Color and more color!
If you’ve spent at least one minute around me (and seen my clothes, my house, my walls and my art) you know I love color. Sometimes color is a reflection of my cheerful personality. Other times it’s medicinal: a way to get back to a happier mood.
A few days ago I painted ceramics at a place in OB, a funky neighborhood in San Diego. I’m an artist, so painting and creating is part of who I am. But it had been nearly a decade since I’d painted ceramics. Recently I started work on a mosaic piece of art and it rekindled my appreciation for tile, which is partly why I found myself at the ceramics studio. The owner and her young son welcomed me. I told her how much l liked the floor, which was splotchy with the remnants of turquoise tiles that had been sanded away. The irregularity of it was just right for a place where imagination can’t be confined by pattern. Brazilian instrumental music played and there were potted and fresh flowers on the tables. Everything about the place was cool: it’s in an older building with high ceilings and lots of light coming in through the clerestory windows. The owner’s desk was a huge antique piece with a creative jumble on top resembling my art studio at home. The piles made the place seem more authentic to me, less corporate, a place motivated by creativity rather than by profits alone. I used to feel frustrated that my studio seemed so impossible to organize. But now I embrace it. Creativity needs freedom, not hospital corners. I’ll take a happy mess over a miserable tidiness, as the quote goes.
I chose a chair—all are mismatched, which I love—and about eight glaze colors and began. No plan. No design. Just experimentation, freedom, playfulness. I layered colors, making lines, swirls, blobs and dots. Needed more color, being me. Had so much fun I helped myself to another tile. My body relaxed and I was in the moment. It was an hour devoted to the senses: I was vaguely aware of background noise from the foot traffic outside and smells from the taqueria nearby, but mostly I was caught up in the movement of the brush and peace inside me.
One thing I like about ceramic glazes is that I don’t know exactly how the piece will look after being fired in the kiln. I like that there is an element of unpredictability and uncontrollability. The layers may be translucent or more opaque and may be darker or lighter than I thought. The surprise effect adds to the serendipity of it and it’s a great antidote to the rest of my life, where I have expectations about the results.
These tiles may meet my hammer and become part of my mosaic work. Or I may keep them intact, as a reminder of my hour in the ceramics studio, my mini-vacation for the soul.