Monday, October 31, 2005

Monday mush

The small ponder-er is feeling a bit icky, as is my dear significant other, the lovely K. So it is early to bed, after doses of lomatium, olive leaf extract, and chinese herbs. This has proven to be the trick in the past, but the plague seems to be spreading through the school, so one can't be too careful. With luck it will be a momentary blip and I'll be back in fine fettle tomorrow am.

Have a great evening!

ps: my lack of energy and sore throat has superseded my desire to rant about the war, the latest justice appointment, the crooks and liars we call a government, and the complete breakdown of every vehicle we have to hold the regime accountable to "we, the people". for this, you all should be grateful...pass the antihistimines please...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday night after the change of time...

Where does the time go? (he says yet again?)...

So it's Sunday night, feeling later than the clock says it is, but I'm soon to bed. A good weekend in my studio, made a bunch of clay stuff. Fired a bisque kiln, another one ready to go. The next weeks will be glazing and readying the big kiln for loading and firing. Oddly enough I embarked on a spurt of making what might be called functional work. Who knows why, it was just a whim, so the next firing will have a wide range of large and small sculpture, some teabowls, cups, chawan, one big platter that will become a birdbath if it lives, and a good size dough bowl if I can fit it in.

Also worked on a 2d text intensive project for while which is a slow and meandering process that I haven't gotten my arms around yet. I'm still working on my first "official" small ponderings radio broadcast but am having some trouble sustaining momentum on it...the interest (mine) is there, but by the time I get to it in the evenings my brain is mush. This might explain why I spent all the time and effort to do what was a pretty good phone intereview Friday evening, only to find out I had the wrong mic input selected for recording (even though I know better) But now I have practice, and the interviewee is gracious and willing enough to do it again.

Toying with some video ideas, studied some shorts one evening. This one was fantastic, if you can see it somewhere treat yourself. Also, this one, laugh out loud funny. Both can be seen on the 75th annual academy awards short films video.

So that's it for wireless mouse is about ready to croak, and I'm feeling iffy myself. Sore throatish, and feeling a little icky, so i'm down for the night.

Hope everyone has a great beginning to their week!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday startup

Coffee. Good.


Time changes tonight (what an odd thing to say) which means I'll be waking up in the predawn dark, and getting home in the deep dusk mountain twilight. The day sandwiched with bookends of darkness. This will foul me up for a couple of weeks. I am a boy of the sun and sometimes am not easily adjusted to the contrived rhythms of clock and calendar. One of my big fantasies is to live in a land where time is not measured.

But today the sun is out, and I will work in my studio and make stuff. Tonight I have to go to work for a while (because of an event) but maybe it won't run too late. And then I have tomorrow which currently lays awaiting unplanned. Sweet.

Have a great day! And remember, when you do an interview, have the microphone on...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Night Bedtime Story

I love stories.

Of all kinds...short or long, truth or fiction, written, heard, seen, found. I can't even tell you what I think comprises a good story; I just know one when I find it, or more accurately, when it finds me. I have some idea that I'm going to start collecting them somehow, but I haven't gotten started yet, except in minor and inconsequential ways.

But tonight I have a story...I don't know how long it will be, I'm sort of putting it together as I go. But please stay with me, its a good one. (remember: i confound all hope of brevity...)

Sam at Feral has become a good friend of mine, though a continent seperates us. I think hers was the blog that got me started as a reader, and then she personally encouraged me to try blogging (though no one can blame her for what has transpired.) It occurs to me as I write that, I have never thanked her publicly, and there's no time like the present, so if you're reading this, thanks Sam for opening the door to the blog world for me. Sam has always had great stories, mostly daily; she gives us the raw stuff of her life on what I call the high plateau, arrived at after some difficulties that required her to leave her beloved farm. I always read her in amazement- she has overcome a lot of challenges and still keeps going with optimism, humor and grace. It is no mystery why she is so well respected in the blog world; she exemplifies class, kindness and style. If I'm not mistaken, she'll probably give me grief for my public observations because in addition to everything else she is possesses a quiet humility, an attribute I wish I had.

Anyways, I digress as I'm prone to to refocus:

Sam's life is a story. I'm certain there's a book or two in there, if not more. It should be noted Sam is a writer, and her prose is clear and descriptive. She can plant pictures in your head with just a few words. But like many of us know, being an artist of any kind in our society is pretty much a good way to starve. I don't know that she and her brother were there yet, but on occasion, they visited the neighborhood. From reading her daily entries, we can tell they have had more than a passing familiarity with economic hurdles. I point this out because it makes this story all the more remarkable.

Sam is a strong, intelligent woman and by all appearances, fearless. Spread thin, with many demands, she has undertaken a huge project, fueled by her passion and her work ethic, and absolute refusal to give up. Sam, the writer, is building a bookstore.

She is doing this on her own, with so little resources it is scary. She gets up daily, looks at the list, and attacks it with faith. She is working towards her dream (and is on schedule!) and is doing this pretty much alone, with no support system other than her big heart and strong will. At the same time she is caring for her brother, in itself more than the average person could manage. She moves forward, not in leaps in bounds, but in steady, slow increments. Things happen, go awry, fall apart, but she is not deterred. Even if momentarily discouraged, she regroups, and the next hour or day is back at it with a positive attitude. And her occasional pictures show the progress, which we should all celebrate. I regret I'm not near enough to lend a hand.

