Friday, June 30, 2006

So rambling it can't be enclosed with a title...

A moment to set the stage: It's Friday morning, I have a blessed day off and unplanded, which I choose to spend part of here. Second cup of coffee at hand, kitty on the chair arm (mutually agreed upon compromise), some peace and quiet. And time finally to post some words.

A disclaimer: I will be neither brief, clear, or to the point. I recently decided that I'm mostly incapable of being so, and also have decided to accept and embrace that wild rambling as part of who and what I am, as opposed to trying to change, fight, or deny it. In the words of the immortal Popeye: "I y'am what I y'am..." So, it'll have to be good enough.

Now, a little mood music.

Next: first slide, please:

(I subscribe whole-heartedly to this manifesto)

From Wikipedia: Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. It is also used in a qualitative sense of a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of 'high culture', activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, photography and music — people who use imagination, and talent or skill, to create works that can be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics will define as artists those who produce art within a recognised or recognisable discipline.

The term is also used to denote highly skilled people in non-"arts" activities, as well — crafts, medicine, alchemy, mechanics, mathematics, defense (martial arts) and architecture, for example. The designation is applied to illegal activities, like a "scam artist". The term 'artist' could also refer to a con artist.

There is no consensus about what constitutes "art" or who is, or is not, an "artist". Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences between "artist" and "technician" or "entertainer," or "artisan," "fine art" and "applied art," or what constitutes art and what does not. In addition, the French word artiste (which in French, simply means "artist") has been imported into the English language; in English-usage it has connotations (some of them derogatory) which differ somewhat from the English term artist.

Hi, my name is Mark, and I'm an artist. Note the small "a". I make stuff. From all kinds of other stuff. I make clay sculpture and the occasional useful objects. I draw, I paint, I make colorful messes. I make odd little things and contraptions. I write, I make a blog, I make breakfast, lunch and dinner. I make books, I make fetishes, I make niches, I make sound art, and I make videos. My name is Mark, I make stuff, you should too, I make no apologies for the stuff I do make, and neither should you.

My name is Mark, I'm a maker. Here's a sample of my latest work, a show I hung just yesterday: Today I'll finish a book, work on a 'zine, carve some stone, and take a nap.

Now, does any of this matter? Well, probably not except to anyone but me. And does it "mean" anything? Who knows? I guess it does to me while I'm doing it, but there aren't any hidden or overt messages in what I make or do. It's just what I make or do. How folks interpret (or not) this stuff is up to them.

So I've been thinking and talking a lot lately to some folks about art and making. We even did a session at school with that as the theme. And what I've concluded for myself is that art and making is very important, especially on an individual level. Art and making can save your life and the help save the world. And if not, it will at least make the decline much more enjoyable. Note that I deliberately wrote "art and making" not "Art and Making." That's because it's two completely different things. It seems to me that "Art and Making" has a lot of baggage attached to it- rules, regulations, shoulds, musts, money, organizations, celebrity, status, haves and have nots, getting a show, getting a gallery, getting commissions, commerce, exclusivity..."art and making" is a kid with a string and a rotten tomato making something, creating a fabulous story and having fun and worry about nothing. Making for pure joy and fun, with no ulterior motive. It's inclusive- anyone can play, and should.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to people getting money for what they make (me included, every piece I have images of in this post is for sale or trade in case anyone's interested). I mean we have to eat, it's nice to be able to buy materials, and too it's nice when someone else sees value in your work. My problem is with money being a motivator to make, and sales a measurement of validation. I see a lot of folks struggle with these things daily and it robs them of the sparkle and joy that can be found in making things. And then there's the whole big mess of needing to explain what/why we make things, and to justify their existance in a world already jammed packed full of stuff. I'm wondering why we can't all relax, have fun, enjoy what we're doing and the fruits of what others are doing, make our stuff, show it off, and quit worrying about it?

I think art has been stolen from the average person in our culture. We constantly get messages that art can only be made by special people with great talent, unreachable by the rest of us. That it's only valid if shown in approved spaces, attended by the right people. There are "Artists" and then there's the rest of us. So we're conditioned and convinced that to have "Art" we have to get it from somewhere other than within ourselves. And that it must be oh so precious, made from pricey materials, in a controlled environment and have deep and often obtuse meanings. It can only be created with special tools, used for single purposes. And the "Artist" is able and willing to be more emotive and sensitive than the rest of us.

Well, to that I say BA-LONEY.

