Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Exquisite Moment

I read somewhere that the crucial moment in painting comes when the artist knows it's time to stop. It's a sort of exquisite moment of completion where the artist and the work intersect and go their separate ways. It is a moment of drama because it engages so much of the artist's intellect, emotion, and intuition. How to tell when something is "done?"


I think with clay sculpture this moment is all the more dramatic. Control over the wet clay is much less than with paint. Part of the judgement of "done-ness" has to do with acknowledging that the clay will shrink, shapes may flatten, etc. In many of my sculptures, which are large, parts are propped up by heavily balled newspaper, so I can only visualize what's there. Questions of composition and balance need to be abstracted because the finished piece is still a way into the distance.


I love this challenge, this exquisite moment, because it is tactile as well as intellectual, emotional, and intuitive. It's the moment where the clay stops being "mine" and moves into its own self.

Symbol Closeup

Yesterday I pulled about 20 small and large pieces out of the kiln. I placed them on a table in the clay lab under the skylight in no particular order. Call me a fool but I was enamored of them, and happy with the way each one had turned out. Those without much shape and detail had just enough shape and detail. The large piece that broke produced two large pieces that were brimming with life. In fact the whole assemblage seemed to be full of life, something that surprises me each time I see the work.


I think it goes further than the fact that this is "my" work. The clay shapes that are coming out are somehow tied to the material nature of the clay and take on a life of their own, aside from my pride in making them.

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