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Friday, July 23, 2010

Soul Spa Day (July 23, 2010)

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.

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