If you've never started a business, or renovated an old space, or worked for yourself, you can't imagine how hard it is sometimes. To do it alone exponentially compounds the difficulty; there is no one to talk things thru with, to be encouraging during a rough spot, to help with the heavy lifting, or to come up with some help on an unexpected expense. To watch Sam accomplish all of this is incredible and inspiring. It is a story of the strength of human spirit on a personal scale. It is an example of the power of commitment and passion and belief in oneself and one's dream. The accepted measurement of success in our culture is whether or not this endeavor will be self supporting and make a profit. I contest that independent of that measurement, Sam's work is already a success. She has done it, the doors will open, books will be available for sale. Profit and support is just a matter of luck. I admire and respect Sam for having faith that the universe will reward her hard work. I suspect it will.

Go to the Feral website, and read her story...go way back as far as you can. This bookstore isn't the end of a story, its a chapter in a fantastic life and a beginning to another part. I am honored to know her, and to have watched this from afar. I can promise you that if I were near, it would be my bookstore of choice, if for no other reason because I respect the fact that she's DOING it. And if she sells online, then count me as a customer.

Sam's story should be a lesson for all of us that are doing our little things and maybe not brave enough to push it, or leap with the faith that we can fly. A small warm bookstore with a friendly face, a little cafe with good soup, a chapbook of clear and honest writing, handmade pots on your table, handmade cards to send your friends, woven scarves and handsewn clothing, a self published poem, a small painting containing the vision of the painter, a piece of raw music by one person and one instrument- these things matter. It injects the personal into an environment that has become so commercialized and devoid of soul that we have to desensitize just to get through the days sometimes. So if you're hesitant to make or do something, for whatever reason, think about Sam's story. Then go do it. That alone makes it valuable.

Friday Restart

So I had a plan, which was derailed. Had to run down the mountain on an errand first thing am, interfering with my planned studio time. And now I'm just back, and having trouble getting started. That's why I'm here instead of there. Moral of the story: plans are fairly useless, for in reality, all control is an illusion.

Now: coffee, radio, clay, work. FOCUS!!!

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Longer daze...

Up long before the crack of dawn this morning. Read a lot, and went for a long walk with Lucy just as soon as it got light enough to see so we wouldn't fall off the ridge. Perfect morning: clear as a bell, cold and still. The woods had that smell you only get for a couple of days in the fall, kind of peaty. And then the sun rose over the east ridge, blood orange and blasting through the thinned woods. All the leaves on the trees, the undergrowth, and the ground, were flooded by the new sun; for a few moments everything looked gold plated, the trees solid black contrasting lines woven in the light. The backlit east ridge was all shades of purple from eggplant to a pale lavender. Minutes later, when the sun is high enough, its all gone.

And now it's inky black night, and late-ish, and I'm tired and can't connect the dots or say anything remotely entertaining or profound. Tomorrow I'll work in my studio, beginning what I hope to be a whole weekend of making.

Have a great evening. Maybe I'll have something better tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Larger topics than my little world...

It's been an oddish day. I live way up in the hills, nearest town is small. I work at an arts school, and most times we maintain a relatively retreat-like atmosphere. We're geographically isolated, and are fairly insulated by choice from the rest of the world. No tv, little radio. We just recently got broadband, and only in the last couple of weeks have made it accessible. So theres a certain layer of removal from the "world down the mountain".

We're not illiterate, or uninformed. In fact some of us reach long and far to get information, input, stimulation. But truthfully, we can and often do choose to not be immersed in a lot of the tragedies of the greater world. This sounds arrogant, but its not meant to be. It is more an attempt to limit distraction so people can focus on their creative work, a luxury that they may not ever get anywhere else.

But occasionally, something so powerful will float into our little world, and demand attention by its mere presence. This is not a bad thing. It challenges us, and makes us stop and reflect on our place in the world.

Today, 2 occurences, from different sources, but sharing a common thread. This thread demands attention. The first is the link I stumbled on at lunch and pointed to earlier. I'll repost it here in case it got lost in my haloscan installation and testing:
click here and go down about 2/3 of the page, and click on the "watch the movie link". Really watch it, don't mult-task. Pay attention. When that is done, go to Broken Windows and read Kate's Tuesday entry. Then, make sure everyone you know reads it. And think about how you can spread the message these two different sources are sharing.

I rarely will write about anything of great social or political concern. So many others are better informed, and can present their thoughts and feelings much more eloquently. I know there are things in this world that suck badly; I am aware that our government creates and perpetuates a lot of pain and misery. This happens both internally and internationally. And lately, daily, even hourly, we are getting glimpses of just how rotten things are. Something must change. And my little opinion is that the change can only come with rising awareness by huge numbers of people. Change has to begin on a personal level.

