Monday, December 21, 2009

Stressing the Good

I started playing this game with myself a few months ago. Shortly after I started the post-baccalaureate ceramics program at the University of Florida, I found that my stress level was steadily increasing. I had grossly underestimated how much time would be involved in going back to school, and was struggling to maintain my current work load while challenging myself creatively and artistically.


Sick of hearing myself complain about it, I made a conscious effort to remove the word “busy” from my vocabulary.


I’m finding this new game kinda fun. AND it’s actually alleviated a lot of my stress. By not focusing so much on everything I have to do and how little time there is to do it, I’m actually able to get more done and the whole experience is much more enjoyable. I realized that I was expending a lot of energy worrying, when that energy could be put to better use on positive thoughts and actions.


I guess I bring this up now because the holidays are upon us and 2010 is just around the corner. Like many, I do a lot of reflecting this time of year. What changes did I make? What was I able to accomplish? (check out Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Blog and Art Marketing Podcast for my favorite end-of-the-year exercise.) What would I like to do differently? How can I re-prioritize my time? How can I live the happiest life possible?


There's a quote posted in my studio that says “She succeeds beautifully by doing nothing more than being the best possible version of herself.” That is what I want; for each of us to be the best possible versions of ourselves.


Thank you for reading and keeping up with me throughout the year. Happy Holidays to you and your families and I will see you in 2010.


Cheers!

Meagan

Newest Work: Botanical Building Blocks, earthenware and fused glass, 22" x 22" x 2", 2009.


Botanical Building Blocks, detail.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Work - "Urban Escape"

Wanted to post a few quick picks of some recent work.

Urban Escape, 38" x 38" x 1 1/2", earthenware, glass, steel, fiber
Thanks for checking in on the progress! The ceramics post-baccalaureate program at the University of Florida has been great! Final critiques are this week. I hope to post few words of reflection as well as pics of our final projects by next Friday.

Cheers!
Meagan
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Whimsical Wares - Marietta, GA

Whimsical Wares - 13th Annual art and gift show featuring 90 artists!
This Wednesday through Sunday in Marietta, GA.

For more info and directions, check out www.whimsicalwaresonline.com

Cheers!
Meagan

This weekend - Studio Stroll in Asheville, NC

Hope to see you this weekend down in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC for the annual fall Studio Stroll!


Cheers!
Meagan

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Work - City gardening and pocket parks

Thought I post a few quick images of some new work. This piece was inspired by Pocket Parks - or community gardens that are planted on vacant lots within large cities where space for parks can be hard to come by.
Each 'box' or 'building' is 6 x 6" square and between 1 - 2" high. They are all mounted on a steel background that has been treated with a copper heat patina to give it that cool, moss-green color and texture.
Here are a few details...


the garden...

I got some helpful feedback on this piece during our recent critique, and I'm already excited about the changes I'll make in the next one.

That's it for now. Thanks for checking in!

Best,
Meagan
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September Summary - School, Studio, Stress, and Success

"Some of the brightest days start out cloudy, some of the best endeavors start out tough, and some of the most wonderful experiences start out challenging. " -Unknown

September flew by and was nothing less than a challenging, exiting month...

Since starting the ceramics post-baccalaureate program at the University of Florida, I've found myself repeating the above quote quite a bit. It's almost become a daily mantra.

I am a creature of habit. Adjusting to a new schedule and routine has been challenging. The commute to campus is challenging. (I hadn't realized I would be spending 10 hours a week in the car!) And pushing yourself to make new, thought provoking, exciting, innovative artwork is a constant, but necessary challenge.

Some days I feel overstimulated and want to begin everywhere at once. I leave class with so many ideas, it's tough knowing which to investigate first. Right now though, I'm trying hard to absorb as much as possible, without filtering anything too soon.

There's been a lot of sketching and researching happening as I investigate new concepts and forms. Most of my ideas still seem unresolved, but the prospect of new, better work keeps me going strong.
Meanwhile, work continues in the studio at home. Progress is coming along nicely on this sculpture commission. Here's the scale drawingand a few of the unfired forms.
My obsession with glaze testing also continues... I wanted to see how my glazes reacted when overlapped and layered with each other. I did a series of 17 of the 12" test tiles using 42 of my favorite cone 04, low fire glazes. (Only 5 tiles are shown in the above picture.) There were some fascinating results that I cant wait to put to use in my new work!Test tile with more overlapping and layering of underglazes, terra sigillata, lowfire crawl and lizard skin glazes.
So, life and art continue. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the many adventures October has in store. (That, and a little bit of pumpkin pie!)

