Our September show joins the talents of 2 artists who submitted their work to us separately. We're very pleased to present their work with us for the very first time.
Crystal Vision Designs
I've always enjoyed working with my hands, which began when I was about 6 or 7, and my aunt taught me how to sew. I made some clothing and did quite a bit of embroidery. My first venture into jewelry, started off as a job here in Colorado back in the early 70's, where I drilled holes in turquoise in a factory type setting. The supervisor taught me to make a clasp out of silver wire during break time, and I was hooked! Life happened, and I didn't start getting involved in jewelry making again until I was nearing retirement. I began buying beads and making beaded items, taught myself to do wire wrapping, and then took classes at a junior college, where I learned to saw metal, solder, and a whole lot of other skills I didn't know I needed! I've now been fabricating pieces completely by hand for about 5 years.
I'm also a photographer, and love taking shots of beautiful Colorado! I'm also inspired by places I have visited, and many of those fond memories are reflected in my pieces. Sometimes, I look at a cabochon stone, and I get immediate ideas on how to showcase it in a wearable art piece.
I have several sketch books, and whenever an idea hits, I record it as best I can. When the urge to create strikes, I might already have a specific design in mind, or at times I look through my sketches and something will just jump out at me. Sometimes they end up identical to the sketch/idea, other times there are variations.
Art is not really a choice for me, it truly makes my heart sing! I just want my creations to bring joy. They're coming from some magical place beyond me and need to be shared.
My favorite piece is my latest. I love mid-century modern design items and was trying to achieve kind of a mixture of mid-century modern and space age.
My work can be seen on my Facebook page, twokaren2. I am participating at the Farmer's Market at Margarita at Pine Creek on a limited basis. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
My journey into the visual arts started when my husband bought me a camera for my 24th birthday. That camera became an extra appendage to me immediately. I took photos of everything for about five years straight, and it was during that time that my eyes started to "see like an artist". Soon I had the courage to delve into drawing, painting, collage, etching, whatever! I love it all. Now I have had my work shown in some neat venues like the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and I have been privileged to teach art classes for both kids and adults for the last couple years.
Art making is one of the most human things we can do; wonky lines, uneven faces, errant fingerprints in the clay. In a world that aggressively promotes flawless digital avatars, art making remains defiantly human and beautifully imperfect. It is no luxury; rather, it is imperative to our experience on planet earth.
The collection itself is entirely based on this list of native Colorado species that Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages children to be on the lookout for when they go on road trips around the state. I thought it would be fun to do the animals' portraits in the style of a naturalist's field journal, using the types of tools that a naturalist could carry with him/her: calligraphy pen, India ink, watercolor. And the backgrounds are brightly colored, which may just be a reflection of how enthusiastic I was when making them!
Each of these pieces started with meticulous ink-work to draw the animal, then watercolor was added to make it come alive.
Folks will hopefully grow in their appreciation for our native animals here in Colorado, and perhaps be introduced to a couple species they have not seen before. Maybe it encourages them to learn more about our wonderful wild neighbors and to participate in the conservation efforts necessary to keep them around!
I really like the Sage Grouse. Such a manly display of feathered pomp, but so vulnerable to a dwindling habitat.
My work can be fold at: www.andreastolarczyk.com
Creativity has been the lifelong gambit for each of us. Kay decided to learn a different art media for each decade of her life, Jennifer has established her thriving ceramic business, and Liz has dedicated her energies to teaching and sharing here love of textile art. Our interest in clay, wood, and fiber are the current reflections of our artistic explorations.
Making art is like breathing for us. Sometimes it is slow and steady, like a meditation. Other times it’s like a catch in your throat, when you have a new idea. This show is mostly the latter, because there have been so many startling ideas and possibilities. We want you to experience the breathlessness of art like we have.
The Creative Gambit expresses both some risk and our confidence that we could do interesting work together, producing one of a kind multimedia pieces that we never would have created on our own.
Creative processes are always a challenge. Merging the disparate medias of clay, fiber, and wood was also a challenge. We decided to make three collaborative pieces that were outside of our comfort zones. Jennifer, the ceramic artist, would design the wall piece; Kay, the wood turner, a 3-D still life; and Liz a floor sculpture. Then we decided on a color scheme, a motif, and discussed hot to bring them all together. We each make parts for the others and left it up to them on how to combine and present the finished work. We discovered that communication was extremely important. As visual artists, we all grew in our ability to verbally convey our ideas, which resulted in some very complex art pieces.
If you are wonderfully delighted when you visit this show, then we have succeeded in our creative gambit.
If you are interested in our work in the future, please contact us at:
Jennifer Hanson: spinningstarstudios.com or Spinning Star Studio on Instagram
Kay Liggett: ridgewaystudios.org
Liz Kettle: lizkettle on Instagram or Liz Kettle on Facebook.
I work at my home studio in Richardson, Texas. I recently “retired” after serving for a decade as Resident Artist at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas where I also taught courses on the history of ceramics. Most of all I reveled in the energy and curiosity of the students there. I earned my bachelor’s degree at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and my MFA at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. I then moved to the hills of southern Indiana where I lived on a small organic farm for thirty years, planted 800 trees, had a studio, raised a family, worked as the Editorial Advisor on Ceramics for Chilton Books, and taught ceramics at the University of Louisville, Kentucky before returning home to north Texas.
Assigned as an undergraduate advisee to Professor Richard Peeler, I signed up for Ceramics class and was hooked the first week. Even if commercial clay bodies had been available in those days, Peeler would have made us mix our own. He took us to the local clay mine and had me mixing all my own glazes and doing firings from the beginning. By the second year, he conscripted me into helping with kiln construction. My graduate school glaze chemistry professor, Margaret Fetzer, and longtime mentor, Karl Martz, gave me skills and nurtured further curiosity in developing my own glazes, which I still do. This includes the local ash glazes which I love, and which ground my work where I live. Each of the cups in this show has ash glaze.
I like fire. I like kilns with burners or that use wood as fuel, and in winter heated the house and cooked on a wood stove for 30 years. I fire most of my work at home in the gas kiln in my back yard but participate in other kinds of firings with friends. Community really can’t be separated from making or using pots.
A gallery of some of my work is on my website. I exhibit in a variety of exhibitions, participate in a local studio tour every fall and sell work at benefit sales at the Craft Guild of Dallas, which brings together artists using many materials.
I was born in Washington DC and raised in Massachusetts. Currently, I am an Associate Professor of Ceramics at Howard University. In addition to doing pottery, I teach printmaking and 3D design. When not teaching I am designing and playing games. Much of the time there is an educational component to the game I develop.
I had taken pottery classes as an undergraduate. But pottery became serious for me when I discovered I could make money with it. And the added bonus for me was that I could make functional objects that met my needs as a cook.
I mostly work with stoneware. I do all the processes available to me with no real preference toward any one of them Hand building, wheel work, slip casting are all points for departure. To get fast results I often do raku if food or drink is not an issue. I make about 75% of my glazes when working with stoneware.
My favorite piece in this show is the piece titled "Divided we stand united we fall". It attempts to address the two sides we face regarding the history of this country. I make a few works every year that address current social concerns. I was struck by the comment that there were a few bad/good people on both sides. Put water in either vessel and, strangely, it tastes the same?
I enjoy making cups. I enjoy trading/ selling cups. The opportunity to share my vessels with others is a pleasure. I collect vessels from all of my pottery friends and have a cabinet overflowing with cups.
I'm on FB and currently working on my website. I have an Instagram account, but exhibit nationally when I can so keep your ears and eyes open.
I am from Aurora, Illinois. I received a degree in Fine Art & Business. My early career was in commercial art doing graphic design and India ink illustrations for government and non-profit organizations. The imagery on my ceramic work references the scientific study of societal beauty standards.
I was doing a lot of commercial illustrative work and was looking for a different creative outlet for my own ideas. A local community college was the answer. I took some ceramic classes and was pulled in. Clay is outstanding because there are enough facets to stay challenged and engaged with it for many lifetimes.
I have a home-studio, so I wish to be careful about my mess I make. I use commercial products, so I don't need to be concerned about the dust associated with handling raw materials. The clay I use is English porcelain. I throw and trim the form on the pottery wheel. The surface design is drawn and painted on with under-glazes. It is covered in a coat of clear, gloss glaze. Using an electric kiln, the piece is fired to cone six.
My favorite piece would be the spirits cup named Face Sequence. Everything about it made me smile when I unloaded it from the kiln. The imagery fits well and looks clear and precise. I felt compelled to continue going down that rabbit-hole of thought.
The honest answer is location [in applying to this show]. One of the last family road trips I went on with my parents and brother was to Colorado. The four of us were spellbound by the state's beauty. Having the opportunity to share my work with you and to be in that gorgeous locale was my motivation. If I can't personally be there to enjoy it, at least my art can stand in my place.
I have both Etsy and Instagram accounts with the name ClayVein. You can see more about me and my work at either of these locations.
I am the owner of Flux Studio & Gallery in Denver, CO. For 16 years I worked as a driller for a geotechnical contractor. In December of 2016 I resigned my position and opened the studio. There I focus on small batch functional wares, for both wholesale, and retail. I also teach classes 5 nights a week, to about 24 individuals a month, from beginner to advanced students. I work in both stoneware, and porcelain, and focus primarily on wheel thrown vessels. Everything is fired to cone 10 in a reduction atmosphere.
I was first introduced to ceramics as a high school student where, we had an amazing facility. We had an excellent and knowledgeable instructor who, was well versed in several artistic disciplines. We also had access to high fire glazes, several kilns, both gas and electric, as well as raku firings, and many others. We also learned how to formulate and mix our own glazes from raw materials. It was a great experience, and because of it, I was catapulted forward into the clay life.
All of my glazes are mixed in house from raw materials. I run about 20 different glazes from traditional shinos, pale celadons, colorful copper reds, and too many others to list. I prefer the glaze results, and the translucency of working with porcelain. However, a rich and rustic stoneware mug can be just as warm and inviting. I fire in a 20cuft gas reduction kiln to cone 10, or 2380 deg F. I have been influenced lately by an old world, and traditional form. I share the building with a world renowned architectural antique dealer and have found myself drawn towards many of their clay and glass relics of the past, that are found in their shop. I have been creating the Tankards for some time now. I purchased an 1820's English Tavern Tankard and have replicated the form. The transformation of the pewter tankard to ceramic gives new life to the archaic, and eye-catching shape.
