• The After Effects

    On: April 12, 2018
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 68
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    Messy Studio

    Studio “Before” March, 2018

     

    It’s been a jam-packed past year but the greatest push of it culminated throughout the past month. I find myself now in the rain shadow of a solo show, which dovetailed with a massive studio purge and re-org, and followed by a chaser of insights into my creative process.  A Holy Trinity of tensions and releases, really. Then there are the After Effects from all of it. I can name three.

    After Effects of the  Solo Exhibit — I created the works for my solo show over nine months’ time. The parts, pieces and possibilities took over my creative space and nearly all my thoughts. It was great fun, actually, to be so willingly swept away. At showtime, however, all those projects left together and the tidal surge of purposeful focus and activity ebbed away, leaving me beached and a bit bereft. Fortunately I have come to expect this and was already looking beyond it by planning the Next Things. That sort of segue really really helps. What caught me by surprise was that my tiny studio was clearly wrecked, as you can see above. (The rest of the space was woefully worse and I could only walk in about 18 inches.) As I half-heartedly began to tidy my way in, it felt daunting: the normal touches of post-exhibit funk combined with literal blockage, not enough space to sort it out and no sane or happy way to begin even one of the projects I had on the clipboard. One cannot organize clutter, but one can purge. So I purged.

    After Effects of the Purge — The purge became a total remodel: new huge storage shelves, new task lighting, new configuration of workspaces. It is still in the fine-tuning stage as I write, but enough radical rearrangement has occurred that I can no longer find things automatically, even if nothing is in my way. It’s created an odd Not-My-Life sensation. I bump into the edges of the new configuration, walk to the “old” spot to set something down, and feel like a visitor in my own place. As a kid I used to get all happy deep-cleaning my room (I know, that’s weird…) but then I would sit in it feeling strangely empty, utterly afraid to mess it up again. It’s sort of like that now in the studio and I relate it to the very real fear of a blank canvas. I gingerly started and stopped several new projects, making sure to stow them neatly on my designated Works-in-Progress shelves. But that feeling of needing things to stay unsullied is death to creativity, at least mine, so I spent some time wondering why and how I needed to be creative at this new juncture and had some freeing insights.

    After Effects of the Insights I’ll spare you the wonderings and just cut to the epiphany and what it might mean. All this time (decades) I have thought that the art objects that I made, and especially what of them I shared with the world, were the point of my carefully coddled creative process, the crux of the biscuit, as it were. That a favorable reception of the beautiful things themselves – by me or anyone – was the goal.  It’s not.

    I realized that the physical objects I make are merely the by-products – sometimes even detritus – of the process itself. Their existence, aesthetics, esteem, and economics are diversions. The classes, art biz books and websites, coaches and gurus, mentors and clay buddies, ceramic sales, festivals, exhibits, competitions and online events are busywork. My carefully defined core values, product families, price points, merchandising methods, and selling style are gimcrackery. The countless artist statements, social media posts and magnificent manifestos? Fluff. I’ve suffered failures, imagined slights, had inappropriate envy, false hope and creative exhaustion, thinking it was all necessary to the cause. Guess what? It’s not.

    When these realizations sunk in so deeply that I felt the truth of them in my bones, in my interstitium, in my vagus nerve, I laughed out loud. For me, in this lifetime, Process is the Product! Any residuals are delicious gravy. The core reason I create is to give myself something I want to look at, marvel over, and fall in love with. Nothing more is really needed.

    –Liz Crain, who of course reserves the right to carry on with the whole biscuit, apostrophes and all.

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  • With A Lotta Help From My Friends

    On: March 8, 2018
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 349
     2
    Games People Play Ceramic Exhibit

     

    This is my Oscar Acceptance Speech. Or maybe it’s my Jimmy Fallon-style Thank You Notes, and I promise to keep it short and heartfelt. But guys, just look at that shot of a portion of my Games People Play Solo Show! To make such a sustained effort in the studio and to see it showcased so nicely gives me a thrill over and over. It’ll be great to move on to whatever’s next, but first, a moment please, to acknowledge the crap ton (a technical term) of help from my friends that I had in bringing it to this point. It would have been insanely harder, if not impossible, without them. In no particular order, other than what my perforated remembrance affords, they are:

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  • Games People Play: Glyph Con and Packrat

    On: February 28, 2018
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 204
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    Two Ceramic Games

    Rear: “Glyph Con,” Ceramic and Metal, 2018 and Front: “Packrat,” Ceramic and Glass, 2018

     

    I finished in time! Here are the final two of the seven ceramic games I will have in my March, 2018 solo show at Roscoe Ceramic Gallery in Oakland, CA. One is a 3D version of Concentration, the other is a fun ceramic faux log form for Mancala. Let’s check them out.

