Lately I’ve been playing again with crafting in clay. It feels like a side trip, a diversion. I am painting some, but the intensity has given way to this fun craft work that is growing inside. There’s no doubt that I’m a painter, a mixed media painter, a collager. Today I’m thinking of the talk of “content” which I’ve heard in watermedia workshops. Beginning painters struggle with technique, skills and learning the characteristics of the materials. At some point along the trip the intricacies of skill building make way for a trek into the wilderness of content. That path is laden with a longing to express more. It is fraught with bumps, and potholes, and boulders. There is something within that has no verbal expression, it demands visual materials. It is demanding and exacting requiring deep personal investment. I accept the challenge and love grappling with it but sometimes I need a side trip.
And so I have taken off on this spur of clay……..trying for ideas without skills, content without developed means of expression. Backwards. Actually I don’t even want to learn the characteristics of clay, or build any skills, I just want to make things. It’s exciting and scary, a process that’s risky and inviting. For a year or so, I’ve made envelopes and angels and lately a few “altars.”
Envelopes have been a major force in my work for many years so it makes sense for them to morph from paper and paint to clay and embellishments. I paint them with acrylics, and embellish them with postage stamps and a myriad of other things.
The angels just may be a quirk. Some of them are funny and kinda charming and definitely not part of my usual serious nature.
The way they are developing however seems to prove the validity of working in a series. I see more and more in them, more possibilities of expression. The clay crafted angels have grown increasingly complex and expressive…….maybe they are on their on their own trip and I’m along for the ride.
“Hurry? I never hurry. I have no time to hurry.”
I want to learn to wait, stall my impetuous spirit now and then, I hope I’m learning.
I have no skills to craft a box-shape from clay, but I am making these boxes to convey my idea of an altar. It’s okay if it is a crudely formed box; I just want a point of focus to express “altar,” “shrine,” “sanctuary:” a place of prayer, a place of dreaming, a place of hope, a place of stillness and waiting. Jacob wrestled with God in a dream. When he awakened he made an altar. I think the altar was a rock he had used as a pillow, or maybe it was a pile of rocks, yet it marked the place of a dream, a place of prayer, a place of hope for him. My altars do the same for me. They are road signs along the way of my side trip where I have made confession, presented petitions before God, heard good news, found shelter, and tried to wait in the Presence of the Lord.
The co-op pottery where I work functions under the umbrella of the Carlsbad Area Art Association. There I can buy clay, shape it, get my pieces fired and even use shop tools. Most of the potters own their own tools and have many gadgets to assist in their work. The clay artists work together with a generous camaraderie. I am learning a lot from them. They contribute to the joy of my side trip.