My favorite piece for this show is the Carved Porcelain Tankard Coffee Mug. I was pleased with the execution, and final product of the standard tankard I had been producing on the regular. I was making about 100 tankards a month and wanted to add a new twist to them. I really wanted to make the shape my own. So, I began to carve the body of the mug, and chiseled out the top of the handle. As well as create a more elegant, and ergonomic grip. The carving, it started as just random squiggly lines with no rhyme or reason to assist in catching and channeling the flow of molten glaze. After many failed attempts, and honestly some really ugly mugs, they evolved into whimsical, dynamic, and truly unique pieces. Where, I could not only channel, but direct the hot glass to accentuate certain elements of the form. I was inspired to apply for this show by a friend on SM.
My work can be found online in my Etsy shop:
In the Gallery of the studio:
377 S lipan St Denver, CO 80223
Our facebook page:
I am a homebody, a cook, and a family guy, which fits well with being a self-employed artist working from home. My studio and home, in the little town of Niwot, are very much my own creation with my own hands and my family’s patient support. I wanted to create it so my two daughters, Chloe and Susannah, would know what I do for work and to be around when they were, and I wanted to be able to support my wife, Ellen, in her demanding work. We love music, so instruments vie for space with pots and books and treasures collected from our travels. And a walk out back to the studio usually includes a stop at the garden and chicken coop. The four of us have made a very lovely, personalized home that takes care of us.
In the middle of working towards an undergrad art major at Grinnell College in Iowa, about 1983, I took a semester off to build wooden boats on the coast of Maine and get off campus. What my boatbuilding clarified for me was that I love working with tools and in three dimensions. Back at school, I was contemplating building a boat in the middle of campus when my advisor wisely suggested that I instead take the ceramics class. Ok, it fit in my schedule. I was already drawn to traditional craft and its artistic expression, but clay had such broad possibilities and deep roots—I was smitten. Right after graduation I decided to find a potter to work for, just to see if anyone made a living anymore as a potter. That decision turned into a seven-year apprenticeship at two different potteries and subsequently setting up my own studio.
My training is definitively production oriented, so I have always tended to work with those concerns in mind as far as clay, glazes, and the numbers of pieces I produce. I primarily use a locally formulated and mixed clay, as opposed to digging and processing my own. These days I am drawn to and experiment with many temperatures and processes, but I mostly work with a mid-range red stoneware that I electric fire to cone 7 (though mid-range porcelain, wood fired pieces and pit fired Ancestral Puebloan reproduction work all shows up in my studio). I like a quick feedback loop to see the results of what I’m doing, so I’ve slowly shifted from a 60 cu ft gas kiln to my small electric kiln. I am, frankly, a glaze mixing evangelist. Working with glaze chemistry, and teaching it too, are very important to my expression as a potter.
I think my favorite is the Desert Sipping Cup. Perhaps it is because it is the most recently discovered glaze combination I’m exploring, but this form is one I keep returning to because of its elegance in your hand. The glazes were a surprise in how they work with each other, but their feel comes right from the desert landscape of southern Utah that we visit religiously every springtime. To me, there is a perfect combination of control and surprise in the fired surface. The colors of this piece are all possible because of a layer of slip behind the scenes. This is a great example of why I make my own glazes. And that coppery gold rim—you gotta love that!
Mugs and cups have always been ever-present pieces for potters of all traditions. But they used to be the “loss leader” in the shop, the pieces that brought folks in the door and were sold too cheaply to that end. Now, cups and mugs are elevated to the complex collectible pieces they truly are, at least in the US, and because they can command such prices, they demand such care. I like that and think that is as it should be. I, like many potters, love to collect mugs and cups from other potters and know that we all use them as an important form for our self-expression—as well as to sip from. I consider Commonwheel to be a venerable Colorado clay gallery and I like to be included in exhibitions that show the best of our local potters.
Go to my website (www.markrossierpottery.com)—there is always work for sale. Follow me on Instagram (@markmudman), because I will soon be advertising sales there and you’ll stay most current with what I’m doing. La Veta Gallery on Main in La Veta, CO carries my work as does Radius Gallery in Missoula, MT. But the best place to find my work is my studio showroom in Niwot that is truly open 24/7 with a wide selection of my work.
Since 2008 I have been a studio potter and pottery instructor in Atlanta, GA, selling my work at my studio, local and regional art sales, exhibits and galleries. Sharing my love of working in clay, I teach beginning and intermediate pottery classes at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta with concentration in the soda firing process and workshops nationwide demonstrating my unique texturing process of pushing the clay.
My mother was a collector of pottery. We had loads of pottery all over our house and used it daily. When I had to take an art class in high school, I chose pottery.
I use porcelain, a cone 6 porcelain by Laguna clay. I throw, alter and texture my pieces. My stylized technique of creating my designs and texture is a unique process of striking and moving clay with personally designed tools. Porcelain allows me to sponge the marks after I make them at soft leather hard, giving the designs a lush and flowing feel. I fire my work to cone 6-7 in my soda kiln in Blue Ridge, GA. Sodium vapors glaze the exterior of each vessel, interacting and uniquely highlighting the form and surface. I make my own glazes. This allows me to get the exact effect that I want for my pieces in the soda firing environment.
My favorite piece in this grouping is the Dragon Flower Tumbler. This pattern flows nicely on the taller tumbler form. The results from the firing were exceptional (soda fired, cone 7). The copper highlights from the exterior reacted in a spectrum of greens. Because of the variation in the surface of the porcelain, the copper migrates through the piece and can be seen on the inside.
I was accepted in the show in 2018 and received overwhelming and enthusiastic support for my work at the co-op. Commonwheel honored me by placing an image of one of my mugs (the Bony Mug, also in the show) on the Call for Entry card. :~)
My website LoraRust.com has expanded background and biographical information as well as an online shop, featuring my texturing tools. I also have a presence on Facebook - Lora Rust Ceramics and Instagram @lorarust. I am represented by Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainesville, FL; Ember Gallery, Chattanooga, TN; The Bascom Gallery, Highlands, NC; Macon Arts Gallery, Macon, GA
Lora Rust Ceramic Designs
Sara Torgison is a potter and sculptor currently managing the fine art studio facilities at the University of Dayton, OH. Sara grew up in San Diego, CA surrounded by art, music, sea and sky. She holds a BFA from Humboldt State University in Ceramics and has worked at various community arts organizations in the Dayton area.
I became interested in pottery in high school, but didn't really get into it until my second semester of college. HSU has an amazing ceramics department and it became my second home. I took every student assistant position I could get in the department, and slowly gained the knowledge base that prepared me to take on positions managing ceramics departments in the Dayton Ohio area (where I moved after I finished my BFA). I have been incredibly fortunate to work with local artists, firing their work and working alongside them in the studio. The strong sense of community among ceramicists has been a continuous source of inspiration in my life.
I typically work with cone 10 porcelain or stoneware. I either throw and alter my vessel forms, or hand-build, adding hand mixed engobes and glazes in layers. I fire in either gas reduction or wood reduction atmospheres and find that, while I often prefer the results and community aspects of wood firing, gas firing is my personal comfort zone and a quicker, less taxing process.
My favorite piece I submitted for this show is the reduction fired tooth cup, because it was the first one that came out using the engobe technique I developed and I was so excited by the results.
I had seen calls for the exhibition come up in the past, but missed the deadline. I love making and collecting mugs and cups, so the theme appeals to me. I am honored I got to participate this year!
My work can be found at saratorgison.com
I am a ceramic artist and geologist from Charlottesville, VA. I enjoy making ceramic work that incorporates elements of geology, both through form and surface and by incorporating raw materials such as native clays. My life and work have been influenced by my time studying geology at The College of William and Mary, where I was lucky to take multiple travel courses to study geological aspects of places such as California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Oman. Recently I have been wood firing as an Artist in Residence at the Cub Creek Foundation in Appomattox, VA. Along with being a ceramic artist, I am a runner and an animal lover.
I was lucky to go to a high school with a great ceramics program, where I took ceramics classes and developed a passion for clay. My interest intensified in my college ceramics courses, and as an Artist in Residence at the Cub Creek Foundation.
I prefer to mix my own clays, and the clay body that I use depends on what I am going to make and what firing process I am planning to use. For wood firing, which I am doing now, I like to use stoneware bodies that incorporate the red Virginia clay deposit present on the Cub Creek Foundation property. I mix the native clay into my stoneware bodies and also thin it out into a slip to use as a decorative element. I love wood firing and soda firing, and I prefer to mix my own glazes to accent my surfaces and firing processes.
My favorite piece in this exhibition is my Teacup and Saucer. I loved the process of designing a cup and saucer form that aligns with my current body of work, and I feel that the piece has quite a charming overall quality.
I was inspired to apply to this show because I have recently developed a teacup and saucer form, and I enjoy making flasks and whiskey sets. I love the idea of designing pieces for specific beverages and this show is a perfect way to showcase that!
Local Gallery: Red Door 104 in Farmville, VA
In high school I really wanted to be a special effects makeup artist and was told I needed to learn to sculpt to be successful. I took the beginner ceramics class at my high school and absolutely fell in love with ceramics. In only about 2 weeks I was hooked and making new plans for my future.
I have always loved throwing [on a potters wheel], however recently I have been embracing slip casting. All of my work is fired to cone 6 oxidation to showcase my vibrant color palette. I use a few commercial glazes, mainly celadons, and a few studio-made basics (clear, white, etc.), but the majority of what I use are underglazes. I love the boldness of the colors you get and the painterly way they can be applied.
My favorite piece is “Bee Cup”. I have been expanding my color palette recently to include a wider variety of colors beyond yellows and oranges, and I think this piece is successful in showing my imagery well without relying so heavily on my standard colors.
My work is almost all functional and mainly cups so I was excited to find a show for exactly that!
My work can be found at:
Instagram - @Saramicstudios
Etsy - Etsy.com/shop/SaramicStudios
Michelle Coakes is a recently retired art professor who owns and operates Bad Wolf Pottery in Taylorville, IL. Coakes has been making pots for more than 40 years and holds a BFA, MA and MFA in Ceramics (all from Northern Illinois University.) She has done post-graduate work at Wichita State University and the University of Southern Maine. She has taught at a number of schools throughout the country, including the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, Juniata College (PA), Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois, and two other community colleges in Illinois. She continues to teach pottery classes at Bad Wolf Pottery. Coakes is the author of “Creative Pottery: A Step-by-Step Guide and Showcase” published by Rockport publishers in 1998.
I was lucky enough to attend at high school in the suburbs of Chicago that had a strong art department. After being “hooked” on pottery in high school, I began taking pottery classes at the nearby community college when I turned 16. I never stopped. After community college, I continued my studies at Northern Illinois University, eventually earning my MFA in 1987.
