Thinking on ceramics as a realistic preferred medium?

What I’m about to get into is going to make me sound really Asian, which I sometimes get in trouble for, because I don’t look the part (I’m hapa — that is, racially, half-Asian).  I have a tendency to feel most at home in A/PI communities, though.  I’m not even sure why — maybe it’s just familiarity?  A feeling of fitting in?  Culturally, I was raised with my Japanese-American side of the family, so…well, it’s comfortable for me.  M has told me that sometimes there aren’t reasons for the things we like (I mentioned this tangent one or two posts ago).

There has been so much happening, recently, that I’m not sure where to start.  The major problem that I’ve been having is…well, 1) stress, and 2) confidentiality.  The first just makes things harder across the board; the second causes me not to express why I’m stressed…adding to the stress.  Not to mention, people around me being stressed, doesn’t help.

As regards art…I pretty much haven’t been doing anything freehand, though I have been doing a lot of observing.  I think it’s OK this way.  I do have photos to work from…though it’s difficult in the respect that I’ve never taken a digital photography class…and so I have only gut instinct and fairly minimal knowledge about composition, to work from (my Art degree is only an AA).

As regards the classwork (for the Master’s program)…I still haven’t gotten around to doing that Discussion Post that I never did.  And right now…well, it’s been a while since I read the sections in question, so the longer I wait, the more work it will be to respond.  The positive point is that I’m all caught up now, except for that.  I’m not sure if it’s worth it to go back to at this point, however, and I know I don’t want to just repeat what others have said.

Right now I’ve gotten some quiet, which has not been an easy thing to come by recently, and allows me to…well, relax a bit.  Maybe I should read or do some research or something, and see if that helps.

I could do some art, too, but…I haven’t been in that mode, for a while.  I have been thinking of taking either Ceramics or Printmaking over the summer.  Ceramics would probably be easier to access, given that I have a small college not so far from where I live, which teaches it.  The Printmaking class — the one that I know about, anyway — is at least a 45-minute trip, one way.

However, one of my friends from the Art program was in the Printmaking series, last I heard of him; and unless I’m mistaken, he did like it.  For my part, I’m more interested in the old-style manual printmaking than Digital Printmaking…although the latter seems like it’s where we’re headed.  The drawback seems to be that Digital Printmaking may emulate the style of manual printmaking…without the process or limitations of printmaking, within which the style makes sense.

I also did just see an exhibit on woodblock prints…which was inspiring, to say the least.

Ceramics, though:  I went to a tea shop recently and purchased a small porcelain tea cup…which got me thinking about three-dimensional work, again.  Ceramics would enable me to work sculpturally, and also integrate color into my designs.  There is also that element of randomness which causes …well, it helps one let go of control, a bit.  So far as I know, there is no really accurate way to tell what a glaze will look like once it’s out of the kiln; bisque firing (the first firing after the clay is formed, before the glazing) also takes a chance, as pieces can explode if there are any air bubbles within them.  If they do this, you want them to do it at the bisque phase, not the glazing phase — the latter can cause fragments of a work to stick to everything else in the kiln.

At the tea shop…this is a relatively upscale tea shop…I paid either $15 or $25 (I’m no longer sure which) for a beautiful tea cup in a common Chinese style (where it comes to shape) with a modern twist on blue glaze (or is it something else, like paint?) over white clay:  it’s a linear pattern, as versus figurative.  I don’t believe I’ve taken a picture of this, yet, though that would be something to do.

There was also a red-on-white version of the same style, but for some reason, the red stripes were somewhat in relief, as versus the blue ones, which were smooth.  Texturally, the blue-on-white was preferable to me; I just wasn’t sure, either, that the beautiful red was not cinnabar (mercuric sulfide).  The latter has been widely used as a pigment, historically — though I wouldn’t take that as an indication of safety.

What I realized, though, is that as I have gotten further into tea drinking, I have begun to collect teacups (Asian teacups, more precisely) and teapots.  And I realized this is a niche market which I both might enjoy producing for, and participating within.  One of the Japanese gift shops relatively near me has a section just for pottery; it’s also common to find these sections in Asian supermarkets.  As each piece is unique…and one only has to buy one cup for their collection…price, as a barrier, decreases in importance.  The main thing that I’m concerned about there is lead exposure (most stores don’t mark whether pieces have lead in them or not), though I think that as long as the cups or pots are not exposed to acid, it should be OK.

(And I just now have realized that I can take my skill at painting and do so on ceramics!  I don’t know why that never came to me, before!)

I did enjoy Ceramics when I took the classes in high school (I took Ceramics/Mixed Media twice, then); the main issue I had with the class is that I had untreated OCD and would wash my hands until the skin cracked (which was easy, as clay will dry out one’s skin…think of facial masques made of primarily kaolin [a transparent {or translucent?} Chinese clay], and you’ll see what I’m getting at — these masques are primarily used to treat acne and oily skin, so far as I know).

Otherwise…I picked up a book on Shin Hanga, or New Printmaking (although it’s called “New,” the art movement seems to have declined in the mid-20th century — kind of like how Modern Art was followed by Contemporary Art, but the title makes it sound cutting-edge [I suppose it was, then]), at a museum store (same museum that had the woodblock prints); it appears as though it will be very inspirational.  I passed up a book on manga to purchase this one, though.

Although I have plans, at the least, to begin Japanese language review and new practice and language acquisition during the Summer…I still can’t read most untranslated Japanese graphic novels or comics, now.  I’ve just realized that maybe this lack of content delivery may be why I am more drawn to color and Fine Arts — I mostly don’t receive any content that’s written in Japanese language.  Add this to the sparing art which constituted examples in the text I was looking at…and Shin Hanga was more exciting.

There’s also the fact that I knew a good number of the authors and manga series referenced in said book…and I don’t necessarily want to duplicate knowledge I already know.  Plus, even if I do or did want to create a graphic novel as an endpoint (which I am not sure still holds as much weight as I’ve considered it to, in the past; given my reluctance to enter into generating narratives [something I’ve mentioned before, here, I’m fairly sure]), it would be best to study what the people I admired, studied — not to study and emulate their styles.  The latter of which, by the way, seems to be a path particularly looked down upon by Western artists.  Though, I’m fairly certain that competition from Japan in the U.S. comic book industry also has something to do with it, at least when we’re dealing with people from the U.S.

I’m going to try and relax, now.  I haven’t gotten to just chill for a while, and I probably need it…

One other thing:  I have realized very recently that a lot of things considered as “crafts” had useful, utilitarian functions, at some time.  Particularly when it comes to things like basket weaving and cordmaking and papermaking and knotting…at one time, these were very useful crafts.  I did take a look into the Western Art wing of a museum recently, and found a lot of “flat art”…and I’ve been wondering about the legitimacy of the valuation stating that arts (particularly the Fine Arts) are more valuable than crafts.  What I’m beginning to think is that this might be the popular viewpoint in this era, but that is by no means an absolute and accurate reflection of reality (and in fact it may have to do with colonialism…and sexism…)

Well, the reasoning behind the valuation of Fine Art is probably something that most people don’t even consider, either…

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paintedstone

Haru ("Codey") is a second-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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