Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to School

This week was back to school week for me, which is why my posting has been a bit thin. I'm taking another ceramics class, plus a class on alternative firing techniques. I was getting to know my teacher a bit and had asked her opinion about how to get a little more color in my Raku firings, and showed her some of the work I'd been doing since I had brought my laptop with me. She commented that my work was more "crafty" than anything else, and asked if I'd had any art history classes. I told her no, and she says, "Well, you need to."

Now, while she went on to explain that taking art history makes a huge difference in an artist's work and had really made a big difference in hers, I couldn't help but wish she had just a tad more diplomacy. I'll have to remember this experience when I start teaching again in a few weeks. I guess it's the way she said "crafty," as if it were synonymous with the bubonic plague that ruffled my feathers a bit. Mind you, I know it's true; I don't have illusions of being the second coming of Michelangelo by any means. It just came to my ears as being a little harsh.

In any case, I'm looking forward to the class as I know she'll be pushing me, hard, to the next level. I need the challenge so I can improve what I'm doing. Mr. ShellHawk reminds me that I've only been doing this a little over a year, and not be too hard on myself, but I'm impatient to be a more competent artist, like, yesterday.

Also in Nest News this week, I come to find out that no one has heard from the event coordinator for the Folsom Fine Arts and Gourd Festival, which is the show I've been prepping for. I am crossing my fingers that the guy has not disappeared to Belize with our meager entry fees.

Meanwhile, Saturday I headed out to the first girls night out in forever. One of my buds put together an evening for twenty-two of us, complete with limousine so we didn't have to worry about either finding parking or drinking. That's me in the pink day of the dead dress, and I finally got to wear my Iron Fist shoes I won from Skull-a-Day!
Our driver was fabulous (he loved my shoes!), and it helped that he looked a lot like Russell Crowe. We went to see "Menopause, the Musical," and none of us could stop laughing. What a fun show!

Well, that's it for now, kids. I gotta get back out in the garage and play with clay some more!


  1. I happen to LIKE your artworks, they invoke a sense of sentimentality and nostalgia. Not everyone likes post modern neo dadaism!

    Yes, art history does give you a different depth and perspective to draw upon and I too would encourage you to consider looking into taking an overview course (besides, they're usually pretty interesting and I always got immersed in mine).

    And maybe you can suggest a nice Emily Post course SHE can take!

    That's what she said!

  2. I have more than once run into the people (with my car) who think fine art is in a catagory much higher than arts and craft. Anything that enriches our lives and makes our souls smile is art. Use them in anyway you need to perfect your craft and ignore the attitude. Of course you could always challenge her to explain the "crafty" comment. I hope you have lots of fun.

  3. I recall speaking to a sketch artist many years ago -- you know, the ones with those little push carts blocking the aisles in the mall -- since I had designs on going to art school out of high school and wanted to pick his brain for some tips.

    He asked me to sketch out some quick portraits and after taking pencil to paper he grabbed the pad, looked at it, and said, "You don't know what you're doing!" As he was Japanese I took it as a slight unfamiliarity with the language, but it was a bit crushing for a high school kid nonetheless.

    As Mr. Macabre said, I like your work. Art history was always my favorite course in art school but I think it also helped fuel my preference for Rubenesque women! ;>


  4. I've been making various facial expressions as I read this post, trying to think of my opinion on the matter.

    It's a given the woman has no tact.

    Second, the craft vs art debate is lame and outdated, so I won't even bother to comment on that.

    But let's take a look at the importance of an art history course when it comes to you.

    The point of an art history course (at least in my experience) is to

    a) be exposed to all kinds of art you may never have encountered otherwise

    b)look at the evolution of art in different regions and periods and understand how we got from point a to point b to point c, and what influenced it

    c)understand what can make a piece "successful" or "powerful" over the ages

    d)Sometimes listen to long winded opinions from windbags who are really self-important art snobs who use academic analysis to act superior.

    If you were working solely in canvas or sketch or figures, a general art history course is something - if you were looking for inspiration as an artist or to broaden your knowledge - you certainly should look into. I know I learned a lot about colour and style and individualism when I took it. But that wasn't from the whole was from maybe a week of it.

    Seeing as you are working in ceramics, and specifically (at the moment) pumpkins, I'm not sold that a course would drastically change your approach.

    You might benefit from a specialized art history course in sculpture...or modern art...but even more specifically, ceramics. But finding that narrow topic in a course would be hard.

    I think at this stage if you want to learn more, you'd benefit from a trip to a library more than listening to someone talk about neo-classical paintings for three weeks.

    There are hundreds of books on the history of ceramics and pottery. I think you should go through some of those instead. That's where you might find something useful or inspirational, and you can try out a technique or style you'd never even considered before. Then take whatever is useful to you from that experience.

    The rest (and really, it's 90%) you'll learn as you experiment and grow as an artist.

  5. Thanks, everyone for your input on this!

    I was considering the art history course, anyway, but I also have a stack of books to read. I'm currently reading, "The Unknown Craftsman, A Japanese Insight into Beauty," which really has me absorbed. I'll do a blog post about it soon, I think.

    In any case, I think it'll do me some good to branch out from my usual Halloween stuff and learn new techniques, which is why I'm taking both the intermediate ceramics and the alternative firing techniques class.

    During the "crafty" conversation, I made it clear to her that I wasn't there for a grade; I was there to learn. Maybe she'll adjust her attitude later.

  6. I love your work. It is your style that makes it unique and special. And when I am buying art that is what I am looking for.

    I love the Emily Post reference Mr. Macbare...made me LOL!



In order to protect my readers, I screen all comments. Spammers will immediately have their comments deleted, so please, if you are a spammer, just go away. I will promote your blog or site if I know you, but if not, please accept my invitation to the world.