I prefer to work with stoneware clay. And, I start almost every pot on the wheel. I often throw parts, alter them, and then, assemble them into the finished pieces. I have two options for finishing the work: some are fired in an electric kiln to cone 6, using my own glazes; and some are fired in a wood kiln to cone 9/10, using my own glazes formulated for that temperature.
RinRiI like the contrast I created in the “Porcelain Capped Flask” by using a porcelain slip on the cap of the piece. It is actually thrown stoneware, but I applied a thick slip, which acts like a frosting. The lightness of the porcelain against the darker clay of the body of the flask provides a nice play of values. The body of the flask has a Shino glaze, which provides a warm, orange glow to the stoneware clay. The piece was fired in my wood kiln to cone 9.
I am trying to challenge myself to get my work “out there.” When you teach full-time at a community college (where there is seldom emphasis placed on research in your field) as I have for the past several years, it is difficult to find the time to get work done in your own studio – and even more difficult to find the time to promote and exhibit your work. But, now that I’ve retired from college teaching, I am rededicating myself to my own studio practice - and that includes exhibiting my work, if I am so lucky.
I have a website: www.badwolfpottery.com
And, I have a Facebook page for my studio: www.facebook.com/BadWolfPottery/
Michelle's Ringed Shino Flask won the Overall Best in Show Award.
My artwork is about the connections that bring seemingly disparate worlds and ideas joyfully together. Animals and animalian humanoids appear frequently as whimsical characters. I feel a great connection to and influence from the world of dreams. Dreams are the mind’s way of processing and expressing intense emotions and experiences. These raw emotional connections seek to bring the viewer back to a place in childhood where the heart understood the world before the eye and mind did. Growing up in Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when being well fed was a rare luxury, nature was my toybox. Death and decomposition were a part of daily life. I remember feeling an innocent curiosity about animals rotting in the dirt, seeing beauty in their bones as I saw beauty in the creature that had been alive not long before. When I moved to New Orleans, I felt a deep connection to the way death is celebrated here as a part of loving life. The music and spirit of the places I have lived have deeply influenced me as well, and my work is frequently imbued with this music that is like a spiritual pulse.
Ramiro's Coffee Mug won Best of Category for Coffee:
I graduated from the Appalachian Center for Craft in December 2017. I graduated with a BFA in Ceramics and a minor in Social & Behavioral Science. I’m currently the Gallery Manager at the Craft Center and I also teach ceramics to high school students through the Appalachian Center for Craft’s Focus on Fine Craft Program. I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two cats and two rabbits. I also like to garden and explore the many waterfalls and state parks we have here in Tennessee.
While in high school, my art class took several field trips to the Appalachian Center for Craft. From the first visit, I knew that I wanted to study at the Craft Center. It’s beautiful location and amazing facilities was the best place for me to pursue art.
My forms are thrown on the potter’s wheel and then altered and pinched to leave my own touch, documenting my relationship to each vessel. I paint quick, expressive imagery using Amaco Underglazes, inspired by my perception of environments I’ve encountered in my life. I carve through my imagery to reveal my terracotta clay body beneath, providing contrast in each piece. This process is called sgraffito. My pots are then bisque fired to Cone 08 (1728 degrees), glazed in a clear glaze, and then fired again to Cone 3 (2106 degrees).
I mix my own Stephenson Terracotta at the Appalachian Center for Craft. I also mix my own white slip and glaze recipes. I currently fire to Cone 3 in an electric kiln, but I enjoy atmospheric firing, and have fired our Salt, Soda, and Wood kilns at the Craft Center. Salt firing is my favorite.
I enjoyed decorating my Red Flower tumbler, I don’t usually use red underglaze!
I was a part of this show last year, so I wanted to apply again this year!
Galleries: Appalachian Center for Craft Retail Gallery, Smithville, TN
I currently live in Dallas, Texas, with my husband, two giant dogs, two cats, and a constantly revolving collection of foster animals. However, I grew up in the Twin Cities and also spent two years in rural Japan after college. I work out of my home studio and spend my free time rescuing animals and performing at the local renaissance festival. Though I grew up in a very sheltered and conservative environment, my work now talks about sex, sexuality, and how they intersect with politics and society.
In high school, I was a ceramic sculptor, and I thought I would do that forever. I didn't think functional ceramics could possibly be art. That changed in college. On my first day of Introductory Ceramics, my professor, Peter Beasecker, spent the class showing us all how to throw a cylinder on the wheel. After the class, as the cocky sophomore that I was, I went up to him and said that functional ceramics was okay and all, but could I please just work on my sculptures? He laughed at me and told me in no uncertain terms that I would learn to work on the wheel just like everyone else. It turned out that I had a knack for it, and he introduced me to the work of all sorts of incredible potters. I soon realized that functional ceramics could absolutely be art, and I was hooked.
I work mostly on the wheel and then alter the pieces afterward. I use porcelaneous stoneware because it has the best of both worlds: the beautiful white canvas of porcelain and the forgiveness of stoneware when I'm altering and cutting up/combining pieces when they're wet. After I've finished the form of my pots, I use the mishima process to draw erotic line drawings on the pots, and then I surround the images with commercially available decals (either underglaze tissue transfers or overglaze water-slide decals). I fire my pots in an electric kiln to ^5 and use commercial glazes. After all that, I add gold luster and fire the pots again to ^018.
My favorite piece I have in this show is my martini cup. Technically, it was the most difficult piece to make of all four. I threw the cup in one piece on the wheel and getting the stem so narrow while still being able to flare out the bowl as much as I did was very difficult. Though I've made many martini cups and wine goblets in this style, I still struggle to get them right, and it's always hugely satisfactory when they come out well.
Of all the pots I make and use daily, cups are my favorite. They are the most intimate of all pots. Cups are the ones that actually touch the user's lips. Cups are what deliver the two most fabulous things in existence: caffeine and alcohol. Cups are life-giving. For that reason, I love all cup shows.
As an artist who is inspired by the natural landscape, I spend a lot of time outdoors whether it is hiking or attending the plants around my home. The natural landscape has always been a place where I can find solitude and direction during all moments of life. As a result, the work is both an encapsulation of emotion and a reinterpretation of the landscape produced from this immersion.
I was first introduced to pottery when I was in high school, but it was not until I began attending a ceramics club in college that I began expressing a desire to explore this medium further. After a month attending the club, I changed my major so that I could concentrate in the Ceramic Arts.
My preferences to making teacups is to throw them off the hump with either a brown or white stoneware. The Teacups accepted in this event have both been fired in a Cone 10 reduction. I also prefer to make my own glazes so that I can leave room for experimentation with the raw materials and how they respond to the clay.
My favorite piece accepted for this show is the Teacup as the form has been shaped to welcome the hands. When those hands hold the piece, the texture is a reminder of the landscape from which it was inspired.
I was inspired to apply to this show because the theme of the show is something I strongly connect with. The drinking vessel has been an invaluable tool throughout history. Appreciating this fact, I believe the work I make may contribute to this celebration.
I am 24 years old. I am from Illinois, which is also where I am currently working towards my Bachelors in Fine Arts, majoring in ceramics, at Southern University of Illinois, Edwardsville. In my free time I love playing with my two dogs, going on hikes, kayaking, and gardening with my significant other. I am also an avid traveler with a profound love for the Ocean, which is where I draw my inspiration. That being said, I will not be able to attend this show because I will be doing a work study in Italy this summer, which can be fallowed on my instagrams!
I first got introduced to ceramics when I was in high school, and then took ceramics an elective in college and really fell in love with the wheel. After that I realized ceramics was my calling and have been pursuing it ever since!
First Starting out I mainly used white stoneware, however these days I prefer porcelain. All things in this show are wheel thrown and then altered once they are leather hard. For the conch-shaped cups I cut them in half and reattach them to have an overhanging handle that is still a part of the pot. The reason for these handles is to hug the user's hand while holding it. Then the bottoms are removed and rebuilt using coils to create the spiraling base. The base for the Supported Cup, was a thrown bowl flipped upside down and then altered to fit that specific cup. The coral handled cups I squeeze coils to fit comfortably in the hand, then stipple them using 3 types of tools and attach them at leather hard. I create a variety of textures on all my pottery some are impressions from found objects and some are carved, but my most prominent texture is the barnacles. For these I had made a mold so that I can produce them a lot quicker, because each barnacle was tediously stippled. When glazing I use studio-made glazes, along with black slip and commercial under glazes. When firing I use cone 10 atmospheric salt kilns, because I really enjoy that the salt itself becomes a glaze.
My favorite cup is most likely the Coral Cup, even though I no longer use stoneware, the glazes I used on this cup turned out beautifully and I love how it fits in the hand.
My professor inspired us students to reach out to different shows. I make a lot of drinking vessels so when I saw the call for this show I felt like I'd be a perfect fit!
I am still working on an artist website, but my art work can be followed at passport_pottery on Instagram and my travels and other adventures on @tempo381 Instagram!
I am currently working towards my BFA in Sculpture are Purdue University Fort Wayne. I describe myself as a potter and a sculptor. I work primarily in clay, creating different vessel forms, as well as life size figurative sculptures. I intend to graduate in about a year and a half, then head off to graduate school. My ultimate goal is to become a ceramics professor and to be able to inspire my students to become successful and happy individuals.
I was in high school when I first became interested in clay. I was the teacher’s assistant for the art teacher and she had me helping her with an introductory ceramics class. This was the first time that I realized I wanted to be a teacher. I began working with clay on an old stone kick wheel. There was just something mesmerizing and relaxing about the physical process of kicking the wheel, steadying my hands, and creating something out of nothing.
I work with a brown stoneware made by Laguna Clay. I use this clay for both throwing and sculpting, making it highly versatile for me, which is what I love the most about it. We make our own glazes at Purdue University Fort Wayne. I have worked as the work-study lab assistant, so I have made every glaze that we currently have. We mostly fire to cone 10 and we have several kilns. I used to fire mainly in a Bailey gas kiln, but over the past two years, we have built a wood-fire kiln and a soda kiln. I now fire in all three kilns, it just depends on the desired effect that I am looking for. The three pieces that are within this show were all fired in our very first firing of our brand-new soda kiln.
My favorite piece is the Sake Set that was accepted for this event. It was the first time that I was able to create a set such as this one. I am just incredibly happy with how the glaze turned out, and the way that the glaze pools around the foot of each piece. I also felt that the glaze fits the shape of the vessel well.
I had a professional practice class with my ceramics professor. One of our assignments was to pick a few shows and apply to one. I picked five shows and applied to all five. This show also looked extremely exciting to me because I had just finished creating several different forms of drinking vessels and I thought it would be great to enter those pieces into the show. I also planned on getting an internship in Colorado, so I thought I might be able to attend the show!
