My friends and I attended a presentation by a ceramic artist, V. Chin. (I have written about him before.) The event was put on by the Greater Austin Clay Artists organization, hosted by St. Edward's University – Fine Arts Building.
None of us is a ceramic artist, so our attendance was questionable at best. Fortunately, we know Chin and a few other of the artists there, and they were kind enough to let that tiny detail slide. I mean, it was promoted on Facebook, so that means it's open to the public right? Maybe? In the end, it probably caused less of a commotion to just let us sit in than to have us forcibly removed.
Also, we decided to make an adventure of it and walk. Tamara lives near the university, so we left our cars at her apartment and set off – believing, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that it was simply going to be a matter of crossing Congress Avenue, which is an adventure in and of itself. In point of fact, her apartment is a few blocks south of St. Edward's and all of those blocks are uphill. There remained the matter of crossing Congress Avenue – quite wide at this section, particularly on foot. Having crossed with our lives intact, we continued to walk, because getting to the intersection of Woodward and Congress doesn't magically drop you into the lobby of the Art Building. It doesn't even mean that you've arrived at the university, per se. More uphill climbing got us to the campus where we did our best to look like lost tourists, in case anybody wanted to stop and give us directions. Most of the people we came across either didn't speak English, were only walking their dog through the campus or both. Combining the direction of two nice gentlemen (one of whom was a campus police officer who was very pleasant) we finally found the art building. Several spooky hallways later we came across the meeting already in session.
We quietly joined at the back of the class and did our best to use our inside voices. This is not something that we are particularly good at. I did manage to get a few pictures of Chin while he worked. Lots of cropping was needed because I didn't want to bring attention to myself by pushing my way to the front. (I kind of did want to, but decided that it was probably best if I didn't.)
I took notes (even though I am not a ceramic artist.) He talked a bit about the thickness of the wall and how that will play into the pot you're throwing. He mentioned that when he carves he doesn't want to have a beginning or an end – it should be continuous on the round vessel. Also, just like in a painting he recommends doing the background first and then the foreground. There were a few quotes that I thought were worth sharing.
"If you don't sell a pot today, you won't be able to throw a pot tomorrow." In other words, a professional artist has to survive and sell work, and as such, they should stay in touch with current trends and what people are looking for. He spoke about the frog that has adorned his pots for years. He said that if he adds a frog, the pot sells. If he just has a pot, it might not sell for months or years. Some of his work isn't conducive to having his frog on it, but he keeps his little friend around because he brings luck.
"To develop a style, you don't try to develop it. Throw lots of pots in lots of styles and your own style will come." (Loosely transcribed.) When trying to master a craft, this is always important. Quantity is as important, if not more, than quality – particularly when you are first learning. Throw hundreds and thousands of pots.
And here's one that really spoke to me. "Always carry a sketchbook." I do, I always have a notebook or sketchbook. (Unless I've left the silly thing somewhere.) He said that you never know when inspiration will come or from where, so always have your sketchbook. I would add to that, use it regularly. Make it a habit to open it and draw or write.
Thank you for visiting me at bemol Ardiente. I'll leave you with a piece that Barry owns, completely with frog.