Restless…….. I think most people who know me would describe me as restless. My biggest fear is waking up to a day with nothing to do. My idea of a relaxing vacation would involve nonstop hiking, snorkeling, golf, or anything else to keep me outside.
Unfocused……. Sometimes. What do I have to show for my eternal quest for personal fulfillment?……… two years of medical school in Dallas, graduate school in marine biology in Florida, time spent in Oregon for landscape architecture, two guitars, six harmonicas, a set of congas, a set of bongos, tennis ball machine, and a full darkroom.
Focused……… Occasionally. I did finish optometry school and have practiced in Austin for the past 30 years. I lose all sense of time when landscaping and water-gardening and have spent the past 4 years moving boulders, hauling soil, building my pond, and landscaping as much of our 26 acres as I could afford.
And I also discovered ceramics. Two years ago, true to my history of ignoring the need for experience before jumping in headfirst, I purchased a wheel, slab-roller, extruder, kiln, 500 pounds of clay, 10-12 books, and a subscription to Ceramics Monthly. Ever since, I’ve not had to worry about not having something to do. Even though I now spend at least 40 hours per week in the studio, I never seem to be able to set it aside and say I’ve had enough.
The only piece of equipment I bought used was the potter’s wheel. I must have known something. From the beginning I gravitated toward hand-building due to the great versatility of form it offers. I can’t decide if I have some inherent lack the ability or am just not patient enough to become proficient on the wheel. I rationalize that I just don’t want to put in the effort to turn out another round piece of pottery (even though there are thousands of pots that I have seen that I would love to be able to make). I initially used only low-fire clay and glazes, but became restless, and have begun to experiment in cone 6 clay and glazes. I am saving cone 10 for another restless period.
I have been fortunate to have a patient (and now friend) who builds custom mesquite furniture for a living. He built a piece for my home and when he delivered it saw some of my work which was over-running all corners of the house. He called a couple of the galleries who exhibited his works and they were kind enough to help me empty the house.
I am retired from optometry and spend most of my time in the studio. I never tire of the places clay takes you, the satisfaction of watching a piece develop during the forming process, the anticipation of opening the kiln to see the finished piece for the first time, and the warm feeling when someone actually likes a piece enough to take it home. And if I get restless, I have so much more to learn.