Kathleen Laurie is one of my favorite local Colorado ceramic artists. She lives in Evergreen, CO – a small mountain town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Kathleen’s work bridges ceramic and two dimensional art practices such as painting and printmaking. I confess that I have collected several of ceramic pieces over the years.
We are both members of the Colorado Potters Guild. What does it mean to you to be a member of a clay community?
I joined the guild 18 years ago after working in other studio/classroom type scenarios. It is a unique space with my clay family. Being a potter usually means working in isolation unless you have found this magical place with my people who speak my language of art and clay.
How many years have you been working with clay?
I had my first experience with clay in the 3rd grade. It was a clay epiphany, an artistic lightning bolt. Overall I would say I’ve been working with clay for 40 years with some breaks in between but I’ve always returned to this medium.
Do you have a formal education in clay/art or how did you acquire your skills?
I have a degree in art/art education from Illinois State University. I’ve studied art my entire life. My mother nurtured my interest in all things art by putting me in classes, taking me to museums and encouraging my artistic growth. She was a science teacher and her interest in the natural world enhanced my visual education.
I spent most of my childhood outdoors running around in the woods and nearby swamps (where there was clay!) Over the years I have participated in workshops to learn glaze formulations and form making, some of them at the guild and some as far away as Vancouver Island with Robin Hopper at Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts.
How do you work (techniques/glazing/firing methods)?
My work encompasses wheel thrown pieces, handbuilt pieces, slabs, lots of texture and incising. Sometimes I combine wheel work with slab work. It varies from functional to sculptural. Wall work and garden pieces. It’s all how my brain tells me to proceed. It’s become intuitive. As I throw a large bowl on my wheel, I envision what kind of beautiful salad will live in it and what color glaze to consider.
The firings take place at the guild. I fire to cone 10 in reduction or soda kilns. Glazing is my way of painting. My art background was comprehensive with drawing, painting, printmaking and ceramics. Now all of that training has morphed into my glaze style which is very graphic in nature. Clay has become my canvas. There’s lots of layers of information, lots of marks, lots of overlapping glazes.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
Being creative means having the freedom to explore, invent, fail, succeed, move on, revisit, stall etc. I’ve always been creative and therefore the exacting left-brain talents are weaker.
Speaking of exploration, you recently confided that you have started hand building more. Can you share some work in progress?
I’m doing more hand building at the moment, decorating with slips, textures and decals.
(Editor’s note – I can’t wait to see these in person when we fire next week!)
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
Music is part of my studio environment. I work at my home studio. Usually there is a fire in my pellet stove, incense going, I must bustle around a bit, clean up, organize, chat with the cat and after an hour I settle down to some actual work. I work in spurts. Can’t work 8 hours at a time. Procrastination is my nemesis. I jokingly say that I have Studio Attention Deficit Disorder, SADD. It takes a while for me to focus and let go of outside, everyday diversions.
How do you overcome obstacles or difficulties working in clay?
I keep working thru it. If I hit a stall or creative wall, it usually takes some time to get back to work. The drought passes in time and with experience I realize it’s just a temporary incubation where something is evolving into a new design or idea. Sometimes it requires discussing with my guild mates to get past it. YouTube is also a great source of quick training.
Do you pursue any themes in your art work?
Patterns, grids, linear designs, turtles, fish, birds, dragonflies, color.
Who or what inspires you?
Nature, traveling, reading, museums, artist friends, my guild mates, life experiences. Just about everything I see has a possibility of making an appearance in my clay work.
Where do you see your work progressing over the next year?
I would like my work to increase in height and volume! New forms are always on the horizon. Sculpture is happening.
Where can people find your work?
The Colorado Potters Spring Show May 4-6, 2017
This interview originally appeared on the Colorado Potters Guild website, but has been updated.
I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.