Monday, February 7, 2011

Trepidation, Frustration and the J-O-B.

Like I said in my previous post, I'm making a bunch of new work. The problem is I have yet to fire any of it out. Not even a decent glaze test, thanks to a lame test kiln over at the university's ceramic studio. The cone setter dropped too early, barely bending any of the cone 6 at all. My clay body didn't get as brown as it was supposed to get and the glazes are not quite what they should be either. It is the clay body that freaks me out the most. I even went and double checked my boxes to make sure I got what I ordered. I bought a nice hazelnut brown clay from Standard Ceramic Supply here in Pittsburgh. It is really nice to throw and visually looks like a close 2nd or so to the deep brown clay I was making in the Bluebird mixer this summer...or so I thought. Now I'm nervous about its color and unwilling to throw any more until I fire my first load... and to add insult to injury my Pittsburgh Steelers failed to climb the stairway to seven.

Currently I have 50 mugs, cups, and tumblers, a few vases, a handful of batter bowls, and a couple pitchers waiting in the wings and I am desperate to fire them. BUT, I have been hit hard recently with other demands on my time. You see gentle reader, I also lead a second life...not really a secret life, but definitely a second. I have made comment about it in the past and even posted about some cool stuff regarding my J-O-B. Now don't get me wrong, I have it pretty good as the gallery director for a small state university's art department. I direct almost all aspects of both of our galleries as well as get to curate exhibitions and work with really interesting artists. I teach 101 courses here and there and also work in art ed. when they are in right now. Hey, Im even teaching beginning ceramics this summer here. Sounds great is to an extant. Some might say Im stuck in adjunct hell and I might agree...depending on the day.

Admittedly I'm a crack monkey for my higher ed. life. It provides pretty good money(although that can fluctuate)and offers a very stimulating, often challenging, creative environment...but the best part about it is the schedule. I can work part time for the university and have time(usually) to get into the studio and make work. Unfortunately, I am a little overrun with university work at the moment and frustrated about not getting in to the studio to get my pieces glaze fired.

But these are the choices that I made for myself. Having a J-O-B allowed me to pursue a more active studio life. Although it made me become very measured with my time and forces me to work double time mostly but the steady paychecks come in and allow me to buy the materials and tools I need to make what I want. On the other hand, sales of my work are very helpful too and are a great supplement to my income. And at this point in my life I do understand that if I could make more work I could certainly sell more work. So there's the crux. Will I be forever working to transition from one thing to another...I dunno...and do I want to? I have never committed to the life of a full time artist and I admire those that have and understand the dedication and sacrifice that goes along with that life, but there is a certain duality to my path that challenges me and makes me keep pushing.

Mentally though I am always in the studio, and even when Im home after work at the university Im tapping away on the keys of my laptop...keeping my head in the game...posting on my blog...working on images for new decals...and checking out other folk's work(lets call it research). So in the mean time while Im struggling to eek out some time to finish glazing and loading a kiln, let me paint you a typed out picture of what Im thinking:: Abstraction over image... Lines...from wax resist showing the (hopefully) brown body, layered with black over glaze lines mimicking those, a new orange speckled glaze(that also didn't fire out right in the test kiln) for accent color here and there. The second firing will be for 04 decals and a rich 04 red accent. These pieces are strictly about fragmented pattern, decoration, utility and a tweaked out sophistication.

I'm not sure if you, my peeps, are in similar four jobs?...or maybe just feels like it...pump out the work non-stop?...or are you lucky to get something done in a month's time? I know I'm a freakish extrovert that enjoys this blog broadcast, but feel free to chime in here and let folks know how you get you squeeze out the work from your brains and studio spaces where ever they may be.

Thanks for listening and I promise pictures soon!


christyculp said...

Hey Kyle, I'm floating around in your pond. THere's not a week that goes by when the thought of taking a day off from my J.O.B. doesn't cross my mind. It is a conflict of heart, as I do love what I do, it is challenging, stimulating,and some days exhausting.(I teach high school art- mostly ceramics)A semi-famous former IUP prof. once called J.O.B.'s "golden handcuffs". I agree-I am happily strapped to my profession not ony for the reasone listed above, but because it keeps me warm, fed, and hopefully will continue to do so when I finally do retire many, many years from now. It also, more importantly, provides my studio from whence I complain!! It is always a question of balance. THe days when my arms are aching from too much throwing, I am relieved to have another financial source. But the most frustration comes in the form of the creative muse who shows up when she wants, not on conveniently placed holidays or summer break.(Though she did convince me to get out bed at 6am to take advantage of a 2 hour delay today.) When I want and need to be in the studio working- for orders or sanity,it's usually the middle of the workweek, and life is hectic. It just is, it's just the way the water flows. Like you, I am driving to and fro thinking of forms I'd like to make, scheduling a firing, trying to figure out when I have time to update my esty page, search for a new gallery to approach. It's a wonder I ever get to my destinations. But you know, somehow the work gets made, bills get paid, and I am still one happy potter!

k.houser said...

thanks for your considered input Christy...I was thinking of you too when I was banging this post out...teaching public school barely allows for extra time, except on those frigid winter days ;0)...I admire your studio ethic...and love the "golden handcuffs" comment!