Emma K Eccles

Welcome to my blog. Forgive me if it grows in sporadic bursts, as I spend most of my time painting (it's quite time consuming!).
However, I used to spend most of my time writing and I still have the urge to express myself in words as well... Emma K Eccles.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

"Live to fight another day"

Stand steadfast, face to face
Look your demons in the eye, 
or those that claim angelic grace
Consider their humanity.
Look closer, to the space 
Where eyes convey the soul, 
Search out the slightest trace
Of truth beneath their skin.
If something’s out of place
Just hovering within,
Does the smile upon their face
Reflect their own reward
In the pain that they displace,
Rather than shared warmth?
Then fear is not misplaced
So calmly walk away
From the misery they chase.
“Live to fight another day”

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Ghost of Self.

“The ghost of self”… is this a good title for this painting?

 Sometimes as I create a painting it can go through changes, it’s meaning can grow in my mind throughout the process. This can be a process of self-exploration, communicating with my subconscious, interpreting the painting’s messages through the feelings it evokes or the direction it takes.
 Normally I get to the point where I know there’s nothing else it needs, and even if I don’t or can’t verbalise it’s meanings I understand them. With this painting I feel as though the painting is finished but perhaps the process isn’t. There are a few possible reasons for this. 
 I have had a few more forced breaks between painting sessions than usual… ones where I’ve had to focus a lot on completely unrelated considerations, that probably disrupted the processing. It’s also possible that this isn’t a subject that can be fully explored in one painting… or possibly in a lifetime!  So I thought I’d try verbalising my thoughts on it’s meanings to see if it clarifies anything.

 It started with a focus on movement that conveys feeling, in the way that dance and drama communicates across the distance of the audience. Particularly dance, conveying meanings/feelings succinctly without words, and the Tango which is a dance of love, passion and pain. I think the feel of the Tango is significant to what the painting conveys about love, but the woman is depicted alone. There is a longing, and reaching out to someone, an offering… a rose. However, what is really being offered? Love, or the complete self, blindly, careless of the cost? A sense that nothing else matters, a romantic illusion of love, of passion. A hint of being trapped within a fantasy, before reality hits… or have the thorns of reality already bitten deeply, yet regardless of pain, or more tightly bound because of it, she continues to appeal to love. She has lost herself. 

 Perhaps the painting feels unresolved because whatever experience teaches me, there is still a part of myself that wants to believe in love, or perhaps needs to believe it’s possible. With or without it’s romantic connotations. Perhaps ‘The ghost of self’ is not so much about the loss of self in love, but the mourning or denial of this belief. To loose belief in love is perhaps a greater loss, than to loose yourself in love or experience pain. Binding yourself in disbelief or fear.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Bonnie Fercho - Clay Artist. (Interview)

Bonnie Fercho is a Clay Artist from Brainerd, Minnesota. She creates distinctive Clay Sculpture, Art tile and Pottery, and I'm excited to have had the opportunity to interview her for my blog. 

Bonnie shares her wonderful insights on the sources of her inspiration, and her perspective of the Artist's life.
I feel enriched by this glimpse into her creative journey…

Bonnie, at work in her Studio.

Bonnie, how long have you been working with clay, and would you describe it as your calling in life?
Bonnie: "It is my chosen calling.  Its entirely possible I'm in the wrong profession, but its as close as I have been able to come to understanding what I'm supposed to be doing in this life.  It was kind of a "here goes nothing" decision, but here I am.  I have had a long lasting love affair with all the different forms of clay art that I work on,  sculpture,  handmade tile, and pottery.  They complement each other and kind of meld together as I multi-task  working on one while another dries or sets up, for example.  I loved working on art projects as a child, I remember wanting to be a sculptor when I was very young. I also worked with clay in a high school art class where I had my first exposure to the potters wheel. Most of my life was spent in a "regular" job, but off and on I had the opportunity to take classes in clay work and participate in workshops and  informal apprenticeships.  And then several years ago I left my job in corporate America, set up my studio, and started to do clay work exclusively.  But it really has been a lifelong interest."

Handmade Tiles in a bathroom setting.