You cannot deny the power of seeing 20, 200, or 2000+ empty soldiers boots. You cannot deny the power of images of rows of gravestones, of lists of names. You cannot deny the power of pages and pages of rememberances for every casualty in this stupid war, published in every newspaper you might have occasion to pick up. Because knowing even a little bit about that casualty makes it personal. It is a little sliver of direct experience, one that any of us might suffer (and many have). Each piece represents a person. And there is the power. Take all this stuff out of the abstract, and make it personal. Then make it personal to the powers that have visited this hellish scene onto our world, and hold them accountable.

Yes they hold all the keys, all the power, most of the money, and many of the resources. But I have to believe that principles, humane ethics, and common decency can somehow win out over the evil. If I didn't, I don't know how I'd get up in the morning. And it feels, it feels like oh so slowly, maybe the tide is finally turning. Too late, for sure, but better late than not at all.

So do what you can, when you can. Let it be personal, and let that be our strength. Let's don't let ourselves be anesthetized by abstracts. Make it personal, and make THEM feel it.

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. Old comments on previous entries are accessible through the entry permalink.

Lunchtime lesson: Wage Peace

Need a reason? Go here and click on the "watch the movie" link about 2/3 of the way down the page.

Powerful stuff.

Remote appreciation blogging...

I love email to blog...

Just quick cup of coffee and a list of stuff that is good to offset the
stuff that makes me grumpy:

Coffee on a cold morning
Reading near the stove with a cat in your lap
Walking at sunup and the wind quits blowing for just a bit
itunes morning playlist
homemade granola stirred into my favorite tangy, lumpy yogurt
the truck starts right away
fleece socks
forward motion on art projects
hand knitted scarves, hats, and mittens (from my sweetie!)
the clarity of mind after a good nights sleep and before the noise of the
day gets in it
hot and spicy vietnamese clam soup for lunch

This is me, finding balance...

Have a great day, its back to work....

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tues night dog blogging

Wind howling, snow flurries, cold and loud outside. Got home and built the first fire in the stove, very early this year, earliest I think. Wonder if this is a preview of things to come?

As soon as the stove started warming Princess Isabella Doodlebug Boyd went and got under it. She hates the cold (which for her is anything less than 75 degrees and sunny) as well as wet, noise, and most of all, snow. Imagine if you were 6" tall what 2 feet of snow would look like when it was time to go outside!

So, in honor of the stove lighting, we broke out her first sweater of the season. Not to worry, she has a wardrobe bigger than mine (grandma is as a professional seamstress, and she has been measured and has a whole collection of couture wraps). Now with the wind blowing we'll probably lose power sometime tonight so i'd better get this up while I can. Have a great evening and be warm and dry wherever you are.

Her majesty in warm repose (look at her littel crossed feet!)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday night

Winter is here. How'd that happen? I think we had, like, 3 fall days. sigh...

Cold and windy. Long work day, then errands after. Home for leftovers. Little bloggable. I wanted to do the book review tonight, having finished the read with coffee in the predawn, but my mush brain won't allow. And I'm not really motivated to do much besides go burrow in bed early, with my junky beside novel.

Which I'm soon to do.

Tomorrow we light the woodstove. And dress Izzy in one of her many sweaters.

Nighty night kids...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday night

Winding down a beautiful and somewhat productive weekend. Got a lot of studio work done, here's a shot of a ware cart full of work. I think I have enough now to begin glazing and load and fire the kiln. It'll be good to have some work to show.

Spent a decent amount of time outdoors soaking up the last of the Indian Summer. It's getting cold is moving in, maybe a little snow flurry tomorrow or tues. It's that time of year.

Projects this week on tap: a sound piece, start on new video work, and there's a couple of small 2d things I want to do and send out to some friends. I have a mix media piece in mind (glass, text, and wood elements) but don't know if I'll start on it in the evenings or not.

I also have a little book review I want to do and post here. But unlike my normal entries, I want to give it a little thought so i represent it well. Or maybe not... I like writing off the top of my head so who knows.

I wish I had something brilliant, funny, or interesting to say, but my mind is pretty much in neutral (moreso than usual) so I'm gonna go flop in bed and read a junk food novel for a while before sleeping instead of taking up space here.

Hope everyone has a great week! Stay tuned for more ponderings...Ciao for now.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

From my porch at 7:20 am

It's going to be an artmaking intensive weekend! Stay tuned, story at 11 (more or less)

And now, the "Why?"

(WARNING: long and rambling discourse ahead...)

Following up on last nights post, i want to amplify...

Why we should support small and unknown artists

(note: my definition of artists includes makers and creators of all kinds)

Well, first of all because if we don't the alternatives are:

Walmart, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, the Times, the Post, the Tribune, the Chronicle, cinema mulitplexes, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Pottery Barn, Southebys, Starbucks, Christies, Sears, the co-opted corporate driven NPR, The Gap, McDonalds, Disney, Columbia, Paramount, Sony Media, et al...

