A Weekend in the Woods

We have been working on house projects weekend after weekend for a few months and this time, we finally escaped!
3 days in the woods… happy freakin’ camper!
A Weekend in the Woods | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

I’m not used to a lot of down time, generally I go and go and go. But for a good hour, I sat on this rock and watched my dog sniff around, watched my husband attempt to build a rock bridge across the creek, watched the sun move across the sky.

I’ve been working on an artist talk for an upcoming event, mainly explaining why I take my art outside. It’s hard to verbalize in a way that doesn’t seem silly but I think I feel the most connected here, the least lost. When I am connected to nature it inspires my work and when my work connects with nature, I find my place in the system. I’ll have to keep thinking about these concepts in order to really explain them for my talk but in the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy being here.
A Weekend in the Woods | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculptureGot this photo of our camp as it was getting dark under the redwoods and we had just turned on our solar lights. Everyone asks us about these, and I try to give some away whenever we travel to places where I know we’ll meet people that don’t have reliable electricity in their homes. (See my page about bringing books and solar lights to an orphanage in Haiti.) We love them, they work great and the company that makes them does good philanthropic work, so get some Luci Lights for yourself, get outside and reconnect with nature!

A Great Art Teacher

I sat in my car by the cliffs on a very wet morning, half watching the waves pummel the coastline and half scrolling through my phone while I contemplated taking the dog out for a walk in this unpredictably drizzly day. I came across this post on NPR about A Great Teacher, this particular article was about an elementary school art teacher.

After reading through the quick and cute illustrated article, I took the dog for a walk (despite the rain) and while we walked I thought about all the great art teachers I had. I tried to remember back if there was a moment that they boosted me up or that they let me down, a defining moment that led me down the path to become an artist and art teacher myself.  But all I could remember was that they were my heroes, they were in charge of the space that I wanted to be all day long: the art studio.

A great art teacher | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculptureAs all these thoughts were mingling in my head, I found myself crouched down in the mud trying to get my camera to focus on these beads of water lined up perfectly on the blades of grass along the path. They were beautiful and tiny and so easy to pass over. I was reminded of a very early art lesson that started with something to the tune of train your eye to see everything, then train your hands to create what you see which was a more poetic was of saying, “We’re sketching landscapes. If you don’t see lollipop shaped trees, don’t draw any.”

What if I hadn’t had great art teachers to train my eyes or my hands, where would I be? From elementary to high school to university, this group of talented misfits gave me a safe, creative space to enjoy who I was and become who I am. I am forever grateful.

Awhile back I wrote a post about Why I Teach Community Clay Classes and after 15+ years of teaching, I hope that I’ve done (and continue to do) justice to my responsibilities as an art teacher.

New Video Launch of the Bone Series | Atlantic

If you came to Open Studios this year, you got a sneak peek at my latest art adventure – taking work from the Bone Series under the Atlantic Ocean. I’m so excited to share this new video with you that gives you an idea of what went on behind the scenes and gives you a glimpse into a world that inspires me. I hope to continue to share my work both above and below sea level and continue to find the places where art & nature meet.

Inspiration Through Exploration

I’m back! Nearly 3 weeks on the road traveling through Morocco, Gibraltar and Spain has been an epic adventure of inspiration. Time working in the studio is intense and solitary for me, I’m focused on building and being thoughtful about my work so I find its important to balance that with ventures out into world with unknown outcomes and explorations of new cultures and people. Nothing refuels my passion for creating like these explorations. Below is a short slide show of some of the colors, textures and spaces that inspire me. I was also able to visit a production pottery studio in Fez Morocco and learned that they fuel their wood kiln with olive pits- how amazing is that? I hope these images inspire your own wonderlust!

Driftwood hunting

In search of some driftwood for an upcoming art installation, I spent the morning driving up the coast on Highway 1 to a remote area where I thought I might discover some good finds. Typically the driftwood piles up on our local beaches in winter storms but with the two year drought in full effect, winter storms have been non existent and driftwood has been sparse. As normal as its become for me to see the amazing vistas the coast road has to offer, I’m still in awe of being steps away from a major road and just 30 miles from large cities and yet in the middle of summer, there is no one on this stretch of beach. Spending a quiet morning with my dog meandering along, searching for whatever gifts the sea has washed up is a good way to start the day. If you have never driven the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), you need to add this to your bucket list. I’ve lived here over 15 years and it never gets old, the wild open spaces of California enamor me again and again.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | driftwood huntingJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | driftwood hunting Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | driftwood hunting