Jul 22, 2013

A Squirrel Out Of Water



While in Seattle, I had the opportunity to work in a medium I never have before. Ceramics. My pal, Susan Rose whose been getting into porcelain the last few years, asked if I wanted to participate in a benefit. I agreed mostly because I could get to hang with Susan more. A place she belongs to called, Pottery Southwest, has a fund raiser. They made a limited number of a large ceramic platters. They are then hand painted by different artists. That is where I come in. Wally Bivins, an artist there, said he was looking for different kinds of artists than the usual cast of characters who work on these things. I was basically to do a painting onto one of them. The trick was, I had to paint with glazes. Seems easy enough but it is actually a bit tricky. The glazes go on very light colored. When it is finally fired in a kiln, then the colors come out and darken up. Also I couldn't do my drawing first and then color it in the way I do in my sketchbooks using pen and watercolor. What I had to do, was to paint all the washes and background color first. Then the last thing to do is the black line work. My work is very exacting and detailed, so working this way was a challenge. With these glazes, if I did the black line first, the second I'd add color washes or background it would bleed all the black lines away. It took me 2 days. The first day I did the entire painting except there was not a single black line in the whole thing. The second day was spent on all my fine line work and the writing that appears in it. I love the end result. I'm so happy to have my world opened up to this new form of creative expression. I just wish that Pottery Northwest was located down the block from me and not in Seattle.
I chose to do this painting from the urban sketch I did on the street in Seattle of the totem pole. My little VINE movie is the platter before it is fired in the kiln. You can see how light it is. The following is what I wrote on the painting.

A homeless man told me all about this totem pole. He said its original purpose was as a fishing boat. There is an ornamental piece, high up on the pole, that sticks way out. It's actually a rudder. Native Americans would sit on the pole while it floated face down. They would fish using nets made of hemp and seaweed. The fish would be speared while trapped in the nets. Homeless told me that it was originally painted completely in bright colors. Blue for the sky. Green for the earth. Yellow for the sun. Anyway, that's what my homeless teacher taught me.

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