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm as much of a consumer of the stuff these guys (and others) sell as anybody. Sometimes willingly, often by necessisity or lack of other options. But I buy from them with my eyes wide open. I know in advance what I'm getting is a product, commodity, or information that is without soul and content, and exists for the sole purpose of generating income and/or furthering some agenda either known or unknown. These entities and others like them are efficient delivery systems existing for the sole purpose of profit. And they do it well, getting bigger and stronger every day. I have a theory that one day there'll only be like 3 major companies in the US that sell everything needed to a culture of desensitized consumer worker drones....

But I digress. Back to why: if you buy a handmade from a local potter, if you buy handcrafted journal to write or draw in from a book artist, if you buy a loaf of artisanal bread and a chunk of real cheese made from real goats, if you support or purchase a piece of handwritten poetry, if you buy a scarf from a weaver, then you are saying at least two things: YES to life and making and interpersonal exchange, and NO to corporate assimilation. You are choosing to celebrate (and support) the small, the personal, the human. You are willing to see beyond product, and seek out content and character.

Working artists in our culture are a well-hidden secret. Our society celebrates the rock star, the BIG hit, the Deal, the huge sale, the celebrity, the superstar. It cultivates that mentality; big, loud, all out of proportion. Yet daily, there are unknown people everywhere doing fabulous, poignant, highly sophisticated work of all kinds- poetry, books, glass, movies, sculpture...and you never hear of them, you rarely see them. What they (we) do is a labor of love. We are all around you, some of you reading this ARE one of us, that great pool of unknowns. (and if you're not, you should be, go MAKE something!)

So, here's another reason you should support your local small artist: they really really need it. A lot of us work jobs to support our making. Materials, however humble, usually cost something. Even paint and paper, or yarn. And time...we work our jobs and make our art in the seams of time we can pry out of the days and nights. Do you know how long it takes to knit mittens? Do you know how long it takes to write an engaging story or poem? Do you know the overhead it takes to make ONE blown glass? Even newish art forms, like blogging for instance, or an on-line zine, or little movie shorts on the web, costs something to produce. All I'm saying is that when you stumble across something you like, you should support it. It's cultivation: if you want the flowers to bloom you have to water them a little bit occasionally.

Clearly this topic is near and dear to me. I believe in the accessibility of art, and the necessity of it, especially in these days and times. The only way to make it more accessible is to support it whenever possible. It's ok to be selective, support what you like, or what you use. If you live in a city and theres a street musician on your way to work, and you like what you hear, let them know. Drink coffee at your desk? Get yourself a nice mug from a potter. Journal? Handmade book. Cold outside? Handknit sweater and/or a woven scarf. Read a blog that makes you feel optimistic about the human condition? Support it. That funny animation you watch over and over on your laptop? Someone worked a long time to do it, and it costs them to post it for the world to laugh at, so encourage them to do more. Contribute.

My wife and I are working artists. We don't make a living at it, we both have day jobs. We live in an area where there are over 100 working artists and craftspeople, many of national renown. Hardly any do much better than just get by financially, yet they're in their studios for long hours, continuing to make stuff. My personal opinion is that no one, and I mean no one, is entitled to a free (or even cushy ride). I believe you have to pull your own weight and make your own way. So if you're an artist, that's your choice and the challenges come with the territory. Figure out how to keep your head above water, and make stuff. Art and commerce have nothing to do with each other. So I'm definitely not encouraging handouts.

But, if you want something unique, on a human scale, with heart and soul invested, something with content in this culture of ours that is lacking it in so many ways, support your local (or remote) artist. Say YES to vibrant humanity, and NO to the endless stream of crap created to take your money and make you feel less than adequate. You and the artist will be glad you did.

And, make something yourself; its just as good and as equally valid as anything anyone else does!

(we now return to our regularly scheduled ponderings...)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Art Patronage

Ha! betcha thought I was gonna drag out the old soapbox and start pontificating didn't ya? Well, I am, soon, but not tonight.
Tonight I'm just gonna say: support your local (or remote) small time hard working artists. Writers, poets, painters, fiber, clay, metal, books and papers...whatever. Just do it. I'll give you a ton of reasons why later. Or maybe here's some now:

Anyways: let me suggest some places for you to start: Sam at Feral (she's building a bookstore for goodness sake! BY HERSELF... a writer, opening a bookstore- can there BE a more worthy cause???), Dan Price at Moonlight Chronicles (order a few back issues and buy the new book, you won't regret it and my upcoming review will make some sense then), and finally Meg at Blogcabin cause a sentence buried in one of her earlier posts got this idea to fermenting in my mind.

I had a great quote somewhere from long ago talking about "for the price of a pizza you can support an artist..." but i can't find it now.

ps- none of the above folks know I'm putting up this post, AND I should get credit for not including myself in the starting list though goodness knows I need it (i'm mostly unsellable and definitely non-commerical...this not a business plan, but then making art isn't a business...)

Ok- go share some $$$ love with your favorite artist. Have a great weekend!

Friday afternoon walk...a photo essay

woodpile done: split, stacked and tarped

lucy wants to go for a walk

down past one of the little buildings i built...

down the sunlit road...

somedays i'm just a shadow of myself...

looking up a tree we know...

guess it's time to leave and go back to the house for supper....

Simple pleasures...

