on a treatment of the surface that will be slightly different (the finishing process, not the designs), and am working on larger pieces.