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Interview with Lee Wolfe Asheville Potter Extraordinaire

April 27, 2015
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As a painter I am drawn to Lee Wolfe’s colorful and delicious ceramics. She has been wildly successful in selling her pottery exclusively online. I am pleased that she has taken time from her busy schedule for this interview.

Lee Wolfe Asheville NC Potter

Lee Wolfe Asheville NC Potter

Lee has been a studio potter for 35 years. Her ceramic work emerges from the organic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Lee’s work is vibrant, unusual and exploratory with voluptuous forms and woodland creatures. She creates beautiful, original functional stoneware pottery dinnerware, serving and home décor pieces. After all these years, her greatest joy is to enter her studio with a head full of new ideas.

Arabesque serving bowl by Lee Wolfe

Arabesque Serving Bowl by Lee Wolfe

Why did you choose ceramics?

Lee: I came to pottery making the way good friends come into your life; you begin a conversation that never seems to end. There is always something more you could say. As the years go by, the relationship deepens until it’s an integral part of who you are. But there was no moment when I chose to be a potter as a lifelong career. I just started and didn’t quit.

At first it was a hobby I pursued while teaching middle school in upstate NY. The school had a ceramic studio in which I made sculptural pottery in my spare time, storing pieces in the teacher’s lounge. Other teachers asked to buy pieces, and then their friends asked, and then one week I made more money not trying to sell my work than I’d made from my paycheck.

What is the most challenging (and best) part of working in your medium?

Lee: The best part of my work is that most of it happens in a state of flow (“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) or optimal experience. I’ve had to reject 90% of the wisdom people offer about how to manage a profitable business because I’ve made keeping the experience of flow my number one priority, not to be sacrificed for profit or prestige. That’s really just a high minded way of saying what most potters say: “I just wanna make pots.”

The most challenging part is the high level of chemistry required to formulate and fire functional pottery and achieve the aesthetic appeal of your inner vision. My prototypes are in development for literally years, struggling to get the look I want along with something that functions as intended and is also food safe and durable.

Arabesque dinnerware place setting by Lee Wolfe

Arabesque Dinnerware Place Setting by Lee Wolfe

How does living in Asheville influence your art?

Lee: The sheer number of galleries was a vital support for me before I sold online. And the creative culture, pervasive throughout the city and surrounding area, is warm and welcoming. But most of all, the mountains and woodland creatures infuse my work with totemic symbolism.

What inspires you?

Lee: I’m driven by a discontent and rebellion against those soulless objects manufactured in oppressive working environments for corporate profit with which we are supposed to serve lovingly prepared food, create and celebrate meaningful family traditions, and gift to people we love. I love pushing the boundaries of my own skills and imagination as a designer and maker. Since the words “handmade” and “artisan” have been co-opted by industrial manufacturers, I enjoy the quirks in shape and glaze that could not be easily copied and reproduced in molds.

What are you working on in the studio right now?

Lee: My newest series is Arabesque, thrown vessels altered into a quatrafoil shape. I’m exploring the way nesting bowls of this shape radiate in arrows outward, and the way they create interesting negative shapes in side by side placement.

Neon Sea Nesting Bowl Set by Lee Wolfe

Neon Sea Nesting Bowl Set by Lee Wolfe

What advice would you give other artists?

Lee: I’d like to advise older artists and artisans to seriously investigate the new frontier of online art sales. I’ve found an unprecedented freedom in being able to design, make and list for sale what I want in the present without line sheets, gallery buyers, or someone else’s perception of  deserving.

I would advise young and emerging artists to use the freedom to market trough social media and e-commerce sites with wild abandon.

Thank you Lee!

Follow Lee on Instagram to view more of her work, read her poetic writings about life, her process and finished pottery, and to stay current on here restock dates.

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The Art of the Monoprint – The Process

April 22, 2015
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In the Studio-close up of monoprint process

In the Studio – close up of monoprints in process.

A monoprint is a single print created by transferring an image that has been painted onto a plate and transferred to paper. I love the process of monoprinting. It is a spontaneous technique that lends itself to experimenting with a wide variety of materials, papers, transfer techniques and plates.

