Have a nice trip. See you in the Fall (newsletter)

Changing Leaves

One of my great mentors, Captain Ted Schmidt, said to me, “Count that day wasted you don’t learn something new.”  I haven’t wasted many days. It helps that I spend most of my days working with clay. It also helps that I often have to learn the same lessons over and over again. Does it count if what’s new is a slightly changed perspective?

Something relatively new is the featured artist post on my website. I began last month with Jesse Gillespie. This month it’s Jessica Ives. Each month, I plan to publish a short article about a former student. This goes along with the sidebar on my bio page where I list former students and links to their websites. It occurred to me, as I was editing Jessica’s feature, that I really loved teaching. It also occurred to me to admit that one aspect of it was always rather selfish: I learned far more from my students than they ever learned from me. This is neither hubris nor humility. It’s a matter of numbers. I had a lot to teach, but there was just me. There were so many of them, wise in their own ways, with so much to share. Read the posts, look at their work, and you’ll begin to see what I mean.

Thank you to all who came to visit this summer. Some of you even stayed for supper (you know who you are)! Your continued friendship and support sustain me. Your commissions are underway or on the docket and the long-term projects continue apace.

Projects underway include:

Nest – a series of sculptures in wood and clay inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space
Shoji Pattern – a series of vessels with carved surfaces inspired by a 16th century Japanese screen
Bronze – working with sculptor JT Gibson to cast select works in this luscious metal
Changing Scale – working to slip-cast very large egg forms to be carved, pierced and modified , a project supported by a Maine Arts Commission grant
Wrack Line – continuing to collect material from the shore line to inspire sculpture, prints and painting

And the collaboration with Mark Bell continues as well.

Open Studio this weekend!

Please stay in touch and come visit to see what’s new!

Enjoy the changing seasons,


Featured Artist: Jessica Ives

Name: Jessica Ives
Year of HS graduation: 1999, when my last name was Stammen
Current Location: Damariscotta, Maine
What fills your days?

Learning. Whether I’m painting, swimming, stretching, reading, dancing, cutting a carrot, or driving in the car with my husband, I think it’s good to remember that it’s all learning, that I’m learning to see, and that I’m learning to see more more beautifully every day. I have a sneaking suspicion that how I see and why I see determines what I see. And by learning to see I mean cultivating a capacity that includes, but goes far beyond the visual. Yes, I believe this kind of learning can happen even, and especially, when cutting carrots.

Also, I keep these words by Baba Haridass pinned to my studio wall, as a reminder of the simple things worth filling a day with:
Work honestly,
meditate everyday,
meet people without fear
and play.
What’s most important to you about what you do?

That I love what I do is, to me, the most important thing about what I do. Any other reason I would or could give — as honest, as impressive, or as articulate as it could be — must be secondary to this. We live in a time and place where reason and wordy whys burden everything. Especially art. Love, beauty, enjoyment — as experiences, in and of themselves — are not so much valued. But I agree with Joseph Campbell who has said, “People say that what we are seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”

What impossible dreams or goals do you keep reaching toward?

Tim Keller has said, “You should never go to God because he’s useful. Go to God because he’s beautiful. And yet there’s nothing more useful than finding God beautiful.” I love the paradox in this! I love the mystery and the adventure that it implies. I love that it turns me on my head and puts the world upside down. I think learning to see beauty, without a need for utility, is a goal worth living, and something that will take a lifetime.

Also, I’d like to read all the books I own. This, too, might take a lifetime. I need to stop buying books!
What do you need to keep going?

Beauty, lots of time spent outside playing, and a healthy capacity to say no.

Further comments?

I prefer to paint on the floor! I squat in front of my panels in the manner that most the world’s population sits and rests, butt to heels. Chairs sort of bum me out.