Location:  Wild Spirit Gallery in Pagosa Springs, CO at    480 San Juan Street (HWY 160) http://www.wildspiritgallery.com

When:  Friday, April 20 – Sunday, April  22, 2012 (10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) 


  • Making a hand-coiled earthenware pot 
  • Meditation and yoga practices 
  • Journaling
  •  Discussion and sharing

The majority of our time is spent following a plan, organizing our thoughts and activities and living within the constraints of linear thinking. For those of us who have experienced the “right-brain shift” we are aware of a very comfortable, creative state of mind in which we have a profound ability to focus our thoughts, accompanied by a deep sense of relaxation. In this state, the passing of time goes unrecognized and we are “present” in the truest sense of the word. Unfortunately, most of our activities are performed in such fashion that we do not often carryout even our creative work using the right hemisphere of our brains. The logical, language processing left side of the brain is the dominant hemisphere in most humans and generally competes to perform many of the activities that we undertake; even those that it is not best suited to perform!

Longing for a more joyful experience in my art-making, I started thinking about and looking for a different, more creative approach for my own personal work – which eventually led me to the doorstep of Phoenix Rising Yoga Instructor, Margaret Burkesmith of Pagosa Springs, CO.  “Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, through a combination of classical yoga techniques and elements of contemporary body-mind psychology, encourages this deeper connection with self. Through this deeper connection, we are able to know ourselves more fully. And out of this knowing, we are more easily moved to embrace the opportunity for change, growth and enhanced well being in body, feelings, thought, and spirit. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy changes lives from the inside out, whether one-on-one or in a class or group.”

Margaret and I will be hosting A CREATIVE JOURNEY at Wild Spirit Gallery in Pagosa Springs from April 20 – April  22, 2012.  As space is limited, this program will host only eight participants; don’t wait to reserve your space!

Each participant will make a hand-coiled earthenware pot over the course of the three-day-period. The class time will be divided between meditation and yoga practices, hands-on clay work, journaling and discussion. No previous ceramics experience is necessary and beginner to advanced yoga practitioners are welcome. All participants will receive a high level of personal instruction and guidance.

Workshop Fee:  $298.00 includes all clay materials and firing costs. Shipping of finished work is additional (to be determined after the workshop). For more information, or to reserve your space, please call the Belvedere Studio: (970) 264-0642, or email Susan at Claypainter@hotmail.com. To learn more about Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, visit Margaret’s website at http://www.pryt.com/Margaret.

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Sometime around the Christmas Holidays I received a box from my sister in Ohio, Amy Bajko. Inside was a selection of Amarillis bulbs planted in a copper pot. The middle of the winter is a great time to receive such a gift, when the ground is frozen and snow-covered and such fresh, bright color is hard to come by. I set the pot out onto my window sill in the kitchen, gave it water regularly and waited anxiously for signs of life. It was an amazing transformation to see the green sprouts pop up and rapidly grow tall shoots with promising flower buds at the tops. Within about three weeks of the first careful watering, the flowers were about to open! As each bloom came into being, I thought about the coming of spring and how the days are growing longer. The deep dark days of December now behind us, it made me think of my father and how he paid so much attention to the length of the day, the sunlight and star positions and where/how we all fit into the grand scheme of things on this spinning planet. Funny how little things like the flowering of a lovely plant can bring so much to mind and heart. I doubt that my sister would have known that her gift would mean so much and would inspire me to finally create a mural to fill the void in the stone backsplash over my cooktop. It has been there, just waiting for the right inspiration for six years. Friends coming to dinner always commenting about the “ugly empty space” and jokingly signing their names to the wall board where I promised that someday, there would be a colorful mural. Sometimes when the right thing comes along, you’re lucky enough to recognize it immediately!  So, with that said, I’ve taken lots of pictures as the flowers emerged and bloomed and archived them into my reference files in preparation for making my drawings for the mural. Just to make my plan “concrete” I sketched out a little image that would serve as my visual document of the design idea. From this little sketch, I will make a detailed drawing that will become my pattern from which I will create the mural in stoneware and paint it with underglazes and glazes. I’ve noticed over time, that I love a bright splash of red near my stovetop. I’ve kept a bright orange-red teapot on the burner for quite sometime now and I always find it so eye-catching. The red Amarillis flowers on their long green stems will surely multiply my feelings of enjoyment in seeing that wonderful color in that space! Thank you my dear sister, for such a lovely gift!