I post my work on my Facebook page ocassionally: Katherine Gaff
Most of my work is on my Instagram: @katherinegaff
John Randolph Hamilton III
I am a studio potter living in Arvada, CO with my wife of 12 years and two daughters, 3 and 9. I am also currently an artist in residence and teacher at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. I have been working with clay for the last 16 years and began my professional career in 2012 after graduating from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. After learning the potters wheel and other ceramic techniques in high school, I decided that I wanted to be an art teacher, I then took my first pottery class in Junior College and began to pursue a second degree in fine arts specifically for ceramics. I currently sell my work in various art festivals in Colorado and the surrounding states, as well as Plinth Gallery in Denver.
I work with many aspects of making things in clay. My Rocket cups, tumblers and mugs are all wheel thrown. I love making closed forms, which began my idea of creating the rockets. my handles are made using an extruder and sprig mold for the bolts. My glazing is pretty simple but tedious. I use under glazes applied by sponging hand cut stencils, apply wax to my images and dip in various homemade glazes. The actual rockets are fired in cone 5 oxidation, the tumblers and mugs in cone ten reduction. The shot glass was created specifically for this show using the slip casting method. I began constructing a model using found objects and made a three-part casting mold where the piece is cast in one part and the details added on by stamping and the use of more sprig molds. I love the process of found object sculpture and mold making, so I would consider this to be my favorite piece for the show.
I was told about your show from one of your members, Deborah Hager.
Gallery- Plinth Gallery, 3520 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO 80216
James' Rocket Show won the Best of Spirits Category award
More potters in the 2nd installment of this Blog article.
interviewed by Juanita Canzoneri
So what is it that you do?
How is that different from what our other member, Teri Rowan, does?
I do landscape, wildlife, nature photography, and it’s not digitally enhanced in any way. So I just try to capture the image as my eye sees it. The only enhancement I do is so that I can match the finished image with what my eyes saw when I took it.
You’re working with a digital camera, so, in essence, all photography today, unless it’s film, is digital.
When did you start doing photography?
When we lived in Indiana, I started taking pictures of barns, trees, and some of the landscape. This was in the late 1990’s. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I knew I liked it. And when we moved to Colorado in 2004, I was completely inspired by the scenery here. We had an RV so we did a lot of camping and hiking and we would go to these amazing places and I really had an interest in trying to capture those images.
So, on my 40th birthday my husband bought me a “real camera”.
What did you have up to that point?
Just little point and shoots that I’d been using. But he got me a digital SLR Sony camera. So I started taking pictures like crazy. And for me, I’m entirely self-taught with photography. I’ve taken a few classes here and there since I’ve done this professionally with art shows, but for me it’s been a lot of trial and error. I had one grizzly bear in the Tetons I took over 500 pictures of and probably only saved a couple of them. But it’s been a matter of me learning how to set my camera settings, an my aperture setting speed and how do those work together, and what are the effects I get when I change those things to take an image. I still take a lot of shots of everything I shoot because the lighting is different in every second.
Because I take so many photos, I tend to spend a lot of time editing and I do see that as part of the art of this process. Sometimes what my eye sees and what I take in through the lens, when I pull it up on my computer it doesn’t look like what I thought I saw. So that’s part of the image manipulation in a slight way, not overworked. I don’t want to work my images so much that the become not what you would see in nature. My ultimate goal is for it to look real and I want to capture images in nature that other people might not be able, or privileged, to see.
I’ve learned a lot along the way how to work the camera to get the image that you want.
What is this camera you have here?
This is a Canon EOS 5D. It’s my first full-frame camera. A full frame allows me to take a very large image.
How many lenses do you have?
For the 2 Sony’s I have interchangeable lenses. I probably have 8 lenses for them. For this Canon I have 3 that I work with primarily. Mostly I shoot with my 50mm-80mm for landscapes. I have another that allows me to do extreme closeups for wildlife and a macro that I use for closeup images.
And I have tripods and remote-control devices.
When did you move from hobbyist to professional?
Shortly after my husband gave me the “real camera”, which was about 10 years ago, I put my images on zenfolio which is a formatted website for photographers. I thought I would throw some images up there and see what responses I got from people—and not just my mom who loves everything I do.
So I put the website together and put it out to everyone I knew on social media and the responses I got back were somewhat overwhelming. I thought people would say, “oh, these are nice.” But the adjectives people were using to describe the images floored me. In some cases, it almost brought me to tears. And I thought, “well, maybe I can do something with this.”
My first attempt at doing something was thinking “I have to get a tent if I’m going to do shows and I need to get panels to hang the pieces on.” And I found a lady who had 4 pro panels, which are usually $120 each, and she was selling them all for $100. I thought that seemed like a sign.
I got a tent for a good price and everything started to click. But the first thing I did was an art show in Woodland Park at the high school, a craft show, and I was in the cafetorium and the gentleman across from me was selling bed sheets and I quickly realized I was in the wrong place.
I sold some things there and my first official art show was at America the Beautiful park in a 3-day show with torrential rains. In those 3 days I had $1,200 in sales and I was over the moon. Reinforced by that experience I signed up for a few more shows and it’s just continued on. This will be my 8th summer doing art shows.
How many do you typically do a year?
Since I work full-time, I was doing 7-8 a summer and now I do about 5. It’s hard to work all week, do an art show, work a full week, and do another art show. So, this summer I’ve cut back to the fewest I’ve done and part of that is having the opportunity to be in Commonwheel. This is a new avenue for me and it’s been great.
The work you would store up and sell in a festival you’re putting out and selling all year long.
I was in some galleries apart from Commonwheel. I’m part of the Colorado Creative Co-op in Old Colorado City. I’ve been there for years. I also had work in various places in Woodland Park when we lived up there and I’m still part of the Mountain Arts group up there.
And I still have my website. It has changed over the years and I have to go take photos off every so often because I have so many. It gets refreshed because I realized it’s not good to have thousands of images for people to pick from, that’s too overwhelming.
You put your images on a variety of formats—plaques, metal, canvas, matted prints, coasters, and cards.
On the web site I tell people to go look and then tell me what they want, what size, and I can customize what people are looking for.
I outsource the printing of my images because I believe printing is, in itself, an art form. I will do some printing of my matted prints, but I even outsource a lot of those. And to have the size printers you need for a large format is a huge investment.
You’ve started putting images in salvaged windows. Tell me about that.
For a long time I had the idea stirring in my head. It would be so cool to get an image that was like looking through a window. I didn’t want to carry glass around, so I looked at getting the images printed on plexiglass but didn’t like the look.
When I had some down time this past winter, I did some research and found a bunch of antique windows on Craigslist and Marketplace. I picked up a few initially. I wanted them to have a distressed look and what was fun about that whole process was that it was something different for me. I’m taking wood and sanding it, painting it, sealing it, and trying to figure out what to do with the hardware. It became a whole new aesthetic for me. For the image itself I still have it outsourced but when it comes back, I need to mount it into the window.
I custom size the images based on the windows. I take the glass out of all of them along with the glazing and the glazer’s points. It’s been interesting and fun. And now I have so many windows and my husband is thinking I may have gone overboard with them. I have 15 finished now and they’ll go to art shows with me this summer if they don’t make it into Commonwheel.
You mentioned that you work full time. What do you do?
I support a project management software. It allows me to work from home so the dogs are happy, and I can usually swing my schedule to take off early on Fridays in the summer to go set up for art shows. My photography is the opposite of what I do for work, so it is a release for me. And this is the thing that I know is my passion—shooting the photos—because I can lose all sense of time, surroundings, and space entirely when I do this. It feeds my soul.
I named my business “His Beautiful Canvas.” I’ve had a lot of people ask why not “her beautiful canvas” since I’m a woman, and I explain that the canvas is God’s. I believe God paints this picture, this image, and I’m privileged to take it in and share it. And sometimes I share it with people who can’t ever see those places. There’s something about it that’s special.
There have been a lot of art shows where a customer and I are both in tears because of what they see in my photo and tell me about how it affects them. When it came time to name my business, I was jogging by myself while we were camping at Lake Granby and I heard the name while I was praying. It’s been wonderfully rewarding connecting with others around these images.
You joined Commonwheel when?
It’s been a year now, and it has been wonderful to connect with others who understand the idea of “feeding your soul”, even though we do it in different ways. It’s nice to be with others who get that.
As I compile the responses from the artists in our current show, “Mushrooms”, I feel as though my office in the back of our gallery space is in the middle of a forest. I am surrounded by the most beautiful representations of mushrooms and fungus. This open call show has brought in so many different types of artwork—pyrography, alcohol ink, fiber work, photography, paintings, pottery, glass work, and the list just goes on.
We have pieces from over 20 artists. Some of them have responded to a questionnaire about them, their artwork, and where you can find them and/or their artwork. But I’d like to introduce you first to the woman who made ALL of this possible.
Kelly Green is on of our co-op members and has coordinated shows for us in the past. This show is her 2019 effort.
I've been drawing and fascinated by art since I was very young. I really enjoy working in an endless variety of mediums from pen & ink drawings and painting on canvas to sculpting and customizing toys to photography and collage. Sometimes I use each on their own and sometimes they are all mixed up. It's very organized random chaos.
My process depends on the piece since I work with so many different mediums, and time plays a big role in how I proceed with each piece. I always have a bunch of different pieces and/or projects going on simultaneously which means making constant messes throughout the house. From randomness happening in my studio, to framing on the dining room table and multiple projects belonging to me and to my very creative daughter on every other surface available, the whole house can easily be overwhelmed by the creation process, and I am usually scrambling to try and keep the art messes under control.
I usually only paint, draw, or work on any detailed pieces when the house is completely quiet during the early hours before dawn. I cherish these rare meditative creative moments when the elegance and depth of silence can transform thought into spontaneous visual imagery.
I am super excited to be showing Bee and Butterfly Baths made out of recycled glass that I made with my amazing daughter Hali who is 8 years old and quite the artist herself already. She designed and stacked all of the glassware and I did all of the gluing. It was great fun, and they turned out really cool and beautiful.
I applied to Commonwheel for this gallery show after, (like most of my brilliant ideas), it was suggested to me by our super insightful Marketing Manager Juanita. A lot of my artwork actually has a lot of mushrooms in it for various reasons. I enjoy drawing, painting, and sculpting mushrooms because their shapes and colors are amazing, I find them an incredibly interesting and vast organism. Sometimes I just try to recreate them and sometimes they morph into Octopuses and/or hold symbolic meaning in my art. I thought it was a brilliantly fun idea to have a whole show dedicated to this amazing Fungus so I went for it.
I'm a proud member of Commonwheel Artist Co-op in Manitou Springs and Colorado Creative Co-op in Old Colorado City. I also have some art work available in the super groovy hippie and mushroom friendly Poppy Seed in Manitou Springs.
