Monday, July 26, 2010

Avoidance Therapy

For the past weeks I’ve been whining about not having been able to work in my studio. First it was my road trip to Seattle. That ate up two weeks. I needed a week to settle back into Palm Springs and the following week to prepare for Hawaii. Then 10 days in Hawaii. I even wrote about feeling guilty being in Hawaii and not working on my artwork! Pure procrastination.

We’ve been back from Hawaii for a week now. I still have not got my butt in gear to work. I’ve been telling everyone that I’m beginning a new piece. I haven’t actually DONE anything other than clear my work surface. Something always seems to come up to distract my attention. How convenient!

So, I was floating in the pool yesterday afternoon (because my studio just too damned hot to work in) thinking about all of this. What’s going on here, Jer? I played the whole day Saturday and Sunday when I could have been working in my studio. (I do have an incredibly efficient A/C unit in the studio. I just needed to crank down the temp from 86F.)

My planned piece is of woven newspaper. It will be approximately 4 feet X 6 feet, portrait orientation. It will be vertical stripes similar to “Serape Asado Uno” and “Serape Asado Dos” but with a boarder all around. It’s in my head and just needs to be woven. Should be easy.

And that’s my problem. It’s “easy.” I know exactly how to do it and I know what it should look like. I have all the problems figured out – as much as one can; you always run into a problem of some sort. There’s no challenge in making it.

In retrospect, I’m glad I spent time mulling over my ambivalence while floating in the swimming pool. I could have dived into this weaving instead of the pool. I don’t think I would have had a successful weaving. Now, however, I can do that weaving knowing it’s more of a technical exercise (at this point) rather than a technical challenge. If I begin & complete this work as planned, I can do that consciously knowing what I’m getting into. Or I can redesign the whole thing to be more challenging.

So, I’m now conflicted. Do I go ahead and create this weaving even though it’s not going to be a challenge? Or, do I re-design the whole thing?

It’s getting hot. I think I will float in the pool for a bit… and think.

Oh! I almost forgot the shameless self-promotion bit! Please take a minute to visit my website at and take a stroll through my artwork. All of it is for sale (except for “Icarus” and “Winter Rain”). Please contact me if you want to buy one of my works or if you have any questions about a specific piece. My contact information is on my website and you can leave a comment on this blog site for me to contact you. You can e-mail me at and you can telephone me on my studio phone 760-992-3157: you can call me. I won’t mind).

Thank you for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

Monday, July 19, 2010

Aloha, Hawaii

I am writing this post on the evening of our last day in Hawaii, our fifth night. It was a relatively short trip. My physician husband was here for a medical conference and I tagged along for the fun. He worked. I had fun. Actually, he was in conference from 6:30 to noon every day: Sunday through Thursday & Friday morning. We had the afternoons free to explore Maui.

I’m an early riser. I was up every morning between 4:30 AM and 5 AM. Someone has to wake the roosters! If you’ve been to Hawaii, you will know there are a lot of chickens on the islands and they are stunningly beautiful birds! And fearless. So, after waking the roosters & the Doctor, I headed to the gym to work off the prior evening’s meal. I’m now up to 60 minutes on the treadmill walking in time to Lady Gaga and selected songs from Glee. The songs set my cadence and I zone out for the hour picturing myself in a Lady Gaga video. Show me your teeth!

In retrospect, it was a low-key, relaxing week. We went on a tour of Maui with Wade Holmes of No Ka Oil Adventrues; Nature-Based Excursions for te Alternative Traveler. Wade took us to sights seldom seen by tourists. He was a wonderful guide who knows much of the history and traditions of the islands. He’s also a botanist and is familiar with most of the island plants. We visited pristine waterfalls, swam in cool cataracts, laid in the sun on the rocks and hiked on ridge line trail. We came across no other visitors. We got a sense of what it must have been like living on these beautiful islands without all of us tourists. I loved every minute of it.

Our tour vehicle was a Wrangler Jeep uncovered to the elements. I enjoyed sitting in the back seat watching the scenery pass by, smelling the rain forest smells. The over-ripe guava crushed under foot as we hiked reminded me of the apple orchard of my childhood: same sickly sweet rotting apple smell.