Where does your inspiration come from?  
Bonnie: "I'll try to explain what I understand about this.  Although I am just beginning to scratch the surface of what Art is, and I know I have a very long way to go, I can say that  my world view and so my efforts to create Art are organized around the idea of spiritual evolution.  First, I believe that most art is subjective, but some of it can, if we are open to it,  communicate objective truths that can affect us in such a way that they help us to become more fully ourselves, which means they can help us develop spiritually.  But beyond my basic understanding of this, my art is an attempt to discover what I believe real Art would be.  Very little is really known in our modern world either about real Art or about how to truly proceed on a spiritual path.  Much knowledge has been lost over the ages, and most of what we think we know is subjective and based on illusion.  (This premise, of course, as asserted by some Eastern religions.)  So in choosing to make Art, my objective is to create a piece that might somehow make life more meaningful for the viewers of my art and for me.  Granted, that is a monumental challenge, but I am convinced this is my calling.   I don't know whether I am on the right track to something that is real Art, I can only try to find my way.  I know there is great Art historically, and there are modern examples of it.*  But it is a constant challenge that I believe in, and will try to keep it as a question to be lived, more so than an answer to be found."

'Navajo' Wall Sculpture.

Bonnie: "Another source of inspiration for me is that in ancient civilizations, hand made items were essential to life, and creating them, I believe, enriched the lives of the people who made and used them.  So, basically, I think making art and having art in our lives is good for us.  For those who are called to it, it gives us the possibility of having a depth of experience that was a way of life in the ancient civilizations that understood more about the art of living than we do."

'3D person in a 2D world' Wall Sculpture.

Bonnie: "I also think about inspiration in terms of the age old axiom, "know thyself", and as I understand it, the subconscious mind holds many keys to self knowledge.  Again, I don't understand a great deal about this, but it is interesting to study the messages that come to us when we choose different forms to work with.  Working with sculpture, the "language of form", as the sculptor Henry Moore called  it, (and all Art is form), can  allow us access to the knowledge that is buried deep within us.  Our subconscious contains some captivating fantasies, and I believe there is also a possibility of finding a connection with something more true there.  And  so I am exploring Art as a means to understand myself, and maybe even someday to communicate something important about this marvellous world we live in.   So my inspiration comes from trying to listen to and understand this deeper current of life, which I hope can bring me in contact with something greater than myself.  I guess that was the long way to explain what inspires me, but that is how I understand it."

* "I think the painting titled "Impression"  By French painter Paul Reynard is an example of this, although it is a given, of course, that any experience of art is dependent on the viewer's state of mind." 

Do you always have a clear idea about where a work is going, or does it surprise you sometimes?  

Bonnie: "The biggest surprises for me have been the happy accidents with glazes, pieces that had flaws that I almost threw away, but at the last minute decided to try to salvage them. Some of these turned out to be my favourite pieces!  Just a coincidence, I guess.  But no, often I don't  have a clear idea until I have worked with a piece for a while.  With my sculptures, I try to take a piece of clay and just start making random designs with it, until one of them begins to come together. I try to make as many of them as I can, and then wrap them up and put them away for a few days. 
 When I look back at them later, I can decide which of them I am interested in making full scale. Most designs seem to springboard off of an earlier one, but I try to get as much diversity as I can. Once I choose one of them to work on, though, I often try to scale and reproduce it exactly."

Glaze accidents

Do you have a day job, or are you able to live the Creative life full time?
Bonnie: "For the past few years, I have been focusing exclusively on my Art.  My plan is to have my Art working to produce an income for me within the next few years.  If that doesn't materialize, I will probably be back in the job market at least part time."

It’s always great to see someone creating individual pieces in a mass produced world… I think pottery has always been popular, but there does seem to be a higher interest in hand crafted items recently. 

Have you seen any change in the market for your work?  
Bonnie: "To me, it seems that there is a market for traditional pottery, and some of the classic forms are very challenging to recreate.  But my focus has been more on using unexpected colours and shapes, always trying to find a combination that is truly "original".  A lot of Art is about innovation, what is new, what is refreshingly different, what jogs my sense of the familiar so that its not "been there done that" and I can experience it in a new way.  It brings me to my senses for a moment.  There has also been interest in my wall sculpture, and I am hoping to find a market for it in the area of commercial interior design, where I can work on a large scale."
(Some of Bonnie's Wall Sculptures pictured above.)

