Saturday, January 26, 2013


Winter in western PA is slow and tedious and if your not careful, your own pace can become glacial as well. The weather has been particularly frigid and yesterday we got about four to six more inches of the white fluffy stuff dumped all over us. That certainly does not help a persons motivation for venturing past their front porch.

But you do have to get out in it...snow, crappy roads and all. If I didn't we would be dining on dachshund and after spending a bundle on spinal surgery for him, he would only amount to a few days of five star dining...maybe if I had a full size and could get at least a solid week of good eating....hmmm. But I digress, where I was going with this is that it is hard to establish routines. Routines are important to studio work and I have been trying but I'm having little success.

The beginning of this year kicked me hard with a stomach flu, another major dental issue, the above mentioned surgery for my wiener dog and sadly, the passing of my father-in-law. This was all in the first three weeks of January and I am beginning to wonder if I haven't gotten all the bad shit out of the way for at least the next six months. So as I struggle to get back into a good studio routine along with a gym/racquetball routine, I have been formulating the new body of work and eeking out some pieces. It looks as if I will have my first full load bisque firing next week in my new kiln. That's exciting news to me...20 or so new mugs and a bunch of large bowls and wall platters. The bowls and wall platters are really where my head has been and really what this post is about. They are canvases for my new layered compositions...decals of course, but also my new surface treatments. I have been doing a lot of carving and am interested in integrating those areas as fragmented portions of background.

It was my holiday reading that set this idea in motion. I picked up the book "Life of Pi" by Yann Martell in the airport so I could kill time between layovers and ended up deeply involved in this great book. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. I wanted to see the movie but my cinematic choices are often determined more by my young daughter so the book felt like a good idea. The book is a wonderful story of life, faith, suffering, loss and perseverance. There is a particular passage that really got me thinking and made sense to me, directly relating to the new imagery and surface work I wanted to make as well as being very pertinent to my life right now.

"To be a castaway is to be a point perpetually at the center of a circle. However much things appear to change-the sea may shift from whisper to rage, the sky might go from fresh blue to blinding white to darkest black- the geometry never changes. Your gaze is always a radius. The circumference is ever great. In fact, the circles multiply. To be a castaway is to be caught in a harrowing ballet of circles. You are at the center of one circle, while above you two opposing circles spin about. The sun distresses you like a crowd, a noisy invasive crowd that makes you cup your ears, that makes you close your eyes, that makes you want to hide. The moon distresses you by silently reminding you of your solitude; you open your eyes wide to escape your loneliness. When you look up, you sometimes wonder if at the center of a solar storm, if in the middle of the Sea of Tranquility , there isn't another one like you also looking up, also trapped by geometry, also struggling with fear, rage, madness, hopelessness, apathy."

Sea and sky and a host of characters will populate these a less harrowing ballet of circles. Enjoy my black and white images of the works in progress...almost their infancy...and stop back by to see how the firings are going. Ahoy castaways...remember there is a lot you can do even when you are trapped in a 26 foot lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger.


Rakeene said...

Hey Kyle I really enjoyed this post. I am always dealing with the battle of determination to not let "real life" destroy my "preferred life". Working all day as a contractor really wears a man out especially when he comes home to his house in which needs a lot of work as well, including a studio. Keeping the mind creatively active becomes hard some days when losing yourself in a mindless show or just collapsing and falling asleep. The burning ember of creativity does not die easily thankfully and I always find myself creating new works and directions for my work. Now if all of those ideas didn't end with "if only i could finish the studio". Your post reminded me that this is not a individual struggle, that artists across the land struggle everyday with this same balance. Thank you for the refreshing approach to this issue and can't wait to see the new works. Take care my friend.

barbaradonovan said...

Really nice post, but very sorry for the loss of your wife's dad - so hard whether anticipated or not to lose a parent at any age. Hoping the year begins to progress more smoothly after wicked January. Coincidently, Life of Pi is on my bedside table waiting to be opened. Looking forward to seeing the new work!

(omg...dining on dachshund...)

k.houser said...

Thank you both for your thoughtful comments...Ryan, I hear ya...the balancing act is an ongoing thing and I guess the important part is that you(and I) are making work in the odd and in between times...Im just hoping my studio time and output starts to take over everything else(wishful thinking).
Funny about the book Barbara...great minds and all...I really loved the book...think you might too...btw, I am enjoying my little warthog mug!