Best,
Meagan

PS - I just updated my website and the right side bar of this blog with my Fall 2009 events. Many of the details are still being worked out, but I'll keep you informed as the information becomes available. Hope to see you at something in the coming months.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Opening Reception Tonight - Rock Hill, SC

I'm honored to have had two pieces selected for the


Public Reception & Awards:
Thursday, August 27, 6pm .... That's tonight!

If you cant make it to the reception, the exhibit runs through September 18th.

Rock Hill, SC is located about 25 miles south of Charlotte, NC.

Outburst, Earthenware clay and cast glass, 37" x 34" x 2"Heart's Ease, earthenware clay, 33" x 20" x 1"

If you're able to swing by the show, could you take pictures for me? Wish I could be in two places at once!

Best,
Meagan

UPDATE - September 1, 2009
I just found out that my sculpture "Outburst" (pictured above) was awarded Third Place! What an honor!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Education is for the Soul

Yesterday I started a post-baccalaureate program in Ceramics at the University of Florida. It's a one year/two semester program for students interested in developing technical skills, aesthetic sensibilities, and personal concepts.

My decision to go back to school was based on several factors.
  • Technique - My work has shifted from being predominantly glass to predominantly clay and I'd like to further develop my technical understanding of materials, process, and techniques.
  • Community - After working alone in the studio for the past couple years, I wanted to work among other artists sharing ideas and engaging in critiques.
  • Artistic Development - I felt like it was time to get out of my comfort zone and push myself. I want to be asked those "hard questions" about my work. Why do I make the work that I do?
  • Opportunity - juried shows, lectures, visiting artists, art openings, network with other artists and professionals, etc.
We had a great first class yesterday! Our instructor, Linda Arbuckle, is an amazing artist and is just full of information! I left class feeling energized and inspired. Our first project is due on Tuesday. We will each be giving a power-point presentation defining our concept of interest and showing sources/inspiration images that support that idea. Research! I love it! And have already checked out a rather large stack of library books.
Back to school also means a shift in my studio routine. While I will continue to blog, fill gallery orders, and complete commissioned work, I want to allow myself the time needed (and required) to get the most out of this program. This year is going to be more about process than product.

I'm looking forward to sharing this next chapter of learning, personal growth and artistic development with you.

"What sculpture is for a block of marble, education is to the soul" - Joseph Addison

Thanks for reading!
Meagan
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Glass - Kiln Casting and Slumping

Finished up these tile plaques this week. This series of 6" x 6" x 1" plaques incorporates kiln cast glass and slumping, so I thought I'd share a couple pictures of the glass process today.

Finished Wall Plaques
Unfired glass stacked into steel molds. The molds are lined with fiber paper so the castings wont stick. Yes, I use the same L&L ceramics kiln to fire both ceramics and fused glass, and it works beautifully! I do have separate sets of selves, and 2 different types of kiln wash (aka shelf primer) though.
Kiln castings after being fired to 17250F. Interested in my glass firing schedule?
Check it out here.
In my kiln, this firing is set to Program #5. The kiln castings after the glass has been taken out of the mold and cleaned up a bit. Each "brick" is between 1/2" to 1" thick. Slicing the cast "bricks" with a table top tile saw.
(My least favorite part of the process. So loud and messy!)But it's worth it! The colors and patterns of the glass castings are revealed after they are sliced open. They've always reminded me of geodes. Once I have the slices, they 're cut down to size with a hand held glass cutter/scoring tool. The windows are also coated with the same primer/kiln wash that is on the shelves. This allows the glass to slump through the clay opening with minimal stress and cracking on the glass.

The pre-fired, glazed tiles are loaded into the kiln upside down, with the glass covering the window opening. They are then fired to 1300oF.
This is Glass Firing Program #2 .
After firing, the kiln wash/shelf primer is cleaned off with a damp sponge and the glass is glued back in with 100% silicone adhesive.
Here's a tile without the steel backing.
Well, there's a very quick runthough of what I've been up to this week in the studio. If you have any questions about any part of this process, please just let me know. I'm happy to share info!

Cheers!
Meagan

For those of you that like to plan way in advance...
Save the Date - August 22 - 28, 2010
All Fired Up! Experiments with Glass and Clay.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Glazing - My Process

Hi there!

