June 2011 Archives

inspiration and momentum

My summer solstice project is finished but here is another pix from the wilderness of of inspiration and the city of momentum.

rock plate.jpg

"You have to leave the city of your comfort
and go into the wilderness of your intuition."
Alan Alda

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#21 summer solstice

When I was a kid on August first my father used to announce that our summer was almost over. I hated to hear that, what I wanted to hear was that each day was here and we didn't have to go to school. What I loved about the summer was that we didn't have to look ahead, or behind, we just took another step to the ocean or the movies or where ever our feet carried us. June 21st is the longest day of the year, the summer solstice and marks the official beginning of summer..As an adult I hope to keep that sense of the wonder so that each day no matter how long it is can feel like an arrival.


Each step is an arrival. Forget about past walking,

 don't think about future walking. One step, another step.

No long ago, no now, no east or west. One step equals totality.

Fayan Wenyi

from Water Shining Beyond the Fields by John Brandi

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#20 summer solstice 2011

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The elongated day full of brightness started in the city, moved through suburbs, highways, pastoral fields and finally extended into the shadows of home.


#19 summer solstice 2011

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When I walk the high tide mark in Maine I love the sea washed bricks that have been rounded by the wave action. As a potter I like the tension between the rectilinear industrial fired clay that has been softened into something that looks so organic. Today's urban hike included the length of the elevated Highline where I enjoyed the breezes off the Hudson River, shadows from buildings and favorite native plants in an urban setting.


#18 summer solstice 2011

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Yesterday we went to see the movie Bill Cunningham New York about the New York Times photographer. It is a very sweet film about vision and the passion of one man's life work. It is a deeply charming and inspiring film. As a result I have walked the city streets with refreshed vision brimming with ideas about documentation and expression.

18-mug.jpg"It isn't what I think, it's what I see," Mr. Cunningham says. "I let the street speak to me. You've got to stay on the street and let the street tell you what it is."
the film trailer is here

#17 summer solstice 2011

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17 grass bowl.jpg"After a while you learn...

That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers."

From,"You Learn" by Jorge Luis Borges

#16 summer solstice 2011

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I have been in New York City for the last few days. Staying with my father, hanging out with my daughter and brother as well as walking the streets in the June light, I feel how our past childhood colors our present habits. I see my mother in my daughter, my father in myself, and the past and future mixed into the present which is its own rich constellation of life.

16-whitecups.jpg"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations."
-- Anais Nin

#15 summer solstice 2011

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I have been working on some tests with found clays. I made Terra sigillata out of the clay to mix the finest particles in small amounts into my white slip. In the process of letting the clay settle I have found the liquid mix of fine particles catch the light in beautiful ways and regardless of how these fire I have fallen in love with the shades of raw material.

15 cup-and-tests.jpg"I don't teach writing. I teach patience. Toughness.  Stubbornness. The willingness to fail."From an interview with Richard Bausch

#14 summer solstice 2011

One of those days when my cup runneth over.

14-cup.jpgNan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!" "Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

#13 summer solstice 2011

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When we first moved to our property it was the rolling land of old pasture. Feeling very exposed we planted lots of trees. Now that they have grown up I have been on a mission to clear views and allow more light. When the leaves first come out in full my studio now feels too dark. And then when we have really hot days I love retreating to the cool of the shade. Now on a day like today when the the humidity blew off overnight, the light feels incredibly clear, the landscape seems a liquid green and the sky impossibly blue.


"The thing about green-- and maybe this is why it is notoriously difficult to use a lot of it  in painting-- is that its a temporary color. Not in the technical sense that it is fugitive, but on the metaphysical sense that it is a visitor. Its liquid, undulating, mobile pushy." From I send you this cadmium red by John Berger and John Christie

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#12 summer solstice 2011

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A quintet of female voices and laughter kept the house bubbling all afternoon and into the evening. The plan for a summer bonfire sputtered out with more rain. Despite the fact that we didn't have our annual end of school pond party it really felt like summer with a rainbow, yellow light, mist, moon and friends.

