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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged clay

For my Ceramics 2 class this semester I intentionally signed up for the section taught by an instructor who focuses a lot on figurative sculpture.  I want to explore and express the immediacy of what is going on in my life, but I am scared of it.  Our first assignment has a completely open ending.  I guess just writing that and seeing “open ending” gives me a place to start from.   Yesterday, in class, I was feeling blocked.  After many days of feeling full of inspiration class finally started and I couldn’t move.

Terror.

The assignment is meant as a warm-up exercise and I was dead cold.

 

 

 

Instead of starting on my real assignment I spent some time learning to use the clay extruder.  I think it’s going to make my ceramics life a lot better.  It will help in saving my hands and wrists and might be a significant addition to my toolbox.

Discovering there was this extruder in the school studio the entire last semester of Ceramics 1, but never being informed of it or taught how to use it is a little perplexing, if not a bit irritating.  But…at the same time I’m glad I didn’t know about it.  I learned things the “hard” way.   I learned how to do everything through hard work and determination and it got me more intimate with my clay.

It feels like life is that way sometimes.  Doing things the hard way through blood, sweat and tears and then someone tells you about something that gives you the same result with, essentially, the flip of a switch.

I mean, seeing this extruder machine in the studio is an extremely concrete “in reality” sort of thing.  I can see that it’s a lot easier to make coils or forms using this machine than it is to roll out coils tediously by hand.  But what if someone tells me an easier way to do something I can’t see or touch?

I have to admit, I even looked at that extruder with skepticism.  I didn’t want to deal with the anxiety of learning how to use it and, at first, I viewed it as a sort of “cheat.”  After all, shouldn’t everything be extremely difficult in life?

This seems to be one of my switched wires in my brain.  Why do I go around thinking nothing is worthwhile unless it is painful and difficult?

What if I can go about putting my creative ideas into reality through simpler means and enjoy the entire process?  Is it then, somehow, not as good???

It’s a little crazy, really.

 

I need to get over this idea that enjoyment has to be counter-weighted by misery.

It’s just a LIE.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The counter-weight of misery does NOT make joy any more safe.

 

And this brings me to the topic of Joy.

Joy is extremely risky, dangerous and downright chill-invoking without faith.

I might even believe that without faith there can be no joy at all.

 

This isn’t something I’ve thought about before writing this, but it just sort of dawned on me.

 

It’s all a part of letting-go and getting somewhere.

For me, it’s a part of getting unstuck.  That’s what if feels like.

 

There’s enough aggression and violence in the world without me needing to add to it through the creative process of my life.  Is it really needed?

 

What if I let the clay be soft and didn’t fight working with a clay that’s not workable yet?  What if I took the steps to help the clay work for me and not power through by sheer force that is only going to break me and not lead to the greatest creative outcome anyway?

 

It’s back to breathing.  Letting go, letting things be ok.

Accepting help.

Making a beautiful life willing to be made.

 

I have come to this acceptance the hard way and I wonder what miracles are ahead.

What other amazing machine I didn’t know about before hangs right in front of me on the walls of the studio awaiting discovery?

 

 

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I wrote about this sad egg last night.  Otherwise known as the bad egg (more images in my last post.)

I’m back to look at it again.  I slept on it.

It needed some incubation.

 

I dreamt about ceramics class.

I dreamt that I was in class with my current teacher’s wife, which while it sounds strange (yet, perhaps fitting for me if you’re familiar with my life) it’s not really too weird because my teacher’s wife is also a ceramics teacher at the school I attend.  In fact, I had attempted taking her class the semester I got pregnant with my  (now) toddler and quit (without officially withdrawing) because of pregnancy issues and I got an “F.”

An F.

That was an “F” to replace my “C” I had earned the semester 5 years earlier with her husband because I up and quit before final critique and the final written test in class after I was affected by one of my classmates committing suicide in the same class.

He was there one day, a nice, quiet guy…and then gone.  And I only knew he was gone because his dad came to class to pick up his stuff one day and then my teacher made a vague announcement about him not returning.  Ever.

You can take a class 3 times before the school cuts you off and won’t allow any more re-do’s.

So this is it.

My last chance at Ceramics 1.

 

I don’t remember all of my dream last night.

I basically remember being in trouble for something I did.  I think I might have missed a class and my teacher was irritated at me.  And I am really sensitive about irritating people.  I don’t like to do it, which is ironic since I probably do it a lot.  I’m probably irritating you now!

I remember a charcoal drawing of a pot, and I remember asking questions about it.  There were things I didn’t understand.  Stuff about orthogonal lines that confused me.  And I love basically everything about art, but when it comes to orthogonals I definitely tune out.

 

So I woke up thinking about what I labeled my bad egg.

I never give up on things.  It’s both what has kept me going and kept me from going, at times.

It’s my love/hate relationship with tenacity.

It’s my war.

It’s my life.

In some way, it’s me.

 

At one time I used the word as an online moniker.

 

I want this egg to succeed.  When it started out I didn’t really care that much about it.  I just wanted to complete this assignment and move on to one I was interested in.  But then, it evolved.

And I had feelings.

And people saw.

And I had questions.

It developed a purpose.

 

If you really want the truth, it’s not really my project at all.  It’s a kid inside me’s project.  I didn’t care much about this one, so I handed it over, I guess.

And so…

And so what?

 

And so, I don’t know.

 

So I’m going to ask more questions for this one, inside.

I’m not going to give up on helping things along.  It needs a little help.

She needs a little help.

Maybe a lot.

 

The long, hard night is over.

Today is another day.

I’ll sit on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a project I’ve been working on almost all semester.  I think it’s been through the kiln 5 times for different processes.  It’s experienced some experiments and some hardship.  The lid  has been cracked (and fixed) once (fell off my project shelf)  and it’s had a bit too heavy an application of copper oxide for my liking.  The egg no longer looks like it goes with it’s “nest” and the thing is starting to look overdone.  I’m not happy with it now, so I’m thinking of just throwing as many things as possible at it to see if I can miraculously bring it back to life.  I don’t know what else to do with it at this point.  It’s one of those projects that starts out with a lot of promise, but in the end is a big disappointment.   I kind of want to throw it at a wall.  It’s a “learning” piece, but I didn’t want it to be a learning piece.   I wanted it to do what I wanted it to do, and it’s not doing what I want it to.  I’m frustrated with it and starting to be embarrassed by it.  But I will keep throwing things at it until I just can’t take it anymore and throw it, itself.

There are only a handful of weeks left for this semester until all of our “wet work” has to be completed and the kiln is going at full tilt to get everyone’s projects fired for grades.  I have other projects I’m working on currently, and at least one project I’m pretty happy with that is complete with another cool one in the wings.  Then there’s the wheel thrown stuff that is somehow miraculously working out.   But this is the one I’m showcasing because it’s the one that’s been the most emotional, so far.  The most “unsuccessful.”   The most troubling.

This is the one that feels so totally out of control, and the one that at some points I have tried to control the most.  Because I’m looking for an outcome.  Because I had a finished picture in mind somewhere along the way.  And I am not happy because this is not it.  I have quit feeling enjoyment while I am working on it.  Will I be able to reclaim my joy with it?  Can it be redeemed?  Can it  survive?  Can it become good again?