Inspired by the Creativity of Children

Last week I went back to the ceramics studio after a break of a couple of months or so. Over the summer the art center runs a large number of classes for children and the place is very busy. I was finding it a bit hard to get started again and then I looked through some of the ceramics that the kids had created over the last few weeks.

I think they have done a fantastic job. One of the best things about the children’s work is that many of them (especially the younger ones) have no real constraints in their minds. They are free to just take an idea or prompt from the teacher and run with it.

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After seeing these great works, I am reinvigorated for the fall ceramic season…!

~Richard

Mondrian inspired work

Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondriaan was an important member of the De Stijl movement, founded in 1917, which sought to reduce their art to pure abstraction and simple form and color. Often this meant using only straight lines and primary colors in the work they produced. Mondrian (he dropped the second ‘a’ to fit in with the Paris art scene) is perhaps best known for his grid-based paintings that follow this form of “neoplasticism,” as shown in Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, painted in 1930.

I have always liked the simplicity and boldness of this art and a couple of years ago I created some digital art that was inspired by it, although I modified the form by using using lines that intersected at angles other than 90 degrees in place of strict perpendiculars associated with Mondrian et al.  More recently I have translated those thoughts into ceramic work that builds on this thought into a three dimensional piece. This is the first piece to come out of the kiln.

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~Richard

 

 

Artful rescuing and repurposing an idea

Many months ago I created a roughly square ceramic plate on which I was going to use some creative glaze. After drying this was put in the kiln to bisque fire but unfortunately it cracked badly, possibly due to another piece of work being placed on it during firing, so creating some heat stress. I was disappointed but at least the plate was intact so I left it on the shelf in the studio. I would bring it down once in a while to think about what to do and then usually put it back again.

Then a few months ago I decided it was taking up too much space and I should experiment with some more glazes and finally use this piece. So, I dipped one half in assad black glaze and the other in white and then fired it, as this was my favorite combo at that time for several pieces I had created.

When I took the plate from the kiln I was immediately struck by the vision of a dark sky being torn asunder by a tornado tearing across the plain, with mountains in the distance.

A few more weeks passed and I thought why not add the most iconic red shoes to this scene as a finishing touch!

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It would be great to hear of others’ stories of saving or reusing damaged pieces of art to create a totally new piece.

~Richard

Decadence and Elegance

I have been re-listening to the Kraftwerk album, Trans Europe Express, that I first heard back in the late 70’s and was inspired by the lyrics “elegance and decadence” from the track Europa Endloss (Europe Endless) to create a variation of one of my art photographs.

Ironically though it was the much more widely known track Hotel California, by The Eagles which ended up directing how I modified the image. It’s funny how things turn out.

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~Richard

 

Inspirational – hardly

Today I was in a colleague’s office and saw the following inspirational wording inscribed in white text (mixed fonts obviously) on a black square:

“Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss you’ll land in the stars.”

Me being me,  I couldn’t help but add in my mind:  “eventually…  as a corpse.” which somewhat devalues the wording, but then that’s the way it is with me 😉

Then I started thinking about the value of this as an inspirational business quote. Surely, if the target is the moon, then missing it would be abject failure. Also, considering our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.24 light years distant (40,113,000,000,000 km) it would be a bloody long time before we’d reach a single one.

So, a quick analysis suggests it’s hardly inspiring at all really, and I am guessing it was not on the walls of NASA Mission Control during the Apollo Program!

Anyhow, I got to thinking about what useful inspirational quote I could develop for the day and I decided on the following adaptation of a well-known cliché, as it still appears meaningful, yet lofty without losing its practical value:

“IF a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing adequately”*

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* and I would add that there’s a big emphasis on the word IF at the beginning of this statement that is usually ignored in the original!

~Richard

Artistic inspiration

For my day job I work for a large corporation, doing corporate activities that generally involve me “flying a desk”, as I like to describe it. For those of you familiar with the corporate world you can perhaps empathize with the following story: We are in the process of a management-led activity to “improve morale” and increase the level of “teamwork” following a series of layoffs and restructuring, all amid a general atmosphere of continued uncertainty. This activity involves a full day of team building exercises which will include each of us being prepared to share with the group something that inspires us.

I have a naturally skeptical disposition when faced with this sort of activity, having been through initiatives of similar ilk many times over the last 25 years or thereabouts, so I have been facing this week with mixed feelings of boredom and dread, as I don’t want to derail the well-intentioned plan, despite my innate misgivings.  In fact, I have been struggling hard for a week to find a relevant example of inspiration without wishing it to be too trite.

Now, fast forward to a completely unrelated activity: the recent tragic early death of a local artist, friend and teacher of my wife. Although I did not know the lady directly I accompanied my wife to her memorial service at the local Quaker Meeting House and was very moved by the deeply heartfelt personal nature of the modest occasion. The memorial allowed for anyone present to speak on any memory or thought about the deceased for as long they wanted and one mourner stood and recited the following poem:

“I am an artist.”

I am an artist.

My definition of art is creating

something with my hands that is an

expression of who I am.

Art is a part of me.

I can’t escape the urge to create,

to get out my feelings in the way

of paper and glue. Or losing myself

behind the lens of my camera.

I am so thankful for my art.

It’s my own personal therapy.

And in the process I am leaving my mark

in the works I create.

I am an artist.

And there is nothing else in the world

I would rather be.

-Author Unknown-

I don’t consider myself to be a spiritual person, having been bathed in secular science all my life, yet as I listened the words struck a chord within me which I think will remain with me for a long time and I felt truly inspired. I truly believe that the unique act of creating art for art’s sake is a wonderful activity; personal yet shareable, challenging yet cathartic, and most importantly mind-expanding.

We should always have this in the back of our mind on this as we peer through our viewfinders and create our masterpiece.

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For Mary and Diane

I originally wrote this piece in October 2014, when it inspired me in that moment to go for a contemplative lunchtime walk and to sit under the autumnal trees overhanging a local brook and create the artwork above. I have since returned to this artwork several times and it even hangs at work in a friend’s workspace. It also seems ironic that, some 15 months later, our organization is repeating the same training, so making this post relevant again and, much more tragically, only last night a second artist friend of my wife’s lost her battle with cancer too, re-emphasizing the cyclical nature of the world perhaps.

~Richard

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