Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New work - Residency project 1

I'm off to the studio to continue working on the project I started yesterday. And I must say, I'm pretty excited about it. It looks a lot different than the 3d sketches I did on Monday; almost as if it was made by another person. But I feel this piece is finally starting to incorporate ideas and techniques I've been striving for in my new work. (More on that later.)I was also amazed how much I was able to accomplish in one day! Granted, it was a long studio day - 7:45am til 7:00pm, but I was feeling great and really into a groove. It normally would have taken me 3 weeks at home to make this much progress! Cant wait to see what I'm able to do today! Cheers!
Meagan

Studio Warm Up

My first studio day in Missoula-

Yesterday, I spent all day working on small, 3D sketches of various floral forms. These maquettes were a great warm up exercise! And man did I need the warm up. It can take a while to get settled into a new space and find a routine.
The first thing that took some adjusting to was my clay body. I have been using the same clay body for at least 5 years now. (Lymen Red from Highwater Clays.) But out here in Montana it makes more sense to get it from The Archie Bray (only 1.5 hrs from Missoula) than to have 100lbs of my usual stuff shipped from the East Coast. So I made the switch and the two are definitely different! I don't know yet if I prefer one over the other, but I'll have to report back after my month-long residency. ABF Earthenware is darker brown when moist and seems smoother. It has virtually no grog compared to the Lymen Red I'm used to working with at home. I'm curious to see the fired color and compare shrinkage, absorption and warping.

The second issue I'm tackling is related to this gorgeous weather I've been experiencing. Humidity. Or lack there of. In Florida (80-100% humidity) clay dries very, very slowly and often needs to be put into a dry box or blasted with a heat gun to speed the drying process along. Not necessary here in MT! Slabs seemed to get stiff with the blink of an eye! I will definitely have to adjust my work time and modify some of my usual building habits.

These small pieces not only helped me learn more about my new clay and environment but they were great visual studies. I picked several flowers on my walk to the studio and took the time to really observe the structures, textures and colors of each. So, with the some 3D sketching and traditional sketching done, I tackled my first "real" project today. And I must say, I am pretty excited about it! But more about that one tomorrow. I'm off to bed!
Best,
Meagan

Monday, June 28, 2010

Residency Goals – The Clay Studio of Missoula

FAQ - “Why do you want a residency, you have a full studio at home?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for this residency. Why do I want a residency? I am a full-time studio artist with a fantastic work space just outside the back door at home. But having/needing a place to work isn’t the only reason artists take advantage of the various residency programs that are offered throughout the world. So, I thought it would be helpful for me if I outlined my goals for the next month. This will help keep me focused, even if part of the “focus” is to just to relax and have fun. You know, try to ignore that type-A voice in my head telling me I must create the best, most amazing work while I am here.

This month I hope to…

- meet new people. It’s important to get out, meet other artists, talk with them about their work, answer questions about your work, observe other techniques, and experience other firing methods.

- play! Experiment with all the ideas and techniques that I can’t seem to make time for in the studio at home. Allow myself the time to just be creative without the pressure of making a specific piece or product. I don’t want to go to a new place and keep making the same work.

-stimulate new ideas. Exposure to new people, places and things – I’ve never been to this part of the US until now and am in awe of the beauty and amazing weather. It’s perfect for someone who is inspired by nature and the world around them. (Did I mention that the temp at 8:00am yesterday morning was a crisp 48 F in Missoula, MT and already a steamy 84 F in Ocala, FL?! Or that it doesn’t get dark here until almost 10:30pm! And to think, I packed a flashlight because I was worried about walking home from the studio in the dark. Instead of a flashlight this prego needs one of those black-out face masks to wear to sleep!)

In a nutshell, my goals are not on product, but on process and experience. So, it’s time to head to the studio to start unpacking and meeting the other residents.

Cheers!
Meagan

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day One – The Clay Studio of Missoula


One month. Well, 32 days actually. That’s how long I’ll be in Montana for this amazing residency opportunity! Part of me stresses that it is to short. Part of me worries it is too long.

I know my studio days will be full and I will need to be focused to accomplish my goals. Working with clay involves coordinating a fairly tight timeline of making, drying, firing, and glazing.