Bright afternoon sun on a warm fall day

Tell the truth, is there anything better than that first hit of really good coffee when the sun is just creeping over the ridge like a big fat orange flooding the valley with juice???

I've been remiss on my blogging, not for lack of material or ideas, but making hay while the sun shines. Outside I go, till dark...

(man, it was a great day today until I got to, improvement is imminent...)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Un-related pictures

the long and winding road, am view, beginning of the day

small ponderings world headquarters, blog, sound and video division

Final answer

Ok try it now:

Mark's Little Movie

Should be viewable in most versions of QT.

ok, no really, this time...

I just about have it...after reading a good bit, found the secret sauce. How to make video viewable on earlier versions of Quicktime. At least QT 6...will post a link shortly.

(for everyone rolling their eyes, just know that this episode pre-empted my planned soapbox posting; for this you should be grateful!)

Try it now!

Mark makes clay stuff with audio (about 7 meg, but it should load fairly quickly...)

Reworked, much smaller file. Somebody with QT 5 or 6 let me know if you can see it. (QT 7 works no problem)


Movie update...

A couple of reviews seems to not be accessible except with QT ver 7. This not according to plan. I'll fix it tonight.

(this EXACTLY why I need feedback! I'm all about accessibility of art)

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tues evening wonderings

So here's the thing: about a week ago I posted links to a little movie of me throwing pots. Now, I'm not one to think too much about how much I get read; if i get a comment occasionally, I'm happy as a clam. But the silence from that post is DEAFENING!

I'm not fishing for editorial comment or accolades...more important, I was wondering if the thing is even viewable in the blogosphere. Remember, I'm a beginner (in oh so many ways) and can only progress with the benefit of feedback, good or bad.

So, if you happen to read this, be a pal and scroll down to last Wed and try the don't even have to suffer through the video, just see if it finds, loads and there is sound for a bit, and if you have a lot of time on your hands, let me know. Thanks a bunch.

Sad to say, I am one of those art makers that has to flounder around and make a lot of bad art before I can get to the good stuff. Help shorten the cycle: read, click, and comment.

In the meantime, rest assured I am busy at work on yet another fine project. Have a great evening! And thanks for your help.


I love the fall.

Morning sunrises and evening sunsets are sharp and clear. The sky looks like blue crystal. And where we live there’s color on the hillsides.

Cool nights and mornings followed by warm summer like days. We sit outside a LOT, soaking up sun to get us through the gray winter days or the ones that are bright but so cold you can’t bear to be out.

Little wisps of woodsmoke from the stoves that are lit in our holler scent the morning air during our walks. Leaves like splashed paint crackle underfoot.

I like fall because its full of soft edges, the world worn a bit after the fullness of summer. Aged and matured, a little slower. Not like the impatience of spring. Fall has and inspires stories.

Fall blurs hard lines; is it going to be warm or cold today? (neither) Shorts or jeans? (flip a coin) Sweater, vest sleeves or t-shirts? (yes) Birki’s or boots? (both). Fall, a cornucopia of variables.

Dark come earlier every day. The sun riding lower in the sky finds the ridge edge a little sooner. Before long it will be dusky at 4pm. And the kettle on the woodstove will be gurgling constantly and suppers will be cassoulets, stews, roasts, soups. And warm bread!

Fall suits my style, such as it is.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday morning cat blogging

Hard to type with a cat on the keyboard, in your lap along with laptop, and demanding complete attention...

Brilliant fall sun and lots of wind this morning...the wind got me up at 6! I think th motion stirs me up, all that energy. This after a later than normal night for me (I'm an early to bed kinda guy) so thank god for the first wonderful hit of the morning coffee brew.

Made clay stuff all day yesterday. Progress, finally getting something I can live with. More today, assembling sculptural parts made from yesterday. I think this next kiln will have a mix of stuff, some cups and bowls and vases, along with bigger sculptural pieces. Last week I wasn't feeling very good about the work, this morning I'm cautiously optimistic.

Cat has now agreed to sit quietly on chair arm, nope, she's faked me out and is back in the lap. No matter, gotta love animal attention.

For weekend silliness, let me recommend these: The Moon Song, The Soup Song, and finally, the Winners Song cause afterall, if you wake up in the morning, then you ARE a winner! (or at least you get another chance to play the game, and that ain't all bad)

So now everyone knows one of my dirty little secrets...I LOVE crazy, pointless, clever and funny websites. In fact, when K and I saw these I said "you know this could change my life...if i could figure out how to do stuff like this I'd quit my job in a minute..." Not because it could even beging to make me even part of a living, but because what better artistic pursuit than to make things that make people laugh out loud? I'd starve, but do it laughing all the way.

I am such a cultural infidel...

Hope everyone has a great Sunday. Go outside and play, and remember: "WE'RE ALL WINNERS!"

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday night illumination

Been studying and writing emails re: a new project all evening, so am getting here with brain nearly mush. Not an uncommon occurrence for me. I don't have much to talk about or say but I can offer up a treat for all your ears.