We stopped at the Naka Lele blow hole to watch the water shoot 20 feet into the air from the blow hole. This was a popular tourist stop; there must have been 15 cars parked in the small lot with everyone scrambling down the rocks to the blow hole. So of course we joined them. Les decided to stay atop while Wade and I climbed & walked down the hill. It was an easy climb although rocky. But I enjoy that and it only took 15 – 20 minutes. We stayed long enough to take photos, stand between the sun and the plume to see rainbows and to get thoroughly drenched by the spray. It was refreshing. Then we hiked back up the hill.

Our last stop was in Lahaina we stopped in at Betty’s for Mango Margaritas and to watch the sunset. There was a huge Luau in progress right off the bar’s patio. We had viewing stand seats so we stayed for a second Mango Margarita and dinner. Watching the sunset, sipping Mango Margaritas and watching the hula dancers, I realized what a spectacular day we’d had.

This day of adventure set the mood for the rest of MY visit, I’m not sure about my Doctor. I think he was more caught up in the medical stuff, like that conference session on “Sex and Headaches”. Turns out that, most cases, sex actually helps elevate headaches. Hmmm THAT excuse doesn’t work anymore. (Just kidding, Doc!)

The week went rather quickly and was very relaxing and low key. I enjoyed kicking back by the pool reading & letting the sun recharge my batteries. The pool was wonderfully cool and I often fell asleep in my comfy lounge chair under that huge, industrial sized umbrella. It was bliss. My Doctor, more often than not, woke me when he joined me after his conference. I did manage to read 4 novels between naps..

So, what began as a guilt-ridden trip, turned into total down-time and six days of relaxation. Batteries are recharged. I’ll see you on the other Pacific Coast! Aloha!

Please take (another) minute to visit my website at and take a stroll through my artwork. All of it is for sale (except for “Icarus” and “Winter Rain”). Please contact me if you want to buy one of my works or if you have any questions about a specific piece. My contact information is on my website and you can leave a comment on this blog site for me to contact you. You can e-mail me at and you can telephone me on my studio phone 760-992-3157 (I have the phone with me while we’re traveling; you can call me. I won’t mind). Aloha!

Mahalo and thank you for listening,

Jerry L Hanson

Monday, July 12, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

I’ve not been very productive with my painting or weaving since early June. I’ve been preoccupied and busy. Ok, Ok, I’ve been slacking off. I went on a two week road trip to Seattle and had a house full of company the week I returned. Then it was the July 4th weekend with its compliment of parties & more house guests. And martini’s with @TheDeeView & @Taxes007. And then the trip to Hawaii. And then, I just didn’t manage to get my butt in gear to paint or weave.

I think about it every day sitting in my studio working on the lap top. I think about it as I float blissfully in the pool. I think about it as I am cleaning up after yet another house full of guests. But I haven’t done it. And I’m feeling guilty! I enjoy telling people “I work every day in my studio.” I guess I shouldn’t be saying that!

My mind is occupied with thinking about the next piece. Perhaps I need to think some more about it. I know what I want to work on next. Perhaps I just need to take a break. Perhaps this is one of those lulls I alluded to in an earlier post. Perhaps.

I’m in Hawaii as I write this post. We arrived on Saturday morning and I’ll definitely NOT be getting any artwork done these next 10 days. I will be playing, snorkeling, and taking photographs of anything that catches my eye. I’ve scoped out the 6 swimming pools – avoid the children’s pool: too much chlorine (AKA urine) – the health club, the spa and I’ve figured out which of the bars seems liveliest. I’m ready to play!

Meanwhile my husband will be attending his doctor’s conference learning all sorts of esoteric stuff in sessions with titles such as “DM Risk Mitigation: It Ain’t All Sugar” and “What’s New in Hip Pain from A to FAI” and “Halitosis” and “Rheumavascugoutamosis“ (MSWord does not recognize nor have a spelling suggestion for Rheumavascugoutamosis) and my personal favorite, ”Sex and Headache.” THAT session sounds interesting. I WOULD skip the session on “Halitosis.”

So, while my Doctor is attending his conference, I’ve been feeling guilty about NOT doing my art. WAS…. What I realized the other day, lying by the pool is that feeling guilty is counter-productive. This downtime is an excellent opportunity to recharge my batteries; to clear my mind and observe the world with fresh eyes. What better place to do that than in Hawaii? I mean, Maui has many of the attributes I love about living in the desert: warmth, sun, interesting plants, hiking, mountains and not a huge amount of traffic. OK, there is traffic but nothing compared to Los Angeles or Seattle. There are significant differences too, such as rain, “real” trees, beaches, rain, ocean and all this with a riot of color.

