Participants of Creative Directions are encouraged to research ideas, explore materials and take creative risks during their eight meetings. Running from September 2016 to Fall 2017, Creative Directions begins with four, full day, hands-on workshops with demonstrations and time for practice, skills development and feedback. The last four, full day, sessions are dedicated to group discussion and critiques lead by Michelle to develop individual ideas and personal aesthetics for the final group exhibition. During this entire process Michelle works with participants to identify personal goals and needs to enhance ones technical skills base, develop a sense of critical thinking, assist in creating an artist statement and source, develop and resolve new ideas. Follow along in the artists creative journey as we feature Creative Directions meeting by meeting. Thank you to Annie McDonald, Cathy Francis, Cathy Allen, Jocelyn Jenkins, Mary Sullivan, Rhonda Uppington and Priya Harding for their blog contributions. Please take the time to read about their journey and experiences within the Creative Directions program below.
Meeting #1: September 18, Visual Art Centre Clarington
In preparation for the first meeting Michelle requested each participant prepare, on a USB stick, 5 of their strongest pieces, 2-3 works by artists and/or craftspeople that inspire them and 2 images of a skill or technique they are interested in learning.
The day begins with presentations, everyone is enthused and definitely curious about each other's work. Each participant was given 20 minutes to discuss their work, their inspirations and their goals.
After each presentation, participants end the day with a group critique. Everyone was asked to bring along 2-3 of their own pieces. The group critiques are a great way for the participants and Michelle to bond, learn more about each other's work and for Michelle to get a better idea of skill sets and individual techniques that she can introduce in the upcoming hand-on workshops.
*all images from September 2016 meeting
Meeting #8: May 28, Artisans Centre Peterborough
Priya Harding's blog entry focuses on her own growth, and to the impressive work of others in the group.
Meeting #1: September 18, Visual Art Centre Clarington: First meeting: deep breath … I agonize over what to bring that might be representative of where I am currently, and over which of many new directions I might focus on in discussion. I need to learn so much! Finally, I pack up a large incised slate blue bowl and my morning cereal bowl, a “second” mid fire porcelain piece in classic blue and white that has always felt very comfortable in my hands. It’s a fascinating group, most with formal arts training and the credentials that go with it. The intros can be intimidating! The “critiques” of our actual pottery, the pieces we’ve brought to “show and share” - of the experiences of this day, these are the most interesting, the most revealing, and for me, the most valuable. Functional, non-functional, and pots that bridge the two … intriguing forms, colours, textures, and ideas. I’ve been painting various nature-based patterns over the years, using fine liner watercolour brushes and sticking to a strong blue slip. We’ve had KPG workshops on how to mix slips using stains, but I haven’t managed to try these yet; meanwhile, I really need deeper incising and/or better glazes for texture. Time for a change - but what? I decide to start with underglazes, testing for strength of colour when applied on greenware and clear-glazed.
Meeting #2: October 16, Kawartha Potters Guild: In her demonstrations, Michelle introduces coloured slips and various application methods, and shares a number of slip and glaze recipes. I’ve found the underglazes rather “gloppy” and when I add water the colour pales - I’m so used to working with my own slip that brushes on smoothly and gives strong colour. The need to get away from busy, small patterns means I’m looking for bigger, fuller brush strokes, which I’m not getting with the underglazes right now. More research, more practice … Time also to order some stains. Michelle has also suggested mixing clear into my coloured glazes to see if that improves the effect on incising. I plan to test that, slips with stains, and a clear recipe from Jocelyn as well - thanks, Jocelyn!
Meeting #3: November 13, Kawartha Potters Guild: Adding clear to the slate glaze has helped a bit - but I’m still working on getting the right thickness of glaze. Again, more work to do. I’ve brought the stain tests and a few small tumblers showing glaze combination tests. Michelle’s demonstrations of glaze application are very helpful - I definitely have to work on other ways of layering glazes. The stain tests have been a wash-out, in my eyes at least (several were wash-outs quite literally). My frustration has mounted with Christmas sales pressure. I need play time!
Meeting #4: January 15, Kawartha Potters Guild: Sales are done but I’ve been out of commission for several weeks - all I have to share are two test tumblers and small spoon rest that show some different work with glaze combinations, done before Christmas. I’m seeing real growth in others’ work - such beautiful pieces. So I am anxious to get working and enthusiastic about my assignment from Michelle.
Meeting #5: March 5, Kawartha Potters Guild: So this time, I have something to show at last. I unload the kiln the morning of our meeting and pack everything up: ten small bowls decorated with slips painted on greenware, no banding, clear glazed; ten bowls decorated with underglazes on two different white glazes, majolica style; and ten in various glaze combinations. Focus: breaking up the surface in different ways; don’t worry about “pattern.” Most of what I’ve got is ugly, but it gives me some ideas. I’ve found out much more about the underglazes, why some stains don’t show up under the clear glaze I use at cone 6, how I need to apply some slips and some stains, more about masking and layering. I’m going to throw some larger pieces - plate, bowl, mug - and experiment more with the favourites.
Meeting #6: April 2, Kawartha Potters Guild: A quick turn-around time to this meeting - I don’t have time to fire and just bring photos. Michelle demonstrates, among other things, throwing techniques, which is always lovely to see, as well as handles. Hmm. Next handles I make without “buttons” at the join.
Meeting #7: April 30, Artisans Centre Peterborough: Lots of helpful feedback on the now fired pieces, but I am still in a quandary as to which motifs to further develop … and my clear glaze is acting up, leaving iridescent cloudy streaks and drips. More time to throw and experiment with colour and pattern is badly needed, but once again, I’m between two shows and other commitments.
Meeting #8: May 28, Kawartha Potters Guild: I’ve got answers for my clear glaze, bought latex for masking, and have prepared the artist statement. New pots to come. Everything is still in process. That’s good - this journey continues.
*all images are from the May 28 meeting.