Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Posts Tagged ‘pottery’

Donna Polseno – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010


Donna Polseno will exhibit a selection of her contemporary yet classic ceramic vessels at Plinth Gallery this month. Her restrained forms and lush, layered glazes have earned her two national artist grants, and her work has shown internationally. Donna has successfully transformed the pot into a provocative sculpture.Donna’s show opens during our First Friday opening night for Denver Arts Week.

For more information about Donna Polseno please visit her website.

For more information on Plinth Gallery please their website.   

Please join Plinth Gallery in welcoming Donna for her first Denver appearance, opening Reception, November 5th, 5 – 10pm.

Donna thank you for sharing your thoughts, I know this interview came at an extremely busy time for you. 

Sorry for the small text.  I can’t seem to fix it. 

Tell us a little about yourself!

I have been a studio artist since graduating from RISD in 1974. My husband Richard Hensley ( who I met at the Kansas City Art Institute where we studied with Ken Ferguson) and I moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains with a ton of clay that I made at school before leaving, because he had an injury at the time from a car accident. We rented a house for 50 dollars a month and made 2 rooms into a studio. We now live in an farm house that we bought across the way from that house. We never had regular jobs until 6 years ago when we started teaching part time at Hollins Univ. We share one job. We have two grown sons who were 10 years apart so it was easy to take them to craft fairs when we were young and doing that sort of thing. I count myself lucky to have this wonderful family. I started out making Raku pottery and made a sort of precocious start to my career, looking back. But after winning grants , awards, and good publicity for about 5 years, I changed my work and got dropped by books, galleries and fans. It was quite an eye opener and I spent a lot of time depressed at first, but learned a sense of who I was and a resolve to not let other influences rather than my own resourcefulness decide my work. I eventually started making 2 bodies of work as my vessels became larger and more figurative. Since that time I have always made pottery and figurative sculpture. Some people know me only as the maker of one or the other. But both are equally important to me. They feed each other in some obvious and some not so obvious ways.



How did you become an artist?

My father was a painter and illustrator. Like me he had two bodies of work to help support a family.


How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

I was just lucky when I was young to do that. There wasn’t as much competition either. My work has changed so much over the years I can not really answer that clearly. I hope I just dug a deep well, as Ferguson used to say.


What is your inspiration for your pieces?

My pottery is inspired these days by nature. I live in a beautiful place and want to be outside every moment I am not in the studio. The plants and grasses and flowers I incorporate into my work are all around me. My father was a nut about nature and he was also a bird painter and amateur ornithologist as well as doing landscapes. I started painting and now sculpting birds recently as an homage to him in a way.


What keeps you motivated?

Life. It is so full of wonder. I love using me hands and interpreting the world around me.


Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

Yes I am a full time artist. I can only say I rarely lack ideas, but it does happen and I get cranky. My mentor Wayne Higby told me when I was a student that I was very observant visually of the world around me.


What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

When I was in art school I was pretty much a hippy at first but one day as a freshman, Victor Babu showed slides of pottery from ancient to contemporary and I flipped out and knew I had to make that. I knew nothing. So unlike most people it was not the feel of the clay. My father thought I had flipped. You are going to make pots and pans he said. I did love it from first touch also.


What or who inspires you?

I love using pottery. My home and kitchen are full of pots. It is just who we are and what we do.


How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I take a lot of walks. I do Qigong, Bagua, and Yoga. I read. I study Italian. We have a small home in the mountains of Liguria in Italy. I get very recharged being part of another culture. We love to travel and have been lucky enough to travel work related to many places including China, Turkey, and Europe. One son and his wife live nearby, the other comes home for long stretches and Rick’s parents live next door so we have a loving family around and many long time friends. We are part of a group of other potters called 16 Hands and we are able to sell most of our work at home because of our group tour and these are our oldest and dearest friends as well. It all lends to a very busy but healthy feeling life.


You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it  for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

Just be resourceful. I have done so many kinds of work and approaches to making a living, I could write a book. But in the end it is best to say only to work hard, don’t get stuck on one idea or thing, try different methods and attitudes,be creative and positive. Hard times and mistakes are all lessons in their own way. It may not sound it, but I have had many hard times and have had to work like anyone to see those as part of the whole journey.


What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Only to put one foot in front of the other and see everything, not just pottery. It will come with sincere hard work and practice through your hands and your heart and by taking everything in.