Wonderfully colourful plates (I want some!)

Do you express your creativity in any other ways?
Bonnie: "I am a risk taker in general, and try to be open to all possible outcomes, even those that might seem like long shots to most people. I think I bring a sense of originality to the different parts of my life, trying not to do anything, really, in the same old way. And trying to be more in touch with who I am as opposed to what is expected of me."

What do you like to do when you’re not creating Art? (As if being up to your elbows in clay isn't enough fun!)
Bonnie: "Funny you should say that, since when I'm working on the potters wheel I normally get clay not only up to my elbows but on my face, too! As for other activities, I am a kinship partner / mentor to a 12 year old girl who loves working in my studio. And spending time with family is very important to me. Just trying to live life to the fullest. What else, oh yes, then there's my strict social media diet of one hour per day!"


Thank you so much for sharing Bonnie! I love what you say about Art being "a question to be lived, more so than an answer to be found." It's been such a pleasure hearing your thoughts, and best of luck on your journey. 

More of Bonnie’s work can be found on her Website Sunstone Clay Works

Friday, 19 July 2013

...Breathe into my soul unspoken meaning

Breathe into my soul unspoken meaning
Like whisperings of dawn upon my day
Wake the weary essence of my being
Step softly through the dew along my way

Drown out the steady stream of conscious thought
Crash like a tidal wave upon my shore
Until my mind forgets what living taught
And, overwhelmed by feeling, thinks no more

Ignite within my body such desire
As though black gold were rushing through my veins
And touch could set the whole of me on fire
To burn until no sense of self remains

These are as dreams my sleeping can’t contain
Till woken by your presence once again.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The search for meaning

I encountered ‘Man's Search For Meaning’ by Victor E. Frankl when I borrowed some books from a fellow Counselling student, but what drew me (and a few million others) to read it was the title. Compared to the countless other self-help titles, this book, written in just nine days, holds a worthy place at the top of this genre.
 It is both a psychological, and very personal, account of Frankl’s experiences as a prisoner in concentration camps during World War Two. It focuses on how he learnt to deal with the incredible horror of his situation, emerging with his sanity intact and his spirit, if anything, stronger than ever. Already a psychotherapist, he went on to develop Logotherapy, outlined in part two of this book. The premise of his theory is that man can find meaning in any existence, which makes life purposeful even in the ‘living hell’ of the camps, and  "When we are no longer able to change a situation… we are challenged to change ourselves".

 ‘Changing ourselves’ can be a huge challenge, and there are some situations in life that it is difficult to imagine how anyone can find a way to cope with them. Perhaps this is why the search for some kind of meaning is so important to people.
 Mankind has always sought to make sense of things… through religion, philosophy, science… and the more confusing or difficult our personal experience of life is, the more desperate we can be for answers.
 Sometimes, when we are in a difficult situation or controlling relationship, 'changing ourselves' can seem like the easier option, because we feel that we are not able to change the situation… sometimes we crush ourselves in the process, trying to conform to what ourselves, or others demand of us. It can be difficult to see that we have options, but we usually do have some choice. We are not all confined to concentration camps, and our options are not usually so limited or extreme. Reading "Man's search for meaning" taught me that in any situation I probably have more choice than I realise.

 I believe that we do have the inner resources that we need in life. There are times when we have to make tough choices. We need to have more faith in ourselves and learn to ignore (or reason with) the negative, critical voice in our own head. Listening to that voice is like turning your back on a friend when they need you most… develop an inner voice that accepts you for who you are, no unreasonable expectations, or unkind judgements, one that’s on your side. Otherwise you're just getting in your own way.

 And the search for meaning? I think that is, and should be, a personal journey… there are a lot of other people quite happy to provide us with answers, right or wrong. Whatever answers, truths, meanings are out there, you can only really ‘find’ them inside yourself.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The beginning

The beginning.... many thoughts to follow...

For now... I plan to explore the world through my eyes, perhaps I'll even come close to some answers... more likely I'll find many more questions.