Saturday, February 1, 2014

Collaboration: Creating A New Artist

How does the artist find fresh inspiration? When and where do artists have the opportunity to be inspired? Often the answer is in nature or music, in the smiles of children, the caress of a lover, in poetry or dreams. And sometimes it arrives in another artist's work. Such is the case here. I first met Tom Radca at a show in Idaho last summer. He introduced himself and told me he would be showing at the Celebration of Fine Art come January. When Tom got his display ready for the opening of CoFA, I was immediately drawn to the earthy, rich quality of his ceramics, particularly the rougher glazes which have a wood-fire feel, and a slightly Japanese aesthetic. The large "tile walls", rounds and rectangles, intrigued me. I loved that the tiles are not flat and perfect. Their random curved corners and slightly bumpy surfaces made me want to touch them. The glaze designs felt spontaneous, organic, suggestive, and led me to imagining desert plants in the moonlight, soft, dark, a bit mysterious - like the desert, itself.
detail Warm Desert Night

detail Warm Desert Night
Tom, who in 35 years of throwing pots and making tiles, has never collaborated with anyone, chose to put his trust in me to bring my idea to amplify what I already saw in his work, but with my own style. This is the result - both a Radca and a Peckman - yet something entirely new, something neither, by ourselves, would have done - something by a "new artist."

We invite you to come to the Celebration of Fine Art and see for yourself. We'll be here till March 16, but I don't think Warm Desert Night will be here that long! (If it's gone, we'd love to speak with you about designing a collaboration right for your space.)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Language of Goals

This long summer day trails out of sight in a wash of persimmon with a wink of yellow flame, and now the milky pale aqua sky dulls.  A chill sends me inside to the Arctic white of my computer screen, a harsh reminder that my 250 words for today are not yet written (unless I count the 62 I have just put down).  Goals.  A word full of promise and enthusiasm when uttered, untested - a word ponderous,  demanding acknowledgment and attention if I dare fold my screen downwards.  My goals seem always to be attached to numbers - 20 lbs by such and such... in 30 Mar 15...250 words a day...

Sixteen months ago (is that a goal in reverse?) I began writing a novel.  I set a goal.  The first draft would be complete by July 1, 2013 in time for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in Iowa City.  The first day I pounded out 15 pages.  And, amazingly, I kept at it.  Some days I didn't write at all.  Others dragged through quicksand.  Some fairly flew off the page into some adjacent unseen universe.  I finished the draft with 2 weeks to spare, though, of course I knew too well that there was much left unwritten (or merely running loose, amok in that aforementioned universe), characters keeping me awake at night, turing me into a rudely distracted friend and mate who seemed (and was) less than interested in whatever conversation I was expected to take part in.  But, the goal had been reached.

The euphoria lasted for about a week.  No problem.  The workshop created its own exhilaration and that lived on for a good 10 days after I left Iowa.  Then the nagging rose up in my head.  So, I thought, not too bad.  I'll just cruise for a bit and then I'll get right down to work again - get that pesky rewrite done in short order.  I set a goal.  January 1, 2014.  Better get on with that 250 words.  And that's not including this post.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Malaysia As Muse

Malaysia, my muse this season, has worked her magic, and now I hurry home to open my mind's eye, let the sights and sounds pour forth as a waterfall through the landscape of my memory, carrying the flow of tropical wonders into paint and clay, paper and silk.  The sights and sounds of the jungle, never far away in Malaysia, weave dense patterns in vine threads, tangles of ropey roots, hiding flashes of electric color, the buzzing, clicking, warbling living things watching me as I look, futilely, for them in the canopy that surrounds me. Air, pregnant with humidity, covers every surface of my skin, weighting my eyelids for sleep though I have just awoken.  Insects, seen and not, search for purchase, and some fortunate ones work their way through my shirt, my pants, the multiple applications of insect repellent.  Nothing to be done. I let my eyes rescue me.  I swipe my lids with the saturated wad of tissue balled up in my hand, and open them wide, to see the poetry in the undulating rhythms of palm forest, rubber plantation, pineapple fields, all whispering beneath a sky full of stories-high thunder clouds.