Thanks Donna!!!

Good News!! 500 Vases and Ayumi Horie Pots in Action Contest!!

Monday, October 4th, 2010

"500 Vases" One of the title pages.

This has been a good week.  It started out, when I got home and found 500 Vases waiting for me in the mailbox; I was lucky enough to have all three of my submissions accepted in the book.  And I was thrilled to find my work on one of the title pages!!!

500 Vases page 22

500 Vases page 22

Here is what Lark Books says about the 500 Series book:

500 Vases was juried by the Julia Galloway.  The 500 Series is one of Lark’s most distinctive and popular lines, this is the series lovers of fine craftsmanship rave about. It provides an overview of the best contemporary work in fields such as ceramics, jewelry making, woodworking, and more. Each book is juried by an expert, features informative introductory text, and showcases spectacular images of state-of-the-art work. The first entry in the series, 500 Teapots, was published in 2002. Since then, 35 books have followed, and new titles release each season. With an international roster of contributors that includes both established names and up-and-coming craftspeople, each volume spotlights the shared and divergent approaches taken by artists who are producing visionary work. Filled with lavish photographs, these gorgeous books inspire crafters and collectors, artists and aficionados—anyone who enjoys celebrating the creative spirit.

500 Vases

500 Vases p142

500 Vases p195

500 Vases p195

Iam ecstatic to be a part of this inspirational book.  After looking at all the images of the book, I had to go work in my studio.  I had been taking time off from the studio, (excuses, excuse, excuses…) because I almost broke my finger (still swollen after a month), it’s the start of the school year, and I’m tired from my new school schedule.   I had a fantastic night in my studio, and I’m soooo excited to be working again.  Thank you Lark Books for getting me out of my back to school slump!!!

If you want the book here is a couple of links: and Barnes and

Other Good News!!

Ayumi's Pots in Action Contest 2nd Place

I believe Vander’s sweet little face was hard to resist, and the darling Lindsey!!

I found out I got second place in Ayumi Horie’s Pots in Action Contest. Last night when I found, my husband and I went to Ayumi’s website to see what I won.  As we were doing this Vander comes wandering over to see what we are doing and looks at the computer screen and says, “That’s my monkey cup.”  I can’t argue with that.  Vander has his first piece of amazing pottery in his collection.

Thank You Ayumi!!!  I love your work and our new Monkey Mug!!

Pots in Action Prizes

Thank you to everyone who voted for our picture!!

People have asked me if I was nervous that the camel was so close to Vander.   I am friends with the owners of the Terry Bison Ranch where we took the pictures, and called before we went out there, and asked if this idea was possible.  They wouldn’t let us in the field with camels, and one of the owners went with us to feed the camels.  She was right there just out of the picture at all times.  The camels are hand feed, trained for riding, but only one person rides them.

Here are some more pictures of the day.

Even if we didn’t win a prize the day was well worth it.  The kids had a blast.  We petted and played with so many animals that day.  It was great to have a guided tour of such a fun place.

Richard Burkett – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

19EDE0C2-9AA4-4360-A730-4D398F9FF146 Richard Burkett’s ceramics are contemporary interpretations of common pottery forms such as teapots, covered jars, and pouring vessels. Burkett is perhaps best recognized for his prolific output of cups, each one having a unique shape, a different glaze, and individual decoration.  His highly distinctive “Gear Cups” have bases and handles that resemble industrial gears and machine parts, and these whimsical pieces almost seem alive.  Burkett’s gear series is his most recent effort to balance the mechanical with the personal, and the impersonal with the poetic. 

Join him for an opening reception  on  “First Friday”, October 1, 6-9pm at Plinth Gallery in Denver, Colorado.Burkett’s work will be on display through October 30, 2010.

For more information go to Richard’s website

For more information on Plinth Gallery go to their website 

How did you become an artist?