Everyone has art in them, and it's all equally valid. We just need to learn to not be afraid to let it out. If it's sincere, honest and authentic, if it's what and how we see and feel and hear and think, then it's good and healthy and important. It's communicative, and people will respond to it. It's bridge building. It doesn't have to be (most certainly shouldn't be) snobby and exclusive. So I have a challenge for anyone reading this: go make something, and show it to somebody. Us, for example. Make something out of anything, grass, paint, bark, wire, clay, wood, potatoes, string, pen, paper, rotten tomatoes...just MAKE something, for yourself, express how you feel, what you see. Be fearless. And here's what I'll do (cause you know I have so much time on my hands and NOTHING to do): If enough people are interested, i'll make another page, and we can put up a virtual gallery of what we're all making! How about that??? Could be fun! So, lets see...5 people. That'd be enough to start.

Here's closeups of the work installed yesterday:

So, its a beautiful day, and I'm going out to make some stuff...come on, join in!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Quick update with diversion included

I'm workin' on a big catch-up (ketchup?) post. Don't know if I'll finish it tonight, but tomorrow, fer sure. In the meantime I'm using this post as a place-holder, and a little linky for just to remind us about the bigger world (ok, remind me). I've posted it before, but I LOVE this link! So, redux.

Have a great evening. Posting on art to come. Be prepared.


(damn, I just realized its 9:30 pm...where did the last 12 hours of the day go??? See, this is my problem...)

Oh Glorious Morning!

Hey, look at me!!! Not dashing around and out the door for a change. Time, slowed.


So I'm going to work later, and have a few minutes to myself. Well, more than a few, a good many actually, with an as yet uncluttered head and time to think a thought thru, make some lists, and collect myself. Oh yeah, and of course, blog.

It feels odd to sit still. I need to take advantage of it. But I know I'll burst into action soon, I am a tightly coiled spring. I have stuff to write about, and assuming the wheels don't fall of the wagon of the day sometime today, I'll be back here to do so this afternoon, yahoo for me! Right now I'm itching to write about art and the importance of making stuff...this after a 2 wk theme session of "Art and Social Conscience" at the school. I just gotta say, maybe my response isn't in keeping with the intent of the theme, but I must say I have a little more clarity about the whole subject and it'll be good to write it out and offer it for discussion.

But right now it's a beautiful sunny morning, the birds are singing, and there are no loggers about, so it's quiet and peaceful, and I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. Until later, I hope everyone has a great day.

Rambling pontifications to come...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

An afternoon and a bit of time

Still daylight left, home and not dead exhausted. Going out to paint on the deck before supper. Starved to make something. Maybe a day off or so in the near future. That'd be nice. Missing my blogpals. Lots of ideas for blog entries, if I can slow my head down and corral some.

Hope everyone is well. I wonder if I have any readers any more???

Have fun kiddies, more soon!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Not on Hiatus...

Just firmly into my grinding summer routine. The days and weeks run together, little or no seperation of week vs. weekend. It's all a blur. Heck of a way to run a railroad, but whatcha' gonna do.

No lack of ideas for blogging or art making, but no time and in the odd spare moments very little energy. So it's mostly work, crash, eat, work, crash, eat.

Every summer is like this, and it's right about this time I start pondering "what am I doing, and why am I doing it?" Living this way flies in the face of my neolithic proto-Tao hermit internal wiring of relaxed acceptance and desire to float in the River of Life. No wonder I feel so self divided at times.

All that said, I'm not in a bad mood (today) just busy busy. No worse and probably a lot better off than a lot of folks. But daydreams of comfy yurts way back in the cool woods, time dictated by the sun and moon and seasons, and the ease of a slowing mind and time to breathe and digest are pretty appealing at the moment...

(he says as he posts, grabs his keys, and dashes out the door to get ready for the next 200 people arriving up the hill tomorrow...)

Monday, June 19, 2006


He says, a bit unsure?

Yes, Monday. Eveningish. Bedtime-ish. But alive, and fairly well kicking. Day job work still wide open, no end in sight. But as they say in Minnesota, "not so bad, could be worse".

Just taking a moment to say hi to all my blog pals, and thank you all for your supportive comments. Beware, this makes me encouraged, so now I'll post about anything I've been working on. No time at all for clay, but heres a few other things. Let me know what you think, if you're inclined. And not to worry, I'll be back to regular writing sooner than later I hope. Right now, its easier to connect the dots with tactile materials and color.

