Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Robert Genn, a Canadian painter, emails out a newsletter twice a week on subjects related to art. I especially enjoyed the one I received today so I am posting it here in its entirety.

"Shibui is a broad term that can mean irregularity of form, openness to nature, roughness of texture, and the naturalness of daily life. Also known as Shibusa, it refers as well to the Japanese "Seven aspects of being," which are simplicity, implicitness, modesty, silence, naturalness, roughness and normalcy. It's seen in raku pottery, architecture, folk crafts, haiku, gardens and painting. Shibui is worth thinking about no matter where you are or what your art.

Fact is, perfection is boring. Shibui allows viewer participation in the artist's art. It's particularly valuable in an age of highly finished and sophisticated machine-manufactured products. Shibui comes naturally, shows the hand of the maker, and triumphs gesture and the vagaries of process. While there are hundreds of ways to bring shibui into your life, if you think you might include the idea in your painting, here are seven:

Use the whole brush--right down to the ferrule.
Have more than one colour on the brush at one time.
Hold the brush well up on the handle.
Work freshly and let intuition be your guide.
Feel the energy and direction of your subject.
Be not uptight, but relaxed.
Quit when you've connected and while the going is good.

In a way, the making of raku pottery is a good metaphor. In the fiery arms of the kiln god, work takes on a form of its own. Think of yourself as a kiln rather than a labouring artisan. Under the smoking straw of passion, work shapes itself and becomes its own statement. Shibui is all about trust--trust in your materials, trust in your instincts, trust in yourself, trust in the kiln. Shibui transforms frantic work into calm joy and subdues the creator with relative contentment. As well, viewers get a strong feeling they are looking at art.

In shibui, sheer ease is a virtue. Hours fly by as the creator becomes lost in process and the gentle curiosity of outcome. You never know what you're going to pull out of that kiln.

Best regards,


PS: "Austere, subdued and restrained are some of the English words that come closest. Etymologically, shibui means 'astringent,' and is used to describe a profound, unassuming and quiet feeling." (Bernard Leach, "A Potter's Book" 1940)"

You can subscribe to Robert's newsletters by visiting his web site:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

oh, my gosh

I am having a blast. Last night Ben, my youngest son, mentioned a library cataloguing program for the Apple computer: Delicious Library. Jim and I have said we would like to catalog our books so today I looked for the program on line, found it, and downloaded it. It is 'delicious'! So fancy--and so easy! You can scan in the ISBN number or type in the name and the program goes on line to download all the information about the book--all the technical data--and book reviews. It creates a record of the book with a image of the book cover on the book's icon! It lets you make a record of books you loan out--with the borrower's name from your address book and marks the book's icon with a tab, "OUT", stretched across the upper right had corner . I've spent a couple hours scanning in my pottery book collection! Maybe I am just a frustrated, wanna-be librarian, but this is too much fun!

Next week I AM going to do a bisque firing. Then I am going to get serious about glazing! I have really been out of it lately. But I AM, I AM going to get focused on my pottery work. I AM.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


And he said, "I know you'll treasure it a long time."
Kenneth Zachry Karcher

Thursday, May 08, 2008

time flies

I don't know where, exactly, but I look up and it has been quite a while since I have posted.
I guess I've been distracted. Jim is fine and the car should be ready this weekend. The insurance is paying for the repair (~8,000).
Kenny has had several falls, nothing serious--but, since it is such a challenge for 'us' to get him back up on his feet, he and I both stay anxious over the next fall. The last was at 1:30 am night before last. 'We' (the we is Kenny and me since Jim is out of town) tried our best to get him up off the floor onto the bed but could not do it. So I called EMS. The firemen were here in minutes--and always so gracious--but I hate calling for their help. This morning Kenny called from the shower where he was desperately hanging onto the grab bar trying not to slip down to the floor before I got there to grab onto him. We made it! When 'we' make it sucessfully, he usually ends up laughing (out of relief, I'm sure) and then tells me how much he loves me!
Each morning, after breakfast, we go out to the studio. That might be 9:30 or 10:00 before we get there. Then Kenny is through for the day at noon and ready for lunch. I intend to return after lunch to do some more concentrated work--but frequently don't get out there again that day. Good thing I'm not trying to make a living out of my clay work!!
This house had extensive plantings when we moved in. And, fortunately, it had a water system. Unfortunately, it is not working properly. I called for repair work but it seems it may be cheaper--and better--to put in a new system instead of trying to repair this very old system. I have been waiting for an ‘estimator’ to come see what I need and what it will cost—but he has been unavailable. In the meantime, I am spending a good deal of time watering by hand as I don't want to loose the plants that are dependent on the system. To make things worse, because of the installed sprinkler system, there are NO hose outlets anywhere near all these lush plants.

The terrace plants seen from the studio door.

The terrace plants seen from inside the living room (see my computer on the table in front of the window--no wonder I spend so much time browsing the web.)

I am NOT whinning or complaining--I am just reporting in!