In the canopy
From Bukit Genting, Penang
2000' (!) up Penang Hill
On the bridge in the canopy

Wild peacock at Bukit Genting, Penang

From 16 floors up at Batu Ferenghi

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In, As and For Community Through Art

Here we are again in AZ, preparing for our 15th year at the Celebration of Fine Art, and re-united with our community of artists.  We spend three full months every year with these people - that's more time than some of us spend with our own families.

As we hundred or so artists, plus mates and helpers, hustle and bustle around the big tents, hammers and paint brushes in hand, building individual studio spaces which reflect our personalities and our approaches to presentation, we holler our hellos across the aisles - "Hey Ken! Deb! So glad you got here safe and sound!  Talk later!" - "Heather!  I'm so glad you're back this year! Can't wait to see the new work!" - and we each continue on pounding and measuring, cutting and painting.

We are excited to see old friends, anxious to get our work hung - will it look as good on this color wall as I imagined it?  Are there too many pedestals in my space?  Oh no! I forgot my sign! - We are one hundred souls focused on one thing - coming together in a community of artists, as a community who makes art, for a community who loves art.

So, what does all this mean - this very special way of communicating our passion?  In all this rapidly shrinking world that often seems to be escalating in violence and divisiveness, it means that there are still people in the world who care deeply about conveying beauty as a means toward peace and understanding.  When artist and audience stand before a work of beauty, whether it is a monumental bronze capturing the grace and strength of a mountain lion, or an abstract forest of falling leaves in glass, an exquisite opal ring, gardens sculpted from gourds, paintings of abstract color fields or ones of delicately rendered real fields - it doesn't matter, because in that space of time, we do not argue to defend or attack, we merely come together and know a moment of calm.  We don't do it to prove that it can be done.  We do it because that is what art does.

So, come and see what this art business is all about.  Experience for yourself how it can open possibilities for something for not just your wall, but your soul.

P.S. Visit me again.  I'll be posting pictures as soon as the show opens on Saturday, Jan 11.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Holiday In Oregon or Recovering From An ArtFest

What a great day our friend Donna gave us today in and about Wilsonville, OR.  The Monday following an art festival is always our "hangover" day - sleeping off the effects of standing on our feet for 10-12 hours, chatting with prospective clients, smiling, smiling and more smiling.  The idea of course is to give the art festival goers the impression that we are completely relaxed, happy to be there, ready to explain our techniques and styles to the inquisitive, even if it's someone's five year old or a would-be artist wanting some info about tools, colors, how did you get this or that effect.  So, by Monday we are shot.  No two ways about it.  Mostly we don't have the energy to research the area we are showing in so we don't know that there is a terrific museum or a trail to a swimming hole or a collection of antique sculptures of miniature crab apples (just kidding - don't think I would go out of my way for that).  So, when we stay with Donna and she plans the Monday for us, makes omelets for breakfast, does the driving, AND takes us to wonderful places to just "be"with the natural beauty that is Oregon, it's pretty special.

Here is a place that was not only nature at its best but an artist at his best, as well.



This is Jim Barton's Pudding River Studios, Aurora, OR...but we didn't know that we were doing anything but walking down a forest path....until we began to come upon these beautiful wood sculptures, mostly done from fire damaged wood.  They stood as guardians of the forest, sentinels, plates of a sort of Buddhist armor on healthy trees, silent prayers of Quan Yin, invitations to wander further...and then there he was, standing at the edge of a large fork lift which held the rough beginnings of a long table bench, filling a small crack.  Tall and skinny, shaded by the canopy above him, he smiled and gestured for me to come closer so he could hear me.

The sculptures speak for themselves.

 Jim is open and sharing, at home with both trees and people. Read some more about him in this article from Conversations. From his property we walked on through his neighbor's (with her permission) only to be delighted by a different kind of nature - acres of mown pasture that was home to many sheep until a flash flood of the Pudding River p them.  No signs of the misfortune remain except the water line high up in the trees.  Today the pasture was alive with singing birds, dandelions, and about a half mile of wild blackberry bushes grown high above our heads.