My website: http://www.flyvisions.com/
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellygreenhbaum/
I loved to paint as a child, and a career in the arts was the only choice I ever considered. My studies were in Textile Design, and I received a degree, LSIAD from Canterbury College of Art in 1975. I have always enjoyed creating patterns and was lucky to join the Hallmark team in Kansas City in the early eighties. My occupation as an Illustrator lasted for twenty-five years, most of them working as a freelance and licensing artist with major companies in the US. Presently, I am expressing my creativity in watercolor, as this allows me to work fast and in a spontaneous way. As I have retired from product design, I am able to devote my time to the pursuit of painting, which is a wonderful transition.
Lately I have taken on painting without a sketch or drawing on the paper. On the one hand this offers greater freedom; on the other hand, this requires a lot of concentration, as you can’t alter watercolor much. In this piece I started painting the mushrooms general shapes and added the detail later.
The piece I entered is called “Dancing Mushrooms”. I was trying to convey playfulness, while developing the many patterns that are present on mushrooms.
I happened to be working on this particular theme and saw that “Commonwheel" was having a show depicting mushrooms. What a fun moment of synergy!
My work can be found at www.beatricetrezevant.com, Trezevant Art on Facebook, beatrezevant on Instagram.
I am a collector of hobbies and a jack-of-all-trades. I’ve painted, knitted, crafted, and written stories since a child. In high school and college, I delved into the performing arts, becoming a Dance and English major and choreographed an entire musical as well as original dance pieces. After college I dabbled in professional modeling and got very involved in the medieval re-creation society (SCA), where I learned medieval sewing, embroidery, knitting, and weaving, as well as medieval dancing and singing. I enjoyed knitting sweaters and making costumes for my four children as I raised them. Later I started my mermaid swim tail business, opening my small factory here in Colorado Springs where I designed, sold and shipped mermaid swim tails all over the world for seven years. I even got to choreograph a mermaid dance/swim solo – a fascinating challenge. After closing my business in 2018, I transitioned to being a full-time novelist, and I’m also learning to spin my own yarn. I’ve also gotten into LARPing (live-action role playing) instead of medieval recreation, which is a great place for improv acting as well as costuming.
Above is my dryad character at my medieval-style LARP in winter, knitting a red cap in the round. I also spun the yarn to knit the medieval shawl you see here, with a turquoise crocheted edging.
I’m drawn to knitting strange and unusual pieces. I also long for the days of my youth when I traipsed through the woods for hours at a time. Mushrooms transport me to mysterious forests again. I’ve been working off a template with varying patterns for caps and stems, which I can mix and match. I’ve begun to experiment off of the pattern, creating unusual shapes to the stems – making them bulbous then diminish to very narrow stems.
For these pieces, I find special felting yarn. I knit the cap, then the stem. I use hot water and felt the pieces by rubbing them together – creating heat and friction. Once dry, I stuff and stitch them, matching a cap to a stem. I forage the woods for unusual weathered wood from nature, matching a mushroom to a piece of wood, then gluing the mushroom into just the right spot. Sometimes I take a single mushroom and tuck it into a plant, onto a homemade wreath, glue it onto a flat stone, etc.
I love Redcap Path. This piece of wood has many tiny little “paths” eaten into it, leading to this mushroom with the flat, curly cap. The redcap is one of the most beautiful mushrooms – standing out like a spot of joy in the dark forest.
I learned about the show from another writer/artist. I’ve been knitting these mushrooms for a while and am now getting requests for them as gifts, so I wanted to participate in this special call for mushrooms. This is the first time I’ve submitted and am selling my art!
My author website will be including knitting patterns and progress on my various projects: www.jerilynwinstead.com. I also post my work on my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/jerilynmermaid
Drawing and painting was a favorite activity for me as a child. Both of my parents were artists who met and fell in love as students at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, so looking back, I think they naturally supported and encouraged me. I learned so much from their constructive criticisms, which is so vital to the process. I also wanted to make them proud of me, so I tried really, really hard at getting better. My main focus was always drawing, but later on, I've taken an interest in alternate mediums and surfaces to include 2D & 3D. I enjoy making an ordinary object something beautiful and special.
The first step in my process is the idea or inspiration, and usually, I know right away if it's something I can turn into an actual piece or image. I think about it quite a bit before I actually start, like what colors I want to use, or how I want it positioned on the surface. With my salt lamp art, I sometimes try to find an image in the salt crystal itself, and then work the design into the natural shape of the lamp. Next, I prepare the surface by hand sanding. I begin with a light sketch and then apply darker and more permanent paints and layers. I use a Dremel tool to sharpen and create more detail. Then I finish up with several coats of sealer.
My favorite piece for this gallery showing is the salt lamp entitled, "Mushroom & Butterfly" due to its whimsical feel and vibrant colors. It makes me want to do a HapPy DaNce :)
When I saw the Commonwheel's call for artists with a mushroom theme, I had two pieces that I had already completed. I had an epiphany and got busy submitting my entry form! It's hard putting your work out there, but I'm so glad I did, as should every artist. I love seeing other artist's creativity and work so that inspired me to apply as well.
In the past, I've had my needle felting work in two shops; The Pink Tulip in Indianapolis and The HeArt Market in OCC, but currently you can find me on my Facebook page, Bittie's Shop, where I sometimes post videos while I'm working on the salt lamps or drawings.
I'm an avid "Pinner" and have a large variety of visual interests and boards on Pinterest, to include a "Fungi" board! Just search for "Bittie's Shop" and I should pop up.
I started an Etsy Shop about a year ago and add new pieces as often as I can. Here's my Etsy Shop address: www.bittiesshop.etsy.com.
If you like my work, please consider giving me a like and a follow on all of the above!
I am a self-trained artist. Art was a found blessing in my life. Growing up, drawing and painting was just a rainy-day activity when I couldn’t be outside. However, after many years of unexplained illness, I was diagnosed with the chronic disease Lupus in 1992. During the difficult times trying to get my disease under control, I struggled with significant cognitive loss. For several years, I lost the ability to read or write…. but drawing was my life jacket. Since then a simple means to express myself has become my identity and a growing business. I am an active volunteer with the Wake Forest Guild of Artists and currently serve on the Wake Forest Public Arts Commission. I live in Raleigh, NC with my husband, two teenagers, and far too many pets.
I often choose subject matter connected to nature because I love dramatizing saturated hues and shadowed forms. My unique mixed-media techniques are work intensive and use both de-constructive and building processes. Each canvas becomes its own anthology. I start with a slew of understudy paintings done on variety of papers and materials. Once I rearrange and set the patchwork of squares into a composition that will make a good foundation, I then overlay my intended image. This lends the work to have depth, texture, and just a tad randomness. The common thread for all of my work is the creativity joining representational, raw, tactile, and abstract elements.
My favorite piece accepted into Mushrooms is “Humbled”. The painting is a reproduction of a photo I took while hiking in the Keweenaw Peninsula, MI. The intention behind this painting is a juxtaposition of how we view our life span versus that of the everyday life cycles of nature. “Humbled” is the stage of life when we have reached our maturity and we gain gratitude for even the smallest of blessings. In this case, a battered, leaning tree was giving way to a rich golden stand of mushrooms.
Since I integrate multiple elements into each work, I find it challenging to pick out appropriate call of entries. However, my creative heart was so happy to see Mushrooms! I see beauty in the unexpected…. So, I had mushroom art! Thank you for this opportunity.
Wake Forest, NC : Southern Suds & Gifts 213 S.White Street Wake Forest, NC 27587
My love for art started when I took Introduction to Art in high school, winning Second Place in a student art show with my very first painting. Being poor, I relied on teaching myself but would take college courses or private lessons as I could afford them. I mostly focused on acrylic painting but eventually added airbrush in 2008 and oils in 2009 (I had briefly worked with them in 1987). I’ve been doing murals since 1995. I’ve loved charcoal and graphite since high school, and I began working with pastel chalk in 2012 and colored pencils in 2014. I’ve been sewing since middle school and created “Bearing My Soul” Custom Teddy Bears in 2009. I’ve been whittling since 1992. My sister introduced me to pyrography in 2015, and I’ve been on fire for it ever since! (See what I did there?) It is very difficult for me to choose a favorite medium, which is why my art business is called “Stephanie’s Smorgasbord,” because I offer a little bit of everything.
When I am working on a painting, I will picture the layout in my mind for days, weeks, sometimes longer. I gather several reference photos before I get started, then sketch the layout in my sketch book, then onto the canvas, erasing and redrawing many times until I am satisfied with the composition. Unlike many artists, I don’t like to “prime” my canvas—I prefer to work on a white background. I put down basic shapes and colors, quickly working my way around the canvas (acrylic has a fast drying time!) building up layers until the canvas is covered, most likely redrawing many objects that got covered up in the initial stages. Once I am satisfied with the background, I break out the small brushes to work on the fine details and foreground objects. I believe I have one of the most unconventional methods of painting on the planet! Most artists mix their paint on their palettes, then apply it to their canvas. I do that to an extent, but for the most part, I mix my colors directly on the canvas, adding layers until l I get the details right. Even as I go through the painting process, I may change many of the objects based on shape, color, or size until I settle on what looks good. Once finished, I let it rest for several days, then look at it with “new eyes” to see if I need to tweak any additional details that I hadn’t previously done during the process.
My favorite piece for this show is “Fungi Fiesta” (credit for the title goes to my son Christopher Merchant). My 24”x48” acrylic painting of a forest scene with shafts of sunlight and mushrooms in the foreground. I birthed the concept when I was temporarily living in Maryland, which is when my obsession of mushrooms and appreciation of the forest began. I never realized how many different mushrooms there were! I spent hours photographing them and adding them to my Instagram feed (stepmercjohn), where I followed many other mushroom enthusiasts (machelspencephoto, yellowelanor, jill_bliss, and freymanbg are some faves!). I dreamed of doing a large painting for myself and began collecting reference photos, but it wasn’t until I moved back to Colorado in 2018 that I got serious about putting it all together. I bought a canvas but was so busy that it sat in my closet for over 6 months until my friend Carole Morrison (“Off the Leash Art”) sent me the link to Commonwheel’s Call for Artists. This was the kick in the pants I needed to get started! If it sells, I get to create another one! If it doesn’t, it’ll look fantastic in my new art studio! The painting took almost 80 hours to complete, and I loved every single mushroom I painted!
