Nancy Rich Photography – Art Afloat

Nancy Rich Photography – Art Afloat

What you’re saying

  • I love being able to give a gift that is unique and made with care and passion. Pilar D.
    Lincoln, MA
Photographer Nancy Rich

My passion for photography took hold over 50 years ago while on a second-grade field trip to the Bronx Zoo. At that young age, I was fortunate to own a Brownie camera and have easy access to developing film at my father’s drug store. While most aspects of my life at that time were out of my control, I found it powerful and magical to be able to create a record of my life’s special moments.

Photograph of wooden boat by Nancy Rich

My interest in small boats began in the summer of 2000 when I was taking a photography class at the Maine Photographic Workshops in Rockport. I attended classes there for three summers focusing my efforts on capturing images of the small boats that dotted the waters in and around Rockport. Wooden boats intrigued me most. I saw in each a distinct and beautiful character revealed through the scars, peeling paint, and worn surfaces.

Photograph of wooden boat by Nancy Rich

Sadly, small wooden boats are now difficult to find, in large part because they are expensive to build, buy, and maintain, and their constant exposure to salt water and sun eventually breaks them down.

Photograph of dinghies by Nancy Rich

Once ubiquitous along the northeast coastline, small wooden boats are being replaced by boats made of durable and significantly less-expensive materials, such as aluminum, rubber, plastic, and fiberglass. To help preserve their memory, I sought the dinghies, prams, and tenders that serve as both pleasure boats and workboats ferrying lobstermen and women to and from their larger craft moored offshore.

Photograph of small wooden boat by Nancy Rich

In the fall of 2009, I was very fortunate when Sheridan House published Afloat on the Tide, a 208-page book of my wooden boat photographs. It serves as a historic record of these special boats. The magic and power of photography endure.

Photograph of seaweed by Nancy Rich

With wooden boats becoming more and more elusive and Afloat on the Tide in print, I became excited about photographing other subjects. I made a transition to shooting the beautiful and eye-catching shells and plant life that I had collected during my years walking along the shoreline.

photograph of oyster shells by Nancy Rich

This change in subject led to a focus away from landscape-type photography to a fascination with macro photography, taking images up close to the subject, at times 1-2 inches from it. I titled this new collection “Glass and Ice Capades.”  It includes photographs of objects floating or frozen in liquid or ice.

photograph of rose petals by Nancy Rich

Now that I have retired from my professional life as an educator and administrator, I have time to devote to sharing my love of wooden boats and my photography. The Clever Hand has given me a steady platform for showing my work, and I enjoy speaking before community groups. I was recently honored to have a solo exhibit, titled “Afloat,” in the Class of 1925 Gallery at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nancy Rich at University of Wisconsin Class of 1925 Gallery

Caroline Cockrill: When Clay is Your Canvas

Caroline Cockrill: When Clay is Your Canvas

What you’re saying

  • I love being able to give a gift that is unique and made with care and passion. Pilar D.
    Lincoln, MA
Liz Hyde shows us how she puts her leafy designs on her bowls and platters.

As a child, I was lucky be free to roam alone for hours in beautiful outdoor spaces. I explored the nature around me and became part of it. These experiences shaped my love of trees, the sky, and landscapes. As I grew up, I was inspired by Monet and other Impressionists at the MFA. I took art classes at Wellesley High School, and then at Mass College of Art, I discovered a new medium, clay, not yet included in the high school’s curriculum. I had planned to major in drawing and painting, but I had fallen in love with clay. I try to do both by mingling the two by bringing painting into the glazes and texture of a clay platter or wall piece.

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What you’re saying

  • I love supporting local artists! Barbara A.
    Southborough, MA
Caroline Cockrill water color

What you’re saying

  • I love supporting local artists! Barbara A.
    Southborough, MA

Painting, to me, is a desire to bring the essence of nature onto the surface of a canvas. Some platters can easily be a canvas for landscapes, especially on white porcelain with underglazes that I paint onto the dried, raw surface. Without bisquing, the underglazes soak into the clay like watercolor. (These pieces then require a clear spray of glaze to provide food safe durability.)

