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In my neighborhood, there’s a house where the Disney princesses live. Not figuratively speaking. I’ve seen them. I saw Princess Aurora in the front yard (full disclosure: had to Google. not really up on my princesses. as if…) Cinderella was seen driving an SUV (full of all things princess-y, no doubt) And then, I witnessed Belle and Elsa walking into the house. A house in my neighborhood.

My first thought was, how disappointing to learn that the princesses don’t live at The Happiest Place on Earth! Nope. They live a a stucco tract home in Gilbert, Arizona. That rubs a whole lot of the magic away (the SUV was a real kick in the teeth)

Seems this princess fairy tale is more fable than previously considered. That pinkish frame and stucco, 4 bedroom, 2 and a half bath is quite a step back from the castle scenario with stables, servants and a Prince Charming to boot. Disappointing.

It’s like the deflating excitement you feel when opening the kiln and not seeing what you intended. Instead of the energy you were going for, there’s an ugly step-sister. Disappointing.

True to first impressions, you might need more time. Another introduction. Consider that your intent might have been closer to fairy tale than reality in terms of ability and execution (and then there’s the whole ‘set it on fire’ thing) With time, one might begin to see the ugly step sister more as a quiet wallflower (perspective) Quiet is it’s own dynamic. It’s rather exciting.

After several weeks of princess spotting, I’m struck by how cool it would be to be of influential-princess-age and discover a house full of Disney princesses. The house down the street! The fairy tale becomes your street, your neighborhood. The Magic Kingdom includes a 2,125 square foot tract home with a 3 car garage in Gilbert, Arizona. Exciting!

Don’t miss this!

Five15 to the Power of 5

July 7 – August 18, 2017

five15arts.com

Phoenix Center for the Arts
1202 N. 3rd St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

 

Upcoming: Mark your calendars!

The 3rd Occasional Cup and Mug Sale

October 20 & 21, 2017

This year our sale benefits Pursue Life Ministry – a ministry of Arizona Baptist  Children’s Services.

Learn more: abcs.org 

 



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say something

Failure’s such a creative gift. When the ability to fail is taken away, it fuels a lot of fear.

~Matt Bronleewe, Jars of Clay

 

If you hop into the carpool lane traveling west on U.S. 60, it’ll plop you smack into Central Phoenix. That’s 25 miles of freeway driving without the need to merge into the suicide mission we refer to as traffic around these parts. Glorious!

However, there’s this narrow overpass bounded by guidance pylons just before the transition onto Interstate 10 West (guidance is such a congenial word. it’s a trap!)

Suddenly, you have The Fast and The Furious! Pylons to your right; embellished with vestigial paint and a smattering of headlight plastic within the gore point. On the left, concrete barriers with layers of cursive tire scuffs. If you’re claustrophobic, it’s certainly tight. And, if this isn’t the lane you really wanted to be in…too late. Even if you are in the correct lane, the visual history of panic coupled with speed is a little scary. It’s pretty messy in there.

~ Vin Diesel (source: screenrant.com, Universal Studios)

That overpass reminds me of the process of creating art. It’s pretty messy in there (truth: it parallels so much of life – pick an allegory)

Lately, I’ve read several articles that speak to what the authors believe art really is (Joe Q. Public has been asking that question for a long time – there’s a whole other conversation) Each writer concludes that the process of creating is the art. They state that there is a beauty in the process of creating which then constituted the creation as art.

Um…no. I disagree. These are the muddy waters that wash over the claim that a thing is art simply because I made it (those are participation awards, folks)

Art happens in the communication. There is a certain struggle – as there is in any attempt to communicate our passions. No one invites failures but, they happen. It’s messy. The beauty is on the other end of the struggle; after the panic and pylon slalom, after the white-knuckle turns and skid marks when you’ve traveled oh-so-many miles without compromising your work.

In the end, I just want to communicate well. There’s the art. Glorious!

go see art!

The Evidence of Hope

~an exhibition of ceramic drawings by Beth Shook~

~detail: The Evidence of Hope 13/33

That sparrows continue to sing despite the brokenness of man is a testament to hope.

The Evidence of Hope is a field painting made up of 33 individual compositions; a flock of sparrows on a field of lilies (see what I did there) with a few outlying observers.

