I have a secret. It feels so indulgent and seemingly irresponsible that it's a little scary to talk about it here. Which is exactly why I think I should. I've been spending my late night hours with a mistress: clay ceramics and a pottery wheel.
I make art for a living. What was once a childhood/young-adult/working-adult dream has become a reality, and now time spent illustrating and painting colorful flowers and patterns is all part of a good day's work. I actually get paid to do art.
What anyone who has made art for a living will tell you, though, is that sometimes turning your hobby into your source of income makes it a little less like fun and a lot more like work. That is to say: there's a lot riding on whatever comes out of my paintbrush to be GOOD and product worthy.
Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful BEYOND description for my company and my livelihood. But what used to be my free-wheeling escape; the place I mentally ran to when I wanted to get something complicated out of my brain and heart and onto paper, that is now a mandatory function of my daily life. I have a team of people relying on my ability to be creative on demand.
So while it's wonderful to be able to paint creations for 1canoe2, I still need that wild place where I'm creating JUST FOR THE JOY OF IT. Where there's no critique or sales goal. And for me, that outlet has become ceramics. In the pic below, you'll see a few of my finished pieces. Wall decorative tiles, ceramic platters, etc. I'm still painting, this time with underglaze on a slab of clay that I have to fire.
I'm just a beginner, but it is so so so much fun. For the time being, I'm not thinking of selling it, although I think it's just in my blood to lean in that direction. As I'm making different pieces, I think about the time that goes into them and how I could do them in production, and then I think WAIT! this is supposed to be fun. Maybe for me the fun is in the making of a business. I feel about ceramics the way I felt about letterpress when I first got into it: completely enthralled by the challenge of a new medium. Constant problems I needed to solve, and a craft to be honed are both like a siren song to me. Part of what makes the pottery project so exciting to me is that it's a physical creation made with my hands, and I can make things in production. It's in my blood, I think.
It's my strongly held belief that creativity in any form keeps the ideas coming in the other forms. Painting informs ceramics. Ceramics generates new concepts for products. Maybe I just believe in the "juju" of creativity and the mysterious connections your brain makes that can result in the holy grail of creativity: truly new, original ideas. (and if you want to catch the juju, please, please read this book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.)
So I'm giving myself time and permission to keep going with my secret creative project. Who knows? Maybe someday 1canoe2 will have our own line of dishes. That would be amazing. And when that day comes, I will have already done half the homework of intimately knowing shapes and forms and how the clay works. That's the work that takes time and cannot be knocked out on a deadline.
The beautiful thing here is that my secret project is now inspiring me to paint. Check out this sketchbook painting below. I'm just obsessed with these weird little paintings. Again, it's a no pressure situation. They're just small paintings in my sketchbook. But they are delightfully fun.
What is your secret creative yearning? I think we should all have one. We should all have that little daydream project that is all our own.
If you're interested in pottery, check out these really great ceramicists who have been inspiring to me:
Aron (our friend! and local ceramics hero) from Facture Goods
You can also see a lot more behind the scenes of our art process on Instagram!
:: Beth, 1canoe2 Bosslady ::
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