My obsession with mushrooms inspired to apply for this show! I have mushroom jewelry, mushroom embroidery, mushroom pillows, mushroom art, mushroom wreaths, mushroom knick knacks, mushroom keychain, mushroom fabric, mushroom kitchen canisters, trivets, salt & pepper shakers, coffee mugs … the list goes on! Of all the things I have ever collected, my mushroom collection is the largest! (Hmmm … I may have a serious problem here!) I am so grateful to Carole Morrison for sending me the Call for Artists link—she said, “This is right up your alley!” I felt like the show was created “just for me,” but I know there are many others who love mushrooms as much as I do!
Facebook Business: Owner, Stephanie’s Smorgasbord
Facebook Personal: Stephanie Merchant
Instagram: stepmercjohnart, stepmercjohnart
I have always loved drawing and painting, but it wasn’t until I retired that I had the time for it. It was then that I started taking classes for certification in Botanical Illustration at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I discovered within myself a curiosity, love and wonder at the complexity of a plant’s structure and found that I wanted to record all that!
Botanical Illustration is a precise form of art. It requires accuracy which can only be achieved by studying the plant where it is growing, measuring it, counting its components and noting their arrangement. Only then do I start to make preliminary sketches. I try to capture, not only the plant’s beauty, but also the accuracy of its make-up. This can result in several messy sketches! When I am pleased with a composition which shows as much detail as possible, I will make a contour drawing from it, showing only the outlines, by tracing the sketch. On a separate trace, I will make a value study, which shows only the shadows and varying degrees of shade. I will then transfer the contour drawing on to a clean, final piece of paper. I will set that aside, while I try to match the colors of the plant and mix up batches to use while I’m painting. Then the fun part starts, setting the plant in front of me, referring to my value study and my sketches, I start to paint – exactly what I see - with all its lovely details!
I only have one piece in this exhibition “Sarcodon imbricatus”, or the scaly hedgehog mushroom. I remember doing the preliminary sketches, while sitting under a tree, getting a slightly damp behind, in the mountains! Fun memories!
I have loved looking at all the exhibitions that have come and gone in the back gallery at Commonwheel. I have been interested in showing one of my pieces, but this is the first time I felt there was a “fit”.
My work is displayed at the Commonwheel Co-op and I have my own web-site at smithwickbotanicals.com
I recently moved from Delaware to Colorado Springs to pursue my photography career. I got my first DSLR camera in 2010 and have loved taking photos since. My junior year of college I officially declared my major as photography and dove in head first. Landscape, nature, and wildlife photography have always been my "jam" as I like to say. Photography gives me a means to find myself. Sometimes it takes getting lost to be found. Even at the most remote locations, in solitude, as long as I am camera in hand, I’ve never felt lost or alone, in fact those are the moments in which I feel most alive. Photography completes me in a way nothing else can. I have been taking small steps to further my career since moving to Colorado and I could not be more excited to see what the future holds.
First and foremost, I have to venture out into nature. Mother Nature is the ultimate artist and her inspiration is endless. I guess Photography is a bit of a different process than most mediums. I keep my eyes peeled at all times, constantly looking for interesting compositions (hint, they’re everywhere) but other times they jump out and smack me in the face. That’s one of the great things about Colorado, almost everywhere you look is picturesque. When I see a composition I like, I line it up through my lens to see how it translates through the camera. If I like it, I’ll go ahead and click the shutter. The editing process is a huge part of photography. I’m not big on Photoshop. I use Lightroom to adjust saturation, contrast, and highlights/shadows if needed. I like to bring out the bright, warm tones in a photo.
My favorite piece accepted for this show is Chanterelles. I just love the contrast between the green and the orange. I also love how the composition of it leads your eye from mushroom to mushroom. When I look at my photos I am always taken back to the moment I took it. This one was taken while I was hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains. I am back in the lush, mountainous, serene forest and it makes me feel at peace again.
This question is a bit ironic to me in this context. I was never big on mushrooms until I went on my road trip around the country last summer. Mushrooms are such a unique and diverse plant and I did not realize this until my trip. Traveling around the whole country I found countless different kinds and ever since I have loved mushrooms, so when I saw this mushroom-themed show, I knew I had to be a part of it! I am very excited to see the rest of the art on display.
While in high school, my art class took several field trips to the Appalachian Center for Craft. From the first visit, I knew that I wanted to study at the Craft Center. It’s beautiful location and amazing facilities was the best place for me to pursue art. I graduated from the Appalachian Center for Craft in December 2017. I graduated with a BFA in Ceramics and a minor in Social & Behavioral Science. I’m currently the Gallery Manager at the Craft Center and I also teach ceramics to high school students through the Appalachian Center for Craft’s Focus on Fine Craft Program.
My forms are thrown on the potter’s wheel and then altered and pinched to leave my own touch, documenting my relationship to each vessel. I paint quick, expressive imagery using Amaco Underglazes, inspired by my perception of environments I’ve encountered in my life. I carve through my imagery to reveal my terracotta clay body beneath, providing contrast in each piece. This process is called sgraffito. My pots are then bisque fired to Cone 08 (1728 degrees), glazed in a clear glaze, and then fired again to Cone 3 (2106 degrees).
I enjoyed making my Mushroom Bud Vase! It’s different than what I usually make! I came across the call for entry for this show on Instagram and I thought it would be a fun show to enter!
Galleries: Appalachian Center for Craft Retail Gallery, Smithville, TN
Julia L. Wright
My love of Nature and being outdoors has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. Creating art in many forms has been the basis of my life starting with theatre when I built sets and directed others in High School and college. After college, I created fiber-based crafts that often incorporated found objects. For about 20 years, I traveled to art shows, participated in RenFests and showed in many galleries. Feathers have always been part of my art creations and that evolved into my creating feather masks, earrings, hairclips and pendants.
I have taken thousands of photographs on my hikes and in many gardens. About seven years ago I started using my realistic nature and other photos to illustrate my books and journals. And more recently, I began to use my realistic photographs to create different types of decks of cards for children and adults. Original versions of my photographic Nature-based images are just one way I express my love of Nature. Mushrooms have often been subjects of those photos in late summer and early fall when the pop up out of the Earth to delight folks that look closely at the ground.
A few years ago, I “fell down a rabbit hole of creativity” and began using my Nature photos to create abstract, kaleidoscopic and mandala style images by taking a little part of a Nature photo and playing with it in Photoshop. Two of these styles of images can be seen in this show.
When I am sitting at my computer, I get totally lost in the process and my imagination can run pretty wild thinking about how to take the images I captured and create something totally unique and fun or hone in a specific element found in a photograph, such as a mushroom. It uplifts my spirit to honor the beauty of the amazing places I get to hike and glorify Nature in various artful ways.
All art involves an artist taking up some media and transforming it into a new form or image that comes from their vision and imagination. I try to transform what most people see as ordinary into something extraordinary with a unique way of seeing the world.
Working in my feather studio or on a computer or taking photos on my hikes always has my creative juices flowing. I am constantly looking for some new way to use the images I captured in the wilderness or a garden to create a bit of awe and wonder when someone sees the finished art.
So, my favorite piece in this show is the one that I played with and abstracted. “Meet Me at the Vortex By the Orange Mushrooms” is my favorite image I submitted to this show. It incorporates bits of bark to look like a couple of adventurers thinking of stepping into another realm. A group of brilliantly orange mushrooms marks the place for them to meet and contemplate where they might go next.
Nature is my most powerful inspiration. When hiking or passing a beautiful garden, I often stop to take in the amazingly beautiful natural creations that surround me. A driftwood stump or a rock formation or some fungi popping up out of the ground can be as enticing to my eye as a beautiful wildflower. Each one makes my heart sing and my spirit soar with joy when I take the time to really look at the beauty others pass by each day without noticing it.
I have a great respect for the pristine areas found in our surrounding mountains. And I have respect for folks that hunt for edible mushrooms in a consciously sustainable way. The often share this fun adventure with friends and family members to increase awareness of what Nature offers to us on many levels. So glad to be part of a show that celebrates this often-misunderstood types of flora. I have the hope when people view photos expressing the beauty of Nature, the might become a bit more aware how they can take actions to keep where they travel as pristine as when they arrived and look closely at some fun fungi that may be overlooked for their less showy aspect than wildflowers exhibit.
Stores/Galleries: Commonwheel Artists Co-op
Manitou Art Center in the First Amendment Gallery
My books are also on Amazon under the brand name of HieroGraphics Books.
I’ve dabbled in many artistic media, but I’ve found that fused glass is the one that gives me the most joy. I love experimenting, and particularly enjoy creating 3-D pieces in the kiln. This requires a number of firings at varying temperatures, all taking between 9-20 hours, with 4 or 5 hours of cool-down time. My inspiration comes from nature, including both the mountains and the sea. I have been working in fused glass for over 14 years, I have four kilns, and have taken over every inch of available space in my house and garage for my studio!
I create the components of my pieces individually, which requires cutting glass, finishing the edges, and firing to create each one. Then they are fired flat in the kiln, fired again together to create the piece, and fired slowly a final time to drape over a form which creates a 3-D piece.
My favorite piece for the Mushrooms exhibit is my Mushroom Luminary. The idea for this piece has been brewing in my mind since I first heard about the exhibit. It turned out just as I imagined it, and I’m very pleased with the result.
I’ve loved mushrooms since I was first introduced to Alice in Wonderland as a child, so I was thrilled when I heard the theme for this exhibit!
My work can be found on my Facebook page, LoLo’s Paloozas (www.facebook.com/LoLosPaloozas/), and is currently sold in the Strictly Guffey Gallery in Guffey, Colorado. I exhibit at many other venues in the Colorado Springs area including the MAC, the Modbo, Cottonwood Center for the Arts, and others.
I have been making glass art for 25 years. Inspirations for me come from everything around me. I look for interesting patterns, textures, and colors from nature and try to depict those inspirations in glass.
For this mushroom show, I have made some really fun lampworked glass mushroom beads which have been strung for necklaces. The process for making a glass mushroom starts by melting a pencil thin rod of glass in a torch. I then wind the hot glass onto a mandrel and squish the glass into the form of the top of the mushroom. The stem of the mushroom (a bit of a rod of glass) is then delicately placed on the underside of the mushroom top. Once I’m happy with the form, I anneal the glass, cooling it slowly over time. This annealing process assures that the glass is molecularly sound, and the glass mushroom will be just as beautiful in 10 years as it is now.
All of the mushrooms that I have made for this show are favorites for me in different ways. I have made a variety of styles of mushrooms for this show, and each is very unique!
I was inspired to apply for this show because I’m a “fun guy”!
My work can be found at The SideDoor Gallery in Old Colorado City, The Poppy Seed in Manitou Springs, and Commonwheel Artist Coop at which I am a member.