June 1-30, 2017

Practical Art
5070 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

 



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A few weeks ago I had the privilege to speak to a group of students from the University of the West Indies and Guyana, Martinique about their ‘big picture’ view; a discussion (I use that word figuratively since they spoke mostly French and my Spanglish was of little use) that really had much to do with God’s plan and purpose in their lives. Therein lies the big picture.

We began with a big question (or three).

What are you going to accomplish with your life?

then we broke it down a bit,
What is your five year plan?

A five year plan. Not a bad thing to have. In fact, beneficial…unless. No, until the plan becomes an obstacle to the big picture.

Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Bill.
Bill attended the University of Texas at El Paso when I was an undergraduate student there. He was an intellectual sort, a man of faith with a humble approach to every day. Bill was four or five years older than our motley crew that spent precious hours avoiding whatever we could around the dinner table each evening. He was a graduate student in geology (yes, I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from a top ranked mining school)

We always knew when Bill was on our floor (he was dating the RA) as he would announce, ‘man on the floor’ when coming through the door and then whistle a tune with incredible perfection as he walked through the hall (we owe a debt of gratitude to Bill for his chivalrous behavior; saving more than one of us from a ‘most embarrassing moment’ story when a risky dash down the hall from the shower to our room was averted by a show tune whistling through the air)

Bill was never without a book or two and a stack of papers. Always researching. When I enrolled my first semester, Bill was already there. When I graduated four and a half years later, I left him behind. I remember him applying for an extension at one point. Not because he needed more research time, he just didn’t know what he wanted to do when he finished. Bill’s plan was to study. He hadn’t given much thought to anything beyond school. His plan (at the time*) was an obstacle to the big picture. It happens a lot, getting caught up in the study – the process of studying to the neglect of application; the purpose (ceramic people – glaze freaks in particular, might recognize themselves…ahem)

In Martinique, my discussion with the students lent caution about getting caught in the five year plan without ever applying what they’ve learned to the big picture. The third question I posed; What are you doing today that points to the big picture?

To illustrate my point to the students, I showed a drawn study on paper for what would eventually be translated to an image on clay. As the image of the paper study and clay drawing were viewed adjacent to each other, they noted (I hear it often), what I refer to as studies are very finished drawings (on very bad paper) I understand. I see what they see. The drawings could easily be seen as an end in themselves.

~study: Why Do You Make So Much of Me?

Except.

Except, I use these drawings to study form, light and dark, textures, and technique. I practice seeing (really seeing) and record detail (stuff I know I’ll never realize on clay) They are only studies. Not my purpose. Not my big picture. The paper drawings are the means by which I learn line, shape, create texture, layer image and process the glaze surface for clay in order to communicate; tell my story. Really, God’s story through me. The big picture.

*My friend did eventually complete his thesis work, then on to receive his PhD.

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Mark your calendars

2017 Ceramic Studio Tour
February 25-26
10am-5pm

My studio is a host site, #12 on the tour this year.
~with:
Sarah Brodie, Sam Hodges, and Genie Swanstrom

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we get stuck

l to r: Sarah Brodie, me, Sam Hodges, Genie Swanstrom photo credit: Lynn Trimble

l to r: Sarah Brodie, me, Sam Hodges, Genie Swanstrom
photo credit: Lynn Trimble

I mustache you?
Did you make it to the tour?

Two weeks ago I participated in the 15th Annual Self-Guided Ceramic Studio Tour (the event title that keeps on giving – it’s quite a mouthful) I can hardly believe it’s been fifteen years since this gig began.

The entirety of this year’s event was a week long with collector’s studio and gallery tours, lectures, the weekend self-guided tour across the valley, and the Ceramarama (talk about a mouthful…) gala and auction. If you missed it, let me suggest penciling in the 2017 tour near the end of next February.

~here’s a little highlight reel:
Artists Open Studios During the 2016 ASU Ceramic Studio Tour.

During the tour, I spoke with a group of attendees about design. Specifically, the process of moving into new territory with your work (we also played a rousing game of Good Pot/Bad Pot…should’a been there) It’s scary to leave the sure-fire-blue-glazed-always-sells-at-the-craft-fair thing. Hear me clear. Walk away!! Do it! The sooner, the better.

l to r: where I went, where I was

l to r: where I went, where I was

As soon as we get comfortable, we get stuck. Stuck is only a challenge if you try to move. So, move.