I converted the whole SARK interview and posted it as one file, I think you can download it if you want to subscribe to Small Ponderings via the Podcast link on the right. It should pull down and then you can listen at your leisure. Got an mp3 player? Put it on there and go sit in the sun for an hour. You'll be glad you did.

Treats for my peeps. Enjoy; if you read me often you've earned it!

Have a great evening!

(SARK interview from WMUB Interconnect Podcasts)

The sun is up on a cool morning...


Common threads? YES!

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thurs night winding down

Finally in and sitting down after an evening and night of cleaning up near the house. We live up in the woods; with sun and rain, the woods kind of absorbs us. Spousal unit declared "enough". So now it looks like some actually lives up here. As a result I'm pooped and pretty much ready to call it a day.

Before I do, I want to point everyone to this link from which you can scroll down to Sept. 19 and listen to a wonderful interview with SARK on creativity and the creative life. I downloaded it and listen to it while driving to and from work today, and it was great, worth keeping around and listening to again. If you don't know about SARK then you should, and now you do. I first discovered her in the early 90's and have been a fan ever since. The piece about her first poster in the early part of the interview should be required listening for every working artist, or anyone that wants to be one.

That's it for me tonight. Take care and be kind to animals. Have a great Friday!


Typo's on links corrected...movies work now.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I'd like to thank the Academy...

No great work of art is created in a vacuum, or without oodles of support. For that matter, neither is a small potatoes, pointless and the relatively inconsequential works by many unknown artists, like myself for example. So, I'd like to thank those who have offered me support and encouragement in my many artistic pursuits, the latest of which is my silly little video.

First, to my wife the lovely Ms. K. She is patient and understanding, just nodding her head sweetly and never complaining when I am obsessed on one of my tangents. She also is the person who taught me the fundmentals of working with clay, but refuses to take either credit or blame for the monster she has created. She is cute and smart and I love her and am amazed that she still puts up with me.

Next, oh there are so many people...I'll just name a few: Sam, who got me to writing on the web, a better example of openness acceptance and tolerance would be hard to find. Rachael whose frequent postings are inspiring, and remind me of the need for play, plus she sends the most encouraging of emails; Meg whose daily writing is a great example of just doing it, doing it well, doing it seriously, but not taking yourself too seriously, and how to maintain a smile in the face of all evidence. Also my friend/teacher/role model Catherine, who graciously allowed me to work with her this summer, and constantly reminds us to look at things with fresh eyes, and let everything you make inform everything else; the ceramic icons Paul Soldner, Peter Voulkos, and Jun Kaneko, who all have inspired several generations of clay artists. We can but dream to be that good. Last but not least is Lisa who interviewed me this summer for her blog, which made me try to get my mind around what and how I do things. (what DO I do, and HOW do I do it? And a more pressing question, WHY?}

Of course, there thousands of others, nameless or not remembered, found by the virtue of WWW surf around. The web, books, videos, magazines...I am an information sponge. If only I could retain more...

So without further adieu, I offer up the feature:
Mark makes clay stuff with audio (about 7 meg, but it should load fairly quickly...)

(Some technical notes so anyone that wants to give me tips on video will know what I'm working with: MiniDV to iMovie, edited, extracted to Quicktime Movie. The big one I did in with manual settings trying to drive the file size down while maintaining audio quality. The small file was done with audio deleted and the default for web viewing. There has got to be a better way but so far i can't figure it out.)
Feedback desired...I'm getting pretty interested in the video on web biz. My goal is to make 3-5 minute shorts, get them compressed and viewable, with decent audio. I don't know if I have to learn something about streaming but from this experiment I suspect I might.

Anyways, that's all the stuff I have for now. I leave everyone with this thought: start messing with video, and you begin to understand why real movies cost $$$$ to make...working with video is a time vacuum!

Hope everyone has a great evening and that all the links work!

Quote for the day

"Without play,

We lose our way"

- Paul Reps

*I'd like to dedicate this quote to Rachael, who reminds us frequently about the necessity of play in creating and living.

Let's all go outside and play, its a beautiful day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The cutting room...

Here at Small Ponderings World Headquarters, we are spending long beyond what are reasonable amounts of time on this stupid little video, trying to get just the right combo of video and sound quality but small size to package it on the web for your viewing pleasure. I fear dismal failure. My deadline is that time I will have surpassed the limits of effort/reward and will show what I have, sound or not. And I think not.

This has become a personal challenge. This is the way most of my endeavors work. Ideas, fumbling, obsessive tinkering, wild depression, with the occasional flash of elation when something actually goes right. It also explains why mind mind is cluttered with seemingly useless minutae.

So, stay tuned to see what we end up with. Be amused at my technical and mental gyrations. It's about all I have to offer up for entertainment this evening.

Predawn Ponderings

I had the World's Best Blog Entry all in my head yesterday as while I was walking the dog. Of course, after the day late in the evening, by the time I sat down to get it out, it was gone, lost in the muddle and confusion of the day.

So I'm on blog early this morning. Coffee is made and my window faces east...when the light (there'll be no sun this am, its heavy misty foggy out there)comes over the ridge I'll know to stop and go walk Lucy, and the day begins. Day job, life maintenance and the hands on the clock turning.

