This week's blog was written by painter, Jennie O'Connor. Jennie interviewed ceramic artist, Denise Krueger.
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the co-op? I joined in January of 2013. When I saw the post on the Portland Etsy Team, I was intrigued but couldn’t make the first meeting. Well, actually, it was at someone’s house that I didn’t know and I was kind of nervous and freaked out to take the bus over there but I really wanted to be part of it, so I took the bus over for the next meeting.
Since I began to work in clay, I’ve had this dream that I wanted a studio with a retail space in front, where I could sell my work and the work of other people. Being part of Artistic Portland is one way I can realize this dream, and now I get to come to Artistic Portland and sell everyone’s art!
What’s your background? My work background is generally customer service. I’ve worked at Taco Bell, Toys R Us, a mail distribution company- shipping and filling orders, and as an office assistant at a CPA firm. I’ve been a self-employed artist for the last two years!
Artistically, I am inspired by my mother. She is a naturalist, a musician, and draws and paints nature with oils, water colors and acrylics. Her subjects are birds and nature. She plays several instruments; guitar, mandolin and most recently, concertina. She has encouraged all her children to play music and be arty. We get together to paint occasionally with my sister, and we have participated in the 6 X 6 Wild Arts project. Someday, we hope to get together to play music again.
She also taught me to knit and sew when I was about five. We frequently sewed our own clothes. I miss designing and sewing clothing. I mostly knitted for my art fix until my late thirties, when I got back into clay. It’s portable and a great way to get to play with color.
I first got into clay when I took a class at the Portland Children’s Art Museum when I was eight. I also took a year of ceramics as a senior at Tigard High School. It was twenty years later, when I finally had my own space and could afford a kiln and a wheel that I got back into pottery. I made wheel-thrown cups, bowls and plates. I started making my pods in 2002, after I took a hand-building class at Georgies. I took ceramic classes at Portland Community College 2008 2010.
Why do you do what you do? I wish I knew! I love my medium? Maybe it’s just the way I process my feelings, but I’m compelled to do it! If I don’t make a pod now and then, I get pretty frustrated and kind of depressed.
Describe yourself in one word. Why that word? Insane! I keep saying yes to cool art projects and not finding enough time to get it all done. There’s so much going on in Portland now. I think it’s great to try new, different things and connect with other humans, but it’s a fine balance to get studio time to recharge.
Where do you create? I have a studio in my home, in one of the bedrooms. My kiln, wheel, and slab roller are out in the garage. My studio has great morning light, but I have a hard time getting into the studio in the mornings because of chores. If it’s a nice day, I sometimes get to work on the patio.
What motivates/inspires your work? Colors! Nature! Insanity! And, also some really wonderful patrons/customers.
One of the reasons I create is because I love color. It gives me joy to put colors together and the different mediums I’ve tried throughout my life all start with color, except for clay. Color is problematic with ceramics, as I often forget what color I intend when I began the piece since it takes time to dry and bisque fire. I feel like that’s also a reason I create so much, because I have to try all the colors on all the pieces.
Another reason I make art is to get into the mind space of “flow.” I try to get there to process daily stimulation by making repetitive designs by hand. It’s relaxing and natural forms instinctively come from a place inside me. And another inspiration is collaboration. I have some pretty fabulous customers with amazing ideas of pods they would like me to make for them.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have? I struggle with routines. I often run late and hurry. I’m easily distracted and I live in the city, where there’s always so much happening, in my house and outside. My best creative time is in the evening, after the dinner dishes are done and I have time to relax. Embarrassingly, most of my work is made while sitting with my family in the living room in front of the TV. I’m lucky they are accepting of my behavior. I would love to have a studio apart from my house, where I could go every day like a real job and sculpt in natural light.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created? I made two large pumpkin shaped pods in 2009 for an installation at Ceramic Showcase. I sold one, but the other cracked while drying and that piece, unfired, is still lurking in my garage. It can never be finished, but I like it as it is; flawed, raw, and too big for the kiln.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new artistic skill, what would it be?Composition! And sewing! I’d like to paint, make wearable art and soft wall hangings.
What do you like to do when you’re not creating? I like to laugh. My friends and family are smart, witty, and share my twisted sense of humor. I also like to take walks, eat, and hang out with our hilarious, sweet old cats.