Monday, November 16, 2015

A Message from China Brings Me Home

It is November again - a year since I have written an entry on my Blog.  Unbelievable how day to day activities add up to a year of one's life...A kaleidoscope of images and flashes of events are still alive and bright for the year of 2015, but the most earth shaking event for me this year happened quietly, as I watched a message from China bloom across my computer monitor and explode into my heart.

For quite some time, I've been deeply involved in refining my artistic skills by taking online courses from a gifted teacher and artist - Lilla Rogers.  She knows how to pull images out of you that you are surprised at, and grateful for.  So I've been drawing and drawing and drawing.  For about two years or so.

And then, she teamed up with another gifted artist, Margo Tantau, VP of Design and Creative at Midwest CBK to offer an online course in how to mock up your artwork onto Home Decor items, for presentation to Art Directors.  Like this:

Since I am all about creating artwork and Home Decor items, I did a double fist pump and was probably the first person to sign up when registration opened.  And then class started.  When the week was over and it was time to present, I was not prepared and my presentation was awful.
What the heck?

I passed it off as fatigue, since we were traveling that week and I felt disrupted.  So, on to week two.  And the same thing happened.  This was my most looked-forward to class in over two years, and I was absolutely blowing it.  I lost my confidence, the worst thing that can happen to an artist.  Then we got to the week about ceramic substrates.  

Margo posted a documentation of her trip to Dehua in Fujian Province in China,
where she had gone to take a look at a ceramics factory.  
She posted photos and a great narrative of her trip to the factory, which produced items similar to  the ones pictured above, but with more quietness. Suddenly, reading her article and studying her photos, I had tears in my eyes.  Because just like that, I knew why I was so unprepared
for presentation day every single week.

Since we were working to place our art on three dimensional objects,  my inner magnet had snapped to the process of Making the object rather than Drawing the artwork for that object.  

I had been snatched off the Planet of Drawing, and placed back on the Planet of Making.  

You see, when things like this are Made in China, they are made by people, using their hands and eyes to turn an idea into a useful object.  People make hundreds or thousands of those items.  With their hands.  See?  Hand. Made.  Each and every piece that comes out of that ceramics factory in Dehua is handled many, many times, with hands that feel and appreciate the thing that has been Made.  And that is what was messing me up.  I kept getting fascinated with the idea of Designing, Engineering, and Making an Object, and THEN making the artwork to put on it.
By then, every single week, I was out of time to make good artwork.

I was hungry to make something, simple as that.
I had been away too long from where I am anchored.
Making Things with My Hands.

I started gentle, poking around my fabric stash and tassel-making supplies:

Then I got all rowdy and started fooling around with "Mash-Up Pillows".
That felt really good.

So I moved on into experimenting with transferring some of my artwork on to fabric or wood or ceramics or oyster shells or
who knows what.
Now I am engineering, trouble shooting,
discovering my own way to do this. 

It will come, because I am a Maker of Things.

Who knew it would take a tray of plain white porcelain bowls
going into a kiln in Dehua, China
to introduce Me back to Myself?

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