12-quintet.jpgThe Swimming Song by Kate and Anna McGarrigle has been stuck in my head all day:

This summer I went swimming
This summer I might have drowned
But I Held my breath, kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around,
Moved my arms around

This summer I did the backstroke

And you know that that's not all
I did the breaststroke, the butterfly
And the old Australian Crawl
The old Australian Crawl

This summer I swam in a public place

And a reservoir to boot
At the latter I was informal
At the former I wore my suit
I wore my swimming suit

This summer I did swan-dives

And jack-knifes for you all
And once when you weren't looking
I did a cannon-ball
Did a cannon-ball

#11 summer solstice 2011

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At Christmas time we went to Italy to visit our daughter who has been studying in Florence for the school year. We happily embraced the espresso habit and when I came home I realized I didn't have cups small enough for a single shot. One of the first things I made for 2011 was a series of tiny cups for that inky shot of caffeine.

11 espresso cups.jpgI posted a few of my sketches of cups on Italian tables here

"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see." - G. K. Chesterton

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#10 summer solstice 2011

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Slowly I relearn the coping routine for the heat. Do outdoor work early in the morning, swim, drink watermelon smoothies with lime, take breaks in the middle of the day and listen to the grass grow.

10 poem bowls.jpg"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life,
it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's
heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies
on the other side of silence." George Eliot

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#9 summer solstice 2011

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Sometimes when asked how I chose to make pots I jokingly say that in a household of artists the only space left to express myself was the table. The family dinner table was the place of sit down meals, jokes, shaggy dog stories, limericks. Grandfather White's round robin letters were read aloud and our day-to-day adventures recounted. While conversations whirled around me, I studied the flowers, the pitcher, the sugar pot and the coffee cup, often imagining them with cartoonish variations.

09-cocoon-composite.jpg"Actually though, compression is the opposite of what I do: what interests me is so remote and fine that I have to blow it way up cartoonishly just to get it up to visible range. My technique is something like using a hammer to drive a needle through silk"  Poet, Kay Ryan
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#8 summer solstice 2011

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It got hot enough today that I felt my brain might explode.  I wished the memory of smooth rocks and cold Maine ocean water could keep me cool. Fans had to do as I worked in search of the tension between the density of a rock, the breath of air and a poetic line in the smallest of my pots.

Although the poet Kay Ryan says she likes to "squeeze things until they explode," she insists "there's a sense of air and ease in even the smallest of my poems."  from an interview in the Paris Review
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#7 summer solstice 2011

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This evenings dog walk ran along the edge of the pond. As work in the studio reaches out into the edges of unknown quantities and new experiments my feet reach for the known paths and permeable views.


"Edges are the most powerful parts of the poem. The more edges you have the more power you have. They make the poem more permeable, more exposed." Kay Ryan,  from an interview in the Paris Review

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#6 summer solstice 2011

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Before I began this series my concept was to concentrate on white pots with rich pale backgrounds. I had a vision of the minimalist palette that reminds me of dawn or sunset. But now that June is upon us I walk in my garden and the muscular growth of everything including onions, garlic, leeks, all grab my attention and I cant help but put them in my pots.

06 onion.jpg
"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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#5 summer solstice

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Part of what I love about traveling is how I see my normal routines and views with a fresh eye when I return home.
 05-teacup.jpgIf we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#4 summer solstice 2011

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04 bowl.jpg
Back to the green of Virginia, long grass, long shadows, gentle light and favorite bowls.

#3 summer solstice 2011

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This mornings early morning dog walk took me through a quiet suburban neighborhood on Long Island. The paved sidewalks are a far cry from walks on a Maine island with mossy wild narrow paths. There was a moment when my eye caught a patch of sunlight on a leaf and it was if time and space stood still and memories of ocean horizon sky poppies lupines mixed into an unconditional sense of happiness. I am struck by how in Maine the day feels longer than Virginia sun sets about the same time but it is the sunrise that is an hour earlier that stretches the feeling of light.

03 landscapevase.jpg
"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world
in itself.
" - Henry Miller
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#2 summer solstice 2011

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After a quick cup of coffee we are off on the morning tide, leaving Heron  Island and zigzagging our way south back into the heat and humidity. It's been a delicious treat to step backwards, returning to spring. The trees in this part of Maine are not fully in leaf and the variety of green adds depth to the shore line.
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#1 summer solstice 2011

This is the first post in a series leading up to the summer solstice June 21st,  the longest day of the year.