I’ve always been interested in art and making objects, but thanks to a public school system that values science and math over art I was always encouraged to focus on those more “academic” subjects. I actually had advisers tell me that I should stay with science as a vocation and art should be an avocation. Luckily, I didn’t take their advice and during college switched from majoring in physics to art with a focus on ceramics. My first real ceramics experience was after my freshman year in college when I got a summer job making wheel-thrown ashtrays for the late potter Richard Peeler. I was hooked on working with clay, and the next summer talked my parents into letting me build a salt kiln in their driveway. After ten years as a full-time potter making mostly salt glazed ware, I decided to return to grad school. I’ve been teaching ceramics at the university level ever since, and continue making pottery and sculpture after over 40 years working in clay.0CE720AD-16B6-468B-9BCB-A4BC547C3E21 How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

I’m still working on that ‘signature’ look. I’m not really interested in that as it seems too formulaic, but I do tend to focus on small bodies of work that have a common theme. This exhibition, for example, has a sort of ‘gear-ware’ motif running through it. Much of my work over the years has had an element of repurposing of found objects and industrial cast offs. Sometimes, as in this work, the gears are clay, but other bodies of work have combined actual industrially manufactured metal parts as handles and spouts . A few of these pieces have cast bronze or iron lids and other metal parts that I’ve fabricated.31CB2C8A-C280-4C8C-871B-828767EB19AA What is your inspiration for your pieces?

I’ve always had a fascination for things that have been made out of necessity from objects and materials at hand. My first pottery was located on what had been my grandfather’s farm, and there were lots of things around that he had made during his lifetime that spanned the Great Depression when there was no money to buy anything. Both my grandfather and father were inveterate tinkerers and makers. Additionally, my father was a chemistry professor, so visiting his laboratory and looking at glassware other chemical porcelain has had a resonance in my ceramic forms.BurkettCups_002-001 

What keeps you motivated?

I love to make things, to see new forms emerge from clay.E2C87169-C3A0-447F-BE14-0F0070F80571Are you a full-time artist?

Yes, in that I teach art and ceramics at SDSU so I’m always thinking about art in some fashion, but I don’t make ceramics to support myself. I also play music, another art form. I think I live a pretty full creative life.BurkettCups_019-001

 How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

I usually work in series. Starting to make new work is always the hardest part. I often start by making objects that I’ve made before, and see where the variations lead me. I sketch work both on paper and in clay, and often revisit forms I’ve made in the past to see how I can make them better.


What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

My desire to work in clay was certainly inspired by that first summer job making ash trays for Richard Peeler. Other than some minor contact with clay in grade school, that was my first real ceramics experience. My dad taught me how to make all sorts of things, including how to turn bowls on a lathe. My mother taught me how to do silk screen printing one summer after she took a class. I remember always wanting to make things.burkettcups_013-001What or who inspires you?

Wow – a bunch of stuff. I’m inspired by the immensely rich history of ceramics. I’ve been lucky to have visited museums all over the world to see pottery from the past. I’ve traveled many times to Ecuador on a project to document indigenous potters and pottery there before it disappears. Diversity of form and surface has certainly inspired me. I love texture. I love industrial forms.Like most artists, I’m constantly in awe of natural form, color and surface. There are so many great contemporary ceramic artists out there doing wonderful work. All of these things inspire me, even though I may not be making work that seems to immediately draw elements from any of these sources directly.

burkettvessels_002-001 How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

That’s always a hard thing, especially when my main work is teaching at a university. I work in clay and play music to help forget the traumas that state bureaucracy inflict. Studio work is a joy that I try to savor when I can.BurkettCups_022-001

You, like most people enjoy the process of making and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition to selling your work. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

I’m really not the person to ask about this. What I’ve learned so far is that I really don’t want to make the kind of work that I think I’d need to make as a business venture that was my sole means of support. I did make pottery for my living for about ten years after college in the 1970s. I enjoyed that part of my life, but I found I enjoyed the aesthetic interaction of teaching ceramics more. My best advice to anyone thinking about making ceramic objects for a living is stay true to your own aesthetic, your passions, and your standards, then find a partner or employee to do the promotion, office work, shipping, bookkeeping, grant writing, gallery solicitation, etc. that needs to be done to make it possible for you to make what you do best. It’s nearly impossible to do it all yourself.BurkettCups_020-001

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Look at the world around you, study the past, look at the present, try everything. Then make work that integrates the elements that excite you the most from all this without directly copying anything, while synthesizing the best of everything. David Byrne said “If you can think of it, it exists somewhere.” Yet the field of ceramics is so broad and so complex that one can still find an original niche in one’s choice and synthesis of visual elements.


out with the old!!!! IN WITH THE NEW!!!!

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Welcome!! To my redesigned website!! You’ll find some new pieces, a new publications page, and a new projects page, please looks around, and make yourself at home!!  Here is a little teaser if you came to the blog first.  The blog also has a whole new look. 