Alternately, pouring and layering glazes gives the appearance of an Impressionistic landscape. The excitement of the alchemy of the firing and the unexpected results is why opening a kiln is like Christmas morning. Happy accidents and surprises are part of the fun! I love being messy! I have a spray booth for the clear glaze that goes over the underglazes that I paint with. I use a different approach for wall hangings. I fling on poured swaths of glaze and overlap them in an attempt to suggest landscapes. This creates a big mess, and I often do it outside. No clear sprayed coat is required. 

What still thrills me is that glazes and slips totally change color when fired, so I can plan as much as I want, but there is always the drip and flow factor, and the unanticipated results give the work its free and wild effect! The free spirit I feel in the process gives the piece action and life. A good result is not always the case, so my efforts are always a bit of a risk.

What you’re saying

  • I love supporting local artists! Barbara A.
    Southborough, MA
Caroline Cockrill water color

What you’re saying

  • I love supporting local artists! Barbara A.
    Southborough, MA

On the other hand, the more precise clay pieces I make that are painted with whimsical animals, colorful flowers, dragonflies, and fish are much more predictable. While I often repeat the shapes of the pieces, I can vary the colors and patterns in infinite ways so that each piece is unique. The yin and yang of doing both styles is a good balance for me.

Painting in oils is yet another different experience and style, as there are endless ways to manipulate the paint on the canvas, until it “works”, and if not, you can just scrape off the paint and try again another day. Watercolor is more similar to my porcelain work since the color soaks into the paper and can’t be changed.

Oil Painting by ceramic artist Caroline Cockrill

I do not think of myself as a potter or as a painter, but as an artist, exploring the possibilities of playing in a certain medium with endless possibilities. It is daunting to have so many options open to me, but the hope is that my style and pieces of work communicate joy, fun, and cheer, with the added benefit of being useful.

Liz Hyde: Impressions of Nature in Pottery

Liz Hyde: Impressions of Nature in Pottery

What you’re saying

  • I love being able to give a gift that is unique and made with care and passion. Pilar D.
    Lincoln, MA
Liz Hyde shows us how she puts her leafy designs on her bowls and platters.

I have always been entranced by the living world around me, the play of light through leaves, the glow of colors in a bed of flowers, and the feel and smell of earth between my fingers.

My childhood in the Far East fostered a sense of animism, where everything in the natural world possesses a life force, an energy, creating a tension that constantly shifts into different energies as light changes, rain falls, or evening sets.

A walk in Liz Hyde's garden is an inspiration for her pottery/

I have tried to convey this force in my pottery by creating a tension between the lyrical flow of plants and glazes, and the geometric designs of the bare clay. I want them to work off each other, yet compliment each other.To add to this, the pottery has to have meaning, to be functional, to be instilled with its own life force.

Close up of platter by Liz Hyde showing pine needles

Bowls or platters are thrown on a potter’s wheel from dark stoneware. I feel the stoneware best reflects the earth from which all plants grow. To illuminate the canvas for the plants, a coating of porcelain slip (a watered-down clay) is applied to the center of the piece.

bowl by Liz Hyde before any leaves are added

Plants are arranged and pressed into the clay, and then removed, leaving a clear impression of the plant behind.

bowls by Liz Hyde showing how pine needle impressions are put in the clay

An intricate design is then pressed into the rim of the bowl or platter with a specialized tool. The design needs to have movement, taking the eye from the center of the piece to the outside rim.

bowl by Liz Hyde show pine needles impressed in clay

After trimming, the piece is bisque fired and ready to be glazed. The plant impressions are painted with diluted layers of underglaze, the colors flowing throughout the veins and adhering to the walls of the impression, bringing life to the leaves.

Colors for Liz Hydes leaf bowls

A single coat of celadon glaze over the center of the piece, leaving the edges raw, finishes the process.

