6 Jul 2008

Artisan of the Week, Larry Watson

Today's artisan is a man that has been working in ceramics for over 18 years. Larry Watson is an internationally recognised artist who's work has it's own unique style and feel. I came across Larry's website a short while ago and am thrilled that he has agreed to be interviewed for our blog. Larry sells his work through his Etsy shop, where you can see many delightful pieces that are not only a delight to the eye but practical and usable.

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
Who I am is much deeper than you probably have time for, but one of the most inspiring things I do is making sculpture and functional porcelain pottery. Most of my work is vessel based, but some of my sculpture is slab bas relief. My pottery and sculptural work is frequently altered, which symbolizes for me the way our life experiences seem to dent and scar us, yet they are the very things that give us our character, individuality, and beauty.

I work in porcelain because I love the feel and the challenge. And I like the brighter colors that I get with porcelain. I tried stoneware, but it's too easy to just duplicate. I push all of my work to its limits. I don't know where "the edge" is until I go "over it."

I love to teach! There is no greater joy for me than to assist a student to find the answers themselves through looking clearly at the questions. My favorite answer to a student's question is, "Exactly!" When a student is asking the right questions, s/he is going to find the perfect answers within. If I give the answer, I have cheated her/him. Chris Staley says that it's not the answers we give in our work that matters, it's the questions that we ask. Actually, he's paraphrasing Voltaire, but it's still good.

I teach adjunct at Northern Kentucky University Ceramics in the Art Department, and I have apprentices in my studio. Apprentices are one of my favorite relationships because they are at an intermediate phase that is ripe for developing personal expression and style. I feel that I catapult them beyond their expectations of who they are as artists.

I sell my work wholesale and at art fairs, but recently I have included online sales to replace reduced art fair participation. Surprisingly, I enjoy the process of online shops and the enthusiastic response of individual collectors. Physically, I am unable to keep up the art fair circuit, so this is a good transition for me.

2. What led you to take up your craft?
After graduating from college with a B.S., my Mom talked me into taking a pottery class. I was hooked. I never got bored, even if I did get exhausted. I became frustrated with my career in commercial printing, and chucked it for a life of pottery. For years I would literally have nightmares about getting a slave job, usually when I was tempted by the predictable salary. Once you file a Schedule C, you'll never go back.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
Throughout my 19 years as a full time artist, I have always been learning. Every day, I am amazed at how my hands become more adept, and my mind more creative. The process feeds the imagination, and the imagination demands more from the process, an endless cycle that feeds my soul. When I am exploring new work for a solo exhibit, I am free. I become one with the process, and time no longer exists. When I am in this flow, I have no idea whether it is morning or afternoon, whether it is winter or summer. Sometimes I even forget about lunch. But very rarely do I forget about lunch.

4. Which part do you find hardest?
Business. Aaach! Wouldn't it be great if good work was just recognized by the world, and they beat a path to my door? Just leave a pile of money when you go. Isn't that what's supposed to happen?!!!
(Cue cinematic overhead shot of artist, head back, screaming "NNOOOoooooooo!!!!!" Heavy on the echo/reverb.Scene spins as camera pulls back.)

Also I would love to have an automatic glaze maker. Magic wand, don't fail me now.

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year's time?
Alaska. I've heard it's a beautiful place to visit this time of year. New Zealand would do in winter. Third choice: Oregon

If you're talking career, I hope to be booked for a solo show at MOMA. Second choice; The Smithsonian Renwick Museum.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Think of the ceramic field as a checker board. Pick a square and make it your own.

7. Please name other artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit.
I don't get out much. This probably makes me look stupid and insular, but I don't have a memory for names anyway. But, when it comes to understanding clay and it's potential, I think Chris Staley is a genius.

8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
Egg. If I'm looking for a heavy dose of sulfates, Braunschwieger.

Thank you Larry for joining in with our blog and letting us find out a bit more about you and your gorgeous works of art. I'm loving the style and the colours of your work, but I must confess to having a bit of a collection of tea pots and they are the pieces I most like. The twisted handles and the faces and characters are so appealing. Check out his website readers and see just how many beautiful items this very talented man has created.

5 Jul 2008

Beat me on the bottom with a rolled up newspaper!

Yes, I'm a slacker!!! I haven't made posts for days. I do have some reasons for not posting, other than just being a lazy bint... For the last week we have had a friend, Pete, from Oz staying with us as well as Jon's Dad and girlfriend and a few other passing friends popping in last weekend for a few days. Due to this we have been out and about showing people the joys of Wales, and to be honest writing a blog article was the last thing on my mind.

We've been all over the place. This is Henrhyd Falls. The little person on the rock behind the falls is my fabby sister Cath. There wasn't all that much water coming over the falls on the day we visited, but it was still fun rock hopping and walking behind the water. Later that day we went further up the valley and swam in the river. It was ice cold. Getting out of the water and standing in the wind, that before you got in felt cold, was like stepping into a pleasantly heated room on a cold day. The water was freezing and made you feel glad to be alive!

This was the day that we learned that you should not stand behind cows at the Dan-y-ogof caves. There was a sign just past this gate that told you lots of do's and don't as far as the animals were concerned... but nowhere did it say I couldn't put a emu into the boot of our car..... Oddly they had emus running around in the pen with the sheep, goats and cows. Who knew emus were native to Wales? hehehe.

On another day we took everyone on a bit of a hike around our village. Here is Jon stopping to pose for a photo on our walk up to the Elephant rock. He was practising just in case he gets called upon to stand in for a catalogue photo shoot, hehehe. It's a steep trek up to the stones so the break to laugh at him posing was most welcome.

This is me sitting on the Elephant Rock in the sunshine. We walked over to the river Tawe after we had admired the view and caught our breath at the top.

This is a photo of one of the small water falls on the river. It really is lovely by the river with the dappled light coming through the trees, and the sound of the water rushing by...

as this calmer stretch of the river shows. It's green and enclosed and away from the rest of the world. It's a place I love to be. It re-energizes me just being there. We are so lucky to have all of this on our doorstep.

As Pete had never really seen a Welsh castle before we combined going to visit the beach with a trip to Weobley Castle. The Castle is more like a show of money rather than a big kick ass castle that would keep out a marauding army. I should imagine it looked pretty impressive to the local people at the time, who were living in houses built of mud and sticks.

Being as Oxwich Bay is just around the coast of the Gower from Weobley, it would be rude not to go and wiggle our toes in the sand and climb the dunes, so we did.

Jon also decided he should try and hug my head off on the beach... I'm not sure why, but it was fun!

All in all it's been a fun, exciting and exhausting week. Yippee for antipodeans coming to stay and bringing lots of joy and laughter with them.
(most of the photos here were taken by Pete)

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