Art Weekend 2020

Every year my husband gives me cash to spend a weekend in a local hotel to make art. Two whole days and nights to myself, to be able to follow my thoughts without interruption and be creative. This year, I spent my time drawing coyotes. I thought about working on another project as well, but I just kept drawing coyotes. I have a vision of hanging them all in a small gallery as if surrounded by a pack.

Since moving to our current home in Evanston, the coyotes in the area have flourished. We used to hear them howl occasionally at night – now we often hear a whole pack yipping and barking, especially when the sirens wail at the firehouse. I love waking up to this sound in the wee hours of the morning. My son and I see them on the golf course, looking lush and happy, feasting on the local rabbits and rodents. People often complain about them on social media (protect your little dogs!) but I feel it’s a good sign that predators have returned and are thriving.

This project is far from done. I plan to do something more with the drawings and add text. I also want to make large ceramic discs (or plates?) with more coyote drawings on them. They will be smaller than the life-size drawings, so perhaps they will form a cluster off in the distance.

I have to say, I hate drawing fur. I usually prefer to draw sea life or birds, the textures and forms are so much more interesting, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do! This is one project I just have to do to get it out of my head.

Ceramics and the Sea

Ceramic horseshoe crab artist book

Draining blood (flood)

Copper blue (queue)

Cut in half (laugh)

Assembly line (mine)

Six hundred thousand (fend)

Blood donors (loaners)

A third depleted (meted)

But not dead (ahead)

Spawning wild (piled)

New moon light (night)

Mounting milt (silt)

Whetted sand (land)

Ancient ones (suns)

Helmet head (led)

Bookish gills (fill)

Telson tail (hale)

Will remain (wane)

In the sea (plea)

Following paths (maths)

Wandering free (eternity)

I have been experimenting with making horseshoe crabs with clay. The first one (above) was sculpted from a solid block and hollowed out underneath. The top was a bit thick and it exploded during bisque firing so I threw it out. Later, after sitting in the trash box for a week, I decided to reassemble and glaze it. If it didn’t come out well it would at least be a good glaze test piece, and actually I was quite happy with it. The cracks and losses look like the shells found on a beach and give it a nice texture, so I decided to go ahead and add the paper gills and text. In the meantime, while I thought this was a total failure, I decided to make a new one out of a slab of clay (below). I sculpted it as it was draped over a plaster form and then carved the underside in low relief. Although, not as sculptural as the first, it worked out well and I was quite pleased with both glazes.

Horseshoe crab built from a slab

I have also been making bowls and plates with paintings of sea life. I begin with a thin coat of glossy white glaze with some of the brownstone clay showing through and then paint with black underglaze. I thin the underglaze to look like an ink wash painting. Once fired, it sinks into the white glaze and becomes glossy.

Small snack bowls
Haiku on the outside of the whale eye bowl
Hand formed dinner plates with painted animals and carved kelp
Smaller bowls for sauces

The Big Humpback on the Big Tuna

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Mysticeti, prior to final tweaks and inking.

On Saturday, September 14th, I spent the day in Nashville, printing with Big Ink at Hatch Show Print. Lyell Castonguay and Carand Burnet from BIG INK showed up with their expertise and the ‘Big Tuna’ press to help seven artists print oversized wood blocks. Lyell inked all the blocks and ran the press, while we cleaned the blocks, loaded the paper and helped lift and hang the print. We definitely needed many hands to complete this project. Thank you to BIG INK, Hatch Show Print and all the participating artists, including Jen Wright, Duncan McDaniel, Jennifer Garrison, Lauren Medford, Randy Stewart, Juan Rojo and Catherine Maldonado! Also thank you to Daniel Lonow the Haley Gallery manager for hosting, and for giving my family a tour of Hatch and the hidden parts of the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was so great to meet everyone and spend a day making beautiful prints!

Photos from the event were taken by my lovely husband, Venkatesh Gopal.
Lyell Castonguay from Big Ink, inking the blocks.
Lining up the inked blocks on the ‘Big Tuna’ printing press.
Lyell getting ready to print.
Signing the first print.
I caught a big one at the Haley Gallery at Hatch Show Print.

Big Ink project

I’m at the Whiteley Center for almost two weeks working on a huge block for the Big Ink Project at Hatch Show Print in September. I’m very excited about participating, and I’m working hard to get the block done in time. It’s been a while since I carved anything this big and although I knew what I was getting myself into, I’m realizing that this is going to take a lot of work and dedication! Back and neck ache? Sore wrist? Scraped knuckles? Yup, Advil may be needed.

Day 1

Day 2


Day 3

Writing backwards

A Great Experience

I was nervous about opening my home/studio to the public last weekend, but I have to say, whenever I put myself out into the world, the experience turns out to be a good one. Again, this was the case. Thank you to everyone who made the effort to visit. I had many great conversations, new visitors, and ones I hadn’t seen in a long time. I even sold a few pieces of art. All in all a great experience that I plan to do every year!
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Let the Obsession with Earth and Water Continue

I continue to create ocean and sealife from earth, and I’m finally beginning to feel some satisfaction. The whale is my favorite by far, and on my third try I finally have a large stingray tray. I’ll have to sell it before I break the tail! It was a challenge to get all these pieces home on the el train. I had visions of lurching trains and stingray tail stabbings.

I use this tray to hold tomatoes on my kitchen window sill


The tray bottom is a more opaque white because I used porcelain slip under the white glaze.

Cephalopods painted in black underglaze

Tiny stingray brush rests

Dreaming of the Ocean

In the Midwest. I have been working on a stingray platter, trying to perfect the process. Below is the first one, which I’m quite happy with, but the top layer of the head came off in the bisque firing process. I had to rejoin the pieces with glaze and you can still see the cracks. I’m thinking of filling the cracks with epoxy and attaching gold to highIight them, like the Japanese Kintsugi technique. On my second try the head blew up into tiny pieces in the kiln, so I’m now on my ‘third try is a charm’, as my mother would say.

Mum told me that her happy place is Craigville Beach on Cape Cod. In her mind, she walks down to the end of the beach, lies down in the sand and listens to the waves. She is now 90, and it’s unlikely that she will walk the beach again, but thankfully she has her happy memories and this one gives her peace.

Tea bowls – urchin, crab, octopus, jellies.

The Humpback Whale tray  is in the green ware stage, awaiting bisque firing. Sometimes I think all is going well and what could possibly go wrong, but then it does. I’m crossing my fingers on this one!


The Plankton book (remember Tinkaminks?) is finished, and I made a drop spine box with a raised circle in the center to keep the key chain from shifting around. I printed the title on my old Vandercook press that now resides in Ben Blount’s new studio. He has generously let me use it when needed. This one is on its way to Vamp and Tramp Booksellers at this very moment.

 

The wide array of forms in the sea are endlessly inspiring. I feel I could keep going forever – and I will continue to dream of living on the coast once again. The lake is beautiful, but as I’ve said before, it’s a poor substitute for the ocean!