The other part of me is already a bit homesick. One month seems like a long time to be away from home and my husband. It’s not like we’ve never spent time apart. Heck! The whole first 2 ½ years of our relationship was long-distance.

It’s just that he is my sounding board. He knows how to inspire me and help with the practical challenges. And he knows how to relax and support me like no one else! But we both understand what an important opportunity this is for me, my art, and my career. So, when I received an offer to come out here, he was behind it 110%.

Today is Day 1 and I’m ready to let the month begin! I arrived safe and sound last night and started the process of getting settled into my new home. I have a relaxing day ahead of me before moving into the studio tomorrow. I’m looking forward to days full of new friends, stimulating conversations, good food, studio inspiration, and amazing weather!

Cheers!
Meagan
My husband and I in March 2008 taking a break from a day's work building the studio back home in Ocala, FL. For more studio construction photos, click here.

New Plaques and Improvements

So, I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I was able to finish a record 60 plaques in just 8 studio days! And though this was definitely a rush job, the quality of the tiles was in no way compromised.

Actually, the opposite is true. I believe the plaques are getting better with each firing. I have a lot fewer “duds” – tiles that just don’t work for one reason or another. Warping seems to be under control. The patterns and line-work are stronger. And most glaze problems have been resolved.
For me, these tiles are a way to experiment with pattern, texture, and color. Because of this, even the “duds” are important. By studying them, I’m able to evaluate what works and what doesn’t; learn from my mistakes. I’m happy the success rate it up!

I’ve been making these plaques for 4 years now. People often ask how long I will continue to make new ones. And the answer is the same for all my work. I will continue to make them as long as I feel challenged creatively and I see room for growth and improvement. When I get bored or dread the process, it’s time to move on to something new.

Happy Creating!
Meagan

Saturday, June 26, 2010

And We're Off!

The new Tile Plaques are on their way to CURVE studios & garden in Asheville, NC. (Finished 60 in just 8 days! That's a record for sure!)
And I'm on my way to The Clay Studio of Missoula for a one-month residency!

Wish us luck!

Meagan

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kickin' It!

Been getting kicked from all directions lately! Some exciting. Some stressful.

Felt the baby kick for the first time last week. And let me just say, that might just be one of the coolest feelings ever! Baby decided to get my attention for the first time while I was in line at the bank irritated with the teller. Guess he/she is already teaching me about patience.

Secondly, my studio work load has been kicking my butt! After the Studio Stroll in Asheville, NC earlier this month, I was almost sold out of Tile Plaques at CURVE studios & garden! I hadn’t planned on doing another set of firings before leaving for Montana, and the thought of squeezing this in on top of everything else definitely elevated my stress level.

(Cut, burn and polyurethane wood backings... check!)

So, I finally sat down and took control of my to-do list! Feeling overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done before I leave on Saturday, I divided my list up into daily tasks. This has made managing my time much more productive! Now I know I’ve got time set aside to finish the work in the studio, pack and relax with my hubby before flying out west.

(Organize to-do list.... check!)

I’ve got around 60 glazed tiles cooling in the kiln right now. The metal and wood backings are finished and the tiles should be cool enough to unload this afternoon. I’m right on schedule! Whew! It’s amazing what can be accomplished with the pressure from a deadline.

(Cut and polyurethane metal. Attach to wood backings... check!)

Ok, I’m off to yoga (ahhh!) and to run some errands while the kiln is hot.

Cheers!

Meagan

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heading West - The Clay Studio of Missoula

More exciting news and adventures to share! I recently found out that I was chosen for a short-term residency position at The Clay Studio of Missoula in Montana.
So, I'm taking my baby bump out west to Big Sky Country for a bit of an adventure. I'm looking forward to having a month to just explore and create. I have so many ideas and techniques that I want to investigate! The plan is to continue developing the current direction of my work; new sculptural forms I started during my post-bacc at UF.

And the timing is perfect! Not only am I grateful to have an opportunity to do this before the baby comes, but I'll still be in my 2nd trimester (aka the "honeymoon phase of pregnancy") so energy will be up and I'll be feeling great.

