• The Guestbook Problem – Solved!

    On: August 3, 2015
    In: Art Biz, Community, How To's, Studio Journal
    Views: 4026
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    NewMailingList

     

    Actually, Guestbook, is the wrong name for it. To me Guestbook implies a memory book with poignant comments left by a clutch of visitors. Historical. Reception-y. Funereal.

    And, if a simple listing of visitors and their comments is not the main goal, how to make sure the thing does what it’s supposed to do? I think I know!

    (more…)

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  • Being A Social Artist

    On: August 24, 2010
    In: Art Biz, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 756
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    Social Media Marketing for Dummies Book Cover

    Oh, my, such a lot to explore here, but I will try hard to stick to my major idea: For me the idea of being a Social Artist who Markets Her Work means attempting to be a living oxymoron. I just don’t resonate with it.

    Or didn’t. Or I’m a work in progress, learning to live the BOTH/AND instead of the EITHER/OR. Nowadays I find it interesting to ‘put on my Big Girl Panties’ [my new favorite saying from this summer] and get myself out there, even if I concurrently break out in metaphorical hives.

    This unnatural, learned behavior was hatched in October 2008 when I ran across Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Coach site and book, I’d Rather Be In the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.

    Fast forward to the present, having collected Alyson’s wisdom through her book, artbizconnectionsalon, online classes, blog and website, phone sessions and even a couple of live workshops she happened to conduct in Northern CA (lucky me!) I – who couldn’t make an attachment to an e-mail back then – now find myself blogging, chatting, friending, following, tweeting, linking, posting, commenting, messaging, convo-ing, listing and re-listing IN ADDITION to making art and more art, entering exhibits, opening my studio, contacting galleries, joining art associations, attending receptions, and in general authentically livin’ the dream I dreamed my whole adult life. The mysterious other things that artists do out in the Art World have been revealed…they are just not exactly what I thought they would be and I am learning to pick and choose.

    The Isolationist INTJ me still gets plenty of solace and creative communing one-on-one with my Muses, of that I make sure. But I have come of artistic age in a new time when the gallery walls are transparent, the artist’s rep looks a lot like me and I have the virtual means with which to share my artistic entirety – images, words and connections – in a way that strangely suits me.

    There are no longer Gatekeepers: we know our fans and collectors and they know us. We expect it. Though I sit here and you there, you, dear Reader, are a real person! You can talk back to me, you can tell others, and so it goes virally along.

    Being a Social Artist, even one who Markets (read: SHARES, and thanks, Alyson,) isn’t quite the oxymoronic existence I once felt it to be, and even if I have my reluctant moments, I have definitely learned how rewarding it is dive in the pool and play.

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  • "Dear Artist, Congratulations…"

    On: September 13, 2009
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 1338
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    Thus began the letter from the Santa Cruz Art League. It said that my work was accepted into their upcoming Beasts On Broadway, Animals Galore exhibit, which was juried by George Rivera, Executive Director of the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, CA.

    Well, triple yippee to that! This letter is also heaps sweeter in ways beyond its YES! to my art and my efforts to take it into the world for Show and Sell. It says YES! to rats and YES! to pertinacity.

    Here’s one piece that will soon be a Beast on Broadway. It’s titled Ratty Got Her Wings. I made it this past summer while studying at Skyline College in San Bruno, CA with the inspiring and wise Tiffany Schmierer. (I put 2,500 worthwhile miles on my car in order to receive her inspiration, guidance and feedback! I can’t wait to share this good news with her.)

    Rats are one animal that get a bad rap over their historically, and admittedly not undeserved, bad rep. Yet to categorically reject all rats is, well, Rattism. You can find lots of positive action websites dedicated to easing that prejudice. Look, there goes one now.

    My piece is more personal than political, though. Rats, even pet ones, just don’t live very long. Two-three years. This life-size rat sculpture is for all the gentle females that came to be cared for and then leave my sons: Zelda, Kiwi, Latte, GL (short for Greased Lightning,) the One-Who-We-Can’t-Quite-Remember-Her-Name-Right-Now, and dear Moose. They are buried in a group in our redwood grove with a sign, RaT pAcK, posted on a nearby trunk.

    Ratty Got Her Wings is my way of saying a heartfelt thank you to those animals. I’m certain that the intimate knowledge of their bodies and movements allowed me to fold that love into the sculptural form I had in mind. Here are two more detail shots of the piece: Oh my, that dreaded snaky tail and a perky face because a rat knows you,just like a dog does.