I dabbled in just about every media before discovering pyrography, also known as wood burning. I was drawn to the arts because it’s a language I can understand. As a deaf individual, I connect to the details of the visual world. My art is largely inspired by my passions. I adore animals, nature, science, and I also don’t mind smelling like campfire!
Pyrography has been around for centuries. It’s an age-old technique where a heated metal pen is used to burn wood. Each burn begins with selecting a wood slice and studying its character – the knots, grain, texture, and size. Next, I practice design ideas in my sketchbook. When satisfied, I draw in pencil the base sketch to the wood slice. I use a Razertip (10 amp detailed burning system) to burn the wood slice. The detail of each burn is achieved using a variety of wire tips and a range of heat settings. Each burn is unique because each wood slice is unique, which in turn affects how the wood is burned. My favorite part of my process is burning – it’s a slow, smoky art. I also love mixing my medias, after burning I will add watercolors or dried flowers to the wood slice.
Deciding which piece is my favorite is a tough choice – I really enjoyed burning complex mushroom gills in some of my other pieces. However, I would have to say “Moon Shrooms” is my favorite. I loved playing with rocky and smooth textures to bring imagination to life.
Mushrooms are such a fun subject matter – they are imperfectly perfect. Nature’s reminder that flaws are beautiful. I was also inspired by Commonwheel’s charm and cooperative mission: community.
On social media you can find my art by searching Woodstove Studios. Woodstove Studios started in my childhood home which was built in the late 1700s. My warmest family memories are gathered around our wood stove. Wood and wood burning will always smell like home.
Etsy Shop: Woodstove Studios
I enrolled in my first pottery class in 1975, I have not put clay down since. I love that I can take this malleable material, "clay" and move, manipulate, and form creative pieces to oneself and hopefully to many others!
I've been throwing mushrooms on the wheel for 8 years. I made these unique to this show, as they are "salt fired". A process where, when the kiln reaches 2400 F you add rock salt which instantly vaporizes and glazes the pieces with salt vapor. The finished piece has an "orange peel" texture, and an earthen or woodland appearance
My favorite piece for this show is the tall spiral mushroom that has the orange peel texture and some movement.
I wanted to participate in the show to see the public reaction to something unique.
My work is available at Hunter Wolff Gallery - 2510 West Colorado Avenue www.hunterwolffgallery.com
I work primarily in acrylics and my favorite subjects are florals, landscapes, fall scenes, animals, (especially lions and cows), mountains, abstracts, and now "mushrooms".
Both paintings* accepted for this show were inspired by a hike on the Pancake Rock trail 10 years ago during the height of the mushroom growing season. I had taken several photos and selected 2 that I very much enjoyed because of their location, natural color, texture of their surroundings and light. Creating new paintings for this show was a challenge as I had never done a mushroom before, and I remember still the excitement of finding these lovely shapes of nature that were so unique and fun to look at, almost playful.
I applied because I like the challenge of a new theme for me and knowing the colors of the forest floor and colorful mushrooms would complement my style. I hoped I could give the subject new life and style on canvas.
I sometimes post my work on Facebook. I currently have 2 paintings at First Pres. Downtown and 3 locations that are part of the "Art Aloud" art and poetry shows: Hooked on Books (downtown on Bijou), Academy Art and Frame, and Pikes Peak Market Place on E. Pikes Peak.
*I would say this is my favorite of the 2 because I experimented with more variety of color and the angle was harder to work with. The variety of colors are a more Impressionistic landscape.
Michael Ryder graduated from Metro State in Denver with a focus on large acrylic or resin paintings. Having spent a lot of time with some Navajo silversmiths he switched to jewelry, but presently enjoys both painting and silver work. Paint application is very important to achieve the effect he’s looking for.
Interview by Juanita Canzoneri
Deb Hager joined Commonwheel about the same time as the floods hit Manitou Springs in 2013. She had been in Green Horse Gallery in Manitou Springs prior to applying to the co-op.
As a child Deb was always playing in the dirt around her home. The neighborhood of Penn Hills outside Pittsburgh, PA was under construction so there were dirt piles everywhere. “I had the most gracious mom. I’d be out playing in the dirt, making swimming pools for my Barbies. And when it was time to come in for lunch, she’d just hose us off, we’d eat lunch, and then we’d go back out to the dirt piles.”
Deb attended Indiana University in Pennsylvania as an art major. Her passions were for drawing and painting. When she had to take a 3-D class she took a clay class and wasn’t very happy about it. “I kept practicing and practicing, and I was the worst one in my class,” Deb says. “Everyone else was centering (their wheel-thrown pots), but me.”
One day she was so frustrated with her progress the professor found her crying in her clay. He was able to show her where she had been getting stuck and, with that guidance, she just took off. “Because it didn’t come easy to me, because I had to work so hard at it” she says, “I kind of fell in love with it.” Once she learned wheel throwing, she became mesmerized by the whole process. “You have this nothing lump and then you make this something that people are using.”
Deb’s husband, Denver, was in the military and wherever they were stationed she would teach classes in ceramic shops and teach art lessons just to keep her hand in it. When they moved to Colorado in 1995, she became a wheel-throwing potter at Van Briggle. That’s where she began developing her own style of work. Until then her pots were plain and undecorated.
In 2007 their youngest child was a senior in high school. Denver mentioned to Deb that she had money from the military to use to go back to school herself. While looking for schools she attended the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) convention for the first time. At that convention she fell in love with soda firing and knew at that point she needed leave Van Briggle and go back to school.
While she was training her replacement at Van Briggle, she learned about the ceramic program at Colorado State University in Pueblo. One of the courses of study they teach is soda fired ceramics. So that was where she decided to go.
But her fear of the computer hindered her from enrolling. So, Denver called the college and had one of the professors talk her through the enrollment process. Denver then helped her with her military paperwork and financial forms while her children taught Deb basic computer skills. So just getting her into college was a family affair. And they did it all in less than 6 months. “It was one of the greatest gifts of my life. It did things for me that I would never have believed It could do for me.”
While working with the other students she realized what she wanted to do was draw and paint on her pots. She enjoyed drawing and painting for years and wanted to add that to her pottery. And she noticed another student scratching into his pots, and she added sgrafitto (incised or scratched lines) to her designs.
One of Deb’s long-standing designs is her dragonfly pottery. She adds the dragonflies, always in pairs, to the raw pottery pieces before they are bisque fired using black underglaze and a bamboo brush. She has the design down to 7 strokes per dragonfly—the 4 wings, the body, and the 2 eyes. She hasn’t varied her technique because it takes her back to her early love of calligraphy.
Once the piece is bisque fired, she puts a wax resist on the dragonflies and glazes the piece. In the final firing the wax resist burns off and the dragonfly texture stands in contrast to the gloss of the glazed surface.
Deb makes her own glazes and enjoys the excitement and mystery of mixing the tactile ingredients that will become colors and textures on her finished work. “There are so many talented potters in this area. I realized I needed to make glazes that are different from everyone else’s.” She’s worked hard to steer her color palette so that it is unique to her work.
We love when we get to showcase art by Manitou Art Center artists. This show features potters Madalyn Kae and Robin Scappaticci, sculptor and figure artist Nancy Morse, and printmaker Ramona Lapsley. Together they will fill our gallery space with whimsical and colorful art to delight the eye and the imagination.
I am a Colorado artist who is interested in many mediums. I love the abstract expression of clay and am fascinated by rhythm, repetition, and the movement of textures. I find the marriage of function, expression, and beauty to be very rewarding. I am passionate about portraiture and figurative work and study them in my sculpture, painting, and drawing. I have been studying the figure and portrait for almost thirty years, attending figure drawing groups whenever possible. Sometimes (not as many as one would hope) getting a drawing or painting that can be, in itself, a finished product, but often I use sketches to then work into sculptures. I am excited to have the opportunity with this show to pull all forms of my art together in one venue.
Recently, I have started spending more of my time on sculpture. Many years ago, I started a series of “Gargoyle Coat-hooks” inspired by my travels in Europe. I have once again returned to the image and function of these. I find humanity (in all forms) and therefore the representation of it in art beautiful and fascinating. And hope the viewing public can see that as well.
My work is expressive and indicative of the whimsy I see in the world around me. The creative process is like an expanded reality that is exciting, invigorating, and sometimes, in the most rewarding way, takes on a life of its own. For example, when a small unintended smudge or line in a drawing ends up being an important part of the finished piece.
Visitors are welcome at my studio in the Manitou Art Center backdoor studio and quite often my work can be found in shows there. My work can also be seen online at nancymorseart.com and at the Boulder Street Gallery at 206 North Tejon Street, in downtown Colorado Springs.
I have had a lot of fun creating my “Fabulous Flock” for the “Whimsy” show. Each porcelain bird is individually handmade and between 18 and 23 inches tall.
It is challenging to work with ceramic porcelain at such a large scale, especially when it involves body attachments such as wings and beaks. After much trial and error these fabulous creatures arrived, each with a distinctive personality!
I have been an artist since I was 8. The love of drawing and the encouragement of friends and family have motivated me to continue to draw, print, paint, and teach art. I have been printmaking for the last twenty years. I am fortunate to have access to the press and studio at the Manitou Art Center.
Making art is putting a visual image reflecting thoughts, interests, and experiences on paper or in another media. Art is a way of bringing something important to light for others to see and enjoy. Sometimes words just can't convey what ideas I want to bring forth.
I have been working with images of fish and more recently birds. Colorado sport fish have been an interest for a really long time and more recently I have been depicting birds found in my neighborhood and at my feeders. There is a fun almost whimsical nature both in fish, and fishing, as well as bird communities.
My linoleum prints start as sketches in my sketchbook from ideas or photos I've taken. I draw on the linoleum block with a sharpie and then carve out the white spaces. Using a brayer I apply a layer of black oil based ink on the block and then place paper on top. The image is transferred to the paper by pressing it thought the printing press. Later, water-based inks and colors are hand painted on the print.
I like elements of design like the grid, square, pattern and contrast so I work those into my design. I have to like the image as a black and white print and then most likely add color to it. To the viewer, those same things are appealing. I also want people to see fish differently perhaps as well as birds. I want people to interact with the idea that you don't have to go far to experience nature. Fish can be spotted in the Ruxton creek across the street from the studio and birds are right outside my window. Both require observation and appreciation.
I really like my newest print of the two woodpeckers. Although I have them perched on trees, it is really funny to watch them try to hang on to tube bird feeders.
My work can be viewed at the Manitou Art Center Print studio as well as the gift gallery at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, the Sangre De Cristo Art Center, and the Lapis gallery in Denver on Tennyson.
