When I signed up for a couple classes last fall at the local community college, I had no clue it would be the best decision I’ve made in a long time. I was ready to explore new creative frontiers and what I discovered took me by surprise. I’m not slowing down anytime soon. I’m starting the spring semester next week and taking another ceramics class and a photography class. Before the rush of a new semester begins, I thought I would reflect on the two classes I took last fall.
I went into this class hoping for a fun, new hobby, but it turned into an obsession. Over the course of the semester I ended up making about sixty pieces, from little handmade things to lots and lots of thrown pots. I had so much fun making as much as I could and learning the muscle memory of throwing on the wheel. Because I was cruising through the pieces so fast, nothing is perfect. Perfection is not my goal, I love the organic beauty of clay, but my pieces were heavy and unbalanced which became less of a problem the more I threw. The blurry phone picture above is just one class of throwing, I couldn’t get enough.
One of my biggest mistakes was I waited until the last minute to glaze everything. All my fired pieces started to pile up in my locker. I didn’t want to stop making, so the last 2 weeks of school I found myself rushing to glaze about fifty pieces all with random colors and techniques. When I saw my finished pieces I was disappointed, the glazing was not great. But it’s okay, I’m a big believer in the importance of making mistakes in the creative process. I took extensive glaze notes, so I can work off that next semester.
The ceramics studio couldn’t have been more wonderful. I had a teacher who was incredibly patient with my millions of questions. All the wheels, shop equipment, and glazes were open to all students to use. The lab technicians fired anything I put out on the kiln shelves. And there was plenty of open lab time outside of class to keep creating.
I have a clear direction of how I want my portfolio to progress next semester and some specific techniques I want to master, including slab building and slowing down on the wheel to focus on quality not quantity.
The little stubby, gloopy pot in the middle was the very first one I made on the wheel, the pitcher with the blue handle was the last piece I threw. What a difference two months makes!
The first few weeks of Photoshop were rough. It was a really complicated program to get used to, plus we were working on Macs which are completely foreign to me. There may have been a couple tears trying to keep up with the professor. I got the hang of it in no time. One of my favorite things about school was watching the progress of my classmates. I may have learned the basics, but a few students were making incredible pictures. They were clearly passionate about the endless worlds that could be created and it was contagious. I sat next to a hilarious, 20-year-old, Canadian guy who knew a lot about the program. I probably would have learned more if we weren’t joking around during the lessons, but at least he could help me out when I often needed it. I made a lot weird creatures for the various assignments like purple dinosaurs, strawberries that morphed into kittens, and swimming cows.
I don’t think I will be returning to the classroom to learn more about Photoshop, but I have it on my computer at home now so I can practice on my own. It will certainly come in handy for my photography class next semester.
This was the first project. We had to take a picture (I took this while camping) and colorize an element in it. Working through those tree branches was tricky.
Another project was to create a country music concert poster. One of the big reasons I wanted to take this class was to work with text and this was great practice. The teacher put my poster on display in the graphic design kiosk in the library *one gold star please*.
Our final project was to create an animal human hybrid. What’s better than transforming my dog into a proper gentleman? His name is Lord Pickett Von Davy. After I assembled the components of the picture, I went over the entire image with the virtual paintbrush to make it look hand painted.