The plate is the surface you paint on. Traditionally, plates include metal, wood, glass and plexi, to name a few. Up until I discovered gelatin plates (or Gelli Arts® plates which is the manufactured gelatin plate) I used a piece of plexi for my plate. Please note that permission was received to use the Gelli® or Gelli Arts® trademark, which is owned by Gelli Arts® LLC).

Photo of gelli plate and monoprints in process

In the Studio – close up-working with gelli plate (on left of photo) to create monoprints.

My process involves rolling ink onto the plate with a brayer. Or, applying paint to the plate and building layers through multiple transfers. The transfer of the image from the plate to the paper is done by hand, or with a press. By layering stencils, creating textures from everyday objects and masking out areas of the plate, the image quickly takes shape. To complete the monoprint I often incorporate pastels, paint or glue on torn papers and materials to the print. Continuing to develop it with free and spontaneous methods until I feel that the print is done.

In the Studio. Photo of working process and finished print

In the Studio-close up of monoprints in process with sketchbook and finished print on right.

Here are four new monoprints, inspired by recent visits to gardens at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Now available in the shop.

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In the Studio: What I’m working on

April 2, 2015
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I’ve always worked in acrylics. That is until now. In New York, my studio was in my tiny New York apartment. Now that it’s in a separate room, on another floor, with a door; I’m giving it a go. I’m working in oils and I love it!

Here’s the under painting for my first canvas. I’m excited to explore color, surface and paint handling through oils and to portray the vitality of the rural landscape of North Carolina.

 

 

Painting in oils

In process: 16″ x 20″ canvas with under painting in oils. No title yet, Barbara J Hart

 

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Up Close with Pat Phillips, Contemporary Asheville Goldsmith

April 2, 2015
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Here is the first in a series of artist interviews to give you a peek into the many ways art is made. The interviews are a celebration of creative work done by passionate people in all sorts of different spaces along with their working processes that reveals each artist’s aesthetic and perspective.

First up,  Patricia Phillips. I first met Pat when I stepped into her studio in the River Arts District Asheville. She is warm, dynamic and engaging and  is a goldsmith artist, creating one-of-a-kind works. Her metals are an outgrowth of her larger wall relief sculptures. Her art works speak of a strength and power. She is happy to share her understanding and excitement for the arts with others.

Pat Phillips at work in her Asheville studio

 

How does living in Asheville, NC influence your art?

Pat: Living in Asheville gives an artist three things that you don’t have in most areas. The first is a very rich history of crafts and fine art which is both inspiring while supporting an audience appreciative of the arts. Second are the number of really fine artists working which creates a very high standard to live up to and a great supportive network of artists to interact with. Third is the natural beauty of the area. When you live in a truly beautiful area you want to make beautiful things.

What advice would you give other artists?

Pat: Become a doctor! Only kidding but you do have to ask yourself “How are you going to pay for the luxuries in life? Like food and a roof over your head.” The best way to be creative is to make each work from your gut and inner spirit without having to be concerned about its marketability.  With each work be true to yourself and you will make better works. Try not to be influenced by wondering if it is going to sell or if others are going to like it.

Pat Phillips samples of beautiful jewelry

Samples of Pat Phillips’ beautiful contemporary jewelry

Why do you choose to work in silver/metals?

Pat: I come from a wall relief sculpture background and still make wood wall relief sculptures which are painted with encaustics. The metals, while still satisfying my sculpture needs, are a way for me to work small and on a more personal level with people. After all they will be putting them on their body and wearing them in public. 00

What is your creative process like? Tell us about your techniques.

Pat: My creative process begins with an idea I want to communicate. In order for a work of art to be successful, it must first have a sound conceptual background.  It is important to encourage the viewer to think about the issues addressed in the work.
With the metals it is very important to me to not use any prefabricated units but make everything in the tradition of true goldsmithing. All my work is created from a sheet of silver and/or wire. In some cases very ancient techniques are used dating back as much as 5,000 years. All chains and clasp are hand-wrought as I feel it is important to keep these techniques alive.
What is your working routine?