The piece is now ready for the final glaze firing, mimicking the heat and metamorphosis going on deep within the earth.

Ceramic bowl by Liz Hyde with impressed pine needles and tooled edges

Late May update – With spring here, I’m making my first fern bowls of the year.

 

Liz Hyde fern bowl

Links to the Past by Ruth Treitman

Links to the Past by Ruth Treitman

Jeweler Ruth Treitman in her studio in Wellesley, MA

Here I am working on one of my “signature” loop-in-loop silver chains. The technique is at least 5000 years old. It’s a way of joining links without soldering them together. Try making a chain of elastic bands to get the idea.  Gold, silver and bronze chains made this way have been found in burial sites in Middle East and Europe. The gold chain below is from ancient Yemen. (Photo courtesy of the British Museum.)

Gold chain from ancient Yemen. Photo courtesy of the British Museum.

I first tried the technique while taking a jewelry making class at an adult education center.  The teacher recommended a book, Classical Loop-in-Loop Chains, by Jean Reist Stark and Josephine Reist Smith.  Jean is a jeweler who has accompanied archeologists excavating tombs in southern Greece to analyze the techniques of the Bronze Age artisans. She wrote the book with her sister, a biology professor. I took a one week course from her in Lenox about 15 years ago, where I learned many derivatives of the basic chain.

Examples of Ruth Treitman's silver chain bracelets

I often feel a connection with the craftsmen who made these chains so many centuries ago.  They worked with tools of stone, wood and iron. The techniques I use today are not that different. I can control heat better with my torch, but it’s still basically heating and pounding, heating and pounding.  

Ruth Treitman creates a link of silver chain

In designing my jewelry, I enjoy combining the ancient techniques of chain making with pieces made from modern materials. I sometimes work with a very new material, Precious Metal Clay (PMC) which originated in Japan in the 1900s. Metals such as silver, gold, bronze and copper are granulates in an organic binder, giving it a clay-like property. Like clay, it can be shaped in molds or pressed into intricately patterned objects like leaves. When PMC is fired in a kiln at high temperature, the binder disappears, leaving pure metal behind.

I invite everyone to join me on Tuesday, February 16 at 6:30 when I talk about my work at the Hills Branch of the Wellesley Public Library as part of their Artists Perspective Series. The Library is located at 210 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA.

Snatches of Memory by Nan Burke

Snatches of Memory by Nan Burke

What you’re saying

  • I love being able to give a gift that is unique and made with care and passion. Pilar D.
    Lincoln, MA
Nan Burke at work on glass landscapes

When I think of favorite places, I have snatches of memory to choose from: a sunset at a beach, several trees up on a ridge with a tinge of fall color, a mountain stream. As an artist, I abstract key elements, recreating and reinterpreting them in glass.

Details of two glass landscapes

When viewers see my landscapes, they invariably speak of how it reminds them of their own special memories of vacation spots, backyards, or a beloved getaway.  The landscapes have a sense of place, but the exact place depends on the viewer. With memory comes mood.  I aim for my work to be both serene and uplifting.  My trees in the falling snow are not firmly rooted; rather they “dance” in the moonlight.

I have choices of how I might depict my subject.  Do I want to construct a piece that depicts an actual place that is identifiable by those who know it?  Or do I want to abstract it so that more people relate to its composition? Generally, I go for the more abstract, minimalist approach to landscapes.

In an earlier career I studied human cognition and perception.  I learned that how people see and remember things is not at all photographic, but is actually very conceptual.  Objects are recognized by a few distinctive features or spatial relationships. These I abstract.

 


With my torch, I pull out strings of glass to ripple or bend as I like, and set them down on the base glass as trees, waves, or the crest of a hill.  I use crushed glass called frit for leaves, and larger grades of crushed glass as rocks and even stone walls. For the sun or moon, I use dichroic glass that shifts in color depending on how the light hits it.  For hills, I prefer a green “swoosh” with an upward bend, beckoning the viewer to climb up and join the trees there in memory.