I should have been doing this from the beginning, better late then never. The idea of starting this project and recording my thoughts and the things that happen because of it seemed overwhelming. Because of that it has taken me 6 months to start this journal. So I may as well start as close to the beginning as I can remember.
Back in the fall of 2003, it all started when I took a pottery class from Mark Chatterley at the Potter’s Guild. I was the odd man out from the beginning because I was hand building and everyone else in the class was working on the potter’s wheel. I had taken a few classes at this guild before and had been very unhappy with what I had been taught. I didn’t have any direction and was about ready to give up on working with clay altogether. Taking this class with Mark as the instructor was my last chance to be inspired. I was very restless, couldn’t decide what I wanted to work on etc. I had brought in some of my previous work for Mark to see. That way he at least would know what I had been doing up to this point. He asks me questions that no one had asked me before, such as: What is it that I really want to do with my art? Do I have a goal? What would I like to see happen with my art in the next few years and where did I expect to see myself in 5 years? These were all very good questions that at the time I couldn’t answer, I would need some time to think about it. Meanwhile he gave me assignments. First I had to make a figure but I could not use my hands directly, I had to use two wooden sticks. I could only touch the clay with these sticks. They were about 18” long and about one inch square. This was a little difficult at first but I got the hang of it and produced 3 fairly interesting human figures. Then he made a clay closed ball shape on the wheel and in front of the whole class, gave me the form and said that I was going to make a face out to the sphere for next weeks class but I could only use stick to mold with. (No pressure there) I had not done a face before like this so it was a bit of a challenge. Interestingly enough it turned out pretty well. Then I had brought in a very large form that I had made out of hand made paper and fiber. It was about 3ft high and 2ft across at the top, kind of a cone shape. Keeping in mind I was not working on a potter’s wheel, he then said go home and make a couple of these out of clay. This was no minor assignment. At first I had all these reasons why I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish this task. No matter what I said Mark would say, “Don’t worry about that just build them.” So…I started one strip of clay at a time. The first one I got about 10” and it collapsed. It turned out that the clay I was using was not suitable for this type of construction so I started over again with better clay. Again, I started everyday building with 1", 1 1/2" or 2” strips until I figured out how to build then a little over 3ft high and almost as wide. I had to transport them in their green state, which means they were very fragile. My fear was that they would break on the way to be fired, after all that work. Well they made it and the vessels turned out to be very interesting and creative pots. Back to my hard questions that Mark asked me. I had been thinking about all we had talked about and decided what it was that I wanted to do. At class that week Mark and I talked about my future as an artist. I decided that my goal was to have a major show at a major well-known gallery somewhere in the U.S. and I didn’t really care how long it took me to get there. After that I would decide if I wanted to be a selling artist or not. He then sent me back to thinking again. He said if that was my goal that I needed to decide how I was going to get there. What media I was planning to use and to pick a subject matter. The subject matter needed to be a little edgy, possible a little controversial and hopefully something that nobody else is doing. Then what ever it is that I pick I needed to make 100 of them. Then I could see what that might evolve into.