It occurred to me yesterday that as an artist, my best work happens on the edges, the fringes, in the wee hours and dim light, mostly by accident or sheer luck. This isn't to say that I can't produce work regularly and consistently..oh, I can, but it just doesn't have the "stuff" that makes it feel good and right and true to me. It's almost like there is a process of engagement that has to happen, where I work and work and make and make and redo and revisit and resolve until I've run out of options, ideas, tricks, and knowledge and am completely empty, and THEN something substantial comes out. Like I have to get everything else out of my way, or like emptying out a big trash container so it can be refilled.

This is on my mind as I've been back in my clay studio. I reckon there's no shortcuts, I can't start empty and do good stuff right off the bat. I don't lack for ideas, but there's too much noise in my head to move forward with quiet clarity. I think that for a lot of artists, no matter what the media is, making is a kind of a search anyway. So i'm in that flounder-about stage, starting to get impatient, which can be a little frustrating. But I know my working processes to be organic, and to take time, so I have to ride it out. I am this same way with almost everything I do- I learn and progress by hands-on immersion, study, engagement with material, practices, processes...when I'm away from or out of it for a time, I almost have to relearn or at least re-feel -remember- every time I start a new cycle. I wonder and suspect if many other working artists have that same challenge? I believe it to be a question of consistency: exposure to the materials and working processes, how one thinks and views their work, pace, environment...all these are often interrupted by the demands of a daily routine necessary to support and maintain ones self.

So here's to the celebration of Artist Time...the cracks, seams, corners and cubbies secret closets and attics in Regular Time where magic hides, waiting to be found. If you create anything (and I mean anything, its all valid and ever-more important) then I wish us all bigger chunks of Artist Time to be found (and USED!).

Have a great day! Make stuff, be happy, make one stranger smile today. Give your dog a cookie, and your cat some lap time. Help make the world a better place by being nice to people, despite all the reasons to be a grump.

Off to walk in the morning mist...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Little movie woes...

Hell's bells...I got my movie down to 25M and good enough quality, but it is still unwieldly even with dsl. This points towards a new educational adventure, streaming video. Now way down on my list. Or else i'm back to editing and making the thing a lot shorter with little or no voice. Surprising at how much the voiceover adds though, even my gnarly hillbilly voice.

For another day.

Until next time, wishing everyone well.

Sunday night shorthand

Tired. Clay in progress. Movie posting in progress. Link later hopefully. Between clay sessions I worked on getting the file size down to something managable. Failed, because I'm no QT geek and don't want to give too much on the quality, such as it is.

I'm going to give myself one hour in front of the idiot box for my weekly dose of network fantasy programming (west wing). Then emails and to bed. If there's not a movie link by 10 it ain't gonna happen today.

Maybe reduced blogging this coming week to get more hours in the studio. Or not. Stay tuned.

Sunday from the top of the hill...

Ah, the buzz of creative energy flowing...

Sunrise. Cool air. Homemade espresso. A studio day awaiting. Couldn't wait to get up and get to it, even after my late night!

The last past on the video render came out de-licious, but it is much too big to upload. So i'll set that to run while I have coffee on the porch and watch the world wake up.

Today: bowls, cups, plates, who knows? This the freedom of not being a production potter. To me, its ALL sculpture. (it should be noted that this places me outside the loop of my peer group in the region...I am the clay guy on the wrong side of the tracks, swimming upstream, dancing out of the accepted step as it were)

I leave you this morning with this, one of the cornerstones of my art-making philosophy. Have a great day!

Proof positive...

Yup, that's me working. Sorry about the late post, I hoped to have a video link, but had a little trouble with sound rendering, easily fixed but that's a job for tomorrow. Stay tuned- art in progress: writing, clay, video, audio, painting...we do it all here at the Small Ponderings Low Tech Art Combine.

Have a great evening!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Artist at work...

Into clay after a long hiatus. It goes jerkily. I am one of those folks that have to do something constantly to maintain any reasonable degree of ability. So, today will be spent hitting the groove hopefully.

Proof of effort later, maybe. Have a great day!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday fun

It's late and I'm headache-y tired from an extended study period. Soon to bed, tomorrow, we make stuff from clay. I have my "focus list" right here, number one is to finish making work and firing my kiln by Halloween. That means I need to get in gear...

My reading/research tonight was on something near and dear to my heart, though it is #5 on my focus list, and will require an enormous amount of learning unfamiliar material. A good extended winter project, which I will for now keep secret.

I leave you with this that I stumbled on during my meandering...I think any of these shows will be pretty good. Put on your headphones or turn on your speakers, down the lights, and melt down into the night. Click here, pick a show, and listen thru realplayer or itunes.

Have a great evening, fabulous weekend, and feel good. Enjoy the music!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The next step...

This is one of my favorite Richard Stine pictures, titled "Face to Face with the Second Step". (used without permission but I hope the credit passes for ok). It's appropriate for the evening, because I actually got down into my studio and readied clay and wheel for major effort. Now there are no excuses, and I hope I can leap over my seeming inertia and make some headway.