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Just came back in from clearing the snow. It’s good to get the moisture!

Made 100 field and border tiles on Thursday! They are all drying nicely now and they will get bisque-fired this week.

I shot this image of the evening sky a few days back. It was such a beautiful night.Image 

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When I opened my email inbox recently and found an email from Martin at Coyote Clay and Color in Albuquerque, NM, I was surprised and very happy to learn that I’d won their contest for my submission, Sunset Marshland. Coyote puts on the contest to showcase the work of artists who use their products in the most skillful and creative ways. The lucky winners will see their work in Coyote’s advertisements in publications such as Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated. I am thrilled to have received this honor and send my thanks out to the folks at Coyote Clay & Color for selecting my mural and for making such great products! The image above to the left is a detail from the mural (this mural is my header image above) and you can see the difference in color between this image and the full mural image that shows the fired color (the colors deepen and brighten when fired).

The landscape piece was created as a commission for a national design firm and the pigments I used were all Coyote’s wonderful high-fire underglaze colors painted on a bas-relief stoneware surface that was hand-carved when leather-hard. Before I began  the process of painting, I made two color palettes using the same clay body that I was doing the mural with. By doing an in-depth color exploration and firing the palettes to temperature, I was able to gauge what the fired color would look like both out of the container and when layered with other colors.

Making the palettes was time-consuming, but well worth the investment considering how much information they provided that saved me from making color mistakes in the finished work. Coyote makes wonderful Cone 6 glazes as well, and we’ve been doing lots of experimenting with layering them in painted works with great results. I know many ceramic artists like making their own glazes, but my interest in doing detailed sculptural work – and now, moving into 3-d works, I am so grateful to find a local glaze company that can supply high quality underglaze and glaze materials for my painted/glazed works.


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Autumn Came and Went

Wow this fall has come and gone and already we’ve had snow here in the San Juans twice. It was a really fun season and I’ve enjoyed the outdoors a lot. Left is my Icelandic Pony, Trolli and me doing some groundwork.  I’ve been fortunate to spend time doing lots of fun things and get recharged and inspired for the long winter months ahead.

My good friend, Alycia Child from California came to visit in October and made the “fall leaves and acorns” platter to the right. It was hand formed and the leaves were made by pressing clay into a plaster molded form of real leaves and acorns. The forms were “sprigged” onto the surface of the platter using a soupy mixure of the same clay and water called “slip.” The platter is still unfired in this image, but stay tuned for updates that will be posted after the glaze firing is done.

An outing down the back trail behind the house. The color was just past peak time, but still beautiful. A warm, breezy day and perfect for a walk! The golden colored trees in the background are cottonwood and they like to grow where there is a water source nearby. There is a creek that runs through this valley called the “Klondike” and it runs heavy with snowmelt from the mountains above in the springtime. In wet years it will run through the entire warm months as well.

The fall is such a beautiful time, but it’s a bit sad knowing that all the life and color will be going to sleep for the long winter. My mind is turning already to thoughts of soft green blades of grass poking their way through the melting snow. I do love the silent winter too and it gives me the time and solitude to be creative. Afterall, winter is full of its own magic… snowflakes are so amazing in their ornate and infinite beauty. I noticed that there are still many birds chirping away during the sunny parts of the day. I imagine they will soon be flying to warmer places.

Thanks Alycia, for the great photos!

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Newly Listed on Etsy.com by Claypainter

Just listed this tile in my Etsy.com shop today (my store is under “Claypainter”).

It’s made of stoneware; a one-of-a-kind “multiple original” hand-carved and hand-glazed (fired three times).

Inspiration:  When I first moved here to the mountains I was just amazed at the number of mountain bluebirds that I’d see in a day. They are just lovely and you can so often see them perched on the gamble oak branches. Sometimes we even get lucky enough to have a nest close by!

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