Hope everyone is well, take care and enjoy the show!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Pondering du jour

I'm not sure what day it is, only that I'm not going up to the school today, work deferred for life maintenance and a 3 hour round trip to the nearest town of any size. The world doth seem to be spinning at a high rate of speed lately, and my humor is in need of repair. Yes, I know I'm not the only one in that particular boat, but I'm feeling a bit selfish and self-centered for the moment, after yet another insomniac night. My head is a noisy static of endless lists, which for some reason grow more pointless by the day. All work and no play (plus loggers working early and late) makes the Ponderer a quite disagreeable person to be around.

But, whatcha gonna do? Cest la vie and all that...

To mull: What is contentment, what does it take, how does one maintain it, is it reasonable to expect it as a consistent feeling? This line of questioning can be expanded to include self-satisfaction or even more all encompassing, inner peace. Are some people more or less prone to contentment than others?

My first responses are that the beginnings are appreciation and gratitude for what one has at the moment, after all, it could always be worse. I even make lists every morning (again with the lists!) as a reminder. But in this type of mood I say to myself "well, that's all very fine BUT..." Maybe I should eliminate "but" from my vocabulary.

I am about to embark on a twisty turny path of nonsense, and will spare you that detour. I feel an extended period of reading oriental philosophy coming on too so try as I might it may crop up here and there.

I just looked at a calendar and see that it is in fact a weekend approaching. So I hope you all have a good one. Me, maybe I'll go walking up in the mountains, looking for some peace and quiet, and see if I can find some contentment hidden among the stones in the woods. Or maybe just sit still on a stump and see if it benevolently finds me.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Up for air momentarily

Quite alive, running at high speed, except for the occasional crash and nap only to get up and go again. No time for anything it seems besides work- I think I need 3 of me to keep it all together at a sane pace. Contemplating the value of retreat and a life of a mountain hermit, which looks appealing at the moment. Like so many other folks, it gets too fast too loud and too much sometimes.

Ah, well. I have no legit complaints. So, I'll get back to it. Just wanted to say hi and wish all blogfriends (and others) well, and hope you're having some fun in your worlds.

Me, diving back in, a big cannonball splash...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Workin' for a living

so little or no blogging (reading or writing) of late. Just not enough mojo by the time I can get to it. And I'm out the door in just a bit, (yes, Sunday, opening day of session 2) but wanted to see if I can post these scans of things I finished early last week, just to see what you all might think of them Comment lines are open. (of course, now I see Blogger will be doing maintenance today so who knows if these will post or be able to be read for a while...)

Hope everyone is well and is having a great weekend. Hopefully I can get good footing on this work tilt-a-whirl in a bit and get back to regular entries, more unpaintings, and some clay work! Have fun kids!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

To Ponder today:

How to live

un-inhibitedly (is that a word?)
with intregrity
productively ?

Off to work for me. Hope everyone has a great day, and at least one thing happens that makes you laugh so hard that the beverage of your choice comes out your nose.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Other people's stuff

Well, it's Tuesday evening, and I can't tell you where the time has gone since Sunday's post, except oh yeah it's been worked away. And now it's early evening but feeling late, and I have some scans to do, or maybe I'll go down and ink some of the "unprints". But I hesitate to fool with them when my head is clouded and tired with the noise of the day.

I have even less to say than normal, and if I make an effort to write much the content will be pretty lame. In lieu of useless verbiage, I'll provide a public service and point you guys to a couple of sites that have some REALLY good stuff of late (actually, they are pretty consistent so you should be reading them daily as they're generally contain much more nourishing bloggage than mine). So for your reading pleasure, check out Lillie and Lee. Read back a few entries from Lillie, and you'll be hooked. And I'd highly recommend reading back thru Lee's, especially the June 2 and June 5 editions. Good stuff, thought provoking and continued in the comments section.

Me, I'm so tired I can't get punctuation right, never mind spelling. So I'll stick to pushing buttons on the scanner. Maybe I'll post a few images for comment later, but reckon that about the time the light gets dim on the mountain, I'm done for the day.

Have a great evening. Enjoy your reading. I can't believe it's only 8pm and I'm already dozy...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday evening

FIrst I want to thank everyone for your comments on the 2 pieces I posted the other day. You guys are very encouraging and helpful, and I'm getting a bit obsessed with doing these things, so while I'm not fishing for compliments it is nice to know that maybe there's something there to work with.

Facing a long stretch of work over the next couple of weeks. Big doings at the school. Time for artwork and blogging and much of anything else besides work and sleep (with occasional breaks to get food for the machine) will be limited. But I'll pry moments out here and there for fun to keep afloat.

I did some more un-prints (that's what i'm calling them) today, heres a photo of them laid out but unfinished. Some need water color washes, and then i'll live with them until i see/feel where ink marks (if any) need to fall.