To that end, I painted some last night, but it felt pretty floundering. I am SO out of the groove, and can't figure how that happened. But working to get back. Part of it is that I have a lot of different projects and interests in some form of starting, but summer work saps my time and energy so I do make much headway. That leaves me with a lot of threads this time of year but no substance. So I took time this evening to sit, organize and draw focus on a couple of major things I want to do/make in the next little while. We'll see if that helps things along.

Fall wind and rains are here for a few days, I mean it's pouring. But still warm. Glad I have a good bit of the woodpile done and tarped.

Now, its off to do a little more organization, and if my energy allows, a touch or two more of painting. I got my hands on some sweet vermilion sumi ink yesterday and am dying to splash it on something.

Have a great evening!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Lunchtime twilight zone...

Whilst following some threads on the author of the "Amateurism" post from yesterday, I stumbled onto this. I find it eerie in its precognition, but comforting in the possibility that the actual resulting events lay the foundation to prevent future deterioration, if we can survive the rest of this term. I will take my optimism where I can find it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Remote quote...

From morning reading:

"We wake as angels and fall asleep as demons because
all day long we
because we must
because we fear
because we forget to


- Paul Reps

Monday, October 03, 2005

Monday Artist's Reading

A brilliant day today. It'd be great if we could bottle days like this and have on the shelf for the dead of winter. The owls like it apparently, they have surrounded the house and are having an owl pow-wow tonight.

This afternoon was the first Stacking of the Wood event. As I write this, a rather nice pile is neatly stacked and tarped. Like money in the bank. At the end of the day its' hard to argue with a pile of wood...

But to the point: tonight, I offer a copy of a document a dear friend/teacher sent to me via email today. It's from a friend of hers, details at the bottom of the doc. This is one of the best things I've read in a while; it hit me at a perfect time, and I find it very inspiring. Required reading for all artists (this is testable material kids!). I've argued this point for several years and am glad to see that someone substantial said it out loud in an academic environment. The more of us that take heed in this philosophy and renew our definitions, the better off all of us will be (of course this is just my own uninformed opinion).

(The file is an adobe pdf, you'll need the free reader to see it. If you don't have it, and want a text copy, contact me via email)

So that's it. Have a great evening, a wonder-full tomorrow, and celebrate the power of amateurism!

Mountain Mornings

We live in the high mountains of NC, at the northwest corner hard against the Tennessee and Virginia borders. Color begins to come to the trees about the last week in Sept. and these next few weeks, when we're lucky and have good weather, are my favorite.

The air gets cool but not cold at night. Friday morning it began: woodsmoke in the hollers as everyone lit the woodstoves for the first time. (we didn't, our house is an older post and beam and has heavy insulation in 6 1/2" thick walls.) I love the smell of the smoke rolling around...the way our geography is shaped lends itself to catching smoke and fog and holding onto it for a while, till the sun gets up above the ridges. So our morning walks are usually in a light smoke scented dense foggy mist, like something out of a movie. And everything you see is done so thru a scrim, so you don't get the details but outlines and suggestions. Very mellow and slow.

By 10 or so the sun is up and things began burning off, and by noon the air and sky are brilliantly clear and sharp. These days its still nice and warm, 70 to maybe 80. It is a good time to be outside.

I'm a morning person, and like to see the world wake up. First thing in the mornings are about the only time my mind isn't racing around. Before the time change, I'm usually up before it gets light, so I watch the sunrise before going for a walk. I think that time between just waking up and the finish of our walk is my best part of the day. It's still slow and calm, with minimal noise and confusion. This morning, the owls were crazy loud in the predawn dark. I've noticed them being much more busy this past week in the evenings and wonder if they're making winter plans. Occasionally we'll see one, usually a big barn owl hurtling through the woods after some unfortunate meal or another. We hear the hoot and screech owls but rarely see them.

My work days have a different rhythm in the fall- less students, for a longer time. This results in a more agreeable pace. There's time to meet people, connect, and explore things in some depth and texture. Also, I'm able to get into a little of a studio routine, though most work has to take place in the evenings. I started preparing for my fall making cycle: cleaning up around the kiln, organizing my shop. I'll make stuff in the evenings, spending the late afternoon doing things like scraping shelves, and readying the kiln. Weekends will be for glazing and loading. Hopefully I will have a full kiln load (or two!?) ready to fire by late Oct. Since my big kiln is outdoors, I have to think about the weather a bit. Anytime after Thanksgiving, and you can almost bet on wind and snow, which makes for a long day and nights work, not to mention tricky carrying of stuff to and from the kiln.

This weekend was taken up with life maintenance, and self education on the intricacies of rss and podcasting. I have it sort of figured out, though still some unanswered questions. I hope to be able to do a few little videos during this work cycle to share and show what a day in the life of this clay artist can be like. So we'll see.

Hope everyone has a great beginning to your week. Go slow and enjoy it. Ghandi once said "theres more to life than increasing it's speed." This is a healthy fact, contrary to all apparent evidence and the incessant external motivations to do/be/have more. So, let's just say no to everyone and everything that tries to whip us into an unnatural frenzy and stage a quiet revolt. We might all be better off if we do.