 I think I picked (and ate) enough berries for a large pie!  There were no cell phones there, no iPads, no ear phones...just blackberries, sun, the river and a good friend who wanted to give us a special day.  Thanks, Donna.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


 Summer, glorious in all its steamy heat and languid nights, is full upon us.  Greens in deepest shade are darkly purple, midnight blue, cooling our sun-shot eyes and bringing a moment's respite of breeze through the leafy canopies.  Salmon pinks, coral reds, butter yellows, cadmium orange with lemon and glaze of alizarin in riots of poppies, hibiscus, roses, honeysuckle, daisies, and lilies in a myriad of variety fill us with love for  this season of endless visual delights.  We breath in the perfume of summer wishing we could store it to warm ourselves come those cold November nights.  I am compelled by blooming Nature.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Artists & Health Care

People often ask me if the dust and particulate from the gourds I work on is toxic.  Do I wear a mask, they ask.  Yes and yes.  I am self-employed and have been for many decades.  I work in a field that is woefully unsupported by the corporate luxuries most people have experience with in their work-a-day worlds.  Though I am now old enough to be on Medicare, and grateful to be so, I was totally responsible for my health insurance until Medicare.  I take good care of my health but my insurance was still over $600/month pre-Medicare.  I bring this up because I opted to carry insurance regardless of the cost.  I have collected Unemployment Insurance once in my life in my twenties.  I pay my taxes.  So, yes, I am thrilled by yesterday's confirmation of the Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court.  Below is a link to an article about artists and insurance.  

What I ask is that next time you are thinking of buying a piece of art for your home, remember that we who are professionals in the field have expenses and take risks that you may not ever have to think twice about.  We choose to be in this field.  We choose it because we love what we do.  We are willing to pay the price.  So, enjoy the work you purchase, but remember the person who created it for you and remember the others with whom you have exchanges when you cast a vote this year.  Ask what corporate entity makes the luscious paintings that hang in your living rooms, the sumptuous handwoven throws over your ottoman, the bronze sculpture at your entry.  None.  Just a lot of dedicated, passionate, driven, self-employed artists committed to making the world, theirs and yours, a place of creativity and beauty.

And thanks.

"Under the ACA, states will set up group exchanges by 2014, which will organize the insurance market and allow individuals and small businesses to band together to form groups, just like if they were part of a large corporation. "

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Giving A Hand To A Friend

Meet my friend, Pam Creamer.  The picture is not the "real" Pam.  It's Pam With Lyme's Disease.  The "real" Pam is a talented painter, lover of animals, vivacious, energetic, loving, generous, independent, gracious, FUN, loyal....and....painfully ill with Lyme's Disease.  She has fought it for years, handling it on her own (with her partner, Anita) until all of their income and savings, including their business, is gone.  But here's the thing...she has begun a series of IV treatments in NYC because her friends have opened a website  to help raise funds for this staggeringly expensive treatment.  There have been so many, many donations and she is moving through the treatment protocol like the champion she is - it is very painful and debilitating, but it is working!  This is an ugly disease that takes a horrible tole on the body, not to mention the mind and the spirit!  But Pam is a fighter!  We believe she will conquer this and be able to paint again - and painting is how she has always made her living and paid her bills.

The thing is, and why you are seeing this on my blog, is that we have stalled out on the donations, and we have a little ways more to go to finish the treatments.  So, I am asking all of you reading this, all of you who have loved my work, supported me with your purchases, taken classes from me, been inspired by my work or my words, to please show that today by clicking Pam's picture, and making a donation to this wonderful team effort to get Pam well.  I know we all get asked all the time to donate, donate, donate.  But, if you will make a donation of $10 to Pam, I will send you a packet of greeting cards with pictures of my gourd sculptures as a huge thank you for joining our team (that's a $20 value for your donation of $10 - not a bad deal).  Just leave a comment here on my post or email me through my website and I will get the cards in the mail to you.

Think of this as paying it forward, of being an angel, of sending some love like a pebble thrown in the pond - making ripples that go on forever.

Thanks for your help!