This week's blog was written by painter, Jennie O'Connor. Jennie interviewed glass artist Kandyse Whitney of Blue Fox Glass. You can see Kandyse's exquisite works at Artistic Portland Monday-Saturday from 10-6 and Sunday from noon to 5.
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the Co-op?
I joined Artistic Portland in February 2014. I had recently moved back to the Portland area and was looking for places to sell my work. I enjoy being part of a community of artists who inspire each other.
What’s your background?
For the most part my non-creative work has been typical 9-5 office work providing administrative support.
Why do you do what you do?
Glass fascinates me because of its wide range of colors and what you can create with it. I love that artists can work with it in both liquid and solid states. Recently, I have also been working with recycled glass, turning it into functional bowls, decorative starfish, and unique pendants.
Where do you create?
I turned one of our extra bedrooms into a studio where all the designing, cutting, and assembling takes place. The kilns (I have two) are in the garage. Another bedroom is where I photograph my items and package them for shipping.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created?
I think my favorite piece is from when I was working in stained glass. I made a clown wearing patchwork pants sitting in the rain with a ribbon umbrella. Maybe someday I’ll recreate it in fused glass.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new artistic skill, what would it be?
Probably the ability to see things in abstract. There are times when my left brain is too rigid for the vision of how I want a piece to look.
What do you like to do when you're not creating?
Reading a book or spending too much time on Facebook.
This week's blog post is written by Colleen Patricia Williams.
As an artist, I find that the creative process is one that is, as the old saying goes, 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. This is a factor that many of those who buy art don’t realize; the time that it takes to create a piece of art as well as the time it takes to learn how to use the chosen medium.
Art is not just a talent, but a skill that must be exercised daily to maintain skills and to learn new skills, as well as mastering the nuances that are an inevitable part of any medium. In my case, this means that I went to art school, and then I spent decades learning my art and my medium, in order to learn to bring my expressions to life.
Teaching other people that want to learn a medium is an excellent way to learn more ourselves, as art is a lifetime of learning. In our gallery, many of us teach our hard-earned skills to other people, so they also can be part of a creative process.
By taking a class, a person not only learns a new skill, but makes new connections in the brain that also assist in problem solving abilities. The more art that a person does, whether adult or child, the richer the connections that are formed; these rich connections can assist in prevention of dementia, according to research studies. This makes sense; dementias often involve the loss of neurons, the more neurons a brain has, the more the buffer effect.
Taking classes also allows for social benefits; these benefits apply to both kids and adults. Social networks enrich life for seniors, and homeschoolers can meet new friends in an intimate, yet safe environment that the parents can also attend.
Artistic Portland artists have many different mediums and many different skills, from ceramics, to jewelry to mosaics both big and small, to visual, 2D artwork and wearable art represented in our gallery, and many of these talented people will be teaching classes at Artistic Portland throughout the year. The classes that we offer can be signed up for by phone, mail or in person at the gallery, itself (Click here to what's currently being offered).
A class can make an excellent gift or it can be a supplement to a homeschooling curriculum, as well as a unique family experience, as the entire family can take a class! This creates a lasting memory that kids will treasure as they become adults as well as fostering art appreciation for later in life.
So come to Artistic Portland, where we have classes now, and will have more in the future!
This week's blog post is written by Laura K. Maxwell.
Before I began actively creating and selling my own art, I was an elementary art teacher. I taught students how to draw, paint, and sculpt at an elementary school in Dallas, Texas before moving to Portland. I believe a big part of teaching is learning with your students. A classroom - especially an art classroom - should be a place where everyone involved, including the teacher, are discovering new things and learning from each other. This turned out to be especially true in my situation. My students taught me how to be an artist.
Before teaching, I had earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. Looking back, I think it was because I was more comfortable reading and talking about art, rather than making it myself. For sure, Art History is super interesting - learning how visual culture has changed throughout time and history - but by the end, it felt hollow. I wanted to pursue something more meaningful. So I endeavored to teach little ones how to engage with and appreciate art themselves. I got a Master’s in Art Education and began teaching K-6 art. As I said, I wasn’t really creating much art myself at the time, and so a part of me didn’t feel quite qualified to be teaching others. Either way, I dove in and determined to learn as I went.
A big part of teaching is giving pep talks. Creating is a scary process, and when a piece turns out differently than you plan, it can be really frustrating - for kids and adults alike. It was not uncommon to have a student in tears, so upset that their artwork wasn’t turning out the way they hoped. I tried to combat this from the very beginning of the school year, by reading books like Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg -- which is about how any “mistake” can be turned into something beautiful. Also the books The Dot and Ish by Peter Reynolds, which both encourage embracing the unique way you create, even when it’s not exactly what you were expecting.
It’s hard to give a pep talk without some of it seeping into yourself. As I encouraged my students and watched them create without fear, I began to hunger to do the same. When I had extra time in the evenings and weekends, I pulled out a sketchbook and some pens and started to draw. At first it was just to prepare for specific lessons, but then I increasingly began to do art for its own sake. I especially tried to challenge myself to draw in pen, so that I could really embrace the “beautiful oops” philosophy and be forced to turn my mistakes into something beautiful, rather than erase. This really drove me crazy at times. It is also freeing - to let go of fixed outcomes and see where the process leads one step at a time.
I don’t teach full time anymore, but I still value the lessons learned from teaching and continually am inspired by the uninhibited creativity I see in young artists. I agree with Pablo Picasso who said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
I believe the drive to create is part of the human condition. Don’t suppress that- - don’t be afraid of making mistakes or comparing your creative path to another's. Get out there and make something.