    So, what about that acceptance letter’s ratification of pertinacity (a $2 word for doggedness)?

    Like Weight Watchers, I have joined the Santa Cruz Art League at least four times since I moved here in 1989. I’d join for a year, desultorily put something in the everyone’s-included Annual Members’ Exhibit, never quite figure out what else I could do to become involved there, feel awful artistic angst and let the membership lapse. In a common case of sour grapes, I mentally thought of it as The Fart League, which surely is neither clever NOR original. Last year, however, I joined with some goals in mind and I knew that if I did not see them realized, I would understand why, not feel bad and move on to other venues for my work.

    I think that a more professional grade of doggedness led me to both better art and better ways to present it and it is what ultimately got me into the animal show at SCAL. To my way of thinking, it is decidedly all connected

    In one way or another, though, I have been perfecting my art my whole adult life. But I have been effectively perfecting how I package and present that art less than a year. (Read my last post about my business card saga, just to hear one story about this.) One of my undeniable artbiz mentors is Alyson Stanfield. And now, as I wind up an online blogging class with her and Cynthia Morris, I can say a personal but public thank you to them. And to the other students I have struggled alongside, who I have come to know through their questions, humor and writing: Dear Artists, Congratulations!

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  • Requiem for Purple Music

    On: August 28, 2009
    In: Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 711
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    It is with torn-asunder reverence that I am writing this.

    Reverence for creative curiosity and bravery, the unknown and the unmet, and for the crazy wild-hair day that led Karen Koch and me to send each other a piece of our artwork to make into something else by any means we could concoct…in the spirit of Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased DeKooning, which RR considered “poetry.”

    I think we were expecting to make some meaningful poetry as well. And it sounded so madcap adventurous. Dare we? If you want the whole tale, you are invited to read my immediately previous post of two days ago, “Channeling Willem and Karen” which will take you to all the other links, hers and mine, you might want to follow. (I’m too drained to do all that explanatory reference writing and linking again.)

    But, if you’re starting in on the story of this Art Swap right here, you most likely don’t need to do that, because **!SPOILER ALERT!** this is The End.

    And the end is bittersweet and leaves me caught up, thoughtful and seeking solace.

    The photos show how I destroyed Karen’s creation. I’m not sure I need to describe the steps in much detail, just know that the inside of the lid is inscribed: “Bubble Soap Reliquary for Purple Music.”

    All along I have been making a funerary urn. All along, as some may have conjectured, I intended to burn Purple Music in my kiln. All along I wanted to capture its decorative essence on the clay’s surface and send the original up in smoke to Cone 04, or about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

    I am amazed at that big ol’ piece of ash left because it means there is an actual relic in the Reliquary. I crack a tiny wry grin over that.

    The heroine in the novel Norma Jean the Termite Queen by Sheila Ballantyne saves her 1970s married-with-three-children sanity by turning to ceramics, in particular Egyptian-style canopic jars. Now, I must have read this book 6-7 times, twice a decade, since I first discovered it. I quote it frequently and I have searched out a lot of her references (Verdi’s Requiem, for one.) I am floored to realize I have wound up with a parallel existence to Norma Jean, death and afterlife jars included.

    Why create? Why destroy? What comes to me in this limnal period of Afterwards is to feel: connected, thrilled, daunted, grateful, poetic and broken open with a slight grin.

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  • The Focus Pull

    On: August 19, 2009
    In: Art Biz, How To's, Studio Journal
    Views: 738
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    In the world of filmmaking, when the camera changes focus during a single shot, (say from Mrs. Robinson’s half-stockinged leg to Benjamin in the background, conflicted and staring) it directs the viewer’s attention in a powerful narrative manner. I want to borrow this focus pull concept and play with it a little in the realm of this blog. Let me steer our collective attention beyond the deliciousness of thinking, making, showing and blathering about ceramics and creative process for just a bit.

    You see, I went and signed up for another of Alyson Stanfield’s oh-so-valuable online classes: Blog Triage, and it started today. This class is different for at least two reasons right from the start: One is Cynthia Morris, the co-instructor, who adds another mindful mother lode of experience to the work at hand, and Two is the fact that the class assignments will, like as not, play out here with all of you, dear readers, and not just in my private office or studio.

    Case in point: the first assignment asks for me to essentially pull focus and blog about what I expect to get from blogging and just who I would like to be reading my posts. This request creates a heady funhouse mirror effect on me, but I know the point of looking at things from other perspectives is to be more than self-referencing, that the meta-awareness generated is gold for the narrative comprehension.