I've spent most of the week happily glazing away in the studio. Many more Mini Sculptures and Tile Plaques in the works! And while I've talked to many potters and ceramic artist who find glazing/decorating tedious, this is my favorite part!
After the clay has been bisque fired, I organize the work by size and style and then get to work labeling. (Those of you that know me are laughing at the words 'organizing' and 'labeling' - I know, I know, I cant help it!)
Anyway, using a pencil, I go through each piece, decided which glazes will be used where, and then write a code or abbreviation for the glaze in that spot. I have about 70 glazes mixed, but really only use about 35-45 of these on a regular basis. So there are a lot of codes, most of which would look like gibberish to anyone else!
Then I go through each glaze one at a time, applying it with a small #6 brush. It becomes a "glaze-by-number" and I'm able to sit back and enjoy my favorite podcasts (This American Life, or Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, etc.) or listen to audio books. (Recently I listened to and loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Thanks for the recommendation Betsy!)

I've found that listening to podcasts or books during the day passes the time extremely quickly, I learn a lot of information, it keeps my mind focused on positive things rather than worrying (see previous post) AND I'm able to get tons of glazing done! A Win-Win situation all around.

Do you have any routines, habits, or techniques that make "tedious" tasks pass with more ease and enjoyment? Or, any podcast or book recommendations?

Well, those ceramic tiles and Mini Sculptures are in the kiln now, so I should probably go check on them. Thanks for reading a bit about my process.

Cheers!
Meagan
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Balancing Work and Life

How do you balance "work" with the rest of "life"?

When you love the work that you do, how do you distinguish between work and play? Professional success with personal success?

It feels kinda like those cartoons with the angel on one shoulder and devil on the other. Except sometimes it's tough to tell who is who.

One side is excited about the new work that will come out of long, productive hours in the studio. The other side wants to skip studio time, work on our vegetable garden, finish remodeling the laundry room, and go for a bike ride with my husband. Then my thoughts switch to keeping my website updated, posting to this blog, and working on new marketing ideas. Then back to wanting to schedule lunch with a friend, or where I'm going to find malt extract for that new bread recipe I just found.

All of these things are tasks that I actually, honestly, enjoy! So I want ALL of them to be a part of my life. So I am accepting the fact that striving for a balance will be a life-long task involving lots of checks and balances.

So does that also mean...
less hours in the studio = less income?
less hours in the studio = less success?
Or ...
less hours in the studio = more time spent on the rest of my life? (family, friends, hobbies, exercise, gardening, travel)
less hours in the studio = more sources of inspiration for time spent in the studio?
less hours in the studio = more success?

Our society seems to value and praise the Overworked and Busy individuals. I'm beginning to think that there's a better way to go through life; A slower pace with the enjoyment of simple pleasures. (And for a woman with workaholic tendencies, this is MUCH easier said than done, I admit!)

What I do know is that I want more days to be filled happiness and joy, than consumed with than worry and stress.
These are some of the things I have been thinking over these past few weeks. After working like a mad woman all Spring and early Summer to prepare for my exhibit at the Appleton Museum, I'm enjoying a slower pace with time for reflection. (Or maybe the Florida heat is making me delusional)

Whatever your thoughts, hope your finding (or making) time for all the things you want in your life.

Best,
Meagan
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Studio Construction - One Year Later

It was one year ago today that we passed our final inspection on the studio and I started moving in!Construction took 8 months and we literally did the work ourselves. We learned so much about zoning, construction, building codes, regulations, nail guns, and electrical! The only tasks we didn't tackle were pouring the concrete slab, plumbing and drywall. We brought in the experts for that.

So, I thought I'd take a moment and reflect on some of the construction milestones...

Getting ready for concrete
Raising the first wall
With wall framing complete, we moved onto the roof trusses.
Working awayInstalling the metal roof
A photo with the house wrap, windows, and roofWorking on electrical. Gotta have enough power for those kilns!
The drywall crew at work.Finishing touches and trim.
I feel extremely fortunate to have such a fantastic space to work in! I am amazed how much studio work I have been able to accomplish this past year. But it's good to remember how much hard work and dedication it's taken to get to this point.

My message to you today is - don't be afraid to jump in and do it! We had never built anything like this before. We got a zoning book, made lots of phone calls, asked lots of questions, read library books, and would stop mid-construction sometimes to go check online for how to do something. We set small goals along the way and tried to focus on one thing at a time. And it has all been worth it!! Every step of the way.

If you're thinking of building or remodeling a studio space, I'd love to hear from you. I'm more than happy to help answer any questions that I can!

Happy Building,
Meagan

For more, check out the Studio Construction archive tab in the right side bar.

Now, if we could just get that AC installed! It sure is hot here in Florida!