George Watson is using his many creative and artistic talents to produce art that needs to be held and appreciated rather than just being beautiful things to look at (although you can do this too – it’s just an added bonus!)
Iced Vovo spoke to George about his diverse artistic career, his love of crafting and creating bespoke pieces and about how his art and life are so intrinsically entwined:
Q: I read where you started as an oil painter before moving on to glass, when did you make the transition into pottery and how easy was it to adapt to the new medium?
A: While I’ve always had an interest in pottery, I started working with clay about 6 years ago. Because of a small amount of prior experience with clay, and years of experience with glass, painting, and other things, I found the transition fairly easy, and very interesting. Being able to manipulate the clay with my hands, something that cannot be done with glass, is a treat.
Q: I love the emphasis on individuality and the tactile nature of each piece. Do you have a plan in mind with each piece or do they develop organically, so to speak, as you start to play with the clay?
A: Both. Most often I go with the clay, letting it dictate the form and character of a piece. I often start with distorted or odd shaped clay to force a difference in what occurs, rather than starting with a typical ball or cone shape. This encourages individuality and character in the piece, as well as adding greatly to the tactile nature. When I do pre-plan a piece, it is done with the intent of letting changes, sometimes quite drastic, occur as the piece progresses. I very rarely, if ever, complete a piece sticking entirely to an original plan.
Q: I also read where you still try to nod back to your painting background with your clay works, how do you see the correlation – in the finishes or something else?
A: Not just in the finish, but in everything. With painting, techniques are used to produce forms and ideas, with clay and glass the same is true, only the forms have a 3 dimensionality that can be used in ways different from painting. Each medium has some unique qualities, but the completion of an artwork to carry ideas and feeling is the same no matter what is used, and I am believing more and more that anything can be used in this way, and often, using or adding more and different physical elements extends what can be done, adding value that helps to bring the intent more to life.
Q: There seems to be a very personal connection between you and your art, does this make it hard for you to part with some of the pieces?
A: There is a very personal connection between me and my art. Creating art, and the art itself, is a part of me, it’s a large part of my life and a large part of what I live for. It represents my thinking, my perceptions and my view of life. Everything that interests me relates to art in some way, or can be used in the artworks I create. I enjoy sharing this with others, and seeing the work and what it represents go to others so that they can enjoy it as well. Of course, there are pieces that strike me more deeply than others, and it is not so much a matter of having difficulty letting them go, but rather look at it in a different way. One of the major reasons I make art is because I love not only making it, but having it around. Selling all I make is not the intent, rather, making things I like, keeping some and selling some, is more how I see it. Often times I keep particular pieces for reference for future work, a particular technique, result, color, idea, etc., kept as the actual piece to use as notes rather than simply as written notes. These pieces can act as motivation, inspiration, and advancement in trying to go beyond what has been done already but using what has been learned to bring it a bit further.
Q: There is an obvious Japanese reference in your work, how did this come about? What draws you to the Japanese aesthetic?
A: There is a magic, a reverence for all things, in much Japanese work and a life view that is strongly appealing, both to me and many artists over the past century and a half especially. They capture the essence of things. There are qualities that are not usually found in European or American culture and art (except for work that has been influenced by these things). It is their life view that comes through in their art as well as their techniques and methods that have an incredibly strong impact. They use space, the space around things, in a totally different way, making it a feature and important part of the work. They capture so much with seemingly so little, and the use of color and detail is wonderful. If I can capture some of this essence in my work without copying or trying to reproduce any particular detail, I will be pleased with that result.
Q: You seem to use various techniques with the creation of each piece as the finishes are all so different. Can you explain a little about the process you go through with making a piece?
A: I guess this could best be summed up by saying that exploration and experimentation are very important to me, and as far as techniques and materials are concerned it is important to place no limits or restrictions of any kind (except for those things that simply do not work). I find it extremely interesting to find new things to try. There are so many possibilities that I cannot limit myself to a particular chosen few, but rather each work suggests trying something else, something different, rather that any attraction of making another thing in just the same way. Each thing then becomes unique, with it’s own quirks and differences, a thing to be valued for it’s own personality. Differences start to be seen and appreciated in all things, and it makes one more aware of appreciating differences in people as well, and the value and interest added by differences.
Q: What new techniques have you been trying out?
A: Most important is trying to carry techniques, methods, and the unique characteristics of one discipline into the others, painting to clay, glass to painting, etc.. This is constant, but always new. Lately, my new techniques involve making the effort to purposely do some things in a way that goes against the widely accepted way of doing something. Such as (mentioned earlier) starting a tea bowl with the most malformed lump of clay possible rather than a nicely formed ball of clay of a proper size. Or painting with clay tools to actually “form” the paint in various ways rather than the typical brush or palette knife. It’s amazing what is discovered, the unexpected results that occur, when this approach is taken. Even if the particular effort is unsuccessful in itself, it may lead to another idea, or at least re-enforces the idea of experimenting, which of course leads to a new technique. Experimenting without any regard to success or failure is always new, and is probably the “technique” that I always try to keep new and fresh in my mind. Fear of the failure of a new technique being tried is what keeps many from this approach, and the “technique” of dismissing any care of whether a new approach will work or not, works, I think, well for me.
Q: The wine glasses are gorgeous glass creations with so much depth to them. What inspired the stout shape to them (which I agree is far more practical than long stemmed glasses)?
A: The depth is partially created with multiple layers of colored glass, and a certain thickness to the glass, done in such a way as to increase shadow, change of color, change of imagery and shapes within the design, change of light penetration, etc.. The shape is inspired somewhat by the shape of the bowl of wineglasses I most like, or shapes that develop from them. In other words, they evolve over time by the influences of previous pieces made. Also, these shapes are very nice to handle, and the lack of stem takes away any awkwardness and top-heaviness.
Q: What new additions have you got planned for 2013?
A: A new series of paintings, incorporating events from the economic fiasco/disaster. Some larger scale clay pieces that incorporate imagery in a more painterly manner, coming closer to my glasswork and paintings. Also a new website, currently in progress, with a blog added that I have never had before.
Q: What do you love most about being an artist?
A: Creating art. The flexibility to create what I want, that everything can be, is, different from day to day. Trying to incorporate ideas into images, images into tangible objects, tangible objects into ideas and images. Working with the materials, working with ideas. Color and having color and imagery consciously and constantly a part of my daily life. The way that working as an artist increases one’s ability to see, to learn, to appreciate, to be tolerant and to be grateful.
Q: Is your Etsy store Arttohold the only place people can buy your works?
A: Currently it is the best place to find my work for sale. Watsonstudio.com is my old site but it has not been updated for so long, however some of my work and my old studio can be seen there. I am currently working on a new web site and blog, which I hope to have up and running within the next month or two. It has been started, but far from complete, I work on it when time permits. It will be georgewatsonstudio.com when it is ready. I was selling some work on eBay, and although I have not offered anything on eBay for a while, I will begin again shortly, under three different ebay id’s that I have used for a number of years. thestudioartist, which will be mostly glasswork and paintings, and thepottryguy, which will be mostly clay work, and glassclaypaint, which will be odds and ends, including components and materials for other artists to use in their multi media artworks (all of these eBay names I use, I should mention, have 100% positive feedback over multiple years of listing and hundreds of sales).
Iced Vovo recommends you pop along to any or all of these sites for a look at George’s unique creations or follow the link provided on the Fab-Finds Page. I’m already coveting a few pieces that I’ll be making suitable hints to Mr Iced Vovo about come birthday/Christmas time!