So what do you think? 

website connie

Kelly S. Curtis is most excellent web designer out there. She is so easy to work with and does an amazing job. If you’re in the market for a website Kelly is the best!!!  When I started this blog, Kelly got it started, matched it to my webiste, then helped me long until I figured out how to do it myself.  I can’t say enough great things about her.  Kelly I can’t thank you enough for your fabulous work!!

Check out Kelly’s website she has 40 plus artists as clinets.  (mostly ceramics)  If you haven’t been to her site before, you’ll be amazed at how many of artists you’re already familar with, and see many more. 

Here is a screen shot of the way my website use to look like.  Kelly also did this fantastic banner, but I was ready for a new one.  I want to make some business cards that match my website, and I didn’t think this banner would work in a smaller format. 


Colorado Regional Clay Invitational Exhibition “For the Table”

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Colorado Regional Clay Invitational Exhibition

“For the Table”

The Arts Alive! Gallery, Summit County Arts Council & Summit Clay are proud to present local & regional clay artists exhibiting functional & sculptural works in clay made specifically “For the Table”.

October 1 – November 11, 2010

Arts Alive! Gallery

Breckenridge Colorado 

500 South Main Street, Suite 2B

Breckenridge Colorado

Donna Causland 
Iris Bedford Peterson 
 Sharon Speedy 
 Sue Schmidt 
 Kathryn Resseguie 
 Sumi von Dassow 
 Connie Christensen 
 Connie Norman 
 Michelle Woods 
 Jenn Cram 
 Tara Wilson 
 Wynne Wilbur 
 Rita Vali 
 Nicole Copel 
 Pam Herring 
 Deborah Hager 
 Vicky Hansen 
 Donna Rozman 
 Cindy Searles 
 Sarah Houde 
 Lorelei Banks

Colorado Art Education Association attendees are invited to

Colorado Regional Clay Invitational Exhibition

“For the Table”

for a “Chili Sampling” reception

Friday, October 15, 2010  4:00 – 6:00pm

Posey Bacopoulos – Artist Interview

Saturday, September 18th, 2010


A few months ago I received a letter telling me that Posey Bacopoulous had images accepted to the upcoming book 500 Vases, (due out next month). I was very confused. I looked back at the envelope and then again at the letter. The envelope was indeed addressed to me. At first I was extremely disappointed, I thought my application had been rejected, and somehow  I got  Posey letter, instead of my rejection letter. What diabolical trick!!  As I went through the rest of my mail that day, I found another letter also address to me from Lark Books, this HAD to be the terrible rejection letter. But amazingly, it was not!! I had also been accepted to 500 Vases!! Now the mystery is how did I get Posey’s letter? I have no idea. I did throw it in another envelope and mail it to her. Thus our conversation started and I asked her to be interviewed on my blog. This is one of the more interesting stories of meeting an artist’s to be interviewed on this ol’ blog.

For more information of Posey’s work visit her website at 

Tell us about yourself

I am a studio potter living in New York City. I have lived in the New York City area all my life except for a time when I went to college in Madison, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin. My apartment is in Greenwich Village. It is in a big tall building and I am on the 14th floor so I have great views of the Empire State Building and west to New Jersey . My block is really lovely with lots of trees and beautiful old brownstones. My studio is in Long Island City and I get there by subway. I do not own a car. The trip door to door is about half an hour and I use that time to catch up on my reading._poseyMG_8499How did you become an artist?

When I was in school in Madison I studied European History. When I graduated there was not much for me to with that degree so I went back to school to get a masters degree in elementary education. I came back to NYC and started to teach elementary school. I was a classroom teacher and taught everything-reading, math science etc. One day I decided it would be fun to take a class at night and be the pupil instead of the teacher. I called a friend and asked her if she wanted to go with me. She said she had always wanted to take a pottery class. I did not really want to do that because I did not think that I was artistic. I had never had any art classes in high school or college. But she convinced me to go and that was it. Clay is very seductive and I was hooked very quickly. Teaching school I had my summers off and I started going to all the craft schools-Penland, Haystack, Anderson Ranch.posey1178How would your describe your style

Living in NYC it would be very difficult If not impossible for me to have a gas kiln or a wood kiln. So after spending a semester in Italy in the University of Georgia Studies Abroad program where we did majolica I decided to continue working that way. It is suited to my city life as it only requires an electric kiln. My style is a contemporary approach to the majolica of the Italian Renaissance. I have been working with majolica for the past 15 years. The floral motifs on my pots are patterns rather than actual representations that serve to divide the space in interesting ways.posey4066What is your inspiration for your pieces?