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  • Games People Play: Toss It Off and Gear Train

    On: February 22, 2018
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 431
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    Two Ceramic Games_Toss It Off and Gear Train

    Rear: “Gear Train,” Ceramic, Found Objects, 2017                 Front: “Toss It Off,” Ceramic, Wood, Rubber, 2018

     

    Here are two more of the seven sculptural ceramic games going into my upcoming solo show. For a fun contrast to the others, they come up off the flat playing surface, create fusions of well-known games and open the mind to further possibilities. “Toss It Off” is a combination of Ring Toss and Beer Pong, while “Gear Train” is a steampunky variation of “Connect4” and similar. Let’s see how they work.

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  • Games People Play: Gummo

    On: February 15, 2018
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 295
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    Ceramc Gum Playing Pieces, found Object checkerboard

    “Gummo”  Clay, Found Object, Magnets, Foil, 2017

     

    We’re continuing our explorations of the artworks that will comprise my upcoming solo show, “Games People Play,”  with this take on the venerable boardgame family internationally known as Draughts. (That’s Checkers to Americans.) In this version, which I titled Gummo, the ceramic playing pieces are fashioned to resemble used chewing gum and, just like gum, they can cling to the underside of the checkerboard when not in play. Whaaaaat? How? Why?

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  • Games People Play: Color Theory

    On: February 7, 2018
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 379
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    Ceramic Board Game Color Theory

    “Color Theory” Ceramic, Sand and Found Object, 2018

     

     

     

    Here’s the second installment exploring the series of ceramic works I have created in the past nine months: sculptural but playable games. Let’s take a closer look at “Color Theory” which challenges players to move across an 8-colored grid based on what color their opponent just landed on.

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  • Moving Fast, So Don’t Blink

    On: October 12, 2017
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 359
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    OPen Studio 2017 Blurred View

    A quick glimpse at my 2017 Open Studio Gallery

     I am in my final approach to my first Open Studio in two years and moving like a dervish. Like childbirth, I guess, one mercifully forgets the gory details, remembering only the love. The task this year was to trim the whole affair and still retain excellence. I think I did that. I think that stripping it down led to solutions to recurring problems such as flow, display, and labeling and here are some that took it to new levels:

    • Adding the Open Studio 2017 section in my website’s SHOP creates a whole new staging arena. It extends the weekend in-person tour mightily, with new work being added all month. Samples of everything are there, except for sculptures and sale stuff. I had a lovely first sale and a couple of inquiries. After the live weekend, I will add even the Sculpture and Studio Sale items – if there are any left.
    • Two years away let me go deep into new creative territories and find the heart of what I’m about now.  While I have plenty of vintage trompe l’oeil cans remaining, fully 70% of my work is new to my Open Studio gallery. It’s delicious to present it in such fullness and fun to find out how each new series looks best. I have lots of wallpieces, too, which is brand new territory, needing a fresh approach to my display spaces.
    • The Studio Sale table is a deep dive into the archives this year. I even got stuff from the attic I forgot I had. Not only are things wildly varied and priced to move, I am continuing something I started two years ago: Anyone still in high school (18 and under…) can choose one item from the Sale Table and get 50% off. It is heartwarming to foster new art collectors by moving into their realistic budget range.
    • In the end, I see that going simpler is essentially good editing: the story gets told with more verve and sparkle and we all benefit from it.
    Snaek peek of Open Studio 2017

    A Sneak Peek at New Works for Open Studio 2017. Don’t Blink!

     

    –Liz Crain, who invites you to visit her this weekend if you’re in the area (details below) or move over to the SHOP to enjoy a bit of the new works.

    OPEN STUDIOS 2017 brought to you by the wonderful Arts Council Santa Cruz County. My Capitola Studio is open one weekend only: Saturday and Sunday, October 14-15 from 11-5, Artist #234 in the free printed Guide or in the free App by artscouncilsc.org. My studio is also available for private appointments, so contact me directly for that, but it’s always lovely to visit when things are all cleaned up. Gotta go back to work now, being on deadline and all.  Hope to see you here or there.

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