    I have read and followed some blogs for years…I just did not know they were blogs! I guess I thought they were highly entertaining, active and personal websites, which, after a fashion, they were. As a blog consumer, I enjoy warmth, humor, community and an artful turn of phrase, even profundity, in the writing. I usually want to think or learn something too. I want to connect and feel moved, to sense the passion and pulse of that living human on the other end. Even if I never comment! Please don’t ask me to separate the trivia from the minutiae: if I read about your capricious kid, your trip Down Mexico Way or your braided body hair, I want to be invited along with you and not merely asked to stand and admire! P.S. You are allowed, nay, encouraged in, your detailed techie-nerdy passions, though. Su embebecimiento es mi embebecimiento.

    Now that I have a blog of my own, I’m expecting myself to generate at least the level of excellence I find engaging as a blog-sumer. I need to keep me entertained! It is harder than I thought, too, but not because I bore easily. I figured my understanding and meaning-making would come in the doing, and it has.

    Here’s what I like so far about SoulCeramics:
    ~I am gaining a much clearer and confident artistic voice! I prefer to play with words and ideas, layering many concepts and kinda quirky references into my writing, and, funny thing, I like doing that with my art too. Neat!
    ~Love, LOVE, LOVE being able to make hyperlinks to some of my obscure observations…..it fosters greater understanding all round. (Thanks to my phenom-son Roger!)
    ~I am forging a powerful community of readers and commenters who tell me in many specific ways how they enjoy and benefit from my musings. I am meeting like-minded folks, not all artists, a lot of them bloggers about hiking or beer brewing or Silicon Valley in the Early Days.
    ~I am proud to invite others to my blog…and I had not thought that was the case until today.

    But, who do I want to attract here? Can I even describe this micro-demographic? Starters are starters, so here is a first, impromptu attempt:
    ~Family, friends, colleagues….everyone I already know.
    ~Ceramic artists, heck, all artists, really. I love cross-pollination.
    ~Thinkers and readers.
    ~Lurkers and Laughers (having been one at times.)
    ~Pranksters and Cosmic Thieves (put these in to wake you up….if you’re still reading… I know this is a long post….)
    ~Folks who can give me good support and professional connections, whoever and wherever they are now.

    So, some things once seen cannot be unseen, and pulling focus has revealed a plot twist. Blogging about blogging has changed my blogging. Good for us!

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  • Artist’s Statement

    On: March 12, 2009
    In: Art Biz, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 833
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    I am in the throes of forging a new, for-the-time-being manifesto, commonly known as my Artist Statement. What defining words are possibly the truest and most adequate for telling anyone about my current art and my process?

    The latest version literally has more questions than statements. I have asked several diverse, sensitive and dedicated groups for feedback. I am grateful for what they have responded with:

    1. Could be shorter. Hmm, a lot shorter in the main section, really.
    2. Not so many questions!
    3. Love, love, love the concluding paragraph! (Paranoid me wonders if that is because it is finally over.)
    4. You sure can write some heady stuff!!!!

    This is great to know. I can do this. Better to shorten than to fluff and all that. Do the words sparkle? Are the concepts true? YES!!!! I just need to wrangle them into a smaller, terser corral. Practically done.

    What’s left is the greater question of what the hell is an Artist’s Statement? It can be nearly anything. There are guides out there to help us write them: Alyson Stanfield and Ariane Goodwin, to name some VERY helpful contemporaries. Even with rules and suggestions, they don’t whisper a word about it being easy.

    Harder still is to come to terms with why do we write Artist’s Statements? Just because that is what’s done? To springboard off of Elizabeth Gilbert from her recent profoundly wonderful TED.com talk on genius, (http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html): You don’t see Chemical Engineers struggling over their Engineer Statements! Why is that?

    A slight glimmer of why Artists write Statements: provided they are well written and ring true, their friends, collectors, interpreters, the general public and me often find them just as fascinating as the work itself. It Explains A Lot. I know I have been able to go much deeper into many an artist’s exhibit with a good written revelation of both thought and process.

    Work that usually springs from that wordless place in the brain gets better in valuable ways when it circles all the way to the forebrain and back. So, short answer: We write so others can more fully understand us…but in doing that writing we can more fully understand ourselves!

    So struggle away. Write your truth with vigor and honesty, knowing that we all benefit from it in ways beyond and in addition to the words, words, words, words.

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