I like to look at Japanese Orbie and Mimbres Indian pots. I am inspired by the way that they use their decorative techniques to enrich their pots. Whenever I see a “good pot “ either old or new I am inspired to make my own pots.posey4073What keeps you motivated?

I am motivated by the search to make “better and better” pots. I love to make pots and I love to decorate and I combine these two loves in my work.posey341079-R1-E002Are you a full time artist?

I am a full time studio potter. I find that one pot leads to another. If I try a new form on a mug and it works I will then try it on a pitcher and then on other pots. There are so many variations on single idea. It keeps me going. It seems there is always something new to work on.posey341079-R1-E007What made you want to start creating?

I took my first pottery class and was quickly hooked on clay.Posey%20%20Bacopoulos%20Flower%20BasketWhat or who inspires you?

I was lucky to be able to go to various craft schools when I was learning to make pots. I was inspired by the many teachers I worked with during these summer workshops. Also I have a large collection of pots in my apartment which I look at and use everyday. I am constantly inspired by them.posey_bacopoulos%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20scalloped%20PlateHow do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I do not always. I try to work during the week and take off on the weekends but it usually does not work out. I am often in the studio on Saturdays and sometimes on Sunday. I do take time to exercise and do Pilates two mornings a week. But my life does revolve around my studio.I enjoy being in the studio and working.posey_MG_5747You like most people enjoy the process of making and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

I think of the business aspect as part of the whole process. It completes the pot when someone buys and uses it. The “business” is not as much fun as making pots but it is the end of the process that gets the pots to the user.poseyBAC-P-174What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice?

Make lots of pots and then make more. It is through the making that you find your own voice. It’s a process and lots of hard work but in the end it is worth it. 

PoseyB_0105 posey_MG_5756

Melody Ellis – Artist Interview

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Today’s interview is with Melody Ellis. I have loved her work for years. I can’t remember where I became acquainted with amazing sculptures, but her work has always been one of my favorites. All of her work is made from earthenware clay, steel and range from 7 – 9 inches in their largest dimension. Most of her work has moving parts as well.

Check out Melody’s website:

m.ellis jumping%20dog%20sideTell us a little about yourself!
I’m approaching 40 and have a small child who gets most of my time and attention. I’m fortunate to be married to another clay artist (Matt Wilt) who is my instant community when I need some technical help or input. At present, we have to carefully schedule our time so that we can both get studio, social, and family time. I relax by gardening and
playing with our daughter and our dogs, or getting together with friends.

m.ellis Rocking%20Monkey m.ellis Rocking%20Monkey%20detailHow did you become an artist?
My parents and maternal grandfather were very handy people when I was growing up– always making or fixing things.  Whether it was painting or carving or cooking or gardening, I got the message that making things by hand was a useful and engrossing occupation. I also come from a family of avid object-collectors, so I got to live in a house full of interesting and mysterious artifacts that I still find inspiring.

m.ellis Mr%20Punch How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with
your own style and signature look?
I guess I would describe my style as exuberant, dark, humorous, controlled, detailed… It’s a difficult thing to say when one develops a “style”, as it’s a process of evolution that is never complete. The more you work, the more it develops all on its own– it’s just a natural process.

punch What is your inspiration for your pieces?
I love to look at other artwork, whether historical majolica, handmade quilts, mosaic, or contemporary painting. I tend to gravitate toward figurative and narrative work, which is my own subject matter as well. But I do also take inspiration from toys, antiques, book illustrations… I think you just have to keep your eyes open and take it where you find it. It can come from anywhere. Just being in the world, gardening, interacting with people and animals, taking a walk with my daughter,  it all finds its way into my work.

m. ellis Judy%201m.ellis Judy%202What keeps you motivated?
Sometimes it’s the desire to see what happens next or to try something new or to just finish a piece I’m excited about.  Sometimes it’s a deadline, and that’s valid too– that really works for me when I’m not feeling particularly interested in working. A good audiobook and the prospect of some quiet concentration time can also be very alluring.

m.ellis Busts Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?
I can’t say I’m full-time. I don’t have an outside job, but being the mother of a small child who is not yet in school is very time-consuming and really restricts my studio time. As for new pieces… a lot of that, for me, has always been dependent on having the time to daydream and ponder and sit quietly with my sketchbook, or get out to shows for new inspiration.  Those things are in short supply these days, but I can usually get excited about an idea just by looking through my sketchbook at things I haven’t gotten to yet. I start with a drawing of a finished piece I’d like to create, and my next step is to figure out how I’m going to construct it. Since my sculptures have jointed parts and hang on the wall, there is a lot of planning ahead required to make a successful piece. That’s a fun challenge for me. I always have a well of unrealized ideas to choose from because I don’t get into my studio enough to make all the work I’d like to– but this keeps me energized and excited about making new work.