Pat: I have found that it is very important to keep regular studio hours each day as opposed to waiting to be inspired. If you have a set time and go into the studio creativity will come. It is important to have a place to work where you can leave your materials setup and ready. I address my studio time with respect and discipline setting goals for each day.

Pat Phillips’ work has been featured in numerous solo, two-person and juried group exhibitions throughout the eastern United States including six one-person shows in New-York City. Pat’s March 2000 show at the Walter Wickiser Gallery in NY received a favorable review in Art News. She holds a Masters of Fine Art from Florida State University with a focus on painting and sculpture. Pat served on the Florida Arts Counsel and has appeared as a guest speaker for them. She has participated on the Visual Arts Center of Panama City Board of Directors and served as Exhibition Chairman for five years.

She has judged and juried numerous select art shows in Florida. While her work focuses on jewelry, painting and sculpture, she has a diverse background in the crafts and art history. She has taught art history and the crafts including metalsmithing on the college level for sixteen years. She is a participating member of the Florida Society of Goldsmiths.

Pat’s studio is located at The Pink Dog Creative Dog Creative, 342 – 348 Depot Street | Asheville, NC 28801

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Travel Journal

January 28, 2015
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Recounting my travels in the studio….
I started working on gelatin prints – small monotypes done on gelatin plates which revisit images from my travels and transition to my new life and new studio in North Carolina.

Each monoprint (a/k/a the painterly print) is printed on 8″ x 10″ paper.  Some have been enhanced with collaged elements and others with marks and added textures.

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What I’ve Been Working On…..

January 28, 2015
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Experimenting with monotypes in the studio….

I started working on gelatin prints – small monotypes done on gelatin plates which revisit images from my travels and transition to my new life and new studio in North Carolina.

Each monoprint (a/k/a the painterly print) is printed on 8″ x 10″ paper.  Some have been enhanced with collaged elements and others with marks and added textures.

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ITS OFFICIAL – ASHEVILLE IS THE PLACE

January 28, 2015
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Hello Friends and Happy February!

ALONG THE ROAD © Barbara J Hart, acrylic on board, 16" x16"

ALONG THE ROAD © Barbara J Hart, acrylic on board, 16″x16″

 

I hope you’re having a good start to the New Year!!

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in touch. Life has been a flurry of activity with travel, connecting with friends and beginning studio work full time.

“Along the Road” represents my sense of excitement and light hearted feelings experienced during my travels from the Catskills to the Northwest. Then back to the East Coast and to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, finally through the mountains to Asheville, North Carolina.

January was a busy month, settling into Asheville, meeting artists and finding my way around. And of course,  working in the studio.

Along with a new town my website also has a new look. I’m so excited to announce the re-launch of my website. Take a look around.

• Check out the blog to see what I’m working on in the studio.
• Sign up for the newsletter to follow my creative adventures in Asheville.
• Stay tuned for my series of interviews with Asheville artists and for the opening of my shop that will feature small paintings/collages
• If you would like follow me on Instagram

Enjoy,

Barbara

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Sweet Talk

January 27, 2015
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Sweet Talk Conversation #1
 
Celebrate love! 
Give a Sweet Talk collage (or two). Available in my shop.
  • This little gem is collaged/painted on a cradled board
  • 6″ x 6″ inches and 1 inch deep
  • ready to hang (framing not necessary)
  • materials, wax, collage items and stamps
  • handmade and one of a kind

 

 

 
 
 
 


 

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PAINTING STUDIO CHAOS MAKES WAY FOR CREATIVITY, STORAGE AND STYLE

December 12, 2014
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A fresh start – setting up my new painting studio.



As many of you know I had been working from my Long Island City apartment. It was a darling little studio (little being the operative word). It was two steps from my bed and it was taking over! I would literally step out of bed and into the studio. To economize my space I raised the bed and pushed my flat files under it. The down side was that since I used my bed as a surface I would have to clear it off before climbing in at night.  The work was too close. The space was too confining. So, I moved.
 
I am happy to say that I have taken my art full time. With the move comes an extra room that is my new studio.  Now, I actually have room to work, a closet to store supplies and a door that I can close.
 
Can’t wait to show you the big reveal!

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