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  • The Nasty Woman Studio Intervention and Rehab Plan

    On: December 13, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 202
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    Studio Intervention Altar

     

    Each year I do a short unstructured ceremony in my studio to review the year and reset my sails for the next year. Most years I assemble the work table altar items with care over the week preceding my session: flowers, candles, music, and aromatics join meaningful pieces, well-considered written summations and questions, paper for note-making. This year was different: I needed to not just record, but to JOLT things, so I began calling the event an Intervention. To support that idea, I roughed out a space in the over-crowded studio for just a scant few basics and went to find the recipe for the Nasty Woman Cocktail, a leftover from a former time of optimism.

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  • I’m Iterating As Fast As I Can

    On: November 30, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 186
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    Spiral of small ceramic tiles in tones of red

     

    Clay work as I experience it is unforgivingly slow-going. Asking clay to do the wrong things at the wrong state of wetness doesn’t yield desired results. Rushing claywares to dry invites problems the whole rest of the way. Bumping a bone dry piece can see it revert to dusty chunks. Not wiping bisqueware off before glazing it is just asking for glaze burbles. We won’t even speak of all the ways an inattentive firing can ruin entire loads of works, regardless of whether they were circumspectly made and decorated or not. I say clay taught me patience. Now I wonder if I learned that lesson a little too well. I’m certain that I make clay work even slower in at least ten ways. Let’s count them out.

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  • Forbidden Ceramics

    On: November 15, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 265
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    ceramic vase with sgraffio

    Dude, how’d ya make that sick bong?

     

    At the turn of the millennium in my Beginning Ceramic Handbuilding Class, I met my first artistic censorship. As it was explained: “This is a College Art Course, not Grade School, a Rec Craft Program or Summer Camp, therefore we will not encourage, fire or grade your ashtrays. Or your pipes and bongs.”  Often those sorts of pieces would mysteriously break or disappear.  I have some observations about that.  After this, you probably will too.

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  • A Smashing Success

    On: October 31, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 245
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    Re-Smashed Leeds Vase wallpiece

    “Re-Smashed Leeds Vase (After ‘Erased de Kooning Drawing’ by Robert Rauschenberg)” Liz Crain 2017

     

    For me the past couple of years have been an exploration of new artistic avenues. I wasn’t particularly stuck (once I figured out I still wanted to work with clay, that is,) I just had no compelling path forward. So while waiting for that path to appear,  I goofed around, tweaking old works and testing all new inklings, until I found myself curious again. Sometimes that re-working involved happy breakage. Here I explore a few rationales for both the rambling and the rupturing.

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

    On: October 18, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 307
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    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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  • Moving Fast, So Don’t Blink

    On: October 12, 2017
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 239
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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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  • Short and Deliciously Sweet

    On: October 5, 2017
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 270
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    Detail of mixed media ceramic sculpture

    Detail of “Mermaid on Ice” a mixed media ceramic sculpture. Liz Crain, 2017

     

    I’ve struggled this week to write a coherent journal post. I think I have five heartily dissatisfying drafts in the queue. It happens. My observations seem both lightweight and heavy-handed.  At least I know not to inflict them on you!

    Instead, you get these random and pure talking points.

    • I’m entering the final week of preparing my studio/gallery for the Art Council’s Open Studios Art Tour 2017. It’s been an extremely challenging year on half a dozen personal (but not creative…) fronts and, a month or so ago, I was ready to bail. Instead, through some fluky coincidences, I got curious about how simple I could make my own Open Studio weekend and still have integrity. All I needed were Excellent New Works, A Stripped-Down Set-up and A Minimalist To-Do List. Check!
    • Working to keep it simpler helped me ease into a clarity I haven’t had in the past. So now, I just do the next thing, no lists in hand, and am not daunted by the whole exquisite endeavor. (“All is well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” to paraphrase both T. S. Eliot and Julian of Norwich, take your pick.)
    • A wonderful new take on what an Open Studio could be arose from my purposeful calmness: a dedicated but temporary “aisle” in my website’s SHOP titled, adroitly enough, Open Studio 2017.  Check it out. It’s intended to provide both a small sample preview and a continuation of my one live weekend for all of this month. It’s got a little bit of everything. (Everything except the mixed-media sculptures and the close-out sale works.)  I offer it as a way for anyone to tour the artifacts of the studio seachange I have undergone in the past couple of years.

    Clay has been healing me all along, through a nearly daily practice, zillions of test tiles, and an inclusion of found objects and mixed media to riff off of.  You’ll see a little of that in the SHOP (look for the crocheted-by-me additions,) but know that much more is coming. It’s just that clay work takes so much friggin’ time! My ideas are constantly outstripping my hands and materials, but that’s good.

    –Liz Crain, who invites you to visit her and her latest work in person on October 14-15 from 11-5 at her Capitola CA studio, but also knows more than a few of you cannot, so hence the genius Open Studio SHOP area, which she will continue to add to (and subtract sold items from) all month long. Best of both worlds, really.

     

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