M.Ellis Pugilist%201m.ellis Pugilist%202What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?
I have always enjoyed making things by hand, since I can remember. Nothing else I’ve tried, or other jobs I’ve had, has really changed that or taken me from it.

m.ellisLive%20Mermaid%20mosaicWhat or who inspires you?
My family, other work I see, colors, textures, pieces I’ve made that have been successful or unsuccessful, discovering a new material or process, the excitement of a show coming up, approaching a new concept and hoping it will work, spending time with friends who are artists and who experience the same struggles and successes, getting out of the
studio and into the world.

m.ellisKrampus%203 m.ellis Krampus%202M. Ellis Krampus%20dHow do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?
I don’t have much choice right now– my schedule is pretty structured at the moment. Having less free time has really made me appreciate the quiet studio time that I do get to myself. I’m a bit of a daydreamer and slowpoke, and I’ve learned since becoming a mother that I can work even when I’m not in the mood, and I can work a lot faster and more efficiently than I thought. I now work in chunks of time as I get them, and I can shift gears a lot more quickly than I used to. The rest takes care of itself– I play with my daughter, have family outings, see friends, garden and spend time outside– almost anything I want to do, I can do with a 3-year-old, except working in the studio.

monkey-1-hi-resYou, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having
to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?
I have always made it a point not to mix business and art more than is necessary. I know this would be completely impractical for many, but since I am not a full-time artist making a living from my work (and have never aspired to be), I have enjoyed being able to work slowly and do whatever I like in the studio. In the past, I have had full- or part-time jobs to support myself, and kept a home studio where I worked as much as possible. Now my husband supports the family with a university teaching job, I take care of our daughter, and Matt and I both eke out studio time where we can.  Having said that, of course the time comes when one must decide if, when and how to show one’s work– and then price it. My disinterest in business and production ruled out craft fairs and shows. I have mainly tried to find a few fine craft galleries that can show my work in exhibits on a regular basis, and then taken part in group shows when I can. I do keep track of expenses and income, but that’s more for my own amusement than for any other purpose. I declare my art income, and there is a reckoning on tax day some years, but it’s all pretty small potatoes.

m.ellis figureheadWhat advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?
Look at a lot of stuff that excites you, work as much as you can, try new things, talk to and watch people– especially those who are good at what they do, and are generous with their knowledge. Take every opportunity that comes your way, as much as possible. It will all lead you somewhere, even if that path isn’t evident at the moment.

m.ellis Amazing%20Twin%20Girls%20mosaic

Melody, thank you for contributing to your interview to my blog, I’m sorry it took me so long to post.  It was a real pleasure reading about you and your thoughts!!

Sheila Hrasky – Artist Interview

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

 hrasky 2

Check out Shelia’s web site

Shelia is represented by Plinth Gallery

Sheila K. Hrasky is a fine art artist of the West who works ceramics, oils, acrylics, and watercolors. Sheila is known for her nesting ceramic flower bowls and on location paintings. She remains true to the process and produces original art daily.

Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up in the mid- west, Illinois. My love of Art was known at an early age. With support from my family and a lot of trips to the Museum at The Art Institute of Chicago, my passion for Art became very clear. Art was more than something to just pass the time, it lead my studies all the way through college achieving a degree in Art Studio. I was educated at The Rhode Island School of Design and the University of New Mexico. After graduation I spent the next ten years working as an artist, living in New Mexico. In 2004 I trailed north to Livingston, Montana where I continue to follow my dreams and make Art daily. hrasky 1

How did you become an artist?

I knew from a very early age that I was an Artist. I was always creating something; I have a piece of ceramic art from almost every year of my life. So it was the logical choice to follow my instincts and become an Artist.

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How would you describe your style?