So, we've got a whirlwind week ahead as I pack and prepare for this amazing opportunity. Thank you!

Cheers!
Meagan

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Work in Progress - A new adventure

Thought I'd take a moment to share some, well, personal news with you.

This is not your typical artwork-in-progress blog post. My current "project" brings with it a lot of exciting changes, hard work, unexpected adventures, and unconditional love.

My husband and I are expecting our first child the end of October! Needless to say, we are very excited about our growing family and our little bundle of joy.

Though this is a planned addition, I must admit that I have had my moments of panic and uncertainty. How in the world can I be an artist and a mother at the same time!? Or a mother and an artist? I already feel that there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done!

Being the type-A personality that I am, I was hungry for answers, advice and information. So to ease my fears and concerns, I started my "research."

In addition to reading the usual pregnancy and child rearing books, I dove into The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood by Rachel Power and I highly recommend it to any artist-mother with questions or concerns about work-life balance.

Here's a little about the book from the publisher's website.

"Do women still confront the attitude that a dedicated artist will avoid having children for the sake of her career? In The Divided Heart, Australia’s most respected artists, writers and actors speak frankly about the wrench between motherhood and their artistic life.

Rachel Power navigates through the divided heart of the artists to reveal the shocking, funny and moving truth of the overwhelming demands of motherhood and the undiminished passion for their work.

This book will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered, ‘Who will I be when this baby is born?’"

Links to other helpful info:
Clay Parent - Mud Mamas and Papas
Studio Mothers: Art and Life (just found this one)

Our growing "bean" at 18 weeks. Boy? Girl? Time will tell. We're keeping it a surprise.

Thank you for reading and sharing our excitement with us!

Cheers!
Meagan

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's Studio Stroll Time Again!

Come check out Asheville's River Arts District this weekend, June 12-13 from 10-6, for the June 2010 Studio Stroll. Visit 120 working artist studios and galleries. Free rides available on the Asheville Historic Trolley between studios.

This will be my 11th Stroll at CURVE studios & garden and there have been a lot of exciting changes happening. Since the November stroll a host of top-notch artists have moved in and many favorites have rearranged their spaces adding a fresh new look.

Where is CURVE studios & garden you ask? It's #6 - 12 Riverside Drive, Asheville, NC. In Asheville's River Arts District across from 12 Bones Smokehouse. You know, 12 Bones, the amazing BBQ joint where Obama and Michelle eat when they go to Asheville!

Happy Strolling!

Meagan

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ancient Arts - Opening Reception, Ocala, FL

Well, just because I wont be at the Opening of the Contemporary Clay Biennial in Grand Junction, CO tomorrow night doesn't mean that I won't still be out enjoying some art.

It's First Friday here in Ocala, FL, and a group of downtown artists and businesses have recently organized a monthly Art Walk! It's so exciting to see the changes Ocala is making to support the Arts!


To coincide with the Art Walk, Marion Cultural Alliance is hosting the Opening Reception for Ancient Arts at Brick City Center for the Arts. This invitational show emphasizes ceramics, sculpture, encaustic, glass, wood, and drawing and I am honored to be a part of the group selected! The reception is from 6-9 tomorrow, June 4th and the show runs through July 6.

Ancient Arts
June 4 - July 6, 2010
Brick City Center for the Arts
Marion Cultural Alliance
Ocala, FL

Opening Reception: June 4 from 6-9pm


Hope to see you there!

Best,
Meagan

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Contemporary Clay Biennial - Opening Friday

I am very excited and honored to announce my piece "Urban Pocket" as selected for the Contemporary Clay Biennial at the Art Center, Western Colorado Center for the Arts, in Grand Junction, CO.

The opening reception is this Friday night, and Oh, how I wish I could be there! If you're in the area and able to attend, please take some pictures for me. I'd love to see the show installed!

Contemporary Clay Biennial 2010
Juried by Ceramist and Clay Times columnist Pete Pinnell
May 14 - June 26, 2010
Opening Reception - Friday, June 4, 6:30 - 9pm

Juror Pete Pinnell - Clay demonstration and workshop June 5-6, 9-5pm.

Urban Pocket, earthenware, steel, wood backing, 9 x 40 x 4", 2009.