I grew up in the Hudson Valley in New York State. I took my first ceramics class in high school and fell in love with clay. I continued taking classes in college and ended up with a major and the idea of being a production potter, which did not work. After 25 years, I fell back in love after taking a summer class.
I make pots for the joy of it. I love everything about it—working with the clay to form the piece, deciding what laces to use, thinking about and adding color, firing, and opening the kiln hoping for a successful outcome—even glazing has become enjoyable.
Making art is about joy. It has been many years since I have thought that I could make a living at it. It takes way too long for me to make a finished piece. It is something that I do for myself. I love going to the studio and working. It is time that is completely mine. I love it when people appreciate what I make.
I have used lace for about 10 years in in my work to create patterns and texture, and it makes a way to add color that works for me. Two years ago, I made a few flowers, and I had thought I would like to make more but never took the time. This show called “Whimsy” gave me the opportunity.
Water Flower was the first piece that I made for this show, where, for me, form and color came together.
My work is in 45 Degree at 2528 W Colorado Ave in Colorado Springs. https://www.45degreegallery.com/
by Juanita Canzoneri
I interviewed Helen Smithwick in her studio on the west side of Colorado Springs. Large windows looked out at Pikes Peak through bare spring tree branches from the homes across the street.
Helen is a botanical illustrator, which means she makes illustrations of plants and flowers. Animals have crept in from time to time, but that’s technically not botanical.
She received her certification in this through the School of Botanical Art and Illustration in Denver, graduating with honors in 2013. Helen attended this school because she always enjoyed art and never had any piece of paper to prove that she could do it. “It kind of seemed cool to have a little piece of paper,” she says.
She spent the first few years after receiving certification exhibiting her work in shows. It’s fun to get dressed up and go to an opening every so often, but that wanes after a bit. She applied to Commonwheel last February to “see if I could sell anything.”
“I’m enjoying Commonwheel,” Helen states. “I love the people. I’ve met the neatest people—different, eccentric, wonderful, kind. They’ve been just amazing. When I had to go to Australia for a family emergency, everyone just jumped up and pitched in to cover my shifts and help out.”
Helen has a lovely British accent, having grown up in the south of England, near Winchester. She met her husband, Bob, in West Africa while she was teaching in the British equivalent of Peace Corps. They were both in a tiny village on the coast of Ghana.
They moved to Colorado when they were first married and started a family.
“I’ve drawn all my life. I was the kid sitting in the corner doodling around my notes. You’re told as a young person that art isn’t something to pursue, but I always did it on the side. My kids would laugh when they could come across a stack of my old drawings and exclaim that they didn’t know I would do this.”
“When I retired a very good friend of mine told me about the Botanical School and said it was exactly what I would need, so we started taking classes together. She dropped out but I continued. You get to a point where you’ve taken half the classes and you think, I might as well finish this. “
Most people achieve their certification in two or three years. Helen took three years.
The nice thing about botanical drawings is that your subjects are just outside the door. Helen prefers to work from live specimens, which means she sometimes must work very quickly, keeping the plants in the refrigerator. She’ll work 8-hour days on a drawing, taking 2-3 days to complete a piece to make sure the plant lasts.
This proves to be a problem in winter when the plants are dormant. She keeps a stash of dried plants in the corner of her studio, “but those get boring so I will work from photographs. I do not like doing that because I feel a photograph distorts. But I’ll do it because sometimes in the winter you want to work on something other than a dried specimen.”
Coming from England where you “just throw a seed in the ground and it grows” she hasn’t found gardening in Colorado to be one of her favorite things. Her husband prefers to garden. “Here, I discovered, you have to actually water things. I love to get my hands in the soil and mess around in it but, no, I’m not a very good gardener.”
“People give me plants. I borrow them, I go out and find a lot of wild flowers.” It’s good to have friends who garden. “I’m shameless. One year my Shasta Daisies didn’t do well, and Bob and I were out walking and passed a house with beautiful daisies. I just went up and knocked on the front door and asked if they would mind if I took some of their plants to draw them. They said I could, so I did.”
Because of her School of Botanical Arts training Helen works in a variety of media—graphite, carbon dust, watercolor, pen and ink, watercolor pencil, colored pencil on Mylar. Her favorites are watercolor and watercolor pencil.
We asked the four artists in this gallery show several questions:
Tell us about why/how you got into art.
What does making art mean to you?
What has inspired you for this show?
Walk us through the your creative process.
What emotions/reactions/thoughts do you want your work to bring?
What is your favorite piece for sale at this event?
Where can we find your work: website, social media, local stores.
Here are their responses.
I’ve been painting all my adult life and as a child I loved to draw, much to the consternation of teachers who found it hard to get me to concentrate on lessons. From a coal mining town in Pennsylvania my parents moved us to Manhattan, New York City when I was sixteen. I attended the Art Students’ League in New York for four years and my first professional art exhibit took place at the prestigious Salmagundi Club where I was one of the first women artists elected to membership. After moving to Colorado in 1983 I continued to study with artists whose work I admired while having representation in galleries in Santa Fe, Taos and Colorado. My work began to earn awards at national exhibits, and I was inducted into the Master Circle in the International Association of Pastel Societies.
My work, whether in oils or pastels is my pathway to exploration and expression of the environment as I experience it. It has been my passion for most of my life and continues to be so. This exhibit in oils includes some of my tree series paintings which has preoccupied me for some years as well as abstractions which are more recent works. Although the tree series may be considered referential, I feel they are close to abstractions in that I take great liberties with nature in composition, color and visual interpretation. Expression through vibrant color combinations intrigues me and is present in all my paintings, no matter the genre.
My hope is to engage the viewer, if just for a moment, and communicate the sense of excitement and connectivity I felt in its creation.
While working as a health care professional for many years, I have had many affairs with different arts and crafts. I was always on the lookout for the one that would captivate and challenge me—my one true love that would balance out my very left-brained, non-creative profession.
I’ve found all this and more with glass, and along with my newly empty nest, I’m experiencing a Renaissance.
My current body of work includes small glass mosaic pieces (light switch covers) and fused glass work utilizing recycled glass (tempered glass shelving and automobile glass). I love the green aspect of using “glass with a past”. They take on a life and Renaissance of their own.
Each piece is individually designed in my Colorado studio with special attention to color, flow, and functionality.
Whether I’m working on a mosaic piece, or trusting the kiln gods with a fused glass creation, I am learning to appreciate the magic and alchemy that transform a simple material into a glorious piece of art.
I enjoyed being part of the Recycled Art show that Commonwheel had a year ago. So, when the opportunity arose to get into another show I jumped at it. This is a beautiful gallery, all the artists I met were welcoming and professional.
My favorite work right now is the fused glass. All the objects are made from recycled glass, some of which I pull from dumpsters while on walks around my neighborhood, some of which magically appears on my front porch as my neighbors all know what I do. The green pieces are from the rear window of a car. I use so much of that glass that I now go to a junk yard in Denver with a sledge hammer when I need to replenish my stock. Other types of glass I use are shower doors and glass shelving. All of this glass would end up in a landfill if I hadn't "rescued" it. We, as a society, simply throw too much stuff away.
I hope viewers of my work will be surprised and delighted to see what can be made from glass that is typically thought of as trash.
My website: IndigoMesaGlassworks.com
My facebook: Indigo Mesa Glassworks
I am a member of Shadow Mountain Gallery (also an artist-owned gallery) in Evergreen, Colorado.
I have always been interested in art, in elementary school I was the kid who was drawing instead of doing my work. I flirted with becoming a commercial artist or graphic designer, but being a musician won. My initial medium was drawing, either pencil or pen and ink, but once I got the opportunity to use a potters’ wheel I was instantly in love with clay. I have been a hobby potter for nearly thirty years, it’s an obsession.
Creativity is my drug of choice, whether it’s making music or making art. Art is my solace, my therapy, my expression of living in the moment.
I have been exploring clay saggar firing for the past couple of years. I’m intrigued by the element of chance of atmospheric firings. There is no possibility of duplication, there’s no way to plan how the gasses in the kiln will color the clay. I love that spontaneity and randomness. It’s an artistic expression of Carpe Diem. Every time I open the kiln it’s like Christmas.
I have been intrigued by bottles for many years and have been trying to perfect the form. I was inspired many years ago by a poster in our community studio of wood fired bottles. When I discovered the saggar firing technique it was a perfect combination. The "saggar" is pot made of clay that the piece to be fired sits inside of. I wrap old guitar strings around the piece to create dark lines. Then inside that saggar I put various combustible materials that will create chemical gasses that will color the piece. Some of the materials I will put in the saggar are wood chips, horse manure, plant food, coffee grounds, salt, all sorts of things. A big part of the fun is playing mad scientist, throwing various things in the saggar to see what they do. One happy accident was when the guitar string melted onto the piece, I loved the look and now I try to make that happen. The saggar is then put into the kiln and fired to about 1700 degrees.
I want people to see beauty, to see spontaneity. To enjoy the moment that was captured by the clay when they look at my work.
My favorite piece for this show is this bottle (see below). I love it. The form is beautiful, the colors have depth and variety. This is a perfect coming together of chance and skill.
My facebook page is the best place: https://www.facebook.com/PotteryByJosie/
I am also on Instagram as fiddlequick.
I am a member of the Aurora Potters’ Guild, my work can be found at their bi annual sale.
I have always been an artist, but when I started college, I did not think it a viable major; yet took a painting or drawing course every semester. I had switched majors three times, until as a sophomore my art professor asked what in the world I was doing – and that for heavens sake I should be majoring in art, and not only that, they needed me! It’s pretty seductive to feel needed, and that’s where I was happiest, so I switched majors one last time.
Making art is not only a way of expressing my world–but also being part of the creative force. One of my colleagues talks about being a Maker, which is profound, yet so basic!
The original concept for this exhibit focused on a variety of media and abstraction, hence, “Eclectic Expressions.” Despite advice from professionals and gallerists to stay with a single theme, there was always a new path to explore and more than one tempting choice to make. I often consider Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” And I wonder. . . Yet, life is exciting, and thus should be one’s work. It’s not just a journey – but real trip!
I start with my sketchbook, in plein air, and/or photos, or sometimes with memories so distant they can only be rendered as abstraction, i.e., Sand and Sea. At times research is needed: i.e., dragonflies don’t pose.
I want the person looking at my work to find Connection. The viewer brings his/her own story to a work of art.
My favorite piece of work for this show is RED. Aside from the universal emotion of the color red, and the universal symbolism of the spiral, it was just plain fun to focus on mixing so many varieties of a single color - which is essentially the only thing I needed to think about during the painting process.
My artwork can be found at Commonwheel Artists Co-op, Manitou Springs CO; BLUECANYONART, and SOUTHWINDS Gallery, Monument CO