One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look? After I graduated from College, in Art Studio in New Mexico I started going to the Flea Market in Santa Fe with some of my artwork to sell. By the end of the first month of selling my art I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to make to sell in Galleries. So over a period of 4 days I came up with my Idea of the Flower Bowls. Form fitting function was one of my biggest concerns, so I decided to hand cut the edges like flowers and then paint the bowls in a timeless floral pattern I focused on my strengths and gave myself the time and discipline of throwing pots daily to get more efficient at the process.

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What is your inspiration for your pieces?

My inspiration comes from my love of color and pattern. I knew it was important o my work to supply the form …a bowl which people can use…. and then use great color in a way that makes the piece irresistible. I observed how people would buy things and color is a big motivator, so now I follow trends in style, color and patterns.

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What keeps you motivated?

The Process keeps me on going, I work on my Pottery daily, and it sets the routine. It is very fulfilling because every part of the clay process has something very rewarding about it. I truly enjoy making one thing well.

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Are you a full-time artist?

How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces? I am a full time artist…living simply, but keeping my dream alive. I probably come up with a new edge every couple of years. Sometimes it life that inspires me, a new trend in color or just the way two colors look when they are right next to each other.

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What was it that made you want to start creating?

Did something specific trigger it? I have a clay work of art from almost every year of my life. So naturally I was drawn to it, but really what sold me on Clay was that I can make something that people could use, a functional bowl. I have found some security in this form of art. Once I had the form…the bowl, I got to have a lot of fun with the designs and the way I Painted each bowl.

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What or who inspires you?

I am inspired by Color. It motivates me to keep trying new designs on my bowls.

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How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

Focus and Discipline, and the understanding that I love living the life of an Artist. I am pretty grateful to be able to create art on a daily basis.

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You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn't get into it for the sake of "business". But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?After I graduated from College I started to make out of Clay whatever I could think of and then went to the Flea Market in Santa Fe and stood in front of the Public and Listened to what they liked, and a month later I was developing my idea of my Flower bowls. It worked instantly and through perseverance a year later I was in a Gallery that my College Professor shows in.


What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Do your research. In my case I spent a Year seeing what people were making out of Clay in Galleries I wanted to be in and I found my niche, "Color " in a sea of shades of Brown pottery in New Mexico. And then I worked very hard on Technique. Know your market and believe in yourself.

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Shelia, Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful work!!

My 100th post!!! And the Nicolaysen Art Museum’s 25th Annual Dinner and Auction!!

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The Nicolaysen Art Museum presents the 25th Annual Dinner and Auction Gala

Here is my donated artwork for their auction.


Friday, September 10, 2010 at 6 p.m.
at the Nicolaysen Art Museum

Tickets: $150 Members or $175 Non Members

Master of Ceremonies: Brian Scott

Black Tie Optional

Cuisine by Chef Bernard of Armor’s


Hors D’oeuvres
Savory cheesecakes baked in delicate, flaky phyllo cups
Fresh mozzarella balls, basil and roasted red pepper skewers
Salty and sweet bacon knots
Assorted fresh cheese and relish display

Tuscan cranberry almond salad

Main Course
Succulent filet mignon with a balsamic & red onion
reduction sauce
Crisp haricots verts with jicama and peppers
Roasted baby fingerling potatoes

Creamy layered chocolate trifle


If your in the area The Nic is a great museum.  Please come to support them!!

Bebe Alexander – Artist Interview

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

  Haven   Salt fired stoneware, 22 inches high 

Check out Bebe’s web site. 