Note that they are spread out on my clay work surface, an indicator of the current status of clay work. But not to fear, today I sketched out some ideas for a couple of new series of clay pieces. It's just so hard to do clay with my work schedule in the summer, because I'm not good at shifting back and forth, and when I'm working with clay I like to give it extended and uninterrupted attention.

Again any feedback/comments will be appreciated. I'm not sure about some of the color palette...a few seem too strident or hot, especially those black and orange ones...too much contrast. But like I said they're in progress, so they'll probably morph and tone down a bit. Or not. Who knows?

If my blogging is spotty for the next little while, know I'm thinking about all of you and wishing you well. Summer is here, it's time to get out and have fun. Go have enough for both of us and tell me about it.

Have a great evening!


I rather like the middle Sunday's during the summer. (middle for me, because from Memorial day to Labor day I work both days at least every other weekend ). This one particularly delicious since it might be the last for a while due to increased work demands.

It's a beautiful day, sunny, cool-ish. I was anticipating several delightful happenings today, but as things so often do, stuff changes, and now I have two choices: be disappointed and sulk, or be disappointed and see the day as a blank canvas and make something of it. Today, I choose the latter.

So, I'll walk a bit (very soon, Lucy is being patient), read, write, make some little colorful messes, maybe finish the mowing, take a nap, read, dabble, piddle, meander, float along or rest still as the mood hits. And enjoy the peace and quiet and no loggers and sunshine and be grateful for all the simple stuff around me. If I do anything that I think might be interesting to anyone besides myself, I'll post some pictures, maybe.

I will say that yesterday I went on a big adventure down the mountain, and dreamed of huge dramatic stone sculptures last night. I wonder if a quarry would fund an installation project for me? That's something to ponder on...

I hope everyone has a beautiful and replenishing day.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I Made Stuff

(oops..fixed the link to the Tanahashi site, sorry about that)

Quote of the day:

"Industrious people build industry. Lazy people build civilization."-Kazuaki Tanahashi

So I've been working a little on my own civilization. And it feels good.

A couple of flat pieces I finished:

Comments and/or feedback appreciated.

Have a great weekend!

Why do I feel like people have beat on me with sticks?

You wouldn't think that a day of artmaking would result in such physical ailments. And you'd be right. However, a day of choring around the homestead can, will and does make one reach for the extra-strength analgesic of choice.


So, Mr. Thoreau had the right idea, the right encouragement, but I did not execute it. I fear I am genetically coded with some sort of OCD work ethic, passed on from my parents, who I love dearly, but never sat down. And there was no artmaking in our house (well except the art of farming and homemaking, so I guess there was). And now these days I find myself distracted by the endless lists of "things needing done", so I don't usually get totally lost in making, which is the only effective way to do anything. Or I should say my only effective way.

So yesterday was given over to working the list. Today however, I will fight the good fight and persevere and make some things. I actually did go down and try to draw/paint last night, but wasn't in the right frame of mind and the results were only trashcan worthy. So I stewed and pondered about that late and this morning early, but I think I learned something about authenticity and pure voice. So we'll see. If I have anything to show for my effort, I will.

A good thing that happened was finding buried treasure yesterday. I was digging, always an adventure here in the mountains (picture the sound: dig, dig, dig, CHUNK, CLINK...sound of steel on stone). One of the CHUNK-CLINKS yielded this:

I'm not sure what it is but it is an orb of some sort, I believe it to be an omen, an oracle, or a message bearing object. Very odd to be found buried in the edge of the heavy woods. I'll spend some time with it today and see what it has to say.

Hope everyone has a great Friday and a wonder-filled beginning to the weekend. Maybe you'll have the chance to dig for burired treasure too.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Small Ponderer's Day Off

Well, I could squander it being productive and responsible, because there are so many things "needing" done: the demon tree waits to be cut and split, I could go down the mountain and get a trailer full of mulch for the flower beds, I could work like a chain-gang road crew on the gravel drive, I could mow the meadow and adjacent areas, etc. etc....

But. I read a little Thoreau this morning.

"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"

A darn radical thinker and writer, he. But perfect for the mood.

So today I will draw, paint, make small clay objects, fashion together bits and pieces of found stuff. I'll walk, and nap and read and write and listen to the birds (and curse the loggers). Or maybe I'll do nothing more than sit in the sun, should it decide to shine through the morning fog. I guess somewhere in there I'll eat, I like eating. But simple, fast, nothing complicated.

It sounds like a good way to spend the day, and the chores will be wait for me to get replenished and refilled.

Have a great day yourselves! Maybe, I'll take some pictures today...