I’m going to kick back, enjoy the magic of Hawaii and absorb as much of this “newness” as I can! When we return to Palm Springs, I’ll be ready to dive into my artwork with a fresh point of view and a relaxed body & mind. The most pressing thing on my mind right now is wanting to know what the hell Rheumavascugoutamosis is! Oh, never mind! Where did I leave my Mai Tai?

Please take a minute to visit my website at and take a stroll through my artwork. All of it is for sale (except for “Icarus” and “Winter Rain”). Please contact me if you want to buy one of my works or if you have any questions about a specific piece. My contact information is on my website and you can leave a comment on this blog site for me to contact you. You can e-mail me at and you can telephone me on my studio phone 760-992-3157 (I have the phone with me in Hawaii: you can call me. I won’t mind). Aloha!

Mahalo and thank you for listening,

Jerry L Hanson

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ehren Tool - Occupation

A highlight of my recent road trip to Seattle was a visit to the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft. My friend Sari and I happened on the Museum as we were exploring art galleries in the Pearl District. Ehren Tool, a veteran of the First Gulf War was the artist in residence. Ehren is a potter. He used bags of porcelain clay to build a bunker with a potter’s wheel inside. Ehren’s bunker was occupied for the duration of his residence by, in addition to himself, students, Portland-area potters, and veterans or survivors of war. They used this clay to throw cups on the potter’s wheel.

At the time of my visit, Ehren Tool was the sole occupant of the “bunker.” Scattered about the room which was bordered on two sides by huge windows on the street, were hundreds of mugs - cups without handles. I was amazed at the number! The window sills were several feet deep and filled with mugs. Each one was decorated differently. There were perhaps 6 of us looking at the mugs with 7 or 8 others outside looking through the window. One woman was holding a mug examining it carefully. She commented to her friend, “I really like this one!” Ehren, standing in his bunker said to her, “If you like it, you can have it.”

She looked at him with confusion saying, “They’re for sale?” He said, “No. If you want it you can have it.” She asked, “How much are they.” Ehren smiled at her and repeated, “If you want it, you can have it. They’re not for sale. I’m giving them away.”

OK, now I’m interested! What’s going on here? He’s making these incredible mugs and giving them away? What a novel idea! I had to talk to this guy. I introduced myself as an artist from Southern California and a veteran. Ehren Tool is a big guy. He must be 6 ft 4 in and is a bear of a man – built like a linebacker with a quiet, gentle voice and a very dry sense of humor. He’s making the mugs to give an act of generosity and accord.

As we were talking, he overheard someone comment about the images on a mug. The individual’s tone of voice sounded as if she didn’t’ like what she saw but I didn’t hear her exact comment. Ehren said gently & quietly. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to offend you. It’s just my point of view.” It took me and the lady by surprise and SHE apologized for her comment!

As we talked, Ehren used laser-cut wood blocks to press various images into the side of the wet, unfired porcelain cups. He had hundreds of small laser-cut molds to choose from. Some were images, some were quotes or words. All were related to war: gas masks, M-16 rifles, WWII style bombs, soldiers in uniform, cavalry horses with rider. There were quotes from George W. Bush, Nero and other political figures from history: all related to war. Taken alone they were innocent. Combined with other images, they were sometimes disturbing.

Over the course of Ehren’s residency at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, he will have given away over 10,000 mugs. He told us he that ceramic is one art form that will last for thousands of years and he hopes that just one of his cups will still be around 10,000 years from now. That is a daunting thought!

I asked him if I could have a mug. He laughed and told me, “You need to spend some time with your cup. Fill it with whiskey and drink it slowly so you can get to know it. I want it to grow on you.”

I used it for my martini that evening. I’m spending time with Ehren’s cup. Memories are made of this.

I don’t have any mugs to give away nor do I anticipate my art will survive 10,000 years. It is for sale, however. You can see all of my artwork available for purchase on my website at If you want more information on any of my artwork or to make a purchase, you can contact me by replying to this blog, e-mail me at or telephone my studio at 760.992.3157. And, as always, I thank you for listening!

Jerry L. Hanson