Bebe is represented by Plinth Gallery!  Check out the exciting shows Jonathan is exhibiting!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am a ceramic artist, living in Denver, Colorado. Most of my work is handbuilt, using slab construction. Surface is extremely important to me, and I use a wide variety of firing techniques to achieve the surface that I have in mind.I run the ceramics education program for The Arvada Center. The Arvada Center is a multi-use cultural facility located in Arvada, Colorado, and is comprised of three galleries, a history museum, three theaters, a conference center and educational classrooms, including a fantastic ceramics studio. I make, and bisque fire my own work in my studio at home, and then bring it to the Arvada Center to glaze fire, where I have access to a number of kilns and firing choices. Lately I have been firing my work at either cone 10 reduction or salt, and lately have been experimenting with cone 6 reduction.bebe Alexandria%20AlexanderHow did you become an artist? When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was an artist. She taught me how to paint, and entered me in my first show when I was 9 years old. I went to art classes and workshops with her, and she would take me with her to do site painting in the sand hills of Kansas.In high school I discovered clay, and it has been my medium of choice ever since. Because of my early experience with art, it did not seem like an unusual choice to become an artist.Hopper, 21" high, Bebe AlexanderHow would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look? Like most ceramic artists, my work has been “all over the board” over the years. I tried many different directions, including throwing and hand building functional pots, hand building both organic, and more geometric, architecturally influenced sculpture. I Raku fired my work for about 10 years, because I enjoyed the immediacy of the firing process. I did not like the fragility of the work, and felt limited by the surfaces I could achieve about 12 years ago, and started experimenting with other firing methods including low fire, cone 6 oxidation, cone 10 reduction and salt firing. My work is now all architecturally inspired, and fired at either cone 10 or cone 6 reduction or salt.bebe C%20SentriesWhat is your inspiration for your pieces?My work is a reflection of my fascination with the inventiveness and ingenuity of the human race. The sculptures are very often based on architectural forms and machinery because these are the objects we create to change our environment and landscape.I am very drawn to the lines of deco and streamline modern design. I look at buildings, architectural drawings and illustrations, cars and house wares from the first half of the 20th century for inspiration.bebe urbanformWhat keeps you motivated?Never being completely satisfied with the last piece that I have made keeps me motivated. I always feel that I have a better piece in my mind than the one that I just completed, or am anxious to take what I have learned from a previous piece and apply that knowledge to the next. I think it would be very dangerous for me to complete something and be totally satisfied with the result, or feel that I have nothing left to learn from the next piece.bebe TikalAre you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?I am not a full time artist, because of my position with the Arvada Center, although my job gives me the unique opportunity to be in a ceramics studio daily. I am not always creating my own work, but I am continually involved in helping solve technical and aesthetic questions with the students in the program, which constantly improves my own skills.When I do get time to work on my own work, I spend a lot of time looking at images in books and online to get ideas flowing. I try to look at a lot of images, without focusing too much on each one, so that when I begin to work I am not reproducing an object, but rather taking elements that I have seen to combine them into a new form. I do some very simple outline sketching, just to remind myself of the general idea of the form. I then cut templates for the components of the piece out of roofing paper. I sometimes will tape these templates together before I start building, as a sort of 3D “sketch” so that I can see if the proportions are working.bebe SentinelsWhat was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?I have always had the need to make objects, and feel that that is hard-wired in my brain. It’s a personality trait that I couldn’t escape from, even if I wanted to. I love having the ability and opportunity to make a figment of my imagination into a three dimensional object that can be viewed and touched by another person.bebe RavisTurrisWhat or who inspires you?My early influences in ceramics were Hans Coper and William Daley. I think those early influences are still evident in my work. My inspirations now come from Art Deco and Streamline Modern buildings and design.bebe ObisHow do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?Maintaining a balance between work and life is one of the most difficult challenges for an artist. It can be very difficult, especially for women, to balance a job, family and a career as an artist. Sometimes there is just not enough time in the day, and something has to give. Unfortunately, what usually gives is studio time.I tend to work in intense bursts. When I have an upcoming show I schedule my time in the studio, just as I would schedule any other appointment or obligation. If I wait “until I have time” to get into the studio it doesn’t happen. During these times the rest of my life has to be put second to my time in the studio.bebe PeritusYou, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?When I was in school I took business management courses, as well as art courses, with the idea that I wanted to open my own studio, and needed an understanding of how to run a business. I wound up working as a bank supervisor for several years, and took additional finance classes during that time. I then had my own side business for several years, doing consulting and tax returns for small business, specializing in self employed artists. I also was a co-director and treasurer for a co-op gallery for five years, and was responsible for the cash flow of that business.The advice I would give any artist in regard to how to run their business is to educate themselves, keep good records of expenses and income, and to never use the “but I’m an artist I don’t understand business” excuse. Being able to use both sides of your brain makes you a well balanced person. If you are a full time artist you must take care of the business side of your career, or you will not be able to continue being an artist.bebe Novus2What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?I would advise an aspiring artist to try every idea and method that appeals to them, and to try and turn off their inner critic. Not every piece has to be a success, sometimes you have to make something to learn that that’s not the direction you want to go. Letting go of the fear of failure is necessary for growth in your work and finding your own unique voice.

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Thanks Bebe!!!