I’ve found the best way to refocus in a new direction is to begin to ask questions. Then, answer them in your sketchbook. Paper is still cheaper than clay (particularly the 60% post consumer recycled stuff that fills an inexpensive sketchbook) Make every effort to eliminate the crappola through your sketchbook.
Begin to ask:

~detail: new work

~detail: new work

What do I need to eliminate?
What can’t I do without?
How should the surface respond? What part of that can I control?
What’s my palette? Warm, cool, dark, light?
Look at other peoples’ work. What is it that makes the piece appealing (or not)? Can I make that mine?

Then, make it happen. If at this point you believe you’ve arrived at the next great ceramic sensation, you’ll need to adjust your attitude and throw your ego back in the reclaim bucket once you open the kiln (it’s amazing how much ugly escapes the confines of my sketchbook) Now, begin again.

If I’m going to be honest, this process is never ending. I constantly ask myself to move away from what I know in order to approach the possibilities of what might be. Do it! Move!!

related posts: a hard lesson, move on, nothing but possibilities.

sketches in the studio photo credit: Lynn Trimble

sketches in the studio
photo credit: Lynn Trimble


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~detail: Undone In the Pursuit of Wild Hares

~detail: Undone In the Pursuit of Wild Hares

When I was a kid I was a huge fan of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. There’s some pretty sophisticated humor coming from those Fractured Fairy Tales. Between shorts, Bullwinkle would occasionally try to pull a rabbit out of his hat. In every attempt, Bullwinkle fails. He pulls a lion, tiger, rhino, bear and once even Rocky. But, no rabbit. Bullwinkle isn’t prepared to pull a rabbit from his hat because he’s always got the wrong hat (there’s a life lesson there).

~detail: Rabbit Sketch

~detail: Rabbit Sketch

This week, just shy of mid-semester, I introduced my beginning students to the potter’s wheel. They have been chompin’ at the bit to get to throw. But, silly me…I insist they start with hand building. I really think hand building allows for a less intimidating introduction to clay. It’s slow. It provides students the opportunity to pay attention and build a foundation in the clay process. While the wheel tends to mesmerize the students and they abandon the details in their struggle to throttle the spinning clay.

When giving a throwing demo I’ll hear comments about how easy the process looks…it’s like magic. I remind them that I’ve been doing this longer than some of them have been alive (seems every year my students, my doctors and the IT guy at Best Buy get younger, but I never feel a day over 35).

~detail: Rough Draft #17

~detail: Rough Draft #17

Here’s a truth they won’t recognize until they’ve gone through a sufficient struggle, it’s only easy…it only looks like magic because of preparation; having what I need to pull the rabbit out of my hat.

During yesterday’s demo, I explained that they needed to pay attention to the details in the preparation. First, wedge your clay! So many student man-handle their clay; not wedging it properly and actually introducing air into the clay (that’s never helpful). Then, there’s this idea that the centering of the clay isn’t all that big a deal – it’s just a hoop to jump through to get to the real magic of creating a pot. I needed to clear that up!

So then, I gave another demo with the clay ever so slightly off center (the wrong hat). As the process continued, I directed their attention to the increasing asymmetry of the piece as I worked against the out-of-center clay. My years of throwing allowed me to get pretty far in the process. Still, the lack of symmetry predestined the piece to fail…and it failed spectacularly!

Nope. No rabbits. Not one.

Get out and look at art folks!

Draw With Everything
Phoenix Sky Harbor
Terminal 4, Level 3, eight display cases
on exhibit now through February 28, 2016

Exhibiting artists: Beth Shook*, Monica Aissa Martinez, Mark McDowell, Jerry Jacobson, Rebecca Davis, Mary Shindell, and Carolyn Lavendar.

*my work is located at the A Gates (American and US Airways)

Make plans to attend!

Empty Bowls
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Pecos Campus, Student Pavilion

October 20, 2015
10:30am – 6pm

Donations benefit the Chandler Christian Community Center to support